I’ve never really been certain of exactly what I want to do with my life. This is probably the reason I went for the first job that happened to fall in my lap. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great job! But let’s just say it was never really my preferred choice of career path. But what actually is the job for me? What really makes me happy? I can safely say that, although, of course, friendships and running and family and sunny days do make me smile, what really makes me happy, what I get up for in the morning and what really gets me through the day has got to be…FOOD! Have you heard people talk about whether they eat to live or live to eat? I am most definitely, 101% the latter. Food makes the world go round. Or my world at least. I feel somewhat selfish and thoughtless saying this when evidently there are people across the globe dying of starvation. I’m sure food doesn’t make their world go round. Suffice to say I have had a very fortunate upbringing and am luckily not in that disgustingly high percentage of people who do not have the luxury to admit that they simply live to eat.
What gets me through any day is the knowledge that, however slowly the morning passes, it will eventually be 1 o clock: lunchtime, when I basically peg it out the door and into the lift as fast as my little legs can take me. If I take less than an hour for lunch, I actually want to cry, so definitely none of this quick-stop-to-711-to-get-some-pot-noodles-and-eat-them-at-my-desk malarkey for me! Whether my stomach is screaming at me with hunger or not (the latter is rarely the case), I absolutely HAVE to go and have a proper lunch which keeps me busy for least an hour, before I can drag myself away to count down the hours until dinner time. Let’s not forget that 4 o clock is what I like to call chocolate o clock. Everyone knows about my emergency chocolate drawer and believe me, these emergencies do happen. With frequency.
I once did a detox trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, which pretty much involved NOT eating for 3 whole days. These were not pretty days. I even cried one day when forced to drink a ‘liver flush drink’. I won’t give you details on what exactly this consisted of but I will tell you one ingredient – 4 cloves of raw garlic. Under normal circumstances, I absolutely love garlic. I actually put it in most dishes I cook (obviously not sweet dishes, don’t be ridiculous) but having that much garlic – RAW garlic – in my drink? No thank you. Never again. Did I feel any different after my 3 day fast? Umm.. no, not really. Perhaps this was because I was invited to lunch at the Mandarin Oriental for a work meeting – tough job! – and couldn’t really say no, so I think I may have ‘masticated’ a few bits of raw vegetables which is apparently completely against detox rules. Whatevs. Or perhaps it had something to do with having to delve into the emergency bag one night at the market when too much shopping brought me close to fainting. Sadly said emergency bag didn’t contain chocolate this time as thought that would be bending the rules ever so slightly too much, so instead I opted for 2 pieces – 2 measly pieces! – of dried mango to bring me back to life.
I am not the kind of person that will listen to anyone telling me what I can and can’t eat. It simply makes me crave that food even more. Diets are ridiculous in my opinion. If you can’t eat what makes you really happy then seriously, what is the point in living? Eat what you like (within reason, let’s not get carried away now) and up the exercise – that’s my mantra. On a freezing cold day, do you really want to be eating a salad? Definitely not going to warm you right down to the bones, is it? And is it going to fill you with that warm fuzzy energy that’ll keep you going through the day? Rather unlikely. What you need is some Vietnamese Pho noodles – full of goodness and will reach even the deepest coldest pit of your stomach.
Along with walking behind infuriatingly slow people, and trying to walk against the flow of people who refuse to veer even slightly to the side to let you pass, one of the things that annoys me most about living in Hong Kong is that a great number of restaurants simply don’t have their own website. When you Google them, all you get is pretty awful websites with hideous pictures of dishes and terrible reviews with an abundance of grammatical errors that make any perfectionist like myself cringe. I can’t stand it. Did I mention I love food? So when someone invites me to a restaurant, naturally the first thing I do is Google it, look for the menu and scope out what I am most likely to order. When a place offers a huge menu, being as indecisive as I am, this always makes life a little bit difficult for me. I’m not saying I don’t like big menus. But it’s always rather embarrassing when it comes to ordering and there are just so many amazing dishes to choose from that I don’t know where to begin. Then I start to get nervous and either ask the waiter for their opinion (said waiter, more often than not, has never actually tried any of the dishes himself and therefore cannot provide me with any valuable advice. For example a waiter at a lovely restaurant in London claimed he could not tell me if the chicken pie was good as he was intolerant to chicken. Really?!) or I panic order and go for something I really should not have ordered. Hence the need to see the menu beforehand. Definitely a sensible request methinks. But alas, not every restaurant offers such luxuries here, and as I mentioned, the reviews just aren’t up to scratch. I read a review about a very good dim sum restaurant where the review’s author had given it the complete thumbs down because her elderly mother had not been escorted to her seat. What did it say about the food? Zilch. Really helpful when all you want to know is if it’s going to make your taste buds tingle.
Therefore I am proposing to check out these places with my own taste buds and let you know my verdict. It’s always so easy to find a place you like and trust and keep going back there. But Hong Kong has so many restaurants to offer and new ones opening up what seems like every day, so why keep trying the same place? I am setting myself the oh-so-difficult challenge of trying out a new (if only new to me) restaurant at least once a week and writing about it. Let’s see if I can help some of you fellow foodies out there. I unfortunately won’t be able to provide you with an up to date menu, but I can (hopefully) at the very least, provide you with a (nicely written) critique that will still make your mouth water (or not, as the case may be). Watch this space…