Friday, 30 September 2011

Love in Space (全球熱戀)

No one actually expects a lot from films like this, but some parts of this are quite good! I especially like the stories between Johnny (Eason Chan) and Lily (Lunmei Kwai), and Wenfeng (Boran Jing) and Mudan (Angelababy). Of course, these relationships probably don't exist in reality (superstar and coffee shop boy?), but I like how the relationships develop - it's the little things that count.

Like most Hong Kong films in recent years, there's a mix of Hong Kong actors and Chinese / Taiwanese ones for the 'market balance'. I like how the Hong Kong actors still get to speak a bit of Cantonese, though of course they still have to 'flaunt' their less-than-perfect Putonghua with interacting with other actors, hahaha. Aaron Kwok's Putonghua is especially bad among the set - almost reminds me of Louis Koo!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

I know the film's critically acclaimed and I can see why - especially in the UK. But if I am being honest here I have to say I don't like it at all. Disclaimer: I didn't know ANYTHING about the film / book before seeing the film, other than it's about uncovering a spy.
What I don't like about the film in particular:

  • The characters are very confusing - having read absolutely nothing about the book / film before seeing it, I don't know the name of any character, and I think they're not clearly given out. There are confusing names like 'Control' - call me stupid but I didn't realise it's the head of the secret intelligence service until perhaps the end of the film! I was thinking it's similar to what 'circus' is in the film - there's a great deal of jargon they use and a guy whose name is 'Control' doesn't make it easier for anyone. And honestly I don't remember any of those agents' names... and I think there are too little details given about each one of them, which is weird because the film is essentially about finding out the 'mole' among the few of them. The lack of detail (depth) about these characters renders the film very superficial and a plain narrative, in my opinion - the audience is not given any clue as to who the 'mole' is and there's no way they could have guessed it. You're just told in the end who it is - and that's it. Where's the suspense? 
  • The relationships between different characters are also very confusing. There's this guy (who I still don't know the identity of) who seems to be above the whole secret intelligence service, and then towards the end he's kind of told off or threatened by Smiley. And then there are all these deaths surrounding the wife of the Moscow agent - one's her husband? Then who's the other one? I'm just completely clueless. Then she's taken away, and when Prideaux is asked if he knows her and he gives a negative answer, she's shot dead on the spot. Why? I don't know if I missed something but all this is just confusing to the max to me! 
I have to say, I don't think I'm the only person who finds the film confusing - I saw lots of puzzled faces after the film and people were asking one another about things in the film... oh well. I can't fault the acting though, but if the whole film takes so much effort to understand in the first place I wonder if we can still call it enjoyable. 

Monday, 26 September 2011

Braised beef brisket, tendon and omasum tripe

A very popular Cantonese dish in Hong Kong. I miss having beef brisket and tendon with flat noodles in soup. Braised beef brisket and tendon as a main dish is usually cooked with daikon (white radish), but I was too lazy to venture out to the market, and I think the dish is perfectly fine without it. One thing in my version that's quite different from the traditional dish is the use of beef omasum tripe - it's popular in Cantonese dim sum (among other cuisines) and I think it cooks well in this sauce - it absorbs so much flavour!

Chu Hou Sauce is essential in this dish. Though it's translated as 'soybean sauce', it is totally different from Korean doenjang or Japanese miso paste, among others. A quintessentially Hong Kong sauce, mine is actually made in Hong Kong - when so few things are made in Hong Kong now! It can be easily bought in Asian supermarkets. 

Serves 4 (as one of 2-3 dishes)

800g Beef tendon and brisket, cut into big cubes (tendon may be hard to cut, so you can just put in the whole piece)
400g Beef omasum tripe, cut into finger-long strips
One (iceberg) lettuce

Chu Hou Sauce 2 tbsp 
Garlic, about 2 cloves, minced
Ginger, a few slices
Star anise (optional; I did not use it)
Cane sugar / rock sugar 2 tbsp
Light soy sauce 2 tbsp
Oyster sauce 2 tbsp
Corn flour 2 tbsp
Salt, to taste

Blanch beef tripe, tendon and brisket separately in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. 
Blanching beef omasum tripe

Doesn't it look lovely? 

Fry up the garlic and ginger, add Chu Hou sauce. After about 2 minutes, add tripe, tendon and brisket. Stir-fry for a few minutes.
Add hot water to half-cover the beef. Cook for about 30 minutes with lid on. 
Add cane sugar / rock sugar and star anise. Cook for a further 30 minutes with lid on. 
Mix light soy sauce, oyster sauce, corn flour and 2 tbsp cold water. Stir into the wok. Cook for another 30 minutes with lid on. Add salt to taste. 
In a separate pot, boil some hot water and cook the lettuce for a few minutes, add some salt to taste. 
Drain and plate the lettuce, then pour the tripe, tendon and brisket and sauce on top. 
Serve with Thai jasmine rice. 


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Friends With Benefits

Saw this film quite some time ago and never got around to write about it. It's partly because I'm having one of my very lazy phases and I can't be bothered to write at all. It's also partly because it's kind of boring - it's again one of those Hollywood films that you know a bit about and can guess almost everything in it - there is hardly any surprise. Sorry, nothing else I want to record here! :P

Friday, 23 September 2011

'Malaysian Night' @ Trafalgar Square

Today we went to the 'Malaysian Night' at Trafalgar Square. There were quite a lot of food stalls and the food seemed yum!!! My only complaint is that the portions seem to be on the small side...

Some pictures!

I have no idea what these are... 

...and these! @_@ I'm so ignorant! 

Some VIP visiting the stalls 

There's this guy showcasing his watermelon carving talents. He's super enthusiastic - almost a bit scary. HAHAHA.
BTW, what does Spiderman have to do with X-factor? 

Whole jackfruit for sale!!! It's 66 quid... @_@ 

Honestly, I find this rather scary. Are these leftover stock from the Beijing Olympics? 

I'm kinda scared by this 'binchotan charcoal noodles' too. Didn't know binchotan charcoal is edible... @_@ 

Some other watermelon art - btw, The Lion King 3D is in cinemas soon! 

This one's not that impressive... 

Melon-carving man with VIP somebody

Traditional dance on stage - very traditional I would say, I wonder if they really still have these in Malaysia, I mean as a normal kind of entertainment? I always find it odd when Hong Kong's promoted here and there are 'face-changing' performances and dragon dance... I mean, in Hong Kong they only have dragon dance in Chinese New Year, and 'face-changing' is actually a Sichuanese thing if I remember correctly, nothing to do with Hong Kong! 

I got henna some time ago too, but for free! 

Lots of Malaysian sweets... funny they admit it's 'unassuming in looks'

Malaysian peanut pancakes

I have no idea what those white lantern-looking things are in Malaysian culture, but white lanterns... hm... in Chinese culture they are only used when somebody's died...hmmm...

Oooops that's a lot of pictures! :)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

'Sunny' (써니)- a Korean film

Watched this film a few days ago, and I'm so glad I managed to find it. There are a number of Korean films that I really like, e.g. The Classic (클래식), which I love so much I watched it more than once. My favourite song from the film's here. My Sassy Girl (엽기적인 그녀) which was all the rage when it was released is also a favourite of mine. Theme song here

But Sunny (써니) is a different kind of film. It's not about romance, but rather, the bond of friendship that withstands time. I really like the way the film's made, it's unlike typical Hollywood films which claim to be about human sentiments such as romantic love, familial love and friendship. Sunny is funny at times, but also moving.

Highly recommended. 

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Jane Eyre, 2011

The long-awaited new Jane Eyre film! It's good and bad in its own ways. I like Mia Wasikowska's Jane Eyre, she is plain enough and yet lives up to the image of Jane. Michael Fassbender is also very similar to what Mr Rochester's like in my mind - but he is of course a lot more handsome than how he's described in the book. My idea of the two are probably 'polluted' by a simplified version of the novel I first read when I was in primary school. There were pictures of the two characters from some film / TV adaptation in that book, and I remember staring at the pictures for a long time and my heart aching for their love and the torture felt by both of them! And of course, we all tend to beautify and romanticise characters in love stories...

What I don't like about this version is how things develop too quickly without enough details. Of course, given that it's a film there cannot be too many details, but in my opinion there are way too many that have been left out and their absence renders the film a bit rushed. I also don't like the ending of this film - what about their plain but happy life ever after? Of course I'm not expecting a faithful copying of 'Reader, I married him', but I would love to see how they settle into their quiet but joyful married life.

Well, I suppose I can't have it all. It's an adaptation that's lived up to my expectation of the two characters, and for that alone I should be happy!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Fresh figs in London!

I 'discovered' the beauty of fresh figs when travelling in Turkey, it's the kind of deliciousness that you can't forget. So fresh, yet so sweet. I can't have enough of them! 

I had been looking for fresh figs in London, and was told to try some markets, but for some reason I just didn't - I mean, when I'm in central London I don't go about carrying some fresh fruit in some plastic carrier bag, do I?

Then today, I accidentally came across these fresh figs in Lidl. I don't go to Lidl very often, not even once a month, as it's really not close to my area, but after casual lunch in the neighbourhood today I thought I'd go and have a look at their stuff. I'm so glad I did! My eyes popped out when I saw them!!!

They're all purple - there were purple ones when I was in Istanbul too, but I didn't get to try them. I'm so glad they have these here!!!
I'm quite sure they didn't have these when I went there previously, so they probably just stock it occasionally. That said, it's given me some incentive to go there again...

The beauty. Can't describe how nice they are! 

30 Minutes or Less

Honestly didn't expect anything from this film - I didn't even know what it is about before going to the cinema! It turned out to be an enjoyable 1.5 hours! Jesse Eisenberg still reminds me of Mark Zuckerberg, he was too good in that one. He still talks like the FB founder. The highlight, I would say, is the Indian guy Chet played by Aziz Ansari - he totally deserves a shout-out! He's sooo funny in the film, making funny references to his Indian heritage and it's just too hilarious. I was sitting next to an Indian couple in the cinema and I couldn't help wondering what they thought of those 'Indian' jokes... XD

Monday, 12 September 2011

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

It's Mid-Autumn Festival today... another year not celebrating at home.

We had an early 'celebration dinner' (not really..) last night, with grilled meat. I didn't know barbecue's a popular activity for Mid-Autumn Festival in Taiwan until a good friend of mine who's married to a Taiwanese mentioned it on Facebook. Interesting - I didn't know, but I also prepared 'barbecuesque' meat (for grilling) a few days ahead, albeit a bit Korean-influenced...

Beef marinated with sauce for kalbi

Pork marinated with doenjang, spicy sauce and sesame oil

Banchan X 2, plus sides for grilled meat

Banchan: spinach and beansprouts (super easy Korean appetisers and I love them!)

The grilling had to be done indoors coz it was raining outside! :( 

Dessert: snowy mooncakes we got from an Asian supermarket. I'm not a fan of mooncakes, and I don't particularly like snowy mooncakes either... :P 

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