Category Archives: Hong Kong Life

Say it better with flowers: Ellermann opens.

Everyone loves getting flowers, except for when they suck. Do you know what I mean? You go to this effort and expense… and your friend gets a dozen browning carnations. I hate to say it, but it happens a lot in Hong Kong because the Chinese will cut any corner to make a buck. Introducing the two-week-old Ellerman Flowers in Sheung Wan.

I discovered the shop just wandering down an alley with a friend the other day… it was founded by a long-time HK expat who simply felt she couldn’t find quality arrangements here without insane expense. And she is seriously clever. I love all their bird-centered arrangements–whether they be birdcage-focused or bird-adorned teacup centered. I mean, who would think to put an orchid in a teacup, but it is brilliant! They also have the most amazing terrariums.

The one on the left if you can’t read it says ‘I dig you’ and then there is a little metal shovel. Now, seriously people: could this be more adorable? And it’s an arrangement that will last. I see no reason why you wouldn’t attempt to DIY this for an anniversary or just because… but if you want to purchase one pre-made head over to Ellerman at 36 Tung Street, Sheung Wan, 852.2291.0388

Thomas Birke photography.

Photographer Thomas Birke has some amazing shots of HK on his website. He seems to pull so much light and color out of the night–I wonder if that is how he takes the pictures or something he does in post-processing? His goal is to capture urban existence by showing 1,000 people or their traces (windows, laundry, etc.) in every picture. I love how crazy most of HK’s streets are.

Of course, Victoria Harbour never gets old.

And I have a real obsession with shipyards
I think one of these shots would be a great going away gift for someone leaving this great city. Check out his site for more great shots of other big cities around the world (I love the ones he did of Paris especially). Thanks to John Lawler for the head’s-up.

Feng shui advisor loses world’s biggest probate dispute over pigtail fortune.

Wang's nickname was "Little Sweetie" thanks to her love of pigtails, miniskirts and bobby socks. (AP)

I’m sure you’ve all heard of feng shui, but you wouldn’t believe how seriously everyone takes it over here… lots of  our friends won’t rent an apartment until their feng shui master has been through it and people won’t move on just any day–it has to be a date vetted by the master. It’s serious stuff. So it comes as no surprise that when the richest woman in China’s husband was kidnapped, a feng shui advisor was hired to help dig him up… but the rest of the story… well all I can say you really can’t make this stuff up! And only in China. Excerpted from the Reuters story.

Nina Wang’s former feng shui adviser and lover Tony Chan lost a bid for her $12 billion estate, with Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal upholding a ruling that a will in his favor was forged and the property should go to charity.

Chan claimed Wang left him her fortune after a 15-year intimate relationship that began when he was hired to help find her kidnapped husband Teddy, with whom she built Chinachem into one of Hong Kong’s biggest closely held developers.

The fight is quite similar to the fight Wang waged to get control of her husband’s will in 2005 overturning rulings by lower courts in 2002 and 2004 that gave the fortune to her father-in-law, Wang Din-shin. Wang was also arrested during her dispute over the title to the property on charges she forged the will. Police dropped the charges after the Court of Final Appeal’s ruling.

Her pigtails were submitted as evidence by Mr. Chan in the case--apparently Wang had cut them off and given them to him as a gift. (Getty images)

Wang, who died of uterine cancer at the age of 69 in 2007, had no children. She married Teddy in 1955 at the age of 18. The couple turned a Shanghai paint and chemical business, started by Teddy’s father, into a property developer with a portfolio including the Chinachem twin towers and Chinachem Exchange Square.

Teddy Wang was kidnapped in 1983 and again in 1990. He wasn’t returned after the second abduction even though his wife paid part of the ransom. One of the captured kidnappers said Teddy Wang’s body was dumped into the sea from a small boat.

Wang leaving court in 2005. (Reuters.)

Nina ran Chinachem using a power of attorney, insisting Teddy was alive. When her father-in-law had Teddy legally declared dead in 1999, she said Teddy had made her his heir in a new will signed just before his kidnapping. Chan, who is married with three children, was hired by Wang in 1992 to help find her husband by using the Chinese geomantic practice of feng shui, according to Lam’s judgment. Chan dug holes at various sites owned by Chinachem for seven years, and received about HK$2.1 billion from her between 2005 and 2006. Chan testified at last year’s trial that his sexual relationship with Wang began a month after they met.

The head of Chinachem’s Charitable Foundation gave out chocolates yesterday to reporters to celebrate his–and hopefully the poor will who will also benefit from the–billion dollar victory.

The movies here.

It’s been a rainy few days here in Hong Kong, which always makes me feel like a movie! Luckily, the movies here are awesome. They 1. Offer blankets (amazing–I’m always cold at the movies) 2. Have the best sweet / salty combo popcorn ever 3. Will deliver food (pizza, hot dogs, etc.) and alcohol (wine, beer) to your seat. The only downside is that it takes us about three extra months to get the movies from the States, i.e. we’re still waiting for Black Swan to arrive on the 28th.
To get the blanket, all you have to do is ask a theater attendant.

A McDonald’s wedding.

Responding to about 10 requests a month to host weddings, starting last month Mc Donald’s began offering a wedding package. For $1250 US, you get the venue, invites, “catering”, a pair of McDonald’s balloon rings, and 50 happy meal toys for favors–yes, unlike in SF we’re still legally allowed to have toys in our happy meals here.

Had the Mr. have known this was a possibility, I’m pretty sure we would have purchased this package! And I will say: McDonald’s over here is much higher quality than back in the States. My only thought is that I think they should have embraced the red and gold color scheme.
Pictures from Caters News. And thanks to BWG for this great tip.

Cooking tips from the Real Housewives of HK.

Last week I shared some pictures and recipes from my day “cooking” with the real housewives of Hong Kong… I thought you might also enjoy two easy, take-away tips from our chats at break time.
(image from

1. You need to differentiate your types of oils. I suppose I have always known this just never done it, but you really need to have oil you cook with and oil you don’t. The head chef confirmed this; there is ZERO point in spending any money on olive oil, for example, that you saute with. It only makes sense to use the really special stuff in salad dressings or when you drizzle it over, say, already baked fish. The ladies said they often use less expensive oils than olive oil for cooking with, like peanut and palm oil. (But then again, they don’t actually cook… so maybe they are talking about what their helpers use.)

After taking the class I bought a big, inexpensive jug of grapeseed oil to saute with — it has a higher flash point than olive oil, a milder flavor profile, and yet still has lots of antioxidants. Up until this realization, I have to admit that I would just have one bottle of olive oil next to the stove… usually it would be an upper-middle of the road bottle and I would use it for everything, hoping that good ingredients would equal better food, but I realize now that I was just a victim of good marketing!

2. Try a diamond fry pan. I was not completely surprised when these bling-adorned ladies told me I needed to get a frying pan made out of real diamonds… but I was interested to learn after some googling that there might be something to it. You’ve probably heard about all of the health concerns related to nonstick pans… not only does the film eventually peel off, but when the Teflon nonstick covering is over-heated,  it releases a toxic gas. DuPont, the manufacturer of Teflon, says this doesn’t happen below 680 degrees… but scientists have found that a pan on high can reach 700 degrees in 3 minutes. So, word to the wise: if you do have nonstick pans keep them on medium!

Back to the bling: So it turns out that a synthetic diamond coating actually is a great alternative to non-stick coating. From the reviews I’ve read, the diamond non stick pans hold up a lot better than those by Calphalon and All Clad and they do a better job with browning, something many nonstick pans are horrible at.
The main manufacturer of these pans is called Swiss Diamond. There has been some debate about whether the diamond pans also contain Teflon or PFOA (the non-branded form of Teflon). From Swiss Diamond‘s site:

Do Swiss Diamond products contain PFOA?
NO! The inherent slippery, non-stick properties of Diamonds Crystals when amalgamated into a nano-composite (mixture of extremely thin particles), means we use a minor amount of PTFE in our products, much lesser than any other non-stick products. The reasons are that the amalgams of real Diamond Crystals require such high temperatures that any particle of PFOA which is contained in the PTFE will be totally burned out so that NO PFOA can be traced on Swiss Diamond products.”

So the debate rages on, but it does seem to me like a somewhat safer nonstick alternative. And it is much, much lighter than castiron — which I (and others, too) think is the best all around cooking pan. With a light slick of oil, Le Creuset can act nonstick all day long.  But you have to have a pan for eggs and when when my current nonstick gives out, I may give the diamonds a try for myself. In the meantime, if anyone has tried the diamond pans, what do you think??

Cooking class at the Peninsula.

The real housewives of HK attend the Peninsula Hotel‘s cooking classes every few months. The hotel is over on the Kowloon side and it’s arguably the most iconic establishment in Hong Kong… The class begins with an elaborate breakfast spread in the bowels of the industrial kitchen mega-complex that keeps this five-star hotel humming. The ladies let me know that the traditional Chinese coconut roll (below, left) is shaped that way to look like a chicken’s tail.
I heard about the class from my native Hong Konger friend Elaine (above, right) and also the Mr.’s work colleauge Shanley who flies in from Shanghai every time the four-day classes are offered. They’ve both been attending regularly for years like most of the participants.

From my random surveying of the housewives, I think Shanley is the only person who takes the classes that actually cooks! He was also quick to point out that if we were to simply steal the handbags alone in the room that we could both retire like kings. I can’t even begin to tell you how much these ladies adore Shanley… and he certainly hams up being the only male in the class!
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