Weekend Musing: Crab Dipping Sauce, Sausages and To Think That Asian Could Not Drive

Hey all: This is all random stuff ahead of the long weekend.

The Crab Dipping Sauce

Before more and more people fall for the joke about the crab dipping sauce in the post yesterday on Ho Yuen Kee, I think I better call this joke out.

I can’t help it. Every time I have crab, I keep on thinking that it’s soup. So for those of you who fell for the joke — SORRY! You guys are probably noobs on chowtimes. I’ve pull it so many times I lost count.


The above are the two somewhat convincing shots. Clicking on the shots brings you to the post about the delicious tea infused soup I had in Ningtu (Vancouver) and Alkimia (Bercelona).


If it is of any consolation, even Jennifer 8 Lee, emailed me once about it. Jennifer 8 Lee is a well known New York Times columnist who had written extensively about Chinese food. She is also the one who wrote the popular book called The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. So, don’t feel bad falling for the joke, OK?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6MhV5Rn63M&fs=1&hl=en_US]

Oh talking about Jennifer 8 Lee, you might like the presentation which she gave at TED which I had posted once before.

Sausage and Hot Dogs

Switching gear … I think you all like InfoGraphics. Here is another one that someone sent me asking me to post it up if I want to. I don’t understand the deal with these InfoGraphics. Maybe it is a smart way to get link juice and clicks from the sites that posts these InfoGraphics.


Before I show you the InfoGraphics, how is the hot dog above looks to you?

Well, I’ll have you know that this is the most expensive hot dog in the world as declared by the Guinness Book of World Records.

$69. Quite affordable, don’t you think? This was served at a New York City’s restaurant called Serendipity 3. It is a foot-long frankfurter served in a … (more…)

Continue ReadingWeekend Musing: Crab Dipping Sauce, Sausages and To Think That Asian Could Not Drive

Weekend Musings (September 18th, 2010)

Hello again.

I did not realize that it had been two months since I last did a Weekend Musing post. Been a long time … and I had been lazy too. I had been consciously trying to keep the weekends to myself and the family because it had been go-go-go during the weekdays with work and everything else. I took a day off work yesterday which is about the only day I took off this summer. So I am pretty well rested today … and caught up with sleep deficit over the past week.

Here is what I had in mind.

The New Kids On The Block

I don’t mean to use that NKOTB title but I like the sound of it. Maybe it is because I had newly discovered these food blog which I enjoyed reading a lot these days. I find these blogs a refreshing change and provide a new angle to food related topic in Vancouver.



  • Food For Buddha is certainly my favourite new blog. Written by a couple who just call themselves Buddha Girl and Buddha Boy, they focus on Asian eats. Buddha Boy appears to be quite a prolific cook himself. If you are interested in Asian eats, this is a food blog you should follow. It is good to see a blog like this for a change.
  • Fortune Food Palace is another food blog focused on Asian eats. The URL is actually vanrestrant which stands for Vancouver Restaurant Rant and at some point they are also known as “I Paid $20 For This?”. It is written by Amino and Kweepo. You would probably be surprised by who Amino and Kweepo is. Lovely couple. BTW, regarding our post on Luckynoodle, it was Amino who first wrote about this restaurant. Follow them for great finds … finds that is cheaper than $20.
  • Foodology.ca is a very pretty and well laid out blog. I think it is a she behind the blog. Design Girl … and that figures why the blog is so well designed. The pictures are well taken and has a very a good story flow.
  • Parker Pages is not really a new blog. The person behind the blog is eGirlWonder (aka Elaine). I never knew why that name Parker Pages but am curious to know. I find that people does connect to her blog because we can see how she looked like. I have a few to-try restaurants on my list that I got from her blog … like this $9 Steak.
  • Senses Inspired is another pretty blog with mouth watering pictures. Theresa is the person behind the blog who is an IT Project Manager. Maybe that is why I am connected to this blog. LOL! Seriously, I enjoy this blog because it covers restaurants that I don’t normally go to and also the dishes featured are well chosen and varied. I mean, it’s not burgers, phos, grilled salmon and siu mais all the time.
  • Vancouver Street Eats is on the right track covering cheap eats and food carts. This reminds me of the Portland food cart blog which is wildly popular. I have a good feeling that this is the kind of blog that will attract a lot of readers, especially when the food cart scene takes off in Vancouver someday. However, James writes very brief blog entries and I wish that there are more detail. This should be easy to do because every food cart operators out there is more than willing to tell their story. If only I work in downtown, I will steal his thunder. LOL!
  • Vancouver Sushi is carving a niche for itself by concentrating on the Japanese Cuisine. I like that blog because it is educational as I know little about the cuisine. The blog is still rough around the edges with broken links and such. Now … if someone would start a blog on Korean cuisine that would be wonderful too.
  • Oishizo by the name itself seems to be a Japanese food blog. No, not at all. Go read the profile of Peter and you will find him a very interesting individual. From his posts, he seems to love cars besides food.

You know what else I like about these blogs? They are still “virgins” … still unseduced by freebies and free meals. Not yet, anyway. The force of the dark side is strong. LOL!

I am sure there are a lot more Vancouver area food blogs out there. So … what are your favourite food blogs? Would be good if you could share with us your favourite sites and let us know what you like about them. 🙂

Dinner at Luckynoodle

Let me give this another try. This time with better planning!

We counted interests from at least 7 parties but only two parties could make it for that Friday (yesterday) I proposed.

For details, please refer to this post on Luckynoodle. I am so determined to try these dishes:


OK, in English it is:

  1. Chinese Bacon with Bamboo Shoots
  2. Stir Fried Chicken Gizzard with White Chili
  3. House special Hunan Spicy Hotpot
  4. Beef Tenderloin with Chinese Mushroom on Sizzling Iron Plate
  5. Spicy Pork Stomach with Veggie in Hot Pot
  6. Boiled Chicken in Special Spicy Sauce (aka Mouth-Watering Chicken)
  7. Stir Fried Minced Prok with Sour Beans
  8. Pork Ribs in Sugar and Vinegar Sauce
  9. Stir Fried Pork Kidney
  10. Braised Pork in Special Sauce (aka Chairman Mao’s Red-Braised Pork)
  11. Deep Fried Prawns with Onions and Garlic

I am proposing to do the dinner on Saturday, September 25th at 6PM. If we can make up at least one table it would be just perfect but the more the merrier.

Let’s hope this works this time. If you are interested, please send an email to suanne@chowtimes.com telling us how many people will be attending from your party.

And You Thought Our Pilot Food Cart Program Has Problems …

I saw this from the Vancouver Street Eats site where … (more…)

Continue ReadingWeekend Musings (September 18th, 2010)

Weekend Musings (July 17th, 2010)

Hey everyone, happy weekend!

I got quite a lot of stuff to unload today and so let’s get cracking!

Din Tai Fung — Coming To a Location Near Us!


I can’t believe it when etranger alerted us to the news that the legendary Din Tai Fung restaurant is opening in a location near us!

Xiao Long Bao from Din Tai Fung (credit: pacejmiller.wordpress.com)
Xiao Long Bao from Din Tai Fung (credit: pacejmiller.wordpress.com)

Look at that! The thinness of the skin … the pleats. Amazing huh? Click here to read pacejmiller’s post about Din Tai Fung.

For those of you who don’t know, Din Tai Fung is known within the Chinese culinary circles as the king of Xiao Long Bao. They were even once rated as one of the Top 10 Gourmet restaurants by the New York Times (that was back in 1993). Even though they originated from Taiwan, today they have restaurants all over Asia including Taiwan, Japan, China, Singapore, Korea, US, Malaysia and Australia.

Until now the closest one to us is in Los Angeles. All other locations requires flying over the pond called the Pacific Ocean.

The good news is that they are opening a restaurant near us! Or should I say … (more…)

Continue ReadingWeekend Musings (July 17th, 2010)

Weekend Musings (July 10th, 2010)

We woke up early this morning wanting to cross the border to Bellingham for some shopping and food. Nanzaro wanted more stylish summer clothings. He is a big boy now and Old Navy is not going to cut it anymore, not to mention WalMart. I have absolutely no idea what he wanted but something tells me his taste is getting more expensive. For me, I NEED the humongous baby spare ribs from Costco and also, the minivan needs a change of tires too. The tires are almost bald. While there too, we wanted to also try the KFC Double Down Chicken Sandwich.

So we woke up early with a big day planned ahead of us. First thing we did was to check the border wait time. 15 minutes. Not too bad. We thought that not many people will be going over the border since the currency exchange sucks lately and people would have done all the travelling over the July 1st/July 4th long weekend. Alright, Suanne and I decided to sit down and watch Le Tour de France on OLN. It is the first of the mountain stages and we were hoping for the remote chance that Lance Armstrong will start mounting a fight here (he did not quite do it but he’s up there). After the race and as we are about to go out, we checked the border line up again.

It is now a 1.5 hours wait!

So, here I am writing this Weekend Musing. Oh well, I might as well stay home and watch the Germany-Uruguay World Cup game on the television.

Oh, talking about television, we switched our TV-slash-internet-slash-phone provider to Telus. The new package came with a PVR and Arkensen had been recording almost everything on it … and he had been deleting MY recording to make way for his. See? I am being muscled out of the technology stuff at home. I heard that you can easily upgrade the harddisk on the PVR at home yourself. Anyone ever done that before?

Recipe Needed

A few days ago, Suanne and I went to S&W Pepper House (again!) and since then I could not get this out of my head. We had this wonderful Fried Peanuts with Cilantro and Chili. We love it a lot. It looked simple to make and we were thinking that we could easily make it at home.


While the fried peanuts and cilantro is a no brainer, we couldn’t find the recipe for the chili sauce. Does any know how to make the sauce?  Does it come in a bottle that you could buy from the stores?

Thinking of it makes me salivate.


Shopping in Osaka

Janice was reading our post about the Instant Ramen which is closest to Kintaro’s Ramen. She was telling us of a ramen she think is even closer to what Kintaro’s Ramen taste like. Well, she even went out of her way to buy it and took a picture of it!

So yesterday we went to the Osaka Supermarket in the Yaohan Center on No 3 Road to look for it. It was a long time since I went grocery shopping with Suanne and boy am I surprise to see the new stuff they have in the supermarket. Instead of going in buying just the frozen ramen, we ended up buying a number of stuff.


The above is the ramen that Janice was raving about. It is about $2.50 each. Remember, this is frozen ramen and so you won’t find this in the normal instant noodles aisle. Instead it is in the freezer section. We wouldn’t have found it if not for the picture that Janice sent. [Thanks a lot, Janice!]


The whole packaging is in Japanese but there is a sticker at the back that tells you what the flavour is. Guess what we are having for lunch while watching the football game today.


Oh wow, we also found out that there are a lot more types of frozen ramen. The above is a bigger pack and is meant for … (more…)

Continue ReadingWeekend Musings (July 10th, 2010)

Weekend Musings (June 26th, 2010)

I guess I dropped the ball yesterday.

It is one of the rare days we did not post anything for the day. We had been focused on other things. You know, like things that normal people do everyday — like doing nothing. It is great to come home from work and then just laze around doing nothing and then later on going out to dinner without taking along the camera. LOL!

8GTCC Cantonese

LotusRapper and Joe had been throwing a few ideas around the plans for the 8GTCC Cantonese. As it stands now, 8GTCC Cantonese will be doing a double dinner. On separate days, of course.

The two dinners will cover both ends of the broad spectrum of the Cantonese cuisine. For the “home-style” dinner, the Canto-Boys have up their sleeve a dinner centered around a famous regional dish which I don’t think you will easily find in Metro Vancouver. I am embargoed by them to reveal anything but I can tell you I am all excited over it. If I mention the name, some of you will know what it is as I am sure you had seen this rare-ish dish at one time or another on TV. I can almost be certain that when that dish is placed on the table, everyone will “oo and ah” over it. It will be a sight to behold … and it will bring out the beast in you. LOL!

Then there will be another dinner covering the “lavish” side of the Cantonese cuisine. No, the Canto-Boys are not looking at doing one of those 10-course Chinese wedding-style banquet. They are thinking outside the box and it will be something out of the ordinary. It will be a bit more difficult to pull through but I am sure this will be an experience that not many of you had the chance to try.

Anyway, the target dates for these two dinners will be in mid-July and late-July. Stay tuned for more info. I will let you know as they are available … or when the Canto-Boys allow me to tell you more.

Dinosaur Legs

Did you guys see these pictures making the rounds on the internet?




The story behind these dinosaur meat is this … (more…)

Continue ReadingWeekend Musings (June 26th, 2010)

Weekend Musings (June 19th, 2010)

There are not much of an update today. Life had been a bit topsy-turvy with so many things going on at the same time. So I had allowed a few balls to drop. I’ll pick them up later but first things first — there are things that require fixing.

Load Times on chowtimes.com

Chowtimes.com load times had been sporadic. You all know about it. We received a couple of emails last week complaining about this. And then our hosting company shot us another email about overloading and stuff. Sigh … there is no end.

So the past few days, I had taken over Nanzaro’s PC and wiped out the entire PC. He was not a happy camper but with 4 computers at home, he just gotta use one of the others.

I am going to do test installs and migrations of chowtimes to a new server. Oh … this is gonna be huge learning curve for me because I wanted to do it on the cheap.

So I am thinking of doing this:

  • Use Centos as the Linux server
  • Use VirtualBox for virtualization
  • Use WordPress Appliance from Turnkey Linux to setup the blog environment

I am going to create this as a sandbox environment to test migration of chowtimes and also primarily to see if there are going to be a big difference in performance.

If this works, I am going to attempt to migrate chowtimes.com from shared hosting to a virtual dedicated server using the same Centos, VirtualBox and WordPress Appliance combination.

Tech Geeks out there, what do you think? Any comments and guidance appreciated!

The Next 8GTCC Event

We have decided on the cuisine for the next 8GTCC event. It will be CANTONESE!

The 8GTCC Cantonese event is being co-planned by Joe and LotusRapper. Well, we thought the Cantonese cuisine would be easy but as we got down to it, it has its own challenges.

Among the eight cuisines, Cantonese is the most familiar to everyone. That IS the main problem. Cantonese cuisine means a lot of things too. Just giving some examples … the following are distinctively Cantonese:

  • Hongkong Style Cafe
  • Dim Sum
  • 10-course banquets
  • Homestyle Cantonese cooking
  • Noodles and Congee houses
  • Siu Mei (Barbeque), Lo Mei (organs) and Siu Lap

See? We have so many options available but each of them are so familiar to everyone. Everyone could go and have these sort of food on their own … at anytime in any of the hundreds of Cantonese restaurants in Vancouver.

We are still cracking our brains. We wanted to do something different, something extraordinary … something that will awe all of you.

Right now, we are gravitating towards doing sometime like an ultra-extravagant dinner. It is going to be more than the cost of the 8GTCC Hunan ($20) and 8GTCC Jiangsu ($40) dinners. We are thinking of moving to a bit pricier multi-course lavish dinner with a price range of ($70) but affordability is something we are not sure how much is an issue here. What do you think? Can you help us by responding to the poll below?


If you have ANY comments or suggestions, just send me an email (ben@chowtimes.com) or better still, put in your comments here so that we can have an exchange of ideas.

Extreme Dim Sum Event

We hit a snag on the planning.

Things did not … (more…)

Continue ReadingWeekend Musings (June 19th, 2010)

Weekend Musings (June 5th, 2010)

So, how did everyone’s week go last week. Well, it was cold and rainy in Vancouver but it sure is shaping up just nicely for the weekend isn’t it?

A Taste of Community Kitchen

The Richmond Community Kitchen has an event coming up called “A taste of Community Kitchen”. The details are as follows:

A Taste of Community Kitchen
Date: June 8, 2010 Tuesday
Time: 10 am to 12 pm
Place: South Arm Community Centre, 8880 Williams Road, Richmond
Cost: $5
Call 604 718 8060 to register.

Come see what a Seniors’ community kitchen is all about! They will be cooking and eating together. A nutritionist will also lead an interactive workshop on healthy eating. Don’t miss the fun and the food.

Just to whet your appetite, here are some things they will be doing:

  • Red Pepper and Almond Dip
  • Organic Green Tea Rice Paper Rolls
  • Mixed Grain Pancakes
  • Wheat Flour Tortillas with Black Bean Dip
  • Avacado Yogurt Sauce
  • Babaga-Hummus Dip
  • Beet and Carrot Dip

About Travels

For Suanne and I, we got a lot of things out of the way and somethings on the roll. For one, I finally got that Chicago series out of the way. It was two summers late but at least I got that done and gotten the monkey off my shoulders. LOL! One thing I did learn writing that Chicago series. Most of you does not like travel stories a lot. Some did step up and tell us they love it though and that was good enough for me.

Oh talking about Travel related blogs. I came across a very engrossing blog I thought a lot of you will enjoy reading. It is written by Daniel Fischer from San Francisco about his travels in Asia. I was fascinated by his writing and I think some of you would too. His site is called El Raton Colorao.

Closer home. I love following the travels of Novi on her blog, Novi on the Go. Novi has such keen eyes and captures the life of the people in such detail. I felt I was there with her on the vacation. Oh yeah, both the blogs are about travels to China. That sort of show where I hope to visit next.

DSC_0896 - Version 2
Credit: Novi On The Go

So … the vacation season is coming up fast. Have you decided where you are going this year? Sigh. For us, we have not decided yet and we don’t have much option available. I’ll figure out something.

$60 Cup of Coffee …

And by the time you read this, we should have finally savored the Kopi Luwak. So that’s it; one more event that we wanted to do executed and completed. And I would be able to put a check against the “Cat Poop Coffee” item on my bucket list.

[Patting myself on the back] … I must be pretty good at predicting the number of people who would respond. I predicted 12 people and guess what … we have 13 people. Pretty good, huh?

So what is next? It is the …

The Extreme Dim Sum and A Little Secret Dish

Oh yeah. This little project is very much back on track too. And the beauty is, we have managed to arrange for a really special event for Friends of Chowtimes.

As a segway, we are gonna call you all Friends of Chowtimes going forward. That sounds better than “Chowtimes readers” doesn’t it? I borrowed this term from the group called Friends of Foo’s Ho Ho.


The above, dear Friends of Chowtimes is the … (more…)

Continue ReadingWeekend Musings (June 5th, 2010)

Weekend Musings — May 22nd, 2010

Oh Boy! Am I glad this is a long weekend. I had been running on fumes for the past two weeks. That is why I did not post any weekend musings last week. I really look forward to catching up on the millions of to-dos over this long weekend.

The boys are away in camp this long weekend too. So Suanne and I are home alone. It is so quiet around the house this morning. I already missed Nanzaro interrupting me with his random questions while I am in the middle of writing a blog post. He always does that which annoys me. LOL!

GoDaddy Go!

Remember we were told by our hosting company (GoDaddy.com) that chowtimes is causing an overload to their servers? They told us to fix it or they will have no choice but to kick us out. Alternatively, we need to move to a $165 a month plan! Gosh … from a $16 plan to a $165 plan … we can’t afford that!


Well, I am glad to tell you that the worst is over. We did a lot of changes on chowtimes. Most of it is under the hood and they are not really visible to you. The good thing is, GoDaddy re-examined chowtimes on May 15th … and they gave us the thumbs up. The changes we had made are good enough, at least for now. The site is lighter in many ways.

Whew! For a moment we were so worried they will kick us out like the dastradly BlueHost.com folks did to us last year. They did not give us any notice and just shut our site down. No warning at all that our site is overloading their CPU!

At least GoDaddy gave us one month to sort this out. So … GoDaddy Go!

Chowtimes v1.0

One of the blog post I really love to follow is Tana’s blog called the Cheap Appetite. In his post about Fried Chicken in Chinatown, someone brought up the link to our old chowtimes blog.


I had completely forgotten about that first chowtimes blog. Looking back at chowtimes in 2006, I can’t help but to think how … (more…)

Continue ReadingWeekend Musings — May 22nd, 2010

Weekend Musings (May 8th, 2010)

This week, I will just provide a quick update on the big event that is happening next weekend.

The 8GTCC Jiangsu dinner is scheduled for Saturday, May 15th. The response was rather good and will surpass the number of people in the 8GTCC Hunan dinner. Up to this point, we have 66 names confirmed.


There will be about 19 dishes in all. I am seriously worried that this is going to be too much food but hey, we are trusting the guidance of Dylan who planned the evening for us. Dylan is passionate about having all the dishes he picked. I guess everyone who had signed up for the dinner will need to skip breakfast and lunch that day.

We are going to continue to accept requests until Monday, May 10th. So if you like to attend, please send an email to suanne@chowtimes.com. More info about the dinner is found here.

Other Events

I am over extended already. So am going to kill off the … (more…)

Continue ReadingWeekend Musings (May 8th, 2010)