Archive for July, 2007

Seafood in Guangzhou

Sunday, 29 July 2007

About a month ago, I went to visit my brother in Guangzhou, China. If there’s anyone who enjoys food more than I, it would be him. Back when we were students, we had a somewhat different idea of what good food should be. His criteria for any gastronomic adventure, boiled down to four words, is: “Fast, good, cheap,” and “plenty.” (I know, this should be “plentiful.” But the Malaysian colloquilism/bastardization of that is “plenty.”) You could sacrifice perhaps one, but you needed a minimum of three to pass the test. For the most part, I still subscribe to his motto—I’ve had the good fortune to dine at Joel Rubuchon’s in Paris, and many other fine places that only meet the “good” criterion above; but that’s for another post.

Anyway, so here we are in Panyu City, just south of Guangzhou. At one of the many humungous restaurants where seafood is their speciality. You know how they say Americans can only picture something if it’s compared to the size of a football field? Well, imagine a restaurant roughly the size of a football field, stacked six or seven high.

Catch, Cook, Eat
Live Seafood

Now imagine an Underwater World kind of place, or the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where the descriptions of the sea creatures all end with the price per kilogramme, and you have a pretty good idea of the restaurant.

On top of that, they also had all manner of sea fowl (peacocks too), aquatic insects (diving beetle), amphibians, reptiles and assorted invertabrates (silkworm). Linked photos by Flickr user “merriwether”

Geoduck and Abalone
Abalone and Geoduck

We ordered ourselves some mantis shrimp, also known as “shako” in Japanese, and “lai niu har” in Cantonese. “Lai niu har” means “the prawn that urinates,” because they pee all over the place when scared or shocked—like when you toss them into a hot wok. So, apparently, they’re speared right before cooking, to make them evacuate their bowels. Whatever the case, them things are tasty.

Mantis Shrimp Tank
Mantis Shrimp

The highlight of the dinner, though, was steamed sea urchin with egg:

Uni Chawan Mushi

When we ordered it, we didn’t know it was going to be steamed inside the urchin itself, literally, an uni chawan mushi! It was smooth and silky, creamy and sweet—the kind of mild, briny sweetness you taste with perfectly fresh sea urchin.

While often referred to as “sea urchin roe,” the truth is that the five orangey strips are actually the creature’s gonads. Oh well, “that which we call a rose, by any other name…”

In all, a memorable meal. And yes, it was fast, cheap, good AND plenty.


Emeco Navy Chairs

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

(Update: Space at Millennia Walk, is now the Emeco distributor in Singapore.)

Some people dream of owning Lamborghinis, or other such fancy things. Me, I’ve wanted chairs. Specifically, the all-aluminum Emeco 1006 chair.

Emeco Navy Chair

Although it’s a bona fide design classic, the chair has achieved a somewhat anonymous ubiquity. By this, I mean that you’ve probably seen it a hundred times in your life without realizing that this was the chair. Try this: the next time you watch any movie about cops, or C.S.I, pay attention during the interrogation room scenes, and I’ll bet you’ll spot them there.

Part of their beauty lies in their indestructibility. The ten-oh-six “Navy” chair was designed by Wilton C. Dinges in 1944 for use on US Navy submarines and aircraft carriers. The task was to create a corrosion-resistant chair that was light and strong. Strong enough, legend has it, to survive a torpedo blast.

Not just taking their word for it, the folks at their ad agency, Weiden & Kennedy in London, put the chair to the test.

The chairs are made using a 77-step process, and the resulting chair is three times as strong as steel. Every one comes with a lifetime warranty, and you often find some of the original ones from the 50s being sold on eBay. They’re also 100% recyclable, although, you may have to wait for about 150 years before they wear out to do so.

Emeco Classic 10-06

Emeco makes other beautiful chairs, designed by luminaries such as Sir Norman Foster, Philippe Starck and Frank Gehry. But the Navy chair remains my favourite.

You can see the Navy chair and all the others at:

What’s this all about, then?

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Hello, and welcome to Saplings! This blog is supposed to be the offshoot of Pomelo Home, our furniture store (website coming soon!), but it just seemed a little self-serving—I mean, who wants to hear about us flogging our fine furniture week after week? Hmm… now there’s a name : “Flogging Fine Furniture.”

So, in order to keep readers coming back, we’ve also made it about another love of ours. Food.

Of course, there are about a billion excellent blogs for both furniture and food out there. But we’ll do our best to make it worth your while coming back to visit.

As an opener, here’s how to select a good pomelo. Incidentally, the site belongs to a pomelo farm in Tambun, Perak. Is there ANYONE who doesn’t have a website these days?

See you in a few days!