Dim Sum on New Year’s day has become somewhat of a tradition for my friends and I. Every year, like any normal rational beings, we would HAVE to pick the busiest day of the year in Chinatown to book a table for our annual dim sum feast. Most restaurants do not take reservations on Chinese New Year so we came there rather early to avoid the 2 hours long queue.
This year, we chose to go to Imperial China on Lisle Street. Seeing that we had a relatively large group, we managed to skip some of the queue to get a cozy table on the second floor. That picture of our table above only shows less than half of what we actually ordered! We got so busy tasting all these delicious dishes that I didn’t actually take many pictures. What’s really cool about going to dim sum with a large group is that you get to order and try so many things. My absolute favourite at Imperial China had to be the steamed pork buns. The dough was so soft and fluffy… It was like eating a cloud! The second best part was that when the bill arrives, and you realise that all that yummy food only costed around 15 pounds per person.
Meanwhile, in the streets people were gathering every 10 metres to watch troops of performers doing the Lion Dance in front of each restaurants. They were doing this thing where the lion would snatch a cabbage attached to the front door of a store or restaurant then “chew” the cabbage and eventually throw it back to the store owner. I’m guessing that it must have been a good luck ritual of some sort – maybe someone can enlighten me about this? Anyhow, that was such a fun day! I can’t wait until next time :)
!! HAPPY NEW YEAR !!
It’s crazy to think about it, but it’s been 8 years since I last had the chance to celebrate the Lunar New Year (“Tet”) at home. I miss the large gatherings at my grandparents’ house, where we’d all sit around and chat about anything and everything while filling up our stomachs with all the traditional New Year delicacies, like “banh trung” or “canh mang”. I miss those holidays spent with my cousins, when we’d just lounge around and gambled our time away through endless rounds of card games. I miss the Kumquat and Cherry Blossom trees, those precious lucky red envelopes ;), and even the never-ending days when we’d go and visit each and every one of our relative’s homes…
As cheesy as it sounds, Tet has always reminded me of a happy place and time in life, where all burdens are casted aside as we gather together to celebrate a new beginning, filled with hope and dreams. Whilst I’m still away for yet another year, I’m really grateful to have the chance to attend the Vietnamese Embassy’s New Year’s party to celebrate the arrival of the year of the Horse. This allowed me to experience how “home away from home” felt like… And of course, all the yummy food that came with it!
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!
Hello everyone! I know, I’ve been MIA recently BUT I have a legitimate reason for that: I was away on a really exciting month-long trip to… KUWAIT! It’s a small country in the Middle East, bordering Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It’s perhaps not the most conventional destination to spend Christmas and New Year’s at. However, I actually lived in Kuwait for a while before going to uni so it was an exciting experience to be able to go back there and observe things with a new perspective and see how things have changed.
I booked a 9 hours return flight from London to Kuwait, with a short layover in Istanbul, through Turkish Airlines. I had a really enjoyable trip, until I had to return to London – When my flight suddenly got cancelled because of bad weather!! I’m aware that I shouldn’t have booked a flight leaving 3 days before my first exam but have I mentioned how this was a country where it’s constantly sunny all year round and the temperature rarely goes below 20℃ during the day? Well, out of nowhere, the city suddenly became covered with fog on my last day,making it impossible for the planes to depart safely! Although I luckily managed to board on another plane the next day, the weirdest thing must have been to return to a sunny London, clear of rain – something must have seriously gone haywire with global climate.
But enough of weather chit-chat. As I was there for an entire month, it wasn’t a surprise that I ended up with thousands of pictures. I’m not going to post all of them of course but I’m going to share with you some of the highlights of my trip…
This is a slightly misleading picture because it was right before my giant 800g T-bone steak from Gaucho Grill arrived! This entire trip probably made me forget how hunger felt like. In fact, our days were mostly planned around what we were going to eat. Did I mention how I used to be a fat kid when I lived in Kuwait? I mean how can you resist when there’s literally all kind of franchises that you could possibly think about there. If you look closely at the above picture, you can probably distinguish the signboard for the Cheesecake Factory in the background. I’m not a huge fan per say, but when you think about the fact that the Middle East is the only place outside of America where you could find franchises of the brand… Think about the possibilities! I mean they even have Tim Hortons and IHOP! Enough said.
WHEN IN KUWAIT…
When in Kuwait… Do as the Kuwaitis do! My trip wouldn’t be complete without having a taste of the authentic local cuisine. Through family friends’ recommendations, we went to this really dodgy looking place that looked nothing like a restaurant from the outside. However, once you cross the doors, there were a lot of people inside, queuing to get a table. Once again, we got really full after enjoying our feast! My favourite must have been these middle eastern donuts that people have with tea (second picture) – I think they’re called “luqaimaat”? So yum! I did take a lot more food pictures during this trip but I will spare you this time!
THE FRIDAY MARKET
We went to this place called the Friday Market to have a look at well, various things. In Kuwait, the “weekend” is actually Friday and Saturday – Sunday is actually a working day. So, on the weekend, shop owners would open their stalls in the massive marketplace to sell all kinds of things from fridges, sofas, cookers, clothes, to antiques and collectible items. There was an impressive range of vintage cameras, which I found really cool! I found other random things like beepers (anyone remember those?) and even massive first generation mobile phones which weighted tons! It’s an interesting place to walk around, especially if you’re feeling lucky and want to find some pre 1995 gulf war collectibles.
On the first day of 2014, we went to the desert to have a picnic. I have to admit that throughout the entire time that I had lived in Kuwait – I had never actually spend a day in the remote areas of the desert. It was always within a camp or a building at least. So just sitting outside, grilling and enjoying food on top of a slope in the desert was a really new and exciting experience. It was a pretty cool thing to do on the first day of 2014.
THE FISH MARKETS
Apologies for the gory pictures but Fish Markets in Kuwait are definitely worth documenting. If you come there at the right time, you might be able to witness people auction huge buckets of fish (for really affordable prices may I add). It’s pretty incredible. Sometimes, you’d come across the odd shark or giant squid – something that you probably won’t be able to witness in central London. The wide and affordable range of seafood is definitely one of the greatest perks of living in Kuwait (think cheap & affordable sushi)!!
I don’t have a lot of pictures of malls in Kuwait because I was, well, too preoccupied scouring the sales. Heh. These were taken at a tiny mall called Al Kout in Fahaheel. The biggest mall in Kuwait is the Avenues (actually, the picture of me at Gaucho Grill was taken at the Avenues). It houses an extensive range of shops ranging from megastores (such as IKEA, Carrefour, Harvey Nichols,…) to your usual high street retailers (H&M, Zara, Top Shop,..) and high-end luxury stores (Chanel, Dior, Prada,…). I don’t think I’ll list all the food courts and restaurants they have there as well – makes me hungry and desperate to return to Kuwait just thinking about that. I mean you could probably find anything you can think about there and guess what, it’s still under construction! Seriously, shopping malls in the Middle East make Westfield look like a tiny department store…
I got to go back to my old school and meet some of my former teachers and old school mates, which was amazing! However, I want to give a special shout out to these Australian cuties that kept my stay in Kuwait extremely fun and entertaining – Hope we’ll get to meet again soon in the future! Until then, I shall practice to perfect my moustache pose so that I could one day compete with you guys :)