Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Luggage Ride in Shenzhen

I recently saw many examples of luggage sales at the Dongmen shopping area in Shenzhen. Most buyers likely planned to use their new luggage for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

I saw one example, though, of a more immediate benefit.

Toddler sitting on a piece of luggage being pushed

Thursday, February 4, 2016

More on Foods with Durian

Durian hawker in Hanoi, Vietnam
Durian hawker in Hanoi, Vietnam, five years ago

In response to my first taste of durian pizza and my stated preference for plain durian, a reader in the U.S., a country were I doubt most people could even identify the fruit, shared his own durian-related preferences:
For what it's worth, my first exposure to durian was in ice cream. I didn’t like it. I also tried durian muffins — also not so good. I then discovered that I do quite like plain durian — so long as we’re outside and the smell can dissipate.
I had previously wondered whether treats such as a durian ice cream could be a way for more people to gain an appreciation of durian. The reader's experience made me question that, though the unenjoyable treats may have primed him for a more pleasurable first experience eating plain durian. Perhaps if he revisits the muffins he may now have a different impression. It is also worth noting that people can have strong preferences for a specific durian variety, of which there are many. There are so many variables to consider, but at least the reader's story has a happy ending. He may be heartened to learn I ate the strong-smelling durian pizza outside.

As planned, I ate the leftover durian pizza at room temperature (inside) for breakfast. I must say, it was a great way to start the day. I now see durian pizza in a new light and am wondering if I could get a durian pizza delivered in the early morning — with extra durian, of course.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Joining a Mass Migration Out of the Pearl River Delta Area

During recent days at the Dongmen shopping district in Shenzhen, lint removers were obviously not the only item in demand. One item in particular stood out.

luggage for sale at Dongmen in Shenzhen

So many people walked around with pieces of newly purchased luggage, one could wonder whether the world's biggest annual human migration is underway in China. It is. During a 40 day period surrounding the Lunar New Year, Chinese travelers are expected to take 2.9 billion trips. Notably, that's 700 million trips less than last year.

Yesterday, travelers in nearby Guangzhou experienced some of the pains which occur when transporting all of those people doesn't go as planned. Due to bad weather far to the north delaying trains, thousands were stranded — figures range from 38,000 to 100,000. Part of the discrepancy may be due to some figures including Guangzhou East Railway Station. Whatever the case, it was a lot of people and probably a miserable experience.

Yesterday, I made my own journey. Due to my unexpected return to the area and staying in Shenzhen longer than planned, I was not able to buy a train ticket in advance. They were sold out, so I took a bus at roughly twice the cost — partly attributable to the bus company's willingness to raise prices for the holiday. The bus ride lasted over 6 hours instead of the 2 hours possible on a high speed train, though that doesn't factor in the bus stations' more convenient locations. I am not complaining, though, even with the many unexpected detours the bus took to pick up more passengers. I made it to my destination.

Monday, February 1, 2016

No Donkey Today, Just Durian Pizza in Shenzhen

For a late lunch today in Shenzhen, I headed to the COCO Park — a trendy shopping mall with a number of restaurants. After all of the recent posts about donkey meat, I was in the mood to try something different.

In the mall's central courtyard area outside, an advertisement for a Vietnamese restaurant tempted me.

advertisement for a vietnamese restaurant at COCO Park in Shenzhen

But the restaurant didn't fit the "different" category for me.

Inside the mall I saw a banner inside advertising the Sajiao Chilli Restaurant. It promised "ALL FOODS ARE USED ONLY ONCE!"

advertisement for Sajiao Chilli Restaurant with the claim "ALL FOODS ARE USED ONLY ONCE!"

I typically eat food which has only been used once. So, again, tempting but not different. Or at least I hope so.

Next, from afar I spotted WareHouse.

WareHouse pizza restaurant at COCO Park in Shenzhen

Their pizza was tempting too, but it still couldn't pass the "different" test.

But I didn't have to give up hope on enjoying some pizza. Fortunately, I was able to find an appropriate restaurant next to a large sign promoting it.

La César restaurant at COCO Park in Shenzhen

Like WareHouse, La César specializes in pizza.

More important for today's goal, it specializes in a pizza I had never tried before. No, not donkey meat pizza (still haven't seen that). The main ingredient for their famous pizza is durian — a fruit that evokes a wide range of responses from people. Some can't bear the smell. Some are attracted to the fruit so much they wonder if people have died from durian overdoses. I fall into the latter category, and someday I will write an ode, or perhaps just a post, about durian. Today is just for durian pizza.

The restaurant allows you to order a pizza with two different toppings at no extra cost. So for one half I ordered the standard durian topping (there are pricier varieties of durian available) and for the other half I went for a black mushroom topping with tomato sauce (they have a number of other non-durian options as well).

half durian and half mushroom pizza at La César at COCO Park in Shenzhen

The half and half option is an excellent offering since the durian pizza is sweet and could serve as a dessert. One drawback is that the strong durian smell can coverup some of the smells from the other pizza. Ideally, I would want the durian half of the pizza brought out later, though it's hard to escape durian smells regardless since the durian pizza is a popular choice.

The results? Keeping the dessert theme in mind, I started with the more savory mushroom side. It was good although more fresh basil would have been appreciated. The crust reminded me of Little Caesars in the U.S.

The all-important durian side was pretty good as well. It works, though I'm not sure the cheese was really necessary other than for texture. Which leads to my common impression when trying durian ice cream, durian cookies, etc. I like them but often feel like I would be better off just eating a plain durian.

If you like pizza and you like durian, the durian pizza will probably pass. As long as the half/half option remains, I can see myself returning someday. Tomorrow, I look forward to seeing whether leftover durian pizza works for breakfast.

advertisement with monkeys for La César at COCO Park in Shenzhen

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tough Choices: Lamb, Donkey, Noodles, or Food With a British Theme in Zhuhai

I have seen many restaurants in China serving donkey meat in addition to the ones I tried in Handan and in Huizhou. These restaurants often specialize in donkey meat. But some offer options, such as this restaurant in Zhuhai, Guangdong:

Lamb or donkey both readily available

If those options didn't appeal, across the street in front of the New Yuan Ming Palace (a place deserving a post of its own someday) another set of options were available.

I didn't take advantage of any of these choices. And I am not sure whether Sweet Home serves authentic British food. Pizza appears to be on the menu though. I doubt you can get donkey meat as a topping, but it's worth asking.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

No Freshly Baked Buns: A Donkey Meat Restaurant in Huizhou

Mention of a donkey crisis in China and its possible impact on donkey meat dumplings inspired reader wallaby78 to write:
I love my local donkey meat place! They serve the meat in a freshly baked bun.... I'm hungry now.
This brings to mind places I have tried or seen in Beijing. Due to a technical problem, I can't share photos of them at the moment. So instead, I will continue the theme by sharing where I ate donkey meat over 4 years ago in Huizhou, Guangdong.

donkey meat restaurant in Huizhou, Guangdong

The restaurant offered a variety of donkey meat dishes. I went for something simple and also ordered some greens.

vegetables dish next to a dish with donkey meat

No freshly baked buns, but of course there was rice.

Hungrier now?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Gelatin and Dumpling Woes: China Needs More Donkeys

Rare are the days when The New York Times mentions a "donkey crisis" and "ass glue", but such occurred today. Chris Buckley reports a shortage of donkeys in China increases the likelihood your donkey skin gelatin is a fake. This poses a problem especially for people who believe the gelatin has medicinal properties and can't be replaced with even mule skin gelatin or horse skin gelatin — those are completely different.

To my knowledge, I have never ingested donkey skin gelatin. I may have been affected by China's donkey dilemma in another way though. The news made me think of a restaurant in Handan, Hebei province, where five years ago I ate my first donkey dumpling.

donkey meat restaurant in Handan, China

Restaurants serving donkey meat generally aren't difficult to find in China, and Handan isn't the only place where I have eaten it. My first experience was at a restaurant in Shanghai and later experiences occurred in Beijing and Huizhou. I didn't expect any special benefits from the meat and selected the dishes out of curiosity and the desire to immerse myself in China's food culture. Donkey dumplings definitely aren't for everybody, but I haven't heard a convincing argument as to why eating donkey meat is ethically very different from eating other meats such as beef.

In dumplings, sandwiches, or hot pots, the meat had a distinctive flavor. When friends have asked about the taste, I stated the obvious: it tastes like ass. But now I have more reason to question whether all of the dishes I tried included genuine donkey meat. Am I more of an ass if they did or they did not? I can easily imagine how some friends might reply.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Life With Less Lint Embraced at Shenzhen's Dongmen

My recent Shenzhen-themed posts have likely caused some longtime readers to ask an important question: Are people still selling cucumber slicers in the Dongmen shopping area as they were several years ago?

Based on recent observations, they are not. Now something else is sold by many hawkers there in a similar fashion: lint removers.

lint removers for sale on an outdoor table

hawker selling lint removers at Dongmen Pedestrian Street in Shenzhen

hawker selling lint removers at Dongmen Pedestrian Street in Shenzhen

One of the hawkers was asking 10 yuan (about U.S. $1.50) for a non-electric lint remover and 30 yuan for an electric lint remover (shaver). The latter price could quickly drop to 20 yuan. The lint removers appeared to be in demand, and several were sold during the brief time I watched several of the hawkers. As seen in the second and third photos, most of the hawkers have easily-transportable displays similar to those used for the cucumber slicers — still important for an easy escape from roaming security guards.

And yet again, a loose end is tied up. Though, as usual, more questions arise.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Name for an Unusual Building in Shenzhen

Yesterday's post included a photo of a building in Shenzhen with an unusual design.

Ruihe Building (瑞和大厦) in Shenzhen

I didn't worry about identifying the building when I took the photo two weeks ago. I expected it would be easy to figure out later online. But the best I could do last night in a short amount of time was find the building on Baidu Map's street view where it is covered by scaffolding. No name appeared for the building, and an image search of the photo proved fruitless.

While at the nearby Dongmen Pedestrian Street area today, I unexpectedly caught a glimpse of the building down an alley. Feeling inspired, I decided to identify it the old fashioned way and made my way to a passageway where I could cross Shennan East Road underground while perusing the items sold by various hawkers. Upon arriving at the building, I considered what appeared to be a bovine-inspired sculpture next to the building's main entrance.

sculpture of bovine head in front of the Ruihe Building (瑞和大厦) in Shenzhen

I walked into the main lobby, and a security guard soon approached. Perhaps he was from the nearby Shenzhen Security Service Company.

Sign for the Shenzhen Security Service Company

The seemingly nervous security guard answered a few questions before he stopped to salute an older man walking by. The man had a puzzled expression when he looked at me. Probably to nobody's surprise, we both refrained from any saluting.

After leaving the building, I pondered a nearby Land Rover advertisement with a snow covered scene.

Land Rover advertisment with a snowy winter scene

Although Shenzhen has experienced unusually cold weather recently, snowy roads are rarely a worry. It snowed in Guangzhou, not far away to the north, yesterday for the first time in 50 years (added note: parts of Shenzhen reportedly saw snow as well).

Anyway, the building under question holds the Ruihe R & D Center and is creatively named the Ruihe Building (瑞和大厦). According to Reuters:
SHENZHEN RUIHE CONSTRUCTION DECORATION CO., LTD. is principally engaged in the design and construction of building decoration projects. The Company provides decoration and construction services for shopping malls, hotels, hospitals, curtain, subways, finance, office buildings and theaters, among others. The Company operates its businesses in domestic markets.
And now one loose end is tied up.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Two Contemporary Shenzhen Styles

Two photos from the city which borders Hong Kong — Shenzhen:

On Shennan East Road

"Year of the Monkey Makeup Inspired by Chinese Opera"
Portion of an advertisement inside Lilian Sun Plaza, Dongmen

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Café With Ego

Some Hong Kong businesses indicate honesty with their name, others something else.

Café de Ego in Hong Kong

I have only passed by the cafe near the Kowloon City Ferry Pier in Hong Kong. I wonder if breakfast would be better at a Café de Eggo.

On a deeper note, I saw a remarkable film today which currently can't be seen outside of Hong Kong. China wants to see its movie industry thrive, but this is one film Beijing would be happy to see fail. At the moment, though, available tickets are scarce. Still pondering what I saw, so a few thoughts about the film later.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Honest Commercial Corporation in Hong Kong

I share this lest people doubt it exists. Assuming they live up to their name, I wish them the best.

Honest Commercial Corporation in Hong Kong