Hello, welcome to this blog recording my journey in food.

I love cooking, eating out and also working out (to digest food that I’ve had). In my free time, I like reading Japanese mystery novels, watching Japanese dramas and films.

While I love eating out, I believe the foundation of healthy and yummy life starts from home cooking. Naturally, I enjoy cooking and baking and would like to share my joy of home cooking with you all.

Hope you enjoy reading my blog and I welcome any feedback or suggestions from you.   Thank you.



Home Cooking

Japchae: Vermicelli with a mix of vegetables and beef

I bet anyone interested in Korean food has heard about this amazing dish “Japchae“, vermicelli with a mix of vegetables and beef. It is not an everyday dish, mostly served at special occasions, like family birthdays or housewarming parties. However, it doesn’t mean that it is hard to make this at home. Rather, with this foolproof recipe, you will find making Japchae as easy (and delicious) as it gets~!


Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 30 min

Yield : Makes 4 main servings or 8 appetizer servings


– 250g Korean dried vermicelli noodle, 200g lean beef for stir-fry, 1 medium-sized onions, 2 carrots, 1 bunch of spinach

– Sauce: 4T soy sauce, 2T Korean cooking syrup(물엿 or 올리고당), 1T brown sugar, 2T sesame oil, 1T sesame seed, 1t chopped garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper

– Olive oil for boiling vermicelli and stir frying.


1. Soak dried vermicelli in a big bowl filled with cold water (30 min).

2. Thinly cut onions, carrots. Heat 1T olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion cook, uncovered, stirring often for 3-4 min or until it softens slightly. Repeat the process for carrots.

3. In a large bowl of salted(1T) water, blanch washed spinach for 30-45 seconds. Rinse and drain the spinach with cold water and squeeze any remaining water. Season the spinach with salt, pepper, 1/2t chopped garlic, 1T sesame oil, 1/2T sesame seed.

4. Thinly slice beef and season it with salt, pepper, 1/3T soy sauce, 1T sesame oil. In a medium-high heat, stir fry the beef for 3-4 min or until medium-well done.

5. In a large pot, boil the water(3L) and pour 1/3 cup of soy sauce, 2T brown sugar and 2T olive oil together with vermicelli for 5 min. Stir vermicelli occasionally to prevent sticking.

6. Drain vermicelli then quickly rinse with cold water and put it in a large bowl. Add the sauce to the noodle and toss to combine. Add all the cooked ingredients above and mix well.

7. In a large pan, drizzle 1T olive oil and lightly stir-fry the mixture 6 (better not to pour all the mixture at once, half each time) for 2-3 min. Serve hot (or lukewarm is also fine) and enjoy with your loved ones!



*Any questions or comments are welcome!


Trip to Busan: Serious foodie’s guide

“So your kids must be studying at the school in USA.”

Curious taxi drivers in Busan cut us off in conversation every time when my two kids chatted each other in English. In a country where there’s a national interest(closer to an obsession) with language-learning, their (endless) chitchat was enough to draw taxi drivers’ attention. When explaining that we’re actually living in Hong Kong, a flurry of questions keep continuing. “Isn’t Hong Kong a part of China? Is English the official language of Hong Kong, not Chinese?”

Well, how can I explain (or do I need to explain) things like, international schools, our kids’ experience prior to HK, status of Hong Kong as SAR (Special Administrative Region) and somewhat not-so-simple relationship with China during such a short ride? Although inquisitive, Busan’s taxi drivers are super-gentle and extremely soft-speaking, so don’t feel uncomfortable in case you encounter something like this.

It appears that the relaxing atmosphere of this beautiful port city even made taxi drivers mellow-tempered, indeed a rare characteristic found in the big cities. True, during the last 4 weeks of summer in Busan, I’ve never felt freer and more excited, owing to leisurely ambience and mind-blowing food.

If you are a serious foodie or adventurous enough to taste exotic food that you’ve never imagined possible, this post is just right for you. From spicy cockle dish, abalone porridge to live octopus, the list goes on and on. As for the diversity and excitement offered by food in Busan, sky’s the limit!

1. Poong Won Jang (풍원장 꼬막정찬): 1409 U 1-dong, Haeundae-gu



Poong Won Jang is one of my favorite restaurants in Busan, serving cockle set meal only. It matters little whether you are a fan of cockle or not, as made-to-order seafood miso soup and delectable side dishes served along with the main dish are too good to resist, all at the unbelievable price of KRW15,000(HKD100, USD12). Its prime waterfront location adjacent to famous “Movie/cartoon street” makes this place popular destination for locals and travelers alike.

2. Obok Seaweed (오복미역): 28 Gunam-ro, Haeundae-gu


“How lazy does a housewife need to be to order Seaweed soup in a restaurant?” As a no-frills everyday dish (aka birthday soup), seaweed soup has  never seriously  been regarded as a “proper menu” by itself. But Obok Seaweed is an exception and all it serves are seaweed soups, beef/clam/sole fish seaweed soups. Take one spoon of its hours’-long simmered seaweed stock, and its deep flavor and chunky ingredient will make you nod why it makes sense to pay for seaweed soup alone.

3. Mitaki(미타키): 139, Dalmaji-gil, haeundae-gu





If I have to choose only one place to eat in Busan, this is it. Eating lunch Kaiseki while overlooking unrestricted “Haeundae beach” view is a sheer luxury. Restaurant is divided into two floors, one specializing in Kaiseki meal, the other for Teppanyaki course, and it is one of the biggest regrets that I didn’t try Teppanyaki here. If you are longing for Japanese style sashimi(숙성회) instead of Korean style fresh fish(활어), look no further than Mitaki and the whole experience will make your Busan stay absolutely memorable.

4. Millennium fresh fish house (밀레니엄 횟집): 5/F, Millennium Plaza, 110-51, Minrak-dong, Suyoung-gu




Welcome to Busan. You’ve just stepped into the heart of the local charm, meaning you ‘ve reached where locals frequent to shop for daily sashimi and fish. 5th floor seafood restaurant offers 7 course dinner feast, including fresh abalone and live octopus smothered with seaweed and sesame oil, all at the price of KRW35,000(HKD240, USD30). Considering how expensive sashimi/sushi dinner costs in HK, this is a steal and quality is also second to none.

5. Bium wine bar (비움와인바): 1459 U-dong,  Haeundae-gu




Bium is probably the most memorable wine bars in Busan, full of characters and taste. Ex-paradise hotel sommelier Mr. Kang surely knows about wine and food. Bium literally means “making empty (to fill up again)” and it is the place to make yourself empty to recharge your batteries whenever you need a rest or companion (whether wine or whisky). “Signature cheese and fruit platter” will be a good match to whatever alcohol you will choose.

6. Cheonji Halmaejip (천지 할매집): 119-3 Yeonhwa-ri, Gijang-eup, Gijang



Driving about 30 min from central Busan, you will find another local beauty “Gijang” district where tourists are hardly seen. Best quality Uni in Busan can be found here in “Gijang market“, a local chef’s most beloved place. “Abalone porridge pot” is the food for your soul and its vivid dark green color and chunky abalone slices show what “Abalone porridge” is supposed to look(taste) like.

7. Italy Pocha(이태리 포차): 247 Gobun-ro, Yeonsan-9dong, Yeonje-gu




Italy pocha is an exquisite combination of “Italian restaurant” and “Korean style casual pub” and chances are its nondescript exterior will easily fool you. But don’t underestimate this owner/chef trained at some of Korea’s top Italian restaurants, who creates awesome family-style dishes for taste bud and visual pleasure. Honestly, everything I tried was excellent, with mushroom & shrimp salad/spicy tomato seafood pasta/Tiramisu being another good combination of the meal.

Now, get the hang of the food in Busan? Next, let’s go back to Hong Kong and indulge in more gastronomical pleasure in the world’s fastest-paced city!



Trip to Busan: Food lover’s guide

Beach, relaxing atmosphere, leisurely people and amazing food…What else can I ask for more in Busan?

Yes, I am very excited to have my first long summer in Busan since my childhood and happy to share my findings in Busan with you. Some of the restaurants in this post are hardly known to tourists (Thanks to a large number of relatives living in Busan, I came to find many great places which no tourist guide books have any reference). You will be surprised to find how good, authentic and cheap they are!

1. On the plate (1F, Paradise Hotel, 1408-5, Jung-dong, Haeundae)20258508_10214168747601424_1413348881426761092_n




20108366_10214168774602099_4452068070497866763_nReputation of Paradise hotel in Busan is simply legendary and ex-Paradise chefs, sommeliers are found in some of the best establishment in Busan, proudly holding their badge as “Ex-Paradise (wo)men”. Top quality facilities, restaurants and service all adequately describe Paradise Hotel, and the real star is its beachfront location, commanding the best sea view in Busan.

With the slogan of “7-Star dining experience”, On The Plate is an ideal place to enjoy seafood-focused international buffet in the newly renovated venue. After your lunch, plunge into this beautiful Haeudae, Busan’s top beach where the number of daily visitors easily reaches 1 million in peak season.

2. Aomori (3F, Centum Hotel, 1505, U-dong, Haeundae)20156023_10214198683869812_8197313086834994207_n.jpg



20108239_10214168887644925_2863363106412153213_n5 min-walk from the World’s largest department store “Centum Shinsegae” sits this cozy Japanese place, quite famous among visitors from other parts of the country. While I greatly enjoyed Omakase lunch comprising 5-6 menus at a fraction of the price that I would pay for in Hong Kong, it didn’t take long to realize that there are numerous other alternatives in this port city where seafood places are as common as wonton noodle shops in Hong Kong.

Aomori is worthwhile to try if you are in “Centum city” and want to get your Sushi/Sashimi fix in a refined setting. I am more excited to post real authentic Sashimi places filled with Busan characteristics, something similar to “Tsukiji market” in Tokyo in my next post “Trip to Busan: Serious foodie’s guide”

3. Ops Bakery (1429-6 Jwa-dong, Haeundae, multi-locations)20155970_10214169024968358_5123162627281126722_n


20258001_10214169024608349_1131190233990753520_nOps Bakery is somewhat equivalent to Seoul’s “Kim Youngmo Bakery“, offering highest quality pastries/breads/cakes at a price. It has around 8 shops in major locations throughout the city and chances are you will encounter at least one of its venues somewhere in your itinerary. Despite its aggressive pricing policy, Ops Bakery is always filled with people due mainly to its comprehensive menu that satisfies general palate.

4. Newbell Bread (1F, Zenith Square, 33 Marine City 3-ro, Haeundae-gu)20258241_10214226336121101_287567151941450037_n




20292697_10214233496260100_6669250647814935703_n20258299_10214233497540132_8054190739315217757_nLocated at one of Busan’s wealthiest districts “Marine City” which boasts the splendid skyline, Newbell Bread really stands out from the crowd and provides the neighborhood with unique, quality bread. Signature menu is “roasted chestnut bread” where you can find generous amount of whole roasted chestnut and “Angel baguette” whose soft, chewy texture pairs perfectly with its homemade milk jam. Strongly recommend this place to anyone visiting Busan if you care for good loaf of bread with decent coffee in a super-posh neighborhood.

5.18 Wandang House (31, BIFF Gwangjang-ro, Nampo-dong, Jung-gu)20155744_10214168934846105_5324313366699725970_n



20156064_10214168935086111_8161034914892492678_nDon’t let the humble decors fool you as this serves one of the tastiest dumpling places in the city. Menu at 18 Wandang House is simple and straightforward, it’s all about wandang (similar to wontons in Hong Kong) soup made with long-simmered anchovy seaweed stock and handmade wandang that is irresistibly good. If your hunger is not satisfied with a bowl of wandang soup(HKD 50, USD 6), pair it with “Soba with mixed vegetables in a spicy sauce(HKD 60, USD 8)” and these are truly comfort food for the soul. After your meal, a walk through Nampo-dong will unfold many interesting places, including “Kukje Market” which is featured in the famous Korean movie.

6. 냉수탕가든: Naengsu Tang(107, Gaya gongwon-ro, Busan jingu)20228718_10214186500965247_1243337773339766286_n




20245975_10214186501045249_8208064088585047274_nOK, Naengsu-tang is not the one you will encounter in your typical itinerary. I had the most interesting meal here in my first week in Busan for both types of food and dining ambience. You’ll have the luxury of experiencing traditional Korean dining back in the old days(Korean-style Al-fresco dining surrounded by lush green). Naengsu-tang specializes in “roasted duck(duck bulgogi)” and “herbal simmered clear duck soup(Duck baeksook)” and they taste amazingly good.

You will be surprised to find that it only cost KRW 150,000 (HKD1,000, USD 130) to feed 8 hungry adults and 2 primary school kids. So next time you visit Busan (preferably with a group of 4 or more), simply grab a cab and go to this place. It will truly be an experience that you won’t forget.

7.  JM Coffee (B1, Sinsegae Centum, 1495 U-dong, Haeundae-gu, multi-locations)20265118_10214226179037174_8598135160598272946_n


20292981_10214226217638139_7908004811804561679_nIf you are wondering where you will get your caffeine fix in the world’s largest department store “Shinsegae Centum”,  JM Coffee is the right place to satisfy your coffee craving. As a coffee aficionado, I could immediately sense that this place treats coffee seriously. Try its popular Long black or Cafe latte in its cool ambience exuding hipster-vibe in each and every corner and it is the place that makes Busan’s cafe scene so unique and vibrant.

Next, Trip to Busan: Serious foodie’s guide will follow to introduce you more exciting places in Busan so please stay tuned.

Hong Kong

5 Korean restaurants that you shouldn’t miss in HK

Many Hongkongers are in love with Korean food, the moment I reveal(?) my identity as Korean, I start getting bombarded with a flurry of questions like, where to go for Korean BBQ. While there are quite a few good Korean BBQ places in HK, Korean food is not all about BBQ, just as Sushi doesn’t represent diverse Japanese cuisine.

Below are some of great finds where we Koreans love to visit for no-frills, good Korean food. These are all great, but they specialize in different types of food, so simply grab one of your choice, depending on your mood today.

1. Arirang (3F, W Square, 314-322 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai)IMG_2180

IMG_2579Arirang is the place to go whenever I have a craving for Korean food at a comfortable, down-to-earth setting. While more and more unique, fun places offering fusion Korean food are popping up throughout the city, I still think food at Arirang is one of the most authentic kinds. Its menu option is very extensive, running the gamut from simple “Sundubu Jjigae”(spicy Beancurd soup), “Bibimbab”(mixed vegetable rice) to all types of BBQ and Korean hotpot, you just name it.

Weekday lunch set provides a good bargain with its price dropping to almost 50%, but the real fun part comes at dinner time, where you can find more group diners, a “bomb shot” (aka “Poktanju”, a mixed drink) and a lot of laughter. Try “Seafood pancake”, “Spicy beancurd soup” and “Mixed vegetable rice”, which also go well with Korean BBQ here. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 4/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4.5)

2. Hwaduk (21/F, Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay)IMG_2387



Hwaduk is sort of way fancier version of usual Korean fried chicken place that you might find in Korea. From the moment I dined at Hwaduk, which opened less than two years ago, I have been a big fan of Hwaduk with the quality of its “Oven Roasted Chicken” (not fried!) and all other dishes, even “Gorgonzola pizza with honey” tasted better than any other pizzerias.

Perched on the 21st floor of this restaurant-filled elegant Cubus Building, Hwaduk is a perfect place to quench your chicken craving (pairing with a jar of fruit Sangria and this is a heaven). Hwaduk Chicken comes with very healthy and tasty green salad on the side, no matter what flavor of chicken you order. Health-conscious ingredient and cooking methods are definitely an added bonus that can hardly be matched by others. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 4/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4.5)

3. Moyo (36 Aberdeen Street, Central)IMG_2395



“Burrata & Fig in Modena balsamic vinegar” or “Cacio pepe e noci rice cakes” doesn’t sound like your typical Korean dish, however this Korean chef trained in Italy has been doing so good for creating amazing Korean-Italian fusion food. As Korean myself, I don’t usually eat at Korean-fusion restaurants but Moyo‘s creative menu incorporating familiar flavor with foreign ingredient is worthwhile to try.

This place is especially good for 20,30ish-youngsters’ group gathering due especially to its boisterous ambience in this small central outpost. Most of the patrons(over 90%) were Korean when I visited Moyo last two times. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 3.5/ Service 4/ Price 4.5/Value 4)

4. Itaewon(G/F, Kiu Fung Mansion, 14-18C Austin Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui)19961527_10214067342906370_6063785920928703858_n



Itaewon, here we go. This is the place where you should head to when you are in the mood for Korean BBQ. Quality meat and side dishes (aka “banchan”) will make your whole BBQ experience  so satisfying, easily compensating for a bit of difficulty locating this restaurant from Tsim Sha Tsui mtr station. Itaewon is great for group dining, virtually in all age groups.(Taste 4.5/ Ambience 4/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4.5)

5. Jangdok(G/F, 188-190 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai)jangdok

bibimbabPleasantly surprised by the quality of the food at a very reasonable price in this newly opened Korean restaurant. While few of the patrons are Korean, Jangdok delivers higher degree of authenticity in their food. So it can be a good alternative to other Korean restaurants if you want to have a quick, easy Korean meal. Jangdok is truly a bang for the buck and its track record is already proven at its prior Jordan location. Worthwhile to try if you happen to be in the area and want to save time and money. (Taste 4/ Ambience 3/ Service 4/ Price 3/Value 4)

Verdict: I have been to Arirang more than 15 times and Hwaduk 10 times on various occasions but it is in Korea where you can taste the best Korean food, stating the obvious. It is only a 3.5 hour-flight from HK and you can enjoy amazing Korean food feast at around 1/3 price (in Seoul) and even less (in other cities) than you would pay for in HK. The diversity and quality of Korean food is unrivalled. So why not planning your trip to Korea for your next food adventure?


Hong Kong

Afternoon tea @ Gradini, Pottinger Hotel

Forget about something British influences about high-tea tradition, graceful afternoon gourmet pastime or whatever it’s called, afternoon tea in HK can be another great excuse of satisfying our sweet tooth in a less guilty(?) way. Who cares about putting some extra pounds when a wide variety of beautifully arranged savory and sweet choices are right in front of you?

My afternoon tea experience at Gradini, was one of the best in HK for both absolute quality and value for price, so I decided to dedicate my posting today solely to Gradini, Pottinger.   It is actually a hidden-gem that most tourists or even Hongkongers are not aware of its true value, so I am happy to share this amazing place with you.

Having already experienced its great Italian meal at Gradini, I’ve had a certain degree of expectation about afternoon tea here. But with its price almost 30% cheaper than most of other famous high-tea places nearby in central, I somehow didn’t expect too much at the same time. But when this tea-set tray came to our table, I could instantly sense that this can probably be my favorite afternoon tea experience, and it truly was.

Gradini, Pottinger Hotel (74 Queen’s Road Central, Central)IMG_2528.JPGAmazing afternoon tea set amounts only to HKD 188(USD24), one savory tray and the other sweet tray with a choice of coffee or tea. This extra hot cup of cappuccino with liberal amount of cinnamon power paired so well with above equally great food.

IMG_2526Savory choice: San Daniella ham with a fig, buffalo mozzarella with tomato sandwich, lobster sandwich, curry and meat puff, two thumbs up!

IMG_2525Sweet choice: Tiramisu, panna cotta, macaroon, scone, egg yolk cake, heavenly!

IMG_2513Cappuccino alone deserves 5 stars, extra hot and strong espresso flavor topped with creamy foam/cinnamon power

IMG_2530Cozy afternoon tea lounge, separate from elegant main dining area

IMG_2561.JPGElegant main dining area filled with charm

IMG_2562.JPGFacade of Pottinger Hotel, with Gradini on 2nd floor, Ta Vie on 3rd floor, another famous restaurant specializing in Japanese-infused French food

IMG_2548You can simply order dessert a la carte, if you don’t want to be overwhelmed with huge afternoon tea set. Above features their signature “Moscato Jelly with fresh berry compote honey cone and coconut gelato” and “Tiramisu classico del pasticcere”.

Verdict: While it is conveniently located in hustle and bustle of central district lined with world-renowned brand shops, its tucked-away location slightly above busy Queen’s Road Central makes Gradini a quiet sanctuary for gourmands. While afternoon tea set is sometimes filled with too much unnecessary kinds of food, one at Gradini presents an adequate amount of portion, making one tea set enough for two people. With its  premium quality ingredient, snug ambience and price tag being so unlike central, value of afternoon tea at Gradini easily tops most of other popular venues in HK.

Rating: Taste 5/ Ambience 4.5/ Service 5/ Price 3.5 /Value 5


Sushi Ume(梅)

In terms of food, everything available in Seoul can be found in Hong Kong at comparable or better quality but Japanese food seems not the case. Especially, when taking the price of Omakase into account, it feels like eating Sushi/Sashimi by flying to Seoul could be cheaper, even including plane ticket. As I adore Japanese cuisine, I eat them a lot in Hong Kong, but never miss chances of eating Sushi/Sashimi whenever I am in Seoul.

Dongbu-ichongdong, wealthy residential district filled with unique and fun independent restaurants and shops, also known as “Little Tokyo” in Seoul,  is the perfect place where you can enjoy authentic Sushi/Sashimi Omakase dinner at around 1/3 price of comparable restaurants in HK. Sushi Ume(梅) is the sister restaurant of Sushi Kiku(菊), probably the most famous Japanese restaurant in the area where over 15 Japanese restaurants call home. Sushi Ume costs slightly cheaper, also easier to make a booking than Kiku, it tastes just equally good.

Sushi Ume is not a fancy place where you can impress your date with its down-to-earth and humble ambience. But it is the place where you can truly wind down after your exhausting day over authentic Omakase dinner and a bottle of Sake (they even keep your unfinished bottle of Sake if you are a regular or turn out to be a good(?) patron).



















The best moment came when the chef asked me, “Is there anything that you want to eat  more?” after completing above 18 amazing Sashimi Omakase. Yes, Omakase in Seoul never ends, rather it was me who turned down another deliciously-looking Maki as I can’t digest anymore, cutting short original 20-course dinner. Although there are many fancier high-end Japanese restaurants in Cheongdam-dong or Apgujeong-dong (belonging to Gangnam area), for those who don’t have a deep pocket including myself, Sushi Ume is undeniably a bang for the buck.  With its quality food and cozy ambience in a lovely neighborhood, I will definitely return next time I visit Seoul.

Rating: Taste 4.5/ Ambience 3/ Service 4.5/ Price 3 /Value 5