Eating Out in the Dirty City

I Wrote A Dim Sum Restaurant Review for Sassy Hong Kong!

tsui hang village dim sum hong kong

What is this half-eaten pig-shaped bun with a purple sweet potato filling, you may be wondering? In usual Iris-style, I’ve kept myself super busy and have already started new side projects as soon as I moved to Hong Kong. My good friend Rach, editor of Sassy Hong Kong, hooked me up and I’ve been contributing as guest blogger. Check out Rach’s own fabulous blog, Through The Looking Glass, for beauty, good eats, and more! My first post is about one of my favorite foods: dim sum. You can read my review of Tsui Hang Village and drool over photos of barbeque pork, custard buns, and glutinous rice dumplings.

Also, I apologize for the lack of new posts! My first month in Hong Kong has been fun, exciting, and inspiring, but getting settled in and looking for a job is very time-consuming. Hope to bring you more content about eating clean in this NEW dirty city soon.

Lunch and Dinner

Bacon Fried Rice

Turkey Bacon Fried Rice

I saw this recipe for Bacon Fried Rice on Shutterbean. I’m usually a little dismissive when it comes to Western takes on Chinese food, because you know, that’s my cuisine and my peoples. But how can one not be enticed by Bacon Fried Rice? I mean, bacon. Fried. Rice. All three words sound delicious.

Unfortunately, my go-to store ran out of organic bacon and non-organic supermarket meat scares me, so I had to settle for turkey bacon. It still came out tasty, but it was definitely lacking that little kick the bacon grease would have given it. Go check out the recipe on Shutterbean, it’s good stuff. My only suggestion would be to julienne the carrots and stir-fry them with the veggies, but that’s just ’cause I hate raw carrots. Can’t wait to try this again with real bacon!

bacon fried rice

Lunch and Dinner

The Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Beef Chow Fun

beef chow fun the chinese takeout cookbook

Despite being born and raised in Hong Kong, I never really learned to make Chinese food, aside from simple fried rice and stir-fried eggs with tomatoes. And much as I love Chinese food, I don’t know all too much about it, not even my beloved Cantonese cuisine. I was even more confused when I moved to the US and didn’t recognize items on American Chinese takeout menus like General Tso’s Chicken and Crab Rangoon, though they soon became my favorite guilty pleasures. I’ve been really into cooking for over a year now and am proud of what I’ve accomplished in the kitchen, yet something has always been nagging me at the back of my mind. I need to learn how to make Chinese food. I need to get back in touch with my roots. Looks like I’ve found a little motivation!


I’m excited. One of my favorite bloggers, Diana Kuan of Appetite for China, recently got her book The Chinese Takeout Cookbook published (my Amazon Associates link). She posts awesome recipes on her blog and I even had the opportunity to take one of her dumpling-making classes here in New York City (she’s just as lovely in person). So of course I had to get a copy when the book came out. It’s filled with all kinds of great stuff I can’t wait to try, both “authentic Chinese” and “American Chinese”. I used to be a bit of a snob about that distinction but she makes a really great point in her book–all food has evolved from somewhere or something else; food changes, travels, adapts.

I chose to make Beef Chow Fun first, as it’s one of my favorite dishes, and I had a huge bloody steak leftover from my Valentine’s Dinner, waiting to be stir-fried. I only have one small Chinese market in my neighborhood and unfortunately they didn’t know what fermented black beans were, so I had to forego those for my recipe. Otherwise, it came out pretty good! I still need much practice with the art of stir-frying and I don’t think I fried the noodles for long enough. Regardless, I enjoyed my homemade Beef Chow Fun and appreciated that it didn’t come out super greasy as it sometimes can when you order takeout.

I’m actually moving back to Hong Kong soon, where I won’t need to trek to a Chinatown to gather ingredients, so this cookbook is coming with me. I have a feeling that I will be turning to this book again and again. It will feed me comforting, nourishing food in the years to come.

beef chow fun


Lunch and Dinner

Stir-Fried Eggs with Tomatoes for Mid-Autumn Festival

I envy bloggers who are in touch with their culture and its food and traditions, much like the ladies at The Glorified Tomato. Despite being half Chinese and actually growing up for 14 years in Hong Kong, I still can’t say I know much about Chinese food and culture. But this weekend is Mid-Autumn Festival according to the lunar calendar, and I’m feeling inspired to think about my roots.

I celebrated this every year as a kid, and loved it. We would eat mooncake (pictured above), a Chinese pastry filled with a sweet paste, usually lotus seed, and a salted egg yolk in the middle. Don’t let the ingredients fool you–this is not a healthy dessert. An average sized mooncake is about the size of my palm but has about 1000 calories! We would serve them in small slices, washing down the dense, sweet dessert with hot black tea. At night we’d go out with lanterns and admire the full moon. My favorite part was burning candles down in an empty mooncake box until you ended up with a huge cake of wax–thrilling for a child.

I did buy a box of mooncakes this year, but felt compelled to cook some Chinese food for myself, even if the dish had nothing to do with Mid-Autumn Festival. I pulled out my dusty wok and made the very first dish I ever learned how to make: stir-fried eggs with tomatoes. This dish got me through college. It sounds absurdly simple, but try this classic comfort dish served in the homes of many Chinese families. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Stir-Fried Eggs with Tomatoes
Makes 2 servings, or part of a multi-course meal

Note: I’m not an expert in stir-frying, but what I do know is you cook quickly, over high heat. Make sure you have all ingredients measured out and ready to go before you start, and that you use an oil with a high smoke point. If you waste time fumbling for ingredients, you may end up overcooking your food!

4 eggs
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 scallion, white and green parts chopped and separated
2 medium tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
Pinch of sugar

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the sesame oil and salt.

Heat a wok (or large skillet) over high heat. Swirl in the peanut oil, coating the base of the wok. Add the garlic and white part of the scallion. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, sprinkle sugar over them, and stir-fry for about 1 minute until the tomatoes start to soften. Pour the eggs in and stir-fry for 1 minute until the eggs are set but not overcooked. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with green part of the scallion. Serve over rice, or part of a multi-course meal.

Lunch and Dinner

Making Kung Pao Chicken at Home: A GrubKit Review

I took a dumplings and wontons class with Diana Kaun from Appetite for China a couple of weeks ago. She told us she was putting together a Kung Pao Chicken Kit for a new service called GrubKit. Basically, you order a kit that consists of pre-measured non-perishable ingredients in just the right amounts, and a simple recipe. All you need to do is shop for a few fresh ingredients and whip up the meal in your kitchen. GrubKit basically meets you halfway–you’re still cooking your own food but they do some of the prep work. It sounded similar to a company that I’ve always wanted to try out from my hometown called Secret Ingredient, so I ordered Diana’s Kung Pao Chicken GrubKit.

My GrubKit arrived within a day or two in nice packaging.

As promised, all non-perishable ingredients were provided, measured-out and individually packaged.

The recipe is printed on a card along with cooking tips and your shopping list (in this case, just chicken, scallions, garlic, and ginger).

OK, confession. I’ve never actually had Kung Pao Chicken, ever. I really only know Cantonese cuisine and when I moved to the Sates, I kind of just assumed Kung Pao Chicken was some Chinese American take-out dish, like General Tso’s. But turns out this is indeed a classic dish in Sichuan cuisine. I may have nothing to compare my results with, but my guests and I found it to be delicious!

I enjoyed my GrubKit experience and am definitely open to trying it again. I think it’s a fantastic idea but definitely a little pricier than buying ingredients in bulk (duh). I paid a little over $20 including shipping, but still had to shop for fresh ingredients. Therefore, I think GrubKit is best in these two situations:

  1. If you don’t cook from scratch often, and hence really appreciate GrubKit’s prep work so you can save time and effort (not going to lie, it was pretty awesome not having to measure things out).
  2. If there’s a recipe you want to make and you can’t imagine using the ingredients often or don’t know where to find them. I happen to make Chinese food now and then so it probably would have been cheaper for me to make Kung Pao Chicken on my own, but for someone who wants to make it once but doesn’t want to buy bottles of peanut oil, hoisin sauce, etc that they will never use again, GrubKit really comes in handy.

Quick Notes

  • $3.95 flat shipping rate in the US, free shipping on 3 or more kits
  • Eco-friendly packaging
  • Ingredients are hand-selected with a focus on healthy and organic choices
  • It’s a small husband and wife operation in Brooklyn, NY. The wife is a food blogger.

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