Tuesday, August 28, 2012


One of the first meals I got addicted to in China is Hainanese Chicken Rice. In fact, when I lived in Nanjing back in 2009, I ate it almost everyday for an entire year! It is just an incredibly savory, fragrant and hearty dish. It is also healthier than most dishes because the chicken is boiled in its own stock (unlike less healthy methods such as frying). The dish is said to originate from the Chinese island province of Hainan (thus its name). Although a staple dish all over China, Hainanese Chicken Rice has now become a standard in Singapore and is also popular and commonly found around Thailand, Malaysia and the rest of Southeast Asia.

Hainanese Chicken Rice at Crowne Plaza Hefei
In Singapore, it is customary to boil the chicken in water flavored with garlic and ginger (very heart healthy!) and to prepare the rice with the leftover stock. This gives the rice its unique and fragrant flavor. Hainanese Chicken rice is usually served with three dips of chili sauce, pounded ginger and oyster sauce or dark soy sauce to add to the taste and flavor.

Here’s a Hainanese Chicken Rice recipe that’s perfect for lunch or dinners at home:
(taken from www.saveur.com(SERVES 4)

1  3-lb. chicken
1 small piece ginger, peeled and crushed
2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1 scallion, tied in a knot

1 1⁄2 cups jasmine or other long-grain rice
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
Coriander leaves

1. For the chicken and stock: Wash chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt inside and out. Tuck ginger, garlic, and scallion into cavity of chicken, then tie legs together with kitchen string.

2. Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Completely submerge chicken, breast-side-down. Bring to a boil again, cover pot, and turn heat down to very low. Simmer 30 minutes, turning chicken once and skimming any foam from stock. Remove chicken and set aside to cool; reserve stock, keeping it warm. Remove chicken skin; pull meat from bones and cut into thick slices.

3. For the rice: Wash rice in a large bowl of cold water and drain. Repeat process until water is almost clear. Drain in colander and shake to remove as much remaining water as you can.

4. Heat oil in a wok or medium skillet over high heat. Add shallots and garlic, and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add rice and stir-fry 1–2 minutes more. Pour in 3 cups chicken stock; season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover and reduce heat to very low. Cook 20 minutes. Stir, cover, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve each person separate bowls of rice, chicken, and stock. Garnish with cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and coriander leaves. Serve with soy sauce, ginger sauce and chili sauce.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I really got into facial masks while living here in China. You can find them everywhere at supermarkets, drugstores and cosmetic counters. For me, they are the best do-it-yourself beauty treatment you can do at home. I like to use them once a week. Here in China, they have a multitude of facial mask brands and not all are great, so you have to choose wisely especially when applying something to be absorbed into your skin. I have tested a lot of the brands over time, and I have found one that really works for me: MG Facial Masks.
MG masks are affordable, high-quality and made only from natural ingredients. They are soft and relaxing and have a very subtle fragrance. All of their masks contain rejuvenating essences that energize skin cells and nourish tissues. Special ingredients also repair molecules and tighten skin cells. Their anti-aging masks restore collagen and tissue elasticity. My skin always feels so soft and smooth after using them.
MG has many different kinds of facial masks in several lines: regular line, eight treasures line, and spring pure line. You can buy them all around China or order online through the Internet.

MG Eight Treasures Oriental Hydrating Mask (15 RMB) (US$ 2.40)
MG Deep Sea Collagen Nourishing Mask
Deep Refining & Hydrating (9.80 RMB) (US$ 1.50)
MG Pomegranate Smoothing Firming Mask
Refining & Pore Tightening (9.80 RMB) (US$ 1.50)

MG Facial Masks for Acne Treatment

Monday, August 20, 2012


I have recently fallen in love with a beautiful Italian café/ pastry & confectionery shop called COVA located at the IFC mall in Shanghai. Its interior design is as delicate and intricate as its delicious delicacies and the European atmosphere takes you back almost entirely to a different time. 
Not surprisingly, the café has an interesting history. It goes way back to 1817, when it first opened its doors in Milan at the Piazza della Scala. It is said that European Royalty and various aristocrats would frequently gather at COVA café before and after an opera show to indulge in the premium Italian confectioneries and yummy delights which include their famous chocolates (made with natural cocoa butter) and fruit jellies. All of the café’s chocolates and fruit jellies are air-flown directly from COVA Milan to Shanghai.
The café also has a large selection of cakes, an assortment of pastries and amazing coffee.

COVA's beautiful table set-up design with
coffee beans and little coffee cups for sale.
COVA's main area with all its cakes on display
and assortment of chocolates on the shelves.

Blueberry cheesecake...one of my favorites!

Pasticceria COVA Confetteria
Since 1817

Locations in China:
IFC mall
Shop L1-30, IFC, 8 Century Avenue
Lujiazui, Pudong, Shanghai
Tel: (86)(21) 3872 1180
Shop 01A, Lane 181
Xintiandi, Taicang Road
Lu Wan District, Shanghai
Tel: (86)(21) 3376 3810

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I love cocktails. There’s nothing like sipping a freshly made concoction of fruits, herbs and alcohol on an evening out with your best girlfriends or on a lazy Sunday afternoon with your loved ones. My favorites in the past have included the Cosmopolitan, Lychee Martini and a Frozen Margarita (still one of my all-time faves!).
Lately, I’ve been getting seduced by two that now tops my list: the Strawberry Bellini and the popular Bloody Mary…especially the ones at KABB Bistro Bar in Shanghai. KABB is one of the best places in Shanghai for slinging back cocktails during happy hour (where drinks are buy one get one free from 5-8pm on weekdays). They have amazing cocktails and food and if their Margarita Mondays are not enough to entice you, these two delicious, winning cocktails should…

Bloody Mary at KABB Bistro Bar, Shanghai
Bloody Mary condiments: Tabasco sauce, horseradish,
Worcestershire sauce, pepper and salt
Often dubbed “the world’s most complex cocktail”, the Bloody Mary contains vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, piri piri sauce, beef bouillon, horseradish, celery, olive, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and lemon juice…whew!  When made well, a Bloody Mary is truly one of the tastiest, healthiest and best cocktails out there and it is bloody good!

Strawberry Bellini
I was first introduced to Bellinis by my good friend Alvin on a happy hour session years ago and Strawberry Bellinis are by far my favorite of the bunch. Bellinis originated in Venice, Italy and is normally a fruit mixture with sparkling wine (traditionally Prosecco). A good freshly made Strawberry Bellini is delicious and refreshing!

Here's a nice recipe to try at home:

1 bottle prosecco
2 cups pureed and strained fresh strawberries
Special equipment: blender, strainer, iced champagne flute glasses, pitcher and tall "swizzle stirrer" (for the pitcher)

Place 8 Champagne flutes in the freezer for 20 minutes. Open the prosecco and let it stand in an ice bucket for 5 minutes. Into a pitcher, pour the 2 cups pureed strawberries. Gently pour in the bottle of prosecco and stir gently to combine. Divide among Champagne flutes and serve.

KABB Bistro Bar 
Xintiandi North Block, House 5
Lane 181, Taicang Road
Shanghai, China
Tel: (86 21) 3307 0798

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Being from the Philippines, I love rice meals! One of my favorites is the famous “Yang Chow Fried Rice” also known as “Yangzhou chao fan” in mainland China. This delicious dish is a meal in itself. It is usually cooked in a wok and can be found in Chinese restaurants all around China and the Philippines. It is also gaining widespread popularity in other parts of the world such as the Americas, Australia and the UK.

Yangzhou Fried Rice at the Crowne Plaza Hefei
This incredible dish can be cooked in several ways but the main ingredients are cooked rice, barbecued pork, cooked shrimp, spring onions/ green onions and egg yolks. The barbecued pork gives the rice its distinct sweet flavor. You can also add peas, carrots and corn. Some restaurants also add small pieces of chopped chicken. I like to eat my rice with a little bit of chili sauce to add a kick to it. I sometimes put a little “Lao Gan Ma”, a condiment from Guizhou province made of soybeans and dried chili flakes in peanut oil. This sauce goes with other Chinese dishes as well like noodles, dumplings, and soups. 

Lao Gan Ma chili sauce adds flavor to rice 
& can be found at Chinese grocery stores.

Here are some links to some great Yang Chow Fried Rice recipes: