I think spring is around the corner! I’m so excited for warmer weather, but also bummed that I can never really enjoy it that much because I’m always at the shop. But I’ve been noticing the sun rising earlier than before which makes me happy. All winter, it was still dark when I got to the studio in the morning, but now, it’s either dusk, or the sun is already up. :) I hated waiting for the bus when it was freezing outside, but I admit I liked the eery calmness of Itaewon in the early morning. I gotta say, there’s something to getting up and starting the day ahead of everyone else, while the world is still asleep.
Anyway. The past few weeks have been busy as always, but I’ve also managed to get some precious time away from the shop and do some of the things I used to do, like just wandering around Seoul. My sister is also back in Korea from HongKong! I’m so happy to have her back for the next few months or so.
I had some free time a few Mondays ago, so I made a visit to Samcheongdong.
It has been forever since I last went to Samcheongdong. Sooo much has changed. Tons of new shops, cafes, and random things to see. It’s also become increasingly commercialized… it’s weird and a bit sad to see the area lose some of its indie vibes. But there are still some gems in the area fighting for survival.
Found this tiny hotddeok shop tucked away, and decided to get a snack. They had two kinds- a sweet honey one, and a vegetable one with japchae noodles. The dough itself is vegan too– just flour and water.
Getting hot and crispy~~
Walk and eat.
There’s nothing quite like some greasy street food. Being the japchae lover that I am, the filling was my favorite part. It was super hot, straight out of the fryer so we had to eat it really carefully so as to not scorch the inside of your mouth off.
Grabbing some coffee.
Peeking into a quiet hanok cafe.
Walked by the lovely pie shop in one of the side streets at Samcheondong. Unfortunately nothing vegan, but the pies looked amazing.
Cute little blocks of bread.
Ahhh, all I can say is, I miss Seoul-wandering!!!! I’m looking forward to my next outing~ :)
Yea, so it’s been a ridiculously long time since I last blogged. :( I’ve been a bit distracted with work and life, but I haven’t given up on this blog yet, even though it’s practically holding on for dear life. The guilt over not being able to blog even once a week is eating me up! I always attempt to blog, but then something comes up and I never get to finish the draft. So then it sits around for another week, and by then everything seems old and outdated and I forget what I wanted to say. Sigh. So anyway, please forgive me for this horrifically delayed post, and hope you enjoy these random photos from my life:
Making a mess in the kitchen is my specialty.
I’m always dropping flour on my shoes and the floor. My (fake) uggs are probably not the best for the kitchen because they aren’t easy to clean when I get flour or cake batter on them, but they are so dang comfy, especially since I have to be on my feet all day long.
This is what happens when you work in the kitchen all the time and are constantly washing your hands…. and my fingertips are even worse. :( My skin has become so dry and cracked that it stings if I’m not careful. My hands have aged several years within the last 6 months. ㅠㅠ I’m turning into a halmunee before my eyes.
Tax season in January was also a real pain in the arse. Learned a lot of business lessons which hopefully I will remember for the next round.
And now onto more happy things… food pics!
Me eating one of my own vegan ‘tu-no’ melt sandwiches, with homemade vegan cheese. I don’t always get time to eat lunch during the day, but when I do, I sit myself down in the corner and enjoy every bite!
Chocolate cookies, waiting to be dipped in mint-chocolate.
Two words: Oreo Brownies.
My friend was hosting a UCLA alumn gathering and asked me to make some UCLA-themed cupcakes. So I made these simple chocolate cupcakes with swirly frosting using the school colors, ‘gold’ and blue. Turned out better than expected. :) All I did was make two batches of frosting in different colors, fill them into separate piping bags, and then stuff those two bags into another bag with a large round piping tip. Then I squeezed the frosting out evenly, and voila, it created this cool effect.
Valentine’s Day came and went quite silently. I didn’t do anything particularly special at the shop… just made lots of red velvet and chocolate cake throughout the week.
Mini chocolate cookie bite, waiting to be baked.
I’ve been missing my morning smoothies lately. I got some spirulina powder in my last iHerb order, so I made a banana-chia-spirulina smoothie. Simple but so good. I should start every morning like this, instead of my usual coffee…
My friend Camille came by the shop bearing gifts of Taco Amigos take out! It’s always fun getting to eat outside food at PLANT. Thank you Camille!
Lately, I’ve been trying to make more time to catch up with friends. Being locked down at the shop most days from morning til night means that I don’t have much of a social life. But I’m trying to be a bit more intentional about making time for friends. And ofcourse there’s always food involved.
Lunching at Garobee~~ (*UPDATE March 11, 2014*** GAROBEE has closed.) It’s been ages since I went to a veg buffet. Loved all the fresh veggies and also the mandu. And I was jealous of Chris’ Voodoo Doughnut tshirt.
Round two.. or was it the first,… molla.
Also got some coffee from Brilliant Roasting Lab in Gangnam. The shop is pretty small and there aren’t many (if any) seats. But the coffee is great and also really affordable, considering it’s in the busy part of Gangnam.
Coffee in-hand, and I’m a happy camper.
Catching up with a friend over pizza at Trevia in Noksapyeong. It has been years since I last ate here~ The place seems to be going strong because every time I was past, it’s packed with people.
I got the mushroom pizza, which does not include cheese. It was far from the best pizza, but it’s pretty affordable priced and the fact that they have vegan options is a plus!
And finally, on one of my free days, I grabbed some lunch at Marakech Night in Itaewon (**UPDATE**: Marakech has moved to a new location by Itaewon Station, Exit 3). It’s actually pretty close to PLANT and they have a few vegan options like falafels, hummus, and wraps.
We ordered the falafels, pita bread, hummus, and salad. I wasn’t in love with their hummus to be honest. Maybe they were having an off day, but the hummus tasted a bit artificial. Not sure what it was…
Yummy falafels, which comes with a salad and hot sauce. I wasn’t expecting the salad to have that yogurt dressing on top, so next time I’ll ask them to leave that out. The falafels were crispy and flavorful– They definitely had a peppery kick to them.
Everything wrapped together.
So that’s about it for this blog post. There are so many more things that I want to blog about~ Hopefully I will get to it soon. Thank you to all my readers for being patient and so loyal! You guys are the best.
LOOK WHO IT IS!!! Eat Your Kimchi! (Sorry for the terrible photo quality, my phone sucks.) Every expat or anyone with an interest in Korean pop culture knows Simon & Martina, the faces of EYK. They have built their own empire of awesome from scratch, and their YouTube videos are hilarious, informative, and addictive. With such loveable personalities, it’s no wonder they have hordes of adoring fans all over the world. So EYK and ADO started blogging around the same time, and turns out we’ve been following each other pretty much from the beginning. And now they are superstars. It’s funny how a little side project like blogging/YouTube can change your life and become so much more. Anyway. They came to PLANT recently (actually, twice in one week), and I have photos to prove it. And yes, they are just as cool in person as they are in their videos. They are so famous that our customers all recognized them and started chatting with them. Simon and Martina are such nice friendly (and funny) people that they will talk to anyone.
Here is their FAPFAP video at PLANT! So funny– I love the way they banter with each other and then how they proceed to devour the food. One thing to note is that not everything at PLANT is vegan. The pies by Yona’s Kitchen, like the pecan pie in this video, are not vegan (they include eggs, dairy, butter, etc). If you are vegan, check for the (V) on the name cards, which indicates what is vegan, and (GF) for gluten-free. Just wanted to clear that up!
So that was that! :) And now the only thing left is to organize a play date for Bunny, Spudgy, and Dr. Meemerz.
It’s been so long since I last blogged. Ever since plant reopened after the mini holiday, things have been pretty busy. It’s funny how a seemingly short break can mess up your groove at work. The first day back, Yona and I were dropping pans, over-baking things, breaking cups, bumping into things… Lol. Mayhem. But now I’m settled back into the routine, and I’m also ready to get back into blogging. Thank you for your patience!
So I’m sure a lot of you have already seen this on FB, but there’s a brand new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) organized by WWOOF in Korea! They just launched at the start of this year and they offered to send a sample box for me to taste and blog about. First of all, I’m suuuuper excited about this WWOOF CSA not only because I’ve always wanted to join a CSA where I can get fresh organic, local produce delivered right to my doorstep, but also because this one is so foreigner-friendly.
CSA literature. I know in the past, people have tried signing up with other co-ops like Hansalim or Orga, but their website is all in Korean and its just hard to navigate and understand the rules. But with this one, everything is explained in both Korean and English, and their staff can answer any of your questions, no problem.
A list of all the items and various box options come with the package. I love how the farmer’s name or the source of each item is listed… makes you feel connected to them. This person put their blood sweat and tears into their farm and I get to enjoy the rewards. It’s a beautiful thing.
Oh, and another rad thing is that they have taken into consideration vegans and those with gluten allergies, so you can get a box that is vegan or without bread, based on your needs.
My loot. 1 cabbage, 2 large onions, 4 carrots, 5 or 6 potatoes, garlic, a pack of mushrooms, two bags of lettuce greens, three yellow/orange bell peppers, a bag of clementines, two different kinds of mini bread loaves, a small container of mullberry (or blackberry?) jam, and spinach and root banchan. The majority of produce was separated into paper bags with a few wrapped in plastic for freshness. I really appreciate that they take into consideration their eco-friendly packaging, etc.
Peeled garlic cloves, because who has time to peel their own garlic? Not me.
A bag of clementines. These were the first to disappear.
I also got two loaves of vegan bread. This one is made with local-grown wheat flour, potatoes, walnuts, grapeseed oil, yeast, and salt. That’s it.
The other one was a little firmer and dense, but this second loaf was quite soft and pillowy infused with the flavor of onions and herbs. I probably should’ve used this for a vegan sammie or something, but instead, we just broke into it to enjoy it for what it was. A good hunk of herby bread.
So I think I was supposed to come up with one amazing innovative recipe using all or most of the items in the box, like it was a challenge from Chopped or Top Chef, but honestly I had no time for dat last week and I needed to use the produce before they went bad. So instead, everything got consumed in different ways… some of the foods were eaten pretty much on the spot (like the clementines and breads), while other ingredients went towards the making of deliciousness. It was reassuring to know that I had this amazing box of veggies to rely on if I ran out of other ingredients while cooking at Plant. I wasn’t able to photograph all the ways I used the produce, but I’ll post what I have.
Beautiful organic carrots.
I ended up juicing one of the carrots, along with some cucumber and an apple I had on hand. It was sooo good. I used to juice a lot, but then I fell off that bandwagon and my juicer has been mostly idle ever since. It was nice to break it out for this occasion though. I was baking cookies when I took this photo, haha.
I got a total of 4 carrots in my basket, so I used the others to make a delicious carrot cake.
Perhaps I mismeasured the sugar, or maybe it was the organic local carrots, but the carrot cake was noticeably sweeter than usual. I’m pretty sure it was the carrots. It’s amazing how much sweeter organic produce can taste sometimes. The difference in quality is noticeable.
And you see that onion there, in this burrito? It was a csa onion! Cooked together with quinoa, black beans, tofu scramble, bell peppers…
And then today I used the mushrooms and bell peppers to make some vegan grilled cheese sandwiches. The CSA yellow bell peppers are hiding in there, and I supplemented them with some green ones I had on hand.
So yea, I’m beyond thrilled that this WWOOF CSA has started. I wish them nothing but huge success and loads of support. How amazing would it be if all of PLANT’s produce came from a csa? It’s definitely something that is on my mind for the future.
Whenever I travel, I usually post photos of my veggie airplane food. I figured I’d do it again, except this time I’m just posting the ‘going’ and ‘return’ flight food together in one blog post. My mom and I flew together on Asiana Airlines and we both got the vegetarian (non-dairy) meal option. Since it was only a three-hour flight from Incheon to Hongkong, we only got one meal~ And as always, the flight attendants delivered our food first before everyone else. hehe, just one of those little perks.
Ew, what the heck is that. Looks totally creepy, like a plastic body bag with blood and brains peeking out. But don’t fear, it’s just an eggplant split through the middle with rice and marinara sauce. On the side, we had salad and fruit. And I like to treat myself to some coke when I’m flying. :)
The main dish was actually pretty good. It was a bit oily, but also flavorful and satisfying.
And then this is what we got on the flight back to Seoul. Turmeric yellow rice, beans and grilled veggies with tomato sauce. On the side, there was a bun with margarine, salad, and some fruit. Pretty plain and simple. I think the others got some kind of bibimbab dish.
This was actually kinda bad. I’m not sure what it was, but the whole thing tasted a bit off and funky. A little plasticky and also charred. Hm, not sure what was going on there. Neither my mom nor myself finished even half of it. I just picked at some of the beans~ blegh.
At least this view of the sunset made up for the unsatisfying meal. Ahh, I love flying.
I’m back in Korea now, but my mind is still in vacation mode! I’m kind of dreading having to wake up at 5:30am again after sleeping in for the past two weeks…. But before my regular life starts up again here in Seoul, I have one last post about Hong Kong! Here goes~
Most breakfasts in HK looked similar to this. Soy yogurt which I got at the City Super at the IFC mall, and meusli or granola. I miss vegan yogurt so much! When is Korea going to get vegan yogurt?!!!
Went up to Kowloon and checked out some of the popular tourist markets. First, the flower market.
No idea what these yellow things are (not lemons), but they were everywhere. Someone enlighten me.
Next we whizzed through the popular Ladies’ Market, which is basically just lots of souvenir shops… nothing specifically lady-like about it either, haha. It was definitely crowded and a bit overwhelming with all the sights, smells, and people.
Passed by the goldfish market… Wasn’t too excited about seeing so many fish confined in plastic bags, and tightly packed in aquariums. These guys look like they have a big red tumor on their head. Kinda cute tho.
I saw this place ‘Nood‘ online and wanted to check out a fresh, healthy spot. It’s even located in a yoga studio. Lots of healthy, glowy people walking about. I got this ‘Key West’ smoothie which included coconut water, avocado, banana, coconut sugar, and spirulina (I’m in love with spirulina these days). It was really good.. and filling. It could totally be a meal replacement.
For one of our dinners, I make my sister and mom come with me to Life Cafe which a lot of other blogs and even some readers recommended. I really liked the interior of the shop and there was a lot of vegan/gluten-free packaged products for sale too, in addition to fresh food. The place was really busy but we managed to get a table to eat there, which actually turned out to be a bit of a mistake. All the items on the sit-down menu were significantly more expensive, and we weren’t able to order any of the less pricey items from the deli showcase because they were for take-out only. Also, I wasn’t completely blown away by any of the food we did order, and the portions were quite small.
Vegan pizza (I think it was also gluten-free?). The pizza itself tasted pretty good, but it was all just really small that we didn’t think it was worth the price. Each tiny quarter slice was about two bites of food~~ (haha). I gotta say I was a bit disappointed.
Pita chips with veggie dip. Decent but nothing to write home about.
The soup of the day with some multi grain bread. We actually enjoyed this one the most, and I thought it was the best value. Overall, the food enjoyable and I wouldn’t mind eating at Life Cafe again, but definitely for take-out only. Now I understand why most people I saw there were getting food to go! And I gotta give them props for using lots of organic ingredients and providing so many vegan and gf options.
Before leaving the cafe, I got a gluten free quinoa apple cake which I enjoyed over two breakfasts~ A little crumbly and I wouldn’t liked some more apple flavor (or maybe apple chunks) in the cake, but it was still tasty. It’s always a pleasure eating vegan baked goods that I didn’t make myself.
In general, Hong Kong probably isn’t the right place for a quiet, relaaaxing vacation… There is construction going on everywhere, crowds of people everywhere, and the air is quite smoggy. So for some peace and quiet, I went to the Chi Lin Buddhist Nunnery which was like a breath of fresh air, figuratively and literally. It was such a tranquil little haven, tucked away in the middle of apartment buildings and shopping plazas.
The Nan Lian Garden, connected to the nunnery was also impressive. The grounds were really well-kept, and everything was perfectly groomed and in the right place. There was also a vegetarian temple food restaurant in the middle of the park, but it was so packed and we were more in the mood for simple food. I really liked this area though. It was sooo peaceful and it felt so different from the rest of HK that I saw.
Ate lunch at a random Chinese restaurant and got steamed veggie dumplings…
…and black soy sauce noodles.
Here’s some take out from NoodleMi. Fried tofu and sauteed veggies with vermicelli noodles.
One of my last meals in HK. We went to a Taiwan-style restaurant and I got veggie dumplings and steamed Chinese garlicky greens.
Yummy steamed veggie dumplings stuffed with vemicelli noodles, mushrooms, chives, etc.
Steamed red bean buns for dessert. They looks so cute and pokeable.
Soft chewy steamed bun with creamy and sweet red bean paste inside. Yum!!
One final ferry ride~
Terribly crappy photo of the skyline. We went to see the night light show from the Avenue of stars. I really loved the harbor– it was definitely my favorite thing about HK. It’s too bad I only had my crappy phone camera to take these photos. Doesn’t do it justice.
So I think that wraps up my trip to HongKong. I had a lovely time and ate soooo much good food. Aside from being with my sister and mom, the trip was mostly just about the food. haha. It was great getting to know a new country and city, and I feel like I came away with a lot of new ideas for some of my own kitchen experiments. Traveling to new places is always inspiring, and it gets me thinking of things I can do when I go back home. I was also really impressed with how easy it was to eat vegetarian/vegan in HK, and I’m really hoping that Seoul can catch up quickly. :)
For a vacation within a vacation, we went on a very short day-trip to Macau! It was just an hour ferry ride from HK, so we figured why not. The weather was absolutely gorgeous the whole day, definitely warmer than HK. Dubbed the Las Vegas of Asia, Macau is known for its luxurious casino hotels and gambling scene. Although we did check out one of the hotels and saw lots of gambling going on, I didn’t participate~ haha. I’m too afraid of losing to risk money gambling. Besides, we were more interested in seeing historical sights and the Portuguese colonial influence in this part of China.
Senado Square. The exterior of the buildings has an old-world European feel to it, but then everything on the inside is all Chinese. Pretty interesting. Unfortunately, I think the square has become too commercialized with big brand name stores, rather than small local, independent shops, which takes away from the cultural value of this area.
St. Dominic’s Church..
Ruins of St. Paul’s cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is my favorite shot of it because you can’t see all the tourists along the stairway leading up to it.
Love the cobblestones! You half expect a horse-pulled carriage to go by.
Coconut covered chewy ginger candies. These were sooo good and vegan too. I ate several samples and then bought a few packs for myself~ Everywhere we went there were shops generously giving out tons of cookie samples and everyone was grabbing several as they walked along. While the cookie samples weren’t vegan, at least I enjoyed the ginger gummies.
Lovely Portugese-style hand painted tiles.
Lunch was a bowl of street food yumminess. Fried tofu blocks, tofu skins, zucchini, mushrooms, with curry sauce. There’s a chance there was fish broth mixed in there too, but I didn’t ask so this may not have been totally vegetarian. In general, it seemed much harder to find ve*gan food in Macau compared to HK. And instead of waiting at a super long line for a restaurant table (because we were on a tight schedule), we just went with street food. Luckily, we also brought some peanut butter sandwiches to keep me fueled. Gotta travel prepared, yo.
Rue de la Feliciade, aka “Happiness Street.” Apparently this was historically part of the red light district, where fishermen used to come? Not sure of the exact history, so don’t quote me on that. I just liked the red doors and white walls. The road is really quiet and relaxing, compared to the main streets, a few blocks away.
I much prefer quiet alleyways where I’m not so overwhelmed with so many people and noise that I’m too distracted to notice the small beautiful things.
Because no vacation would be complete without a photo of feet.
Overall, Macau was a nice day trip~ but by the end, we were definitely tired. Thankfully, we were able to catch an early boat ride back to my sister’s place in HK. Stay tuned for one last post on my time in Hong Kong! Different neighborhoods, some nature, and ofcourse more food.
While I’m in HK, I’ve been staying at my sister’s place in Sheung Wan which just happens to be a pretty trendy spot in HK. It’s a bit quieter (relatively) than most other neighborhoods I’ve been to, and there are a number of nice cafes and veggie eateries tucked away in various alley ways. Going in search of small, independent coffee shops and bakeries is my way of exploring neighborhoods, and lucky for me, a lot of the places I’ve been wanting to check out are within walking distance from my sister’s apartment. Yay!
Getting some blogging done at the Cupping Room, home of HK’s two-time barista champion. It wasn’t on the menu, but upon request, they were able to make a soy cafe latte! The portion was small, but it was a really good cup of coffee. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay long because my butt was sore from the hard seats and there were no outlets to recharge my laptop.
Snapshots of sidewalks…
Because hand rails get cold too.
Browsing the vintage posters and trinkets along Cat Street. The street name alone is enough to warrant a visit.
Lots of stairs along the hill side~
Po’s Atelier bakery, and Deadend Coffee. Really liked how peaceful this area was. Great vibe, good food, friendly service at both places. :)
“The Dirty” at Cafe Deadend. This was my first time trying ‘The Dirty,’ which is a shot of hot espresso between layers of cold milk, or in my case, soy milk. I guess it doesn’t quite look the same when it’s made with soy milk because with regular milk, the layers are more distinguishable. Doesn’t matter. It looked dirtier and still tasted great.
English breakfast tea, coffee, and our bag of Po’s bread on the side.
Went to this small health food store ‘Just Green,’ up one of the many hills of Sheung Wan. Considering the tiny size of the shop, they somehow managed to fill it with quite a decent selection of goodies, from energy bars and vegan cheese, to raw snacks, and gluten free flour mixes.
This sight makes me so happy.
I bought a mini tub of ‘Happy Cow’ icecream which is all vegan, gluten and soy free. And produced here in HK! So cool~~ I got the Cherry Almond Fudge flavor and sat on a bench by the street to enjoy it before it melted. Sooooo amazingly creamy and delicious. Better than Purely Decadent, IMO.
A little street art~
Fresh produce market in Sheung Wan. I was probably happiest walking through this market. So many gorgeous fresh fruits and veggies, for great prices, and I love the feeling of shopping with the locals.
Papaya and mangoes- the fruit of my childhood. Love them!!!
A lot of little boutique stores and in between old traditional Chinese shops. It’s interesting how the old and modern intersect.
Lunch at O Green cafe. I went with the organic fusili pasta green salad with pesto sauce. It was one of the better salads I’ve had in a really long time. First of all, it’s hard to go wrong with pesto sauce, but then they also included crushed nuts, dried fruit, lightly pan-fried fusili pasta, plenty of greens, and a small wedge of whole wheat bread. This picture doesn’t do it much justice, but it was delicious and exactly what I wanted.
Fried mushrooms with soup, and rice with crispy fried tofu ‘steaks.’ This was good too, but not as good as my salad. :)
Veggie Pho at Noodle Mi, by Central. Not the best vegan pho I’ve had, but pretty good.
The curry vietnamese rice noodles with tofu~
Snacking on some Go Raw spirulina super chips (bought at Just Green shop) with a soy ice coffee at Pacific Coffee Company. I love how so many cafes here have soy milk available.
Last but not least, I also ate at ‘Mana! Slow Fast Food’ restaurant. It topped my list of places to check out, and so many other blog readers recommended it too. As a veggie blogger, I knew I wouldn’t hear the end of it if I went all the way to HK and didn’t eat here. We went for dinner but the place was so packed that we ended up getting the food to-go. I wish I had gotten some interior shots, but the lighting was too dark (could barley see anything) that I just gave up. But it seemed super hip, eco-friendly, and relaxing.
After a bit of indecision over what to order, we got the Mana Classic Flat with za’atar and added roasted veggies and hummus. The whole thing was simply amazing. It was pretty big too~ loved every bite. We also got a burger (not pictured) which was super tasty too. Gosh, they make good food!
Mana’s large salad. I was in love with everything in the box. The kale, the other mixed greens, the roasted veggies, and the hummus all came together to create the best salad I’ve had in a long time. I wouldn’t mind eating Mana’s salads every day. Sigh~~ I can only imagine a place like this one day opening in Seoul. Everything about Mana is so intentional and thoughtful, from the almost all-vegan menu, to the eco-friendly packaging (no plastic whatsoever!). It runs one of those business models that I think we should all strive for. It makes me want to be a more responsible business owner and a better friend of the animals and the earth.
While I’ve been here, I’ve realized how veg-friendly HK is… definitely more than Seoul! There are so many veg-specific restaurants as well as places that just have vegetarian options included. Plus, a lot of cafes have soy milk, and there are more health-food shops with a wide variety of vegan, gluten-free products. In general, I think it’s less stressful because almost everyone speaks some level of English, so they can understand what you need. So yea~ I’ve definitely been eating very well here. And there’s still more to blog about, but I’m really behind on the blogging. I’m heading back to Seoul soon, but I’ll try to blog about the rest of my trip from there. See you soon, Korea!
So, I’m on a 1-week trip to HK~ It’s been over 1.5 years since I traveled outside of Korea (it’s a long time for a wanderluster like myself), and since my sister is currently living here, I figured it was a great opportunity to check out a new country/city where I can get free room and board. And since my mom hasn’t had the chance to travel much lately, she joined me, for a girls’ trip!
Prior to arriving, I didn’t have any expectations…. I didn’t even have any time to plan the trip, check out where to eat, what to do, or see. I literally only started looking into what to do once I arrived here. More than anything, I just wanted to get away from Seoul and Korea, to get some distance, perspective, and clarity. Perhaps HK isn’t the best place to go for a calm vacation, but it certainly is the place to eat, eat, shop, and eat some more. I can do without the shopping part, but I’m down with eating. I don’t have much desire to do a whole lot of touristy things, but so far, we’ve hit up the major touristy spots, just to be able to tick that off the list… I’m mainly looking forward to just hanging out at cafes, checking out various neighborhoods, shopping for fresh local fruit, etc.
So here are some things we did on Day 1. First thing’s first: Victoria Peak! Although it was an overcast day, the view was still impressive. Seoul seems pretty flat in comparison to the high skyscrapers here in HK. I would love to check out the view at night too, if we have time by the end of the trip.
Taxi ride~ weird having the driver on the other side. :)
We also looked around Tsim Sha Tsui, and then went to Kung Tak Lam for Shanghai vegetarian cuisine. When you’re in HK, ofcourse you have to get some dim sum! As soon as we were seated, they poured us some hot jasmine tea and brought out the menus. After ticking off all the various items we wanted from their dim sum menu, they started us off with an ‘appetizer’ of peanuts, tofu, and cucumbers, marinated in a soy sauce dressing. We were so hungry that it didn’t last us very long. Good thing we didn’t have long to wait before the dim sum started to come out!
Won ton soup. I really enjoyed the clean, refreshing flavors of the dumpling and soup. And the filling was so good too!
More delicious dumplings, with chive filling.
Savory Chinese pastries, stuffed with vegetarian sweet ‘pork’! I got pretty excited about these, since it had been so long since I had anything resembling a meat pasty~ plus, they were so adorable to look at. Though the filling was a tad sweeter than I was expecting, the pastry crust was delicately flaky and flavorful.
Although we really enjoyed almost everything that came out, there were a few that I wasn’t too fond of. The steamed veggie shrimp dumplings…. the pouch was a bit too starchy and glutinous for my liking, and I guess vegan shrimp just isn’t my thing.
Deep-fried tofu skins filled with some veggie meat pieces and carrots.
Inside view! Though this was on the oily side, it was crispy with a bit of chewiness, and the flavors were really nice.
Digging in~~ There were a few other dishes I didn’t photograph (we ordered a lot, hehee). We ended it all on a sweet note, with some mango mochi rice cakes dusted in coconut. They were super soft and just melted in the mouth. Not bad for the first dim sum meal in HK!
View of the skyline from Avenue of Stars. HK’s skyline is really impressive and… well-designed, if there is such a thing as sky-line design. Every building is right where it should be.
It’s like every photo I’ve seen of HK, but in real life! :)
After walking our feet off around TST, we headed to the Intercontinental Hotel for afternoon tea at the Lobby Lounge. ‘High tea’ or ‘afternoon tea’ is one of those British traditions that remain in HK since its colonial past. But instead of just some tea and humble scones, it is a decadent ‘must-try’ experience here in HK. Every hotel offers their own luxurious afternoon tea-time set including a mix of scones, savory sandwiches, and desserts, all balanced on a three-tier tray. It is definitely one of the priciest things we’ll be doing here, so we figured we’d splurge and go all-out-fancy-pants.
Too bad none of the food was vegan, so I mostly just admired the presentation. However, they did have soy milk (upon request), which I enjoyed with some tasty freshly brewed coffee.
They also brought out some complementary small fruit salad bowls with fresh mango, dragon fruit, and lychee. There were a few pastry crumbles on top, but I just ate around them.
The whole experience was really relaxing, and I loved being able to see the harbor through the high glass windows. Who knows when else I’ll be able to experience something like this with my sister and mom~ <3
And then at the end of the day, we took the Star Ferry to cross the harbor. My favorite part so far. The ride was soooo short, only like 7 minutes, but it was so refreshing, and the view of the harbor paired with the setting sunlight across the water was gorgeous. I would totally do this again before I leave!
Walking around Sheung Wan, my sister’s neighborhood. So that about wraps up day one. Hope everyone in Korea is fine and dandy~ Stay tuned for more sights & veggie eats in HK!
Today is the last day of 2013! I’m taking New Year’s Eve & Day off so that I can have some time away from the shop to relax, get things in order, and reflect on the past year. I came back from a quick trip to Cheonan yesterday, and then spent the rest of the night cleaning and organizing my room… you know, get things in order before the new year. And now I’m at a random cafe, blogging, and looking back on 2013.
This year was completely amazing, and I’m in awe of and so grateful for all experiences I’ve had. I’ve changed so much, I can’t even remember what my life was like last year! Some lasting impressions of 2013 will include all the people I met, all the ways my baking skills have improved, the business lessons I have learned, and also the way my Korean has improved. Although I still have a weird fear of speaking in Korean, I’m much more comfortable than before. My spiritual walk has also become more solidified, and I’m really grateful for the community I have at my church. Overall, this was a big year of growth for me. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about my future, but I’m not as fearful about the unknown as I was before. I’m just really grateful for all the life lessons from this year, the new, old, and rekindled friendships, the veg community in Seoul Korea that has been so incredibly supportive of ADO, and I’m also so thankful for being a part of something that feels bigger than myself.
Everything that happened in 2013 just seems like one massive blur, especially the second half. Looking back, I don’t really know what I did… I can’t remember individual days, it’s all just one big vague memory of working at the shop 24-7. This may sound ridiculous, but even though I did something huge like opening up a cafe/shop, a part of me still feels like I didn’t do much this year. Remember the 101 things I wanted to accomplish this year? During the first half of the year, I was doing pretty well with keeping on pace and working through the list… and then I accomplished #27 ‘Get A Studio,’ and that kind of changed my life. A lot of the other goals on my list got abandoned after I became too busy. It just goes to show that you gotta be careful what you wish for. It just may come true. :)
While I remember 2012 as being emotionally difficult, I think 2013 was more physically draining. In a year, I feel like I’ve aged about 5 years. Not being able to stay physically active has been one of the hardest things~ I’ve always felt pretty good about my level of fitness, but lately that has gone completely out the window. I’ve even been finding more white hairs on my head! Maybe it’s the stress and lack of sleep….
As for 2014, I haven’t had much time to think about new goals to shoot for, and I don’t even know if I can handle another 101 list. I just want to continue growing and becoming a better, whole person. I’m still trying to figure out what is the next step for me. There are still so many areas for improvement, and I know that in order for my work schedule to become sustainable, I have to make some changes and sacrifices. If I could sum up my New Year’s Resolutions in one word, I think it would be ‘Balance’. To work hard, but also enjoy time off, take care of myself, and find joy in my other hobbies, besides baking. Things like drawing, boxing/mma, running, volunteering, and ofcourse, blogging.
So with all that said, here are some Highlights of 2013.
The Mellowsong candle workshop in January. I remember this night well, not so much because of the fun we had making candles, but more because it was when Yona and I first starting to think of collaborating. We barely knew each other at that point, but we somehow started talking about possibly-maybe looking for a studio space together! And the rest, as they say, is history. Where would we be if neither of us attended the workshop?
Being featured in VogueGirl magazine. This year Alien’s Day Out & PLANT were fortunate to be reviewed in various magazines, but this was maybe my favorite piece of press. I really enjoyed the interview, and also getting to select my own photos to share was most enjoyable.
Attending Marche@ Seocho. When Marche@ was having a one-time event at Seocho, somehow everything came together and I was able to participate that one day. It was pretty grand.
Botton Cafe’s first Market Day. This was maybe a month or two before PLANT opened…. back when Yona and I had time to participate in outside events. lol.
Going to Jeju Island. 2013 was the first year in 7 years, that I did not travel abroad once. I always try to make it a point to go outside of Korea once a year, to take a break, get some perspective, and become re-inspired. This year, that didn’t happen. But I did go on a short trip to Jeju Island, which was pretty great. Still the same country, but ‘over seas’? :)
Got really into boxing/kickboxing and mma this year. Sadly, I haven’t been able to go to my gym for several months now and I miss it more than anything.
Opening PLANT, home of Alien’s Day Out & Yona’s Kitchen. The second half of 2013 was pretty much spent within these walls.
Ah yes, and I turned 30 this year. Sigh.
Last but not least, this past weekend, I went to Cheonan for a delayed Christmas celebration. Even my sister was visiting from HongKong, so it was the first time in many many years that our whole family was together for the holiday season.
So there you have it. A short recap of my past year. It seriously went by in the blink of an eye. I’m really looking forward to starting 2014, continuing to work on old goals as well as setting some new ones. Oh, and I only have a few days of work this week and then PLANT is taking 2 weeks vacation! I will be visiting my sister in HongKong for a whole week!!! Can’t wait to finally explore somewhere new and try some new vegan foods. Any readers in HK, hit me up with where I need to go! :)
Alas, it’s time to say farewell to 2013, and I wish every one of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! <3