Category Archives: Convenience Cooking

Item reviews and how-to’s from Hong Kong’s many convenience stores such as 7-11 and Circle K… (p.s. did you know HK has a higher concentration of convenience stores than any other city in the world?)

WASHOKU Explorer’s Tonkotsu Ramen Set

1Yes, it’s been forever – and what better way to come up with a new post than from the comfort of my own home? Thanks to WASHOKU Explorer, who recently contacted me asking if I wanted to try their DIY tonkotsu ramen set, I was able to do just that.2^ Delivered right to my door, all the way from Japan!3I’m a big ramen freak, although I usually make a journey out to Ichiran in Causeway Bay whenever I have a craving. Making ramen at home is usually a sad affair (think Seven-Eleven), but WASHOKU’s set comes with all the fanfare to make your ramen bowl pretty legit:4Making it was a piece of cake – the only real preparation I needed to do was soaking the dried mushroom. 5After that, just simple boil + add ingredient procedure!6AND here’s the final result…8Overall, making and arranging the ramen was pretty fun. Apart from tasting yummy, I was also glad that the ramen wasn’t too salty and didn’t leave me with a thirsty feeling afterwards.79

^Hope you like my Star Wars chop sticks, haha!

Never thought I would have such a fancy ramen at home, so a big thank you to WASHOKU Explorer (www.washokuexplorer.com). Check out their site if you want to order a box.

If everything goes smoothly, I’ve got an interesting interview lined up for my next post…

So, stay tuned!

Bakker x

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BBITES Mini-Post #8 x Cheese Ramen Review

1I’ve heard about cheese ramen before. Today I encountered it for the first time in my neighbourhood convenience store. HAD TO TRY.

Why?

#1 – I LOVE cheese. So much.

#2 – I often put cheese on my instant noodles / ramen anyway, so I wondered how a cheese-flavoured version would compare to my D.I.Y. cheesy noodles

3The packaging looked promising… (they always do).5Four minutes boiling time…
6Really recommend the above tip!
7So far, this is very standard for instant noodles: soup powder, dried vegetables. The soup powder tasted a bit peppery, not cheesy at all.
8This was the crucial step: the cheese powder. I expected it to melt on top of the ramen and stay there. Instead most of it dissolved completely, making the soup taste milky and buttery. There was a tiny bit of “melted” cheese left on the top after stirring.
9Not as pretty as the packaging image, but never judge a book by its cover. Now, it’s time for the verdict… *drum roll*
10APPEARANCE: Not very appealing. The soup had a white, milky appearance.
TEXTURE: Enjoyed the ramen noodles texture. Satisfying, and had a nice ‘bounce’ to them.
TASTE: The overall the cheesiness I was hoping for was missing. Renaming this ‘milky butter ramen’ would make more sense. There was also a hint of pepper and generic noodle stock taste.

CONCLUSION: OK, this is fine for a ‘comfort’ snack, but I don’t really think it lives up to its cheese promise. In the end of the day, I still prefer adding real cheese to my noodles because the effect is more powerful. If this instant noodles wants to be more epic, it needs to really BLAST a cheese flavour onto your palette…

Thanks for reading!

x Bakker

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BBITES Mini-Post #5 x Foodtastic Angelina

foodtastic

Catch y’all soon with more BBITES 🙂
Bakker x

All About XO

1About one month ago, I tried XO Sauce for the first time (check it out on Instagram: here). For me, this is kind of like the mayonnaise of Cantonese cooking, in that it kind of goes well with everything. Delicious!

After I wiped out my first bottle of XO Sauce within a week (which was a goodie bag gift from a media lunch), I couldn’t help but noticing a new store on Queens Road West that my bus passes on the way home.
2So yesterday, I finally got round to paying the shop, named Mrs. So’s XO Sauce, a visit and restocked on my favourite new garnish.3 The interior is cute and has some kitchen facilities which allows the shop to run cooking classes during the week. All the XO products are sold in bright orange boxes, which I of course like being half Dutch :P.
4Recently, when I chatted to a friend about XO sauce, she told me that although the sauce has likely been around for a loooong time in different shapes and forms, it was only in recent decades that it was commodified, and renamed “XO” sauce to evoke the prestige of fine cognacs. And the rest, as they say, is history…5At the XO Sauce shop, they stock some interesting, novelty flavours – like Vegetarian, Porcini Mushroom, Black Olive & Tangerine – and of course the classic XO in regular, medium and high spiciness.

All were a delight to try – and I ended up buying the medium classic XO sauce. My next favourite, though, was a tie between the vegetarian and mushroom sauces.6With the free cooking classes and complementary recipe cards, it’s obvious that XO Sauce, the store, is trying to build a culture around this popular Cantonese creation. Although there’s a lot of recipes to be made with XO, I think the best combo will always be with Cantonese-style fried rice. 🙂
7Isn’t that just beautiful? I love looking at all the ingredients floating in the oil – and boy are they generous! Sometimes restaurants will rip you off a little bit with stingy XO sauce, which is why I’m really glad to have my own!

Before signing out, in case you don’t know what’s actually in XO sauce, here’s what you’ll normally find:
– Dried seafood (scallop, shrimp, fish)
– Dried meat (ham)
– Spices (red chili)
– Vegetables (garlic, onion)
– Oil (canola oil, chili oil)
8

Bakker x

Coffee Confidential

Hong Kong is a city that’s constantly on-the-go. Coffee is a part of life for most Hong Kongers; it’s served everywhere from local diners to HK’s most popular coffee chains, Pacific Coffee and Starbucks.

In this sleep-deprived and fast-paced city, coffee is the perfect drink to amp you up for a busy day ahead; or to pick you up when you get tired later on. But not all of us have the time to queue up to buy expensive coffees from coffee shops every time we want a caffeine fix…

So, in this post I’m going to share my favourite on-the-go coffees with you. They classify under my “on-the-go” food category because they are: 1. Cheap, 2. Instant & 3. Convenient.

TW’s STRONG & SMOOTH COFFEE

I discovered this coffee by chance in the Park-N-Shop supermarket (now called “International Supermarket”).

I was intrigued because there was a sticker on the box with local HK celebrity, Moses Chan, endorsing the coffee.

Since his face was literally everywhere in HK at the time, endorsing tons of different products and services, I wondered if he’d put his name on this coffee because it was good.

Turns out that he did! The box doesn’t come with the sticker anymore, but I’m still enjoying this coffee a few mornings a week, at least. Conveniently packaged in 10x sachets per box,  you simply mix one with hot water to get a nice, full mug of hot coffee before you leave the house.

Coffee Confidential Notes:
TW’s Strong & Smooth Coffee
Taste: roasty, sweet, strong and with a slight mocha (chocolate) hint of flavour. No need to add sugar.
Energy Level: quite high. After a whole mug of Strong & Smooth, you’ll definitely feel awake and ready for a marathon.

NESCAFÉ’s TIN CAN COFFEES
If you’ve already left the house, and need a coffee on the way somewhere, 7-11 houses two great coffee options; the tin can coffee being one of them.

Its smaller size can come in handy if you don’t have a lot of time to finish your coffee and you need to, for example, head into the MTR where no food or drink is allowed.

In winter-time they are sometimes stocked in warm heater appliances in 7-11, which is always a nice treat.

 

Coffee Confidential Notes:
Nescafé’s Tin Can Coffee (Regular Flavour)
Taste: not the most rich coffee, but has a solid and simple taste. Try out Nescafé‘s other tin can flavours for variety (e.g. Crème White, Strong…)
Energy Level: low. You’d probably need two cans for a good buzz…

NESCAFÉ’s SMOOVLATTÉ
Apart from its cool name and cute packaging, this coffee delivers on the taste side as well.

In a convenient bottle package that you can throw in your bag, you don’t have to rush through your coffee, no matter where you’re going.

And especially thanks to its almost candy-like appeal, this is one you definitely won’t want to rush through, anyway.

 

 

Coffee Confidential Notes:
Nescafé’s Smoovlatté
Taste: a great balance of coffee vs. milk. Thick and smooth with toffee undertones.
Energy Level: medium. Since the bottle is neither too large nor too small, you will feel noticeably more awake and alert after finishing a Smoovlatté, but not a strong effect.

So before signing out, here’s some snaps I took of prices at International vs. 7-11. Much cheaper than a coffee-shop coffee right?

So next time you’re in a rush, and in need of a energy boost: try out some of my long-time coffee faves, available practically everywhere in HK.

Bakker x

Sevie Surprise #1: Sausages

To say I go to 7-11 a lot would not be an overstatement.  In the past I have collected Sanrio x Swarovski character keychains from my trips to “sevie” with their sticker scheme, but of late my sticker-collecting habit has been reaping new rewards: cute Paul Frank collectible monkeys.

When I check out of the store with snacks and drinks for the day, I usually overlook the sausages behind the glass counter.  Why?  Well… to be honest – they simply don’t look that great, and sometimes I’d rather avoid a bad encounter than try something that might be unappetizing.

The story behind the above box of fish shaomai and sausages is that I bought the shaomai and my friend bought sausages.  In the end, I was persuaded to try one and to my surprise, it was pretty good!

Here I am eyeing the second batch I bought for myself.  Although urban legend says that they are probably made out of dubious animal parts (much like the mystique of the chicken nugget), I don’t really mind.  Served hot, glazed and with a pleasant crispy bite, they’re simply comfort at best and that means: salty.

But then again… we all like what’s not good for us. 😛  Check out sevie’s in-house kitchen treats once in a while, I plan to as well.

Bakker x

Instant Italian?

Sunday is coming up tomorrow so this post may be of some use to those of you who venture out for a late night snack.  I did this last week, only to discover that my 24-hour dumpling shop next door was closed!  Of course… I hadn’t stopped to think what day of the week it was and didn’t feel any blame towards them.  But I was, however, faced with the task of finding something vaguely similar to what I was seeking from the only open shop on my street: 7-11.

Nothing says “comfort food” in the small hours of the morning better than: mushroom + cream + soup and pasta combined.  And so, when I saw it I thought I’d give it a try.  I must admit that most of the fun was getting it ready as the final portion can be easily gulped down in a minute or two.

I also had the joy of capturing the powder, pasta and boiled water in high-definition with my camera as I created the little snack.  I won’t go into instructions as they are straight-forward from the photos but I will say this: be patient and wait 4 minutes instead of 3 because it will be tastier.

The final result defied my expectations in strange but not necessarily bad ways.  From the attractive packing photos, I expected the soup to be slightly thicker than it was but maybe because I secretly desired a mushroom cream pasta instead of a mushroom cream pasta soup.

The flavour was your typical packaged mushroom cream soup but with that oddly satisfying instant food phenomenon where you get bursts of flavour from small clumps of powder that haven’t fully dissolved.

After inspecting the ingredients label I discovered the clever methods they used to make it more tasty: cheese powder and (although this is visible to the naked eye) parsley.  Ironically the “real” pieces of freeze-dried mushroom tasted the most artificial in their extreme saltiness.

If you’re looking for an authentic pasta experience, this is definitely not the snack to try.  It is like a strange cousin: the pasta itself is quite bouncy in a most bizarre way.  But, if you don’t mind a rush of mushroom flavouring and some carbohydrates in the dead of night, then this is for you!  Beware though, instead of satisfying my late night hunger pang – it only served to whet my appetite!  Never mind though, a reason to pick another thing off the shelf can’t be too bad…

Bakker x

p.s. since I promised some form of documentation on my Singapore food experiences – here is a collage of the different things I ate.  Less words, more food!