Great Honest Food

http://www.arcane.hk

I had lunch at a relatively new restaurant in Honkong recently. For less than the price of a ticket to Disneyland, I had a very wonderful and amazing experience at Arcane Restaurant.

Arcane was not difficult to find. Just a street off the main road in Central.

I had the 3-course lunch set. First out the starter: Custard like yolk in a hardboiled egg on top of a cabbage drizzled with this creamy slightly sweet sauce. And a hint of vinegar somewhere in this concoction. I tell you, that slight vinegar taste hit me from out of nowhere and literally zinged my taste buds. My plate was clean when they took it away.

For my main course, I chose snapper over beef. I am not really a beef person. Well, the fish was certainly quite firm yet tender, the taste very subtle and highlighted with the Chef’s special sauce that had nuts and berries mixed in there somewhere. Again, the sauce in my mouth was amazing. It certainly enlivened that fish dish. I would say that the fish was perfect as the instrument to deliver those interesting sauces to my palate.

And finally, dessert. Vanilla pannacotta with peach and some sort of wafer like thing on top drizzled with a very light syrup. When the chef asked me how it was, I was speechless. I did not know how to describe the heady mix of flavours in my mouth! First there was the slight blandness of the pannacotta which was punctuated with the strong flavour of the peach but tempered by the syrup. And finally topped off by this extremely mouth melting chocolate like nut/wafer – I don’t know! It was heavenly.

Definitely coming back. I would love to discover more of Chef Shane’s surprises.

This is good honest food. None of the smoke and mirrors of some cuisine.

 

Scholarships Again

It’s that time of year again when we must decide which scholars get how much. Unlike most scholarships, our selection assigns a heavier weight on the essay where applicant must convey their need of the scholarship. Grades are not as important nor the financial status of the applicant.

And so we have applicants who by their essay, convey the impression that to help them is a right and not a gift. Some people grow up entitled. Reminds me of a certain couple in Montecito.

Moments like these, I want to bounce off ideas with friends. But there are maybe only 2 that I can think of who I could honestly share these views without coming across as bragging. O was otherwise occupied. In the end, I talked to myself and finally came to a decision.

Funny thing that – my decision making process has changed a lot since my ME days. Now, I know I make a good choice when I feel lighter after a decision. Some moments’ to-and-fro-ing after the decision but on the whole I stick to it. But when I am still confused after I decide, then I know it is not the right choice for me. And back to the drawing board I go.

Yes, I truly am an F as opposed to a T (in the MBTI test). Though I exhaust all the Ts before I let F make the final decision. A good compromise, I feel.

Day Trip

I flew to Manila the other day to meet up with a friend. With no hesitation, after JB told me his arrival details, I decided I would see him before he officially took up his new post. I reasoned if I was willing to do a side trip to see him while in Japan, all the more so I should do that here.

So we had brunch, It was a very enjoyable meet up. More white hairs and lines on his face but still the JB with the quirky humor. He was the perfect host. I couldn’t have asked for more, I felt taken care of.

He gave me pasalubong and i was floored that he remembered certain details from the past. And the pasalubong he chose was something that I really liked. Amazing.

And today, K called to ask an appointment for his boss JB. K was absolutely bubbling over the phone. I did not have the heart to burst his excitement by telling him that I had met up with his boss already. So I just played along. K was so upbeat about having his boss support him. That is a good first step in cleaning up their company. For so many years, K seemed demoralized. But today, he was so perky and full of cheer. They have high hopes that JB could usher in a more dynamic company. I hope so.

JB has a lot on his plate, I am rooting for him. Ganbatte!

Who’da thunk?

Middle of last year, after I enrolled in Nihongo classes, I reached out to a Japanese expat I befriended during his stint in this country more than a decade earlier. There was no other reasons than I remembered how I enjoyed his sense of humor, that he was easy to talk to and that this was another opportunity to practise my Nihongo.

The friendship was rekindled and I vowed to visit him when Japan opens it’s borders to tourists. But whaddya know, early last month he tells me that he was going to be reassigned to my country! The coincidence floored me, blew me out of my mind. Did he know he was going to be reassigned here when I reached out to him last year? Did he think it was a coincidence too?

Funny how fate works. Who would’ve thought that this person who was out of my life for 10 years would now return to my life this year?

And I find that now I know a little Nihongo that our friendship has progressed into a deeper level than the business relationship we had 10 years ago.

I look forward to his arrival here. I look forward to how our friendship will evolve once he is here.

BBM

I ask people who say they would vote for BBM their reason for doing so. I really want to understand why so many people are enamored of him despite his family history and his lack of achievements.

I admit that the people I have asked have numbered less than both hands but not one has ever articulated why they would vote for him.

Because so-and-so said to vote for him.

Because he is not “pikon”.

Because his father did a lot for the country. (Hello People Power?)

But when confronted with my comments about martial law and the rape of the economy, in the same breath they would say that the son is not the father. Ano ba talaga Boss?

Secrets

I hate it when somebody takes me into their confidence and tells me not to tell ANYONE not even the husband. I wish they didn’t tell me. It is difficult not to share the news with the husband. Sometimes I want to get his opinion, bounce off ideas, get his input.

I figure after several months, maybe the secrecy will no longer be as urgent. The first few days, it took an effort to keep the news to myself. But after a while the news was no longer top of my mind and I was able to forget about it though I do think of it once in a while. Maybe after several months, maybe I can share the news to husband.

Why do people share a secret with me anyway? Because they trust me? Honestly it is a bit of a burden.

Language Barrier

In my industry, where I have been active for almost 30 years, I have met many Japanese. Yes, I am friendly with them while they have been in the country but now that I am learning Japanese, my relationship with some of these Japanese acquaintances have progressed to a different level.

Now, I can really say that some of them are my friends. We can talk about books, about our families, about expectations … And when their time here in my country is up, I know that we will continue to communicate with each other. Unlike before, when they return to Japan, it was out of sight out of mind.

Which brings me to the brother of a very good friend. His wife is from Ukraine. And when they met, brother did not speak Russian while the lady spoke only a smattering of English. So how do they communicate? I asked my friend. Love transcends language “daw”, they look at each other and they know. So they got married and brother now lives with his wife in Ukraine. I shook my head at this set-up but did not delve too deeply.

Now that I have several friends whose first language is not English and whose language I am not fluent in, the barrier to deepening our friendship is stark. Ideas and values and beliefs are rarely discussed when I am with them. Such concepts are too deep and the context from which my ideas and beliefs flow is different. Without the background of a cultural understanding, idiomatic expressions are lost in the translation.

And I go back to brother, is it possible he can truly know his wife? Does is wife truly know him? Do we need to “know” our friend in order for a relationship to deepen?

I know that even if I am enthusiastic with my new friends, I know they will not progress to a deeper kind of relationship. I fear the language gap would be too great for me to surmount.

The Hair Has It

I decided that it was time to update my profile photo on my social media accounts since the last photo was taken 3 years ago yet. As luck would have it, a wedding came up and I took the opportunity to have my photo taken. Couldn’t have the make up and bouncy hair go to waste. 🙂

While I was happy with the results, I noticed that while my face did not age as much, there was something off in the photo that obviously showed I had aged. And as I looked closer, I realized it was the hair. My hair from 10 years ago was more lush, thicker. It isn’t the white hairs that I have now but more the quantity.

So that’s it. No going back now. The hair doesn’t lie. Not only is my hair going white, it is thinning. Sigh.

Life Goes On

I received news that one of our managers who only discovered she had breast cancer last month and had taken an indefinite leave to start treatment passed away yesterday. It is news like this that makes me realize that our lives hang by a thread. I think the pandemic resulted in a delayed diagnosis on her cancer which resulted to it being late stage when finally she had an opportunity to seek medical attention.

Think about it, just last month she had plans and dreams. She had a future.

Also this morning I heard that a college acquaintance died from a freak accident while she was in her home. Who would have thought, you in the safety of your home, being struck by a falling crane? That is why O brushes aside comments from well meaning family about his motorcycle passion. O’s mantra is “If it is your time, it is your time”.

which brings me to the last news I learned. That a friend whose stint in a foreign city had come to an end and had returned home to his wife and children had a girlfriend on the side. I was floored when I teased him about saying goodbye to all his girlfriends and he corrected me saying it was just one and that yes, it was difficult and sad. I thought he was joking, turns out he was serious. Ah well, it seems despite his straight and respectable facade, he could not be true to his wife.

I was troubled while digesting all these news. But, it just reaffirmed my belief to live life with no regrets. I take risks but risks whose consequences I will accept. And finally with regards to my friend, after the initial shock, i realized he was my friend and that I have no right to judge him and can only support him in his situation. That part of his life is not the whole of him. He is kind and considerate and a good friend.

Taking Risks

For the first time since our country first implemented quarantine procedures in late March 2020, I flew to Manila earlier this week. A combination of business, medical and leisure trip.

There were worries on my part of course. Always the niggling thought that I might catch corona. But I was fully vaccinated, I never took off my face mask and there was the face shield too. The excitement and the desire to once again eat at my favourite restaurant overrode my anxiety.

And that is how I intend to live my life. I can not exist in a cocoon or a bubble. Everytime I join O in his motorcycle rides, I take a risk. But that is not to say that I am negligent. Every precaution that i can take while indulging in these risks, i take. The proper gear is very important.

Many of my friends still do not go out regularly or meet with other people. That is their choice and I respect that. But I am ready to cautiously resume “living” my life. If it leads to being infected, so be it. I only pray it will be mild. And if it leads to death, I am more or less prepared.

Learning Japanese

Several months back, after watching Japanese movies daily and taking a peek at their culture through the movies i watched, i enrolled in Nihongo classes. And because of the pandemic, my alma mater opened up their Japanese course online.

I am very much a beginner but my 日本人business associates are very impressed. Takes so little to impress them, i find. And just those simple sentences in Japanese that I intersperse in my communication with them has created a new level of relationship which i find quite fulfilling. Since i have not been able to travel to other countries for more than a year now, these interactions with foreign people have filled that hole in my life.

I get to speak a foreign language and learn more about regular life in Japan. It has been very enlightening so much so that I told O when next we travel, we forego the small towns of Europe for the small towns of Japan.

That I am looking forward to. I can communicate with them, the food is great, public transport is very efficient and the weather is nice too!

From Jdrama to being a Japaphile. I wonder what next?