Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dickson Noodle - The Hong Kong Noodle Place Reborn

Is there anything better than when small businesses (that you like and support) grow and thrive?

The other day we were on our way for a quick lunch of Hong Kong noodles at our local dive (see Bike Throughs and Dive Ins post) and discovered, to our horror, that it was closed.  Among the myriad of workers outside we found the owner and learned that they were not closing, just moving to a new location.  Better place, he assured us, and the whole menu would be in English.

Last week was the grand opening and the perfect opportunity to check out the new digs. Conveniently located in Pinnacle Plaza, by Momo’s, our favored butcher and green grocer, in the space previously occupied by our not so favorite Central American restaurant.

The space had been completely renovated with grey concrete walls, light wood paneling and charming bird cages hanging from the roof as decoration. The kitchen is open and airy, the tables have clever little drawers holding the utensils and very important: a clean, western bathroom for patrons to use!

The atmosphere was slightly chaotic on this opening day; the waiting staff seemed a little bit confused but that is to expect on the first day of business.

The room was full of busy eaters eager to chow down on steaming bowls of noodles, bbq pork and as we discovered now that we could read the whole menu – curries.

We happened to sit down next to a friend who had ordered a vegetable curry, and liked it, so we decided to go absolutely crazy and order something different for a change.  We went for the chicken curry that came with a bowl of rice, galangal chicken, marinated cucumbers and a few soy chicken wings for good measure.

It was all good, not a new favorite, but that is mainly because of the way the chicken was cut. Even after all these years in Asia, neither of us are used to the way they butcher the meat, as if they take the whole bird and chop it up, not considering the bones and amount of meat on each and every piece. Maybe we are lazy, but it’s just too much work. The curry sauce was creamy and had good flavor but the wings could have been roasted harder and carried a bit of spice, but that is just our opinion. The cucumbers were as always perfect. Crisp, cold and with a generous dose of garlic – yum.

Dickson Noodle (yup, the place has a name!) will remain a favorite but I think we will stick to our noodles in the future, and the cucumbers…and the century eggs….and the celery and tofu salad…and the fungus in chili sauce….and oh, we have to go back and try the bbq pork….

Sunday, November 17, 2013

STARAcooking welcomes its inaugural class

STARAcooking welcomed five fabulous students to our inaugural cooking class last week.  Our hungry test subjects were hands on for a Creative Cocktail Party experience.

Over the next few hours, they learned how to concoct martinis that will knock you flat and those that will just make you happy - perfect for a party!  We made a variety of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres – from spicy, cheddar-wrapped olives (watch out for the jalapenos!) and flakey feta and fresh herb stuffed parcels to Mediterranean hummus and a spin on tapenade.

All of the recipes provide a starting point for interpretation and creativity.  Tapenade on fish or in eggs – sure!  Add some spinach or chicken to the parcels – why not!  You never know until you try!

Classes are held regularly and we would love to inspire you to try new things in your kitchen!  Visit the the STARAcooking page for more details.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

STARAcooking launches in Shunyi

 STARAcooking launches in Shunyi - Funding our hobby and educating the masses -- or how to share our love of food and cooking with new and old friends.

At STARAfood Beijing, we have been having so much fun writing about our cooking and eating exploits that we wanted to share our adventures with everyone.

While we continue to eat our way through Beijing and thoroughly enjoying it, we have discovered a gap in the cooking class market here in the capital. There are more cooking schools than you can count on your fingers and toes that teach mainly Chinese cooking, from all regions. You slice and dice the ginger and garlic and proceed to make a decent gong bao ji ding (kung pao chicken) or spicy green beans. It is fun, now and then, with the right group of friends to make your own dumplings all the while enjoying being in a quaint traditional si he yuan (courtyard house) down a hutong (alley) but for us; that is just what it is, a nice way to spend a day hanging out with friends.

But, we have discovered that out in the bushland of Shunyi there is nothing – nada – and there is also a want and need for what is for us traditional cooking - both techniques and recipes.  So who are we:

Sara (on the right) was born and raised in Sweden with soon to be 17 years abroad under her belt. She finds inspiration everywhere and loves to visit food stores while travelling. She started cooking early and is completely unable to follow recipes and always put her spin on things.  A blessing and a curse!

Stacey (the tall one) is a California girl with vast international experience through travelling and living abroad (over 10 years already).  A whizz in the kitchen without fear of trying new things and with an immaculate palate (so says Sara!).  

Introducing STARAcooking:  Our mission is to help our students not take cooking too seriously.  Show them that they can trust their instincts and that food is fun! Between the two of us, we have years of experience eating and cooking around the globe.  Having been expats and avid travellers for years, we have developed different approaches to food and recipes but share a love of enjoying it with our families and friends. And though we do not always agree on techniques and technicalities, we respect and value each other’s opinion, learn from them and find a middle way.

With a motto of “High Impact, Low Effort,” we specialize in making our students feel confident in the kitchen, creating fabulous meals in little time.  Focusing on fresh, quality ingredients with a broad range of flavors, even the most novice chef can feel like an expert. With key ingredients always on hand, a culinary highlight can be created in a snap!

We hope to welcome you to our kitchen soon and help you find your own inspiration!

Check the STARAcooking page on our blog for regular class updates or email us at for more information! 

Happy cooking!