Tag Archives: chinese

3 uncles

27 Aug

london 7.12pm 30C sunny tuesday 2019

i have been looking forward to the opening of a cantonese roast meat shop near liverpool st station. it sells only roast meats, like roast duck, roast pork, char siew, and hainanese chicken.(now i come to think of it, they dont sell soya sauce chicken). it used to be in chinatown we can get restaurants just serving these meats, and on hindsight at very reasonable prices, like £5 or £6 for a plate. but they are long gone those restaurants.   and now these 3 guys who called themselves 3 uncles, are trying to replicate those places in hongkong , or even in malaysia, where hawkers stalls sells these roast meats for the lunch time trade.

i went quite late in the day at about 5pm, and as i approach the place i saw 3 people , of chinese origin standing looking at the board which says 50% off till end of august, and they were being addressed by a chap at the door, telling them they have sold out of meat, and am getting in new supplies and it would take about half hour. they were a japanese woman and her son, who had just graduated from being a soft ware engineer, having allready got an electronic degree;  and a english bloke, her husband?later i found out they live together in canary wharf, and were being tourists in the area…having taken  a holiday from work, and spending it on a staycation, exploring london. which explains why they were in the area. and they told me they only now stumbled across this place, having noticed the half price offer on a board outside.

so we chatted together while we waited, and also when they started taking our orders, i started chatting to two girls who were in the queue, and found out they heard of it from a friend who told them this morning the queue was out of the door. and that was why they are here, from word of mouth recommendation. one of the girls work in the city but lives in croydon, and makes the commute everyday to work, she said. costs her about £250 a month in train fares. but still cheaper than finding a place to rent nearer to work.  so late in the day, outside there were a stream of workers walking by to the station as they finish work, whilst inside , there was us, and a big family of chinese people, with children. i think this evening customers must be tourists, who happen to stumble across this 50% offer, and some office workers. but no big queue at this time. they will stay open till about 10pm. there is no cooking on the premise, which will cut down the costs. and having a shop of their own means they can open longer hours, unlike if they were part of a food hall. and they only need 3 people up front, it was a older man (one of the 3 uncles?) to chop up the meat, a woman to bring the ingredients together, and another younger man to take the orders and the money… there will be others in the background, cooking the meats, and transporting it to the place. 

i got the duck and char siew with lo mein, costing normally £9.50, came to £4.75, which makes it very reasonable, and quite a bargain actually though it wasnot a huge amount. and served in a paper box.

but it gave me a pang of nostalgia for the good ol days, when we would go into those chinatown restaurants and have a plate of duck rice, with proper china plates and accompanied by chinese tea. lots of duck too with gravy. and chilli sauce. wish i have gone more often to eat there , if i had known what i know now. oh, how i lament that those days are gone!!



added, i just have a thought. why do we need to buy these meals at all, when it is very easy to walk into a chinese restaurant in chinatown where u see hanging roast ducks in the window and just ask them to cut you a half a duck, or cut off a portion of char siew or roast pork, (i remember if u tell him not to cut it into small pieces, you get more of it)whatever it costs, to take away. we could do that in the past, and i should think we could do that nowadays. just look in and see if there is a man cutting up meat at the window. he should be able to sell cuts of meat to take away. this way you can get lots of meat, without paying for the rice or mein (noodles), which is easy to make yourself. the only thing is that the chinatown meats are very salty… whilst these are not. i wonder if the saltiness is part of the ingredients and is what makes these roast meats so delicious… the skin so crackling, the smell, the taste. 

how do the rich live?

23 Jan

I am reading this book which I borrowed from the library yesterday. It is ‘crazy rich Asians’ by Kevin kwan.
I was curious to see how he depicts the wealth and lifestyle of these rich Asians.
When u think about it, really rich people don’t really flash their cash about. Their houses are furnished in quite conservative ways. You just have to look at pictures of the queen receiving foreign dignitaries in Buckingham palace and see how ordinary (almost old fashioned) are the sofas and lampshades. There was even a 2bar electric heater in the fireplace. And that got quite a lot of comments. Haha.

So how would the author put the wealth of these rich people in Singapore on display?
Singapore is a small country so land is a premium, so the author put the hero growing up in a huge house in a huge estate in the middle of Singapore, in prime land. It is a description of a country estate in England, but plonked down in Singapore and hidden away so that even those who live there and deal in real estate were not aware of its existence. It is a fairy tale allright, but rather appropriate in the context of the novel.

Now I come to think of it, it really is difficult to show by sight, how wealthy a family is. Short of covering them in diamonds and precious stones the size of hen’s eggs, or drape them head to toe in designer apparel, name dropping like crazy all the well known as well as not so well known designers (unknown except to the elite of course); and even do a reverse snobbery by disowning Gucci and burberry as too common, haha. What else can one do to show how rich people live?

You can throw in the names of all the expensive car marques ,which is all very vulgar really. No wonder the really rich just don’t bother to put on this kind of show and dress very unobtrusively, in custom made clothes rather than branded ones.

It is the nouveau riche who put gold and gilt everywhere. And the author gave a good example of such a family, the Gohs. I think it stretches credibility a bit on the part of the reader to pretend these are really old rich families with pedigree. Singapore is such a young country, (about 50yrs old I think)even the old rich families are not that old rich really. I mean all of them stretches as far back as the great grandfather of these so called old families who would be from poor backgrounds who made their fortunes in the last 30-40yrs.
This context of old family might play better in Hongkong, which has a longer history and has the allure of the big kongsi houses as the origin of the great wealth amassed by the old families. Hongkong has a longer history. 

It is a good read, with the usual mix of unfaithful husbands, and one upmanships and status conscious mentality.

It made me suspect that really the rich dont live any more richer lives than ordinary people. granted there will be more expensive stuff around them, but really like the queen they will still eat their breakfast cereals just like any one of the poorer families. Nobody goes round eating caviar everyday, or drinking champagne like tea. haha. I suppose they can jet off at a whim, to any part of the world for a day or two, but i should imagine it loses its novelty after a bit.