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Archive for November, 2013|Monthly archive page

More Malaysian Food: Mee Siam, Otak-Otak and Nasi Lemak

In Asia, Eating Out, Food, Travel Food on November 28, 2013 at 22:24

Doof Out

Breakfast was at the tiny store serving Mee Siam, Nasi Lemak and most importantly, Otak-otak.

Mee Siam was a stir-fried rice noodle with sauces of tamarind, salted soy beans and chili paste.

It was a cheap and quick local breakfast food.

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The shop also sold grilled fish balls and stuffed tofu.

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Nasi Lemak was probably the quintessential Malay food.

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I saw Nasi Lemak in almost all Malay and Indian food stalls.

They were wrapped in a pyramid shape with pandan leaf and paper.

Inside, there was fragrant coconut rice with chili paste, sambal, hard-boiled egg and dried fish with peanuts.

I even got this dish on our flight to Singapore.

Lastly, otak-otak.

It was a dish of Chinese origin popular in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

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This delicious treat was made with wraps of banana leaves;  inside, soft fish paste with chili paste, as well as aromatics such as garlic and lemongrass.

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The lady at the shop was constantly grilling and doing a brisk business.

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My friend said that the longer we stayed at the shop, the more we were going to smell like otak; I found that to be more pleasant than the strong scent of Korean barbeque!

Thanksgiving food is definitely different this year being in Asia!

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Eating in Malaysia: Old-Style Coffee House and Durian

In Asia, Eating Out, Food, Travel Food on November 25, 2013 at 20:33

Doof Out

First time in Malaysia and it was quite exciting!

Town was busy with hustle and bustle.

Lucky to have my old friend and local guide to bring me to eat (thanks EW)!

We started with trying out the local sweet coffee and tea, with milk at Hwa Mei in Johor Bahru.

It was a historical Chinese establishment since 1946.

The coffee or “kopi”, was roasty, strong and sweet; and the tea “teh”, was smooth and delicious.

In general, the drinks were a lot sweeter than the ones in Hong Kong.

However, the “yuen yang” or “cham” in Malay (mix of coffee and tea), were better than the ones in Hong Kong since the coffee was much tastier.

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The drinks by default utilized sweetened condensed milk.

It was possible to order without milk, still sweetened, as “kopi-o” or “teh-o”; or made with evaporated milk instead of sweetened condensed as “kopi-c” or “teh-c”.

The best was the Hainen chicken chop — lovely well-flavored piece of tender fried chicken.

The Hainen chicken chop was developed by the early Hainen Chinese to please the palates of the English during British rule.

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Hainenese were also credited for roasting coffee in this area that was wildly enjoyed today.

The place had old style charm: old wood work, airy with big windows at their upstairs seating.

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The best part was the old style pulley system to send food and drinks to the second floor.

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On our way, we found Durian stand.

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I grew up eating durian in Hong Kong that were from Thailand.

My friends told me the Malaysian durian had different flavor and taste than the Thai ones.

We got 2 kinds of durian, one with smaller seeds, white flesh with very light pleasant flavor.

The other one had big seeds, deep yellow flesh and much richer flavor; locals called that “the king of cat’s mountain”.

Both types were more bitter, but in a good way, than the Thai durian.

The actual whole fruit were a lot smaller and very fragrant.

Looking forward to more eye-opening eating experience in Malaysia!

The Search of Milk Tea and Intricate (and Delicious) Cakes

In Asia, Eating Out, Food, Travel Food on November 23, 2013 at 21:39

Doof Out

Since I have been back in Hong Kong, I had been obsessively looking for great cup of milk tea.

I had it almost every day, any chance I got, and this place in Wai Chai was still the best — “Golden Phoenix”.

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A simple small place that served milk tea, coffee, or “yuen yeung”, which was a mix of milk tea and coffee with simple breakfast sandwiches, pineapple buns and bread.

The milk tea was silky smooth and creamy.

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Strong tea flavor but not sour, bitter nor astringent.

I finished the milk tea and got another yuen yeung to go.

The bread was just a simple sweet bun, but fluffy, buttery and soft.

Cheap and delicious breakfast.

I read on the newspaper about this cake shop in Sai Wai, Cake’s Secrets.

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Tiny little store boosted about 12 delicately and beautifully prepared cakes.

The intricacy in the green tea red bean cake was amazing (the one above with green sticks).

At first, I thought the sticks were hard crunchy cookies until I attempted to pick them up with my fingers and realized that they gave and crumbled.

The cake was strong in matcha flavor; thin layers of red bean, cream and cake.

It was a treat!

The chocolate truffle tart and “dark secret” were both super chocolaty, suitable for dark chocolate lovers.

Their tart shells were super delicious — crumbly hard and nicely flavored, particularly the fruit tart shells were very buttery.

The purple yam one was tasty and very detailed; I wish the purple yam flavor was stronger.

The chestnut cake was pretty with yummy chestnut flavor.

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The caramel walnut tart had delicious huge walnuts but not enough caramel flavor.

I went on the shop’s Facebook page and looked like they custom-made many beautiful and cute cakes!

It will be a great place to order cakes for celebration for my family!

Ramen and Japanese Dessert

In Asia, Eating Out, Food, Travel Food on November 20, 2013 at 16:42

Doof Out

Lunch was at Butao Ramen 豚王 and it was awesome!

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This tiny shop offers simple menu, 5 kinds of ramens with 4 staples: original tonkotsu broth, black tonkotsu broth, red miso tonkotsu, and cheese and basil; and one seasonal sea salt.

Ramen can be ordered based on individual preferences: richness of soup, spiciness, noodle types, saltiness, garlickiness etc.

Since this was my first time there, I had to try the original and the “black king”.

THEY WERE SO GOOD!  did I say that already???

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The tonkotsu broth was rich and creamy.  It had the thick pork bone soup mouthfeel.

I could taste a little bit of miso in the original broth.

The black broth was garlicky with lots of sesame flavor.

The ramen was cooked perfect to its chewiness, and the pork was divine!!

They were thinly sliced, tender and “melt-in-your-mouth”.

I ordered the must-have egg, and I never loved egg that much!

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The minute my lips touched the egg, the egg white gave, and it just led me to a big smile — you know it was done right.

The egg yolk was totally runny and the egg was very flavorful.

The egg was likely cooked in a soy base sauce and arrived in its own separate bowl.

The shop also offered 2 side pickled vegetables that complimented the ramen super well.

One was a miso kimchi bean sprouts which was spicy, slight tart and light; the other looked like a the chinese pickled vegetable (“snow veg”) which was tasty but very salty as well.

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All in all, a very satisfying lunch.

Japanese dessert at Via Tokyo followed ramen.

The shop uses Japanese Hokkaido milk for their products.

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I got the green tea Anmitsu – green tea soft-serve, with agar cubes, red bean paste, tangerine and mochi bites.

Black sugar syrup was served on the side.

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The dessert was perfect for me since it was not sweet.

The soft serve had intense green tea flavor and creamy smooth milkiness.

The red bean paste was very smooth, appropriately sticky.

The agar gave crunchy texture and mochi, chewiness.

All kinds of texture were experienced in one tiny bowl.

My mom got the black sugar latte.

It was very smooth and the coffee was nice and roasty.

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Fantastic milk flavor and great mouthfeel.

Another successful day!

Teppanyaki, Nitrogen Ice Cream and 3D Foam Art

In Asia, Eating Out, Food, Travel Food on November 18, 2013 at 15:45

Doof Out

Got a fantastic short food tour of Tsim Sha Tsui.  Thanks MS!!

I had requested to have teppanyaki, since I could not get proper ones in the Seattle area (Benihana is NOT teppanyaki!!)

Couple months ago, I finally broke down and went to Gyu King in Vancouver BC.

It certainly was not wow, and the food was delicious due to the large quantity of butter used.

Nonetheless, it was enough to satisfy a long craving.

My friend brought me to Akita Teppanyaki 秋田鐵板燒刺身專門店  in Kowloon.

We got a 2 people set lunch and started with salad and this delicious steam egg.

It was cooked over the “teppan” (literally means iron slab) by steaming the eggs under cover.

The cook diligently added water onto the teppan to make sure there was enough steam to cook the eggs properly; resulting in a very smooth, soft egg.

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We ordered abalone and oysters on the side, fresh and delicious.

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The set came with shrimp that was crunchy and sweet.

We had steak and also my favorite, thin slice beef wrapped with garlic and green onion.

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The meats were followed by vegetables and this fantastic looking fried rice.

It was dry, fluffy and it was definitely fusion of Chinese and Japanese as it had dried shrimps in it.

Really delicious.

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Then on the street, we walked past this ice cream place – Lab Made.

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Super fun!

They poured the ice cream mix at the bottom of the kitchen aid, set it to stir, then poured liquid nitrogen into the bowl.

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The resulting ice cream was extremely smooth and melted in the mouth really quickly.

It felt lighter than gelato and super refreshing.

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They offered about 4-5 flavors and rotated them over time.

I got the Earl Grey with fantastic tea flavor, and it literally felt like I had a frozen cup of milk tea with no ice crystal.

Lastly, a cup of cappuccino – but with 3D foam art at Allegretto Viva Espresso!!

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It was soooo cute!

It took the barista almost 15 minutes to make my coffee but totally well worth the wait!

I carefully drank and savored the cappuccino.

What a wonderful afternoon!!!

Shanghainese Food

In Asia, Eating Out, Food, Travel Food on November 16, 2013 at 15:36

Doof Out

My dear friends (thanks JA, EC, KL, NC, CW, JS, FC, WF and VC!) treated me to an excellent Shanghainese meal at Ning Po 寧波旅港同鄉會.

Being  1/4 Shanghainese, its unique foods were dear to my heart.

Many of the dishes were prepared by my grandmother when I was growing up.

In Seattle, there was no authentic Shanghainese food.

Generally, the cuisine was lumped together with Beijing and Szechuan styles.

First and foremost, my friend already informed me that I would be able to have stinky tofu there.

Stinky tofu was fermented tofu and got its name because it was really stinky.

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I was in heaven!

Awesome stinkiness and awesome crispiness paired with the sweetness of hoisin sauce, it was one great unique dish!

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My other favorite — crispy eel.

It was in a Chinese sweet and sour sauce.

The eel was fried crispy, and the tangy sauce made the eel a little chewy.

The combination made this dish extremely irresistible.

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Runny egg yolk stewed eggs, and a cold pork appetizer.

I don’t have the English name to the pork dish.

It was made with compacted shredded pork, always served cold, and cut into long blocks; served with black vinegar and ginger.

It almost tasted like a cold ham block; meat was always tender and very flavorful.

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Pea vines with generous amount of crab meat and stir fried eel with bean sprouts.

Since I was a kid, I had always enjoyed the eel with steamed “silver strand roll”.

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This place’s roll was awesome.  The strands were clearly separated with a sweet bun flavor.

From my childhood memory though, the strands were even narrower and finer; however, compared to the ones in the States which came in chunks, this was a far superior product.

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With quite a few more dishes (stir-fried rice cake, wonton soup, pan-fried pork buns), we managed to stuff ourselves, and yet still ordered desserts (as my Dad said, dessert was for another stomach).

The dessert was similar to a deep-fried crepe, usually served with red bean paste in the States.

Here, they made the other option that I grew up with – date paste.

I love the date paste so much more because it was usually lower in sweetness than the red bean version, and the subtle yet complex date flavor was just excellent.

How I wish we had proper Shanghainese food in Seattle!!!

Tofu, Delicious French and Bird’s Nest

In Asia, Eating Out, Food, Home Creation, Travel Food on November 14, 2013 at 15:23

Doof Out

Breakfast at this really old tofu place in the produce market.

It was so lovely to see freshly made tofu, as compared to the ones in a plastic box with a plastic seal.

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I went to the store for “tofu fa” — a smooth soft tofu with syrup or brown sugar.

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The tofu was smooth, dense and beany, which I adored.

The crunchiness of the brown sugar gave sweetness and additional texture to the dessert.

Healthy, simple and delicious.

The shop also sold tiny beef bun with chewy dough and well-flavored onions and beef inside.

Then, my friend treated me to awesome French food at Lot 10 (thanks JL!).

It was DE-licious!

I started eating and chatting, and had forgotten about pictures!

We had a nice, fresh, crisp green salad to start; followed by a mushroom soup that was fantastic!

Strong, intense mushroom flavor with very light mouthfeel.

Then, we had chicken with different kinds of mushrooms over rice, finished with foie gras foam.

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The chicken skin was crisp and the chicken was very tasty.

It had wonderful rich flavors from the foie gras and mushrooms without being heavy.

It was a treat!

Lastly, I had a tasty pear tart.

Buttery crust with sweet slices of pear, sweetness was perfect!

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It was a wonderful break to have French food among my many Chinese meals!

Doof Home

Lastly, the labor of love from my mom — bird’s nest soup.

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The bowl of soup looked plain enough; but it took many hours of work to pick many tiny bird’s hair and other impurities out of the bird’s nest to make this clear sweet soup.

Bird’s nest were the saliva of a particular kind of cave-dwelling birds, call swiftlets.

The act to secure the bird’s nests was also laborous and dangerous, as the nests were mostly on vertical walls of the caves.

Bird’s nests were actually tasteless and flavorless, but the crunchy texture was amazing.

Bird’ nests were one of the many Chinese delicacies; and they were said to be very nutritious.

Tropical Fruits, Roasted Chestnuts and Little Eggs

In Asia, Eating Out, Food, Food Product for Home, Travel Food on November 12, 2013 at 15:27

Doof Home

Very happy to have sugar apple (or Atis in Tagalog, or “foreigner’s lychee” in Cantonese) for breakfast this morning!

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This fruit is one of my favorites since I was little, and I have not seen it at all in the Seattle area.

I would buy this fruit whenever we came across it during our travel.  Aside from Hong Kong and the Philippines, we had this in Salvador, Brazil and in Cairo, Egypt in recent years.

Sugar apple is not a juicy fruit, and it certainly requires a lot of work to eat.

Each sac has a hard black seed; and when the fruit is ripe, it is really soft and the skin falls off easily.

Both the English and Cantonese names make perfect sense: the flavor of the fruit is very unique and sweet, and it does taste a little like apple and a little like lychee.

Young coconut was also on my breakfast menu.

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It was most appropriate at this time particularly we are experiencing a super warm winter (27C, or 80F).

Doof Out

As the day continued, I finally found one of the 2 foods I was hoping to have in Hong Kong: roasted chestnuts.

When I first saw roasted chestnuts in the States, I was really excited; but was disappointed fairly quickly.

The chestnuts were roasted on a grill over fire.

The resulting chestnuts were dry.

Just not what I was used to.

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The ones in Hong Kong were “stir-fried” in charcoal with the super big wok.

The resulting chestnuts were always moist, lovely sweet chestnut flavor with a pleasant hint of charcoal flavor; and the shells — rarely cracked.

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This particular vendor also sold roasted yams and eggs.

Another nostalgic snack food was the “little eggs”.

The “little eggs” were little puffs made with a flour, egg and milk batter, similar to that of waffle.

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The last time I had this was in New York Chinatown, where people queued up in long lines for not remotely as good “little eggs”.

This particular shop in Hong Kong was super famous.

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The “little eggs” were tasty: chewy and doughy inside and not very sweet, and exceptionally dry and crispy outside without being burnt.

Now, if I can just find deep-fried stinky tofu…..

Two Breakfasts later…..

In Asia, Eating Out, Food, Travel Food on November 10, 2013 at 13:52

Doof Out

Due to jet lag, I woke up at 5am — more than sufficient time to fit 2 breakfasts in the morning….unintentionally!

With Hong Kong dubbed “east meets west”, my breakfasts speak truth to that.

First, a nice cup of Hong Kong style milk tea.

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Strong tea, smooth milk and slight sweetness, paired with one of my favorite sandwich, canned corn-beef and eggs.

Served up on plain white bread, which I had not had for eons, the sandwich was a staple in Hong Kong style tea restaurant.

Would love more canned corn beef in the sandwich from this place; but nonetheless, nostalgia set in!

Then, I trotted along with my Dad and went to dim sum for my second breakfasts.

We did not get too many plates since my Dad was really there for the tea, and I was full from my first breakfast.

The shrimp dumplings were fantastic with crispy shrimp inside; the radish cakes had plenty of radishes and savory tender chicken feet!

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This dim sum restaurant where we went was an old style dim sum joint.

They had dealt away with the steam carts; and in place, dim sum order sheet that had many different dishes (each vertical line on the colorful sheet was a dim sum) with special discount for breakfast dim sum.

Far more selections than the dim sum restaruants in the Seattle area for sure.

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They served dishes that I had no clue what they were.

The place was packed with people of different parties sharing table, or we said “dup toy”.

There were so many regulars in there, and they went to the back room and helped themselves with teas and water.

I managed to still have lunch, afternoon coffee at Cova,

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and dinner at home.

Perhaps there will be one day in Asia that I will not feel stuffed.

An excellent problem to have.

Eating in Hong Kong: Fishball Noodle Soup, Japanese Dessert and Cotton Ice

In Asia, Eating Out, Food, Travel Food on November 8, 2013 at 01:58

Doof Out

After being awake for about a day, finally arrived in Hong Kong late last night.

Wasting no time, I promptly venture out to eat today.

Sad part is, everything changes very fast in Hong Kong; couple with the fact that I have not been back frequently in the last 10 years, I no longer know where good food are at anymore.

Many restaurants that I miss and long for from growing up here were close down due to sky rocketing rent or retirement.

The bright side is that I get to explore and try new places.

Everywhere I look is food everywhere!

No wonder I love to eat.

I practically grew up surrounded by food!

It is about 4 in the afternoon and I am already stuffed and cannot think about dinner!

First thing first, REAL good fishball noodle for lunch.

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My favorite of all times.

Still have not found a place in North America that is up to par to what I can find in Hong Kong.

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This place in North Point area is awesome!

The fishballs and fish cakes were crunchy and full of fish flavor, not starchy.

Noodle is a little more cooked than I like but the broth was superb.

The place added my favorite dried radish in the soup, it was fantastic!

My Dad had the cuttlefish balls and the were even better than the fishballs; and I am not a cuttlefish ball fan!

The restaurant may just convert me!

Visible small pieces of cuttlefish inside the balls, and extremely fresh and pleasant cuttlefish flavor.

The crunch were just unbeatable.

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I ordered some soup turnips on the side too and they were exceptional (even though the appearance may not be the best)!

The turnips were super sweet, and they soaked up all the delicious soup flavor.

Last but not least, must have hot sauce with food.

It was not very garlicky, and little more vinegary than my usual liking.

However, it was very spicy, very tasty and worked really well with the food.

We walked around a bit to buy grocery for dinner at home, and saw these very yummy-looking desserts.

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The shop offered some sweet options with custard, red beans etc. and some savory options with ingredients such as ham or cheese.

The fillings were wrapped in a thin flour dough.

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I bought the matcha with red bean and green tea custard.

The filling was excellent.

The dessert was not sweet at all.  The red bean paste was moist and the custard was eggy, creamy with a great balance of bitter matcha.

The dough was also mixed with matcha.  It was a little chewier than expected.

Finally, we went to this dessert shop which I am sure I will be there plenty more times before leaving here.

I had a single-minded goal to get “cotton ice”.

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“Cotton ice” was similar to a sorbet, but probably even icier.

The resulting “cotton ice” was interesting in texture (see below picture close up), very light and very refreshing.

Today, I got the mango and yakult flavor “swirl” or layered together.

Mango flavor was real and fruity, and yakult was tart as expected.

I just love Chinese desserts for being light on sweetness.

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Cotton ice was complimented with red bean and bubbles that had liquid yakult inside.

The dessert place had so many kinds of desserts, but I am not able to stay away from the cotton ice.

I need to venture out and try new desserts!

Perhaps tomorrow!