99% Food, 1% Skin

Hong Kong Food Market

L: temporary store for hairy crabs -- R top: tofu stall -- L middle: frogs in the cage for purchase R middle: all kinds of eggs -- L bottom: all manners of balls -- R bottom: fish monger

L: temporary store for hairy crabs — R top: tofu stall — L middle: frogs in the cage for purchase
R middle: all kinds of eggs — L bottom: all manners of balls — R bottom: fish monger

A part of life in Hong Kong that I missed the most was the vibrant food market.

Grocery stores here in North America, which are very clean by many countries’ standard, could appear sterile compared to this kind of “live” market.

Market opened early, 5am or 6am, already brimming with freshest products of the day.

Due to the very liberal import regulations, plenty of fruits, vegetables, meat and fish were available in the market from many parts of the world.

Farmland was a rare commodity in Hong Kong nowadays, and most food imports were from Mainland China, Southeast Asia, Australia or other exotic locations.

Stalls were typically fairly small in size, nothing compare to the capacity of a North American grocery store; as a result, storage was minimal.

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Head to Head: Bai Tong vs. Chantanee

Two long-standing Thai restaurants on the eastside: Chantanee and Bai Tong with similar offering, here is the low-down.

I still remembered I had to travel to Bai Tong in Sea-Tac in the early 90s for some decent Thai food; and now there are 3 Bai Tongs!

Chantanee moved from its old location to the current Key Bank one many years back as well due to the on-going Bellevue downtown development.

One of my favorite Thai dishes is the Thai Fish Cake (hence my excitement to try Fish Cake Factory).


Top: Bai Tong — Bottom: Chantanee

I believe Chantanee won the fish cake battle.

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Elevensies, Lunch and Suppers in Portland

Continuing on a Hobbit’s journey, we found some perfect places for Elevensies, Lunch and Suppers: Waffle Window, Pok Pok and Pine State Biscuits .


Waffle Window was my sister’s favorite in Portland, which also quickly became my father’s favorite too during his visits.

We had been going to place since they were a one-store shop at Hawthorn.

On an earlier stop at the Hawthorn shop, my sister suffered our first dissatisfaction ever at Waffle Window.

She received a very unsweetened plain pearl sugar waffle.

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My Amazing Adventure at the Willows Inn

*WARNING: this is a long post.  I let myself go — geeked out and talked about the whole meal.  For this once in a life time experience, I want this to be a record for myself too.  Enjoy.


My friend told me how wonderful their dinner was at the Willows Inn, I was 100% sure that one day I would make it there.

Then, their chef, ,Blaine Wetzel, won the James Beard award for Rising Star Chef in 2014; I knew I was 150% sure I was going to the Willows Inn very soon.

Before food, there were a few hurdles to conquer.

First, to stay or not to stay?

I did not spawn to action immediately chasing after this promising food adventure because the journey was going to be long for 1 meal.

The Willows Inn is located on Lummi Island, a very small island that is closer to Victoria BC than Seattle; it takes a 2-hour drive, follow by ferry ride and another short drive to get there.

It was difficult to justify driving 5 hours roundtrip for a dinner, especially to DH.

I had briefly considered staying at the Inn as a small get-away — it will make driving much easier to stomach particularly after 3-hour of slow food outing.

As it turned out, staying at the inn was very expensive, and other accommodation on Lummi Island, whether through air bnb or vrbo, were also pricey.

Luckily, we were able to stay at our friend’s house in Bellingham, which drastically reduced return trip time by 2 hours.

Once getting-there logistics was ironed out, second hurdle: reservation.

Their website detailed that inn guests has priority to dinner reservation, others who are not staying at the inn can only reserve 2 weeks ahead of time.

We decided to try on a Saturday, and I called exactly 2 weeks ahead while I was in Texas in an attempt to secure my reservation.

At first, no luck.  Saturday was completely booked.

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Breakfast and Afternoon Teas in Portland

When in Portland, we ate like Hobbits — too little time yet so many great places!

The most excited find in my last Portland visit was Blue Star Donuts.


They were so good, I believe it will be the only donut I eat from now on!

Made with fresh fantastic local and organic (if possible) ingredients, the flavors offered were sophisticated.

“Melt in the mouth” would be used to describe these fresh fluffy donuts which gave way instantly in the mouth.

Even though there were only 3 of us, we bought 7 donuts — just could not fight the urge to try everything.

Our collective favorites were Valrhona chocolate crunch and passion fruit cocoa nib.

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