Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Restaurant Review: Kampung Story Worst Meal Ever



Today, we decided to go out for dinner as I wasn't up to cooking at home. We recently moved to a new area and so were keen to try out some of the restaurants nearby to find some good options for eating out.

We usually don't like eating out at malls as the food is normally below average but there are a number of Asian restaurants in the Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre that looked like good bets. We decided to try one of these: Kampung Story. As you can guess from the title of this post, it did not go well.

The prices were very cheap - at around $10.80 AUD per meal but to be honest I wouldn't have minded paying a bit more for a decent meal.

The meals were horrible. Really, really bad. So bad that afterwards I had to eat something else, anything else, to get the taste out of my mouth.

I ordered a dish called chicken with sambal sauce. I hadn't heard of that dish before but I assume it was sambal chicken, which is a usual option at Malaysian restaurants. But the dish that came a few minutes later was nothing like sambal chicken. I associate sambal chicken to a dish with fried chicken in sambal paste, rice and veges. A quick Google search of "sambal chicken" shows these:

Love2Cook Malaysia
Fuss Free Cooking
My Singapore Kitchen

Google images shows these:



:


Kampung Story served me this:


It was truly disgusting. The chicken was old and/or not cooked fully. The sauce was salty - why was there sauce in it to begin with? The veges were from cheap frozen vege packets. It has a yucky smell of shrimp paste but no tasty goodness of Sambal Chicken. It was no where near my favourite Malaysian Restaurant - Selera in Newmarket, Auckland - but I would have settled for anything remotely decent. This was not edible and I had to leave it uneaten mostly. 

What is worse, Maxi ordered a dish called chicken in szechuan sauce and his dish looked almost identical to mine! Before ordering he asked the waitress what szechuan sauce was and she told him it was spicy and had whole chillies in it. There was no chilly to be found in the dish and not a hint of spice. Here is his dish:




 Also super yuck.

When we first got to the restaurant we were very happy to see they offered Teh Tarik - Malaysian tea - as we had loved this tea in Singapore and Hong Kong. So after the failure with the main meals we thought a sip of tea is just what we need to take away the yucky taste. But oh horror, the tea was even worse! How is that even possible?! They made tea that tasted bitter and undrinkable. After 2 sips I could take no more. And I love tea, I am a self confessed tea lover. Well, this cup was just not good enough to even be called tea.

Never going back there again!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Neighbours from around the World


Photo taken from Flickr: here
Taking freshly cooked, home baked, goodies to neighbours. I thought that only happened in movies. But we decided to try it out in real-life. We baked coconut-lime muffins and went on a trip around the new neighbourhood to introduce ourselves. 
What we found was interesting. It is one of the marvels of Australia. The first house, opposite ours, had 1 man living in it. He was from Nanjing Province, China. His house was surrounded by red lanterns and as soon as we greeted him and gave him our muffins he immediately took out some green tea from his cupboard and offered it to us in return. He bowed politely and offered us to have Oolong tea with him at his house. He was learning English as we stepped inside the house. 
The Oolong tea had come from a Government official friend in China, he told us. He took out a special tea making pot and steeper and, using his kettle from China and sitting on the floor, he began making the tea. His house was full of little ornaments from China, and probably with memories from his life in China. He is a businessman and his wife and young daughter are back in China.
We sipped tea and talked for a good while about China, politics, about the Mandarin language, about Europe. Then said our goodbyes and were off. Out of China and onto the next world.
Next we were greeted by an Indian couple, also living opposite to us. The husband was from Punjab, India and the wife was of Indian heritage but from the UK. They had 2 cats. We were again offered tea. This time the choice was Indian tea or English tea. We opted for the simpler English tea. Again, after we gave our muffins we were offered to take a box of M&Ms in return. We chatted about the neighbourhood, learnt all about their families and cats. He is a taxi driver and she works in finance. Then we also said goodbye and went our way. 
It is amazing how these 2 neighbours live right next to each other yet they are so different. Worlds apart. Yet living so close. Not aware of each other. Neither wanting to find out more about who is living next to them. 
Next we met the neighbours immediately next to us. They were Australians. An older couple, both nurses. We offered our muffins, she took it and said her husband will really like it. Not surprisingly, we were not offered anything back (not that we expected anything, in fact I only noticed this difference later when thinking about the different cultures of our neighbours). We were not invited to go inside but were left with a vague mention of getting together later on.
Really though, I thought, only in a place like Australia can we be surrounded by neighbours from all around the world. This article on Wikipedia says that there are residents from 180 countries living in Victoria, Australia, speaking over 233 languages and dialects and following 116 different religions. Living in so close proximity (the houses are literally only centimetres apart) and minding their own business, but very friendly when approached. 
It was also interesting to note the different cultures and actions of the different neighbours. According to this article, based on results from the Censuses of 1991 to 2011, in 2011 only 26% of the residents identified themselves as having Australian ancestry. The remainder were 24.3% English, 6.7% Irish, 6.3% Italian, 6.3% Indian, 6.2% Scottish, 4.5% Chinese, 3.4% Maltese, 3.2% Filipino and 2.8% German. The article also states that 5% of residents were born in India, followed by 4% born in the UK. Amazingly cool!
We definitely look forward to meeting many more people around the neighbourhood and making new friendships. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Garlicky Chicken with Lemon-Anchovy Sauce




This recipe is adopted from the New York Times: here is the original recipe. It involves mixing chicken with anchovy - something that I would never have done normally. I've never cooked with anchovy before (to tell the truth, I have never eaten anchovies before!). I also hardly cook with capers, but this recipe looked good and it had a video accompanying the recipe that made it sound so good that I just had to try it. And it was really, really delicious. One of the best meals I have cooked - so good that I woke up the next morning thinking about how yummy dinner was the night before! I don't usually follow recipes as I found that in the past they didn't lead to good result, but I have to say so far the New York Times has provided very good recipes.

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
6 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoon drained capers, patted dry
1 lemon, halved
Salt and pepper to taste
Chilli powder
Fresh chopped parsley for serving
Crusty bread

Method

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and set aside.

Mince 1 garlic clove and set aside for use later.

In a large fry-pan heat the oil and then put 5 cloves of garlic (smashed) in. Add the anchovies and capers and let it cook on medium heat, stirring, until the anchovies dissolve and the garlic starts to get a bit golden.

Add chicken thighs and let it brown on one side. Then flip it and let it cook through but not overcooked.

When the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a plate and add the minced garlic to the pan with the juice of half a lemon. Add chilli powder to taste. Mix it around to scrape any brown bits that may be left in the pan. When the garlic is looking almost cooked, add the chicken back in and cook for a few more minutes.

To serve, squeeze the remaining half lemon juice over the chicken and sprinkle parsley on top.

We ate it with crusty bread, by dipping the bread in the oil/sauce. It was really yummy! The lemon gave it that nice zesty kick and amplified the flavour.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Peking Duck





Last year, Max and I made really yummy crispy roast duck. Unfortunately, though, I do not remember the recipe for that and so when we decided to make duck again this year I went on a search for how to make Peking Duck. I love having Peking Duck at restaurants and the idea of putting the meal together at the table is very nice, but the meal can be quite pricey. So, we decided to try it at home. 

I combined recipes from 2 different websites: Taste.com.au and All recipes.com. I did not have a steamer at home so we modified the steps a little bit. 

The end result was a hit with the family and the whole duck was finished (mostly by my mum and sister). We also used lettuce leaves instead of the traditional pancakes for wrapping the duck meat in and added a bit of rice and a salad on the side. 

Ingredients

1 duck, whole
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
1 (halved) spring onion
1 slice of ginger
2 to 3 tablespoons of honey
75ml of Chinese cooking wine (Shao Shing)
1/2 lemon, sliced
1 small cup of water
Hoisin sauce for serving 
Sliced cucumbers for serving
Lettuce leaves for serving
Sliced spring onions for serving

Steps

Rinse the duck and pat dry with a paper towel. Our duck was still a bit frozen on the inside so we washed the inside too and I placed a paper town in the duck's cavity to help soak the water.

Mix the cinnamon, ginger power, pepper and cloves and a bit of chilli powder (if you like, and to taste). Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the mixture into the duck's cavity.

Mix the remaining mixture with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and rub it all over the outside of the duck.

I then tucked the wings of the duck so it is close by the body.

Place the spring onion and ginger slice into the duck's cavity.

Refrigerate, uncovered, for a minimum of 2 hours. I refrigerated it for about 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (ours was fan forced so we kept it at 180 but if you have a traditional oven you can increase the heat to around 220 degree).

Put the duck into the oven for about 10 minutes - this makes it crispier.

Heat the remaining soy sauce with the Shao Shing and water in a small pan with the lemon slices and heat over medium heat. You can taste the mixture and add more soy sauce or honey according to your taste. 

Prick the duck all over with a fork, being careful to only pierce the skin, not the meat itself. 

When the mixture is reduced a bit, brush it over the duck (we did not have a brush so used a spatula instead). 

Put the duck into the oven, breast side up, for about 30 minutes. Take it out and brush all over with the mixture again then put it back in the oven with the other side up. Keep doing this until the duck is a rich brown colour and the skin is crispy. It took us about 2 hours. 

To check whether the duck was cooked, I cut with a sharp knife between the thigh bone.

Enjoy with lettuce cups, sliced cucumber, sliced spring onions and hoisin sauce.



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Green bean salad with pan fried chicken





I haven't posted a recipe for some time - to be honest, I haven't tried making something new in a while. But it is always so exciting and fun to try new recipes. So, today, Sharlene and I tried out a healthy recipe for bean salad and chicken breasts.

First, please note that when I was making the salad, I did not take exact measures of any of the ingredients or the exact times for cooking. I cook with the guidance of The Force ;) After all, recipes are best used as a guide, not an exact manuscript to follow word by word. Cooking, to me, is like an art and when I limit myself to exactness I find the end result to be sub-par.

In any case, here we go:

Ingredients for the Chicken

3 pieces of chicken breast
A generous splash of white wine
A smaller splash of red wine vinegar
Some herbs for the chicken - I used mixed herbs for steak (pepper, dried capsicum, dried onions, etc) - it really doesn't matter and you can change the herbs depending on your own likes or dislikes. I added chilli and pepper powder as well.
1 teaspoon of honey
A dash of avocado oil (because that is what I had in the pantry)

Cooking steps for the Chicken

Cut the chicken into thick strips, pierce with a fork or small knife and marinate with the wine, red wine vinegar, herbs, oil and honey. Leave aside to marinade while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

After it has marinated for a few minutes (approx 5 - 10 minutes), place the chicken pieces on a wide frying pan and add the left over marinade. Pan fry over low to medium heat until the chicken is cooked through (the chicken will turn white rather than the pinkish that it began with and you can check by poking a sharp knife though to see if it is cooked). Add salt to taste.

PS, I also covered the chicken towards the end for some short periods to help in the cooking process.

Don't overcook otherwise the chicken pieces will become dry and hard - we want it soft and juicy!

Ingredients for the Bean Salad

I adopted this recipe from the blog Well Nourished and my sister helped me prepare it.

Green beans (as much as you like - enough for around 3 people)
100 grams feta cheese, crumbled (my sister did this part with great devotion)
Some roasted almonds (heated on a fry pan over low heat)

For the dressing- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.

Steam the beans for 2 minutes - I know, this sounds very short and when done the beans still looked raw, but when we ate it it was delicious and just perfectly cooked. Juicy and still with a bite to it :)
Drizzle the dressing, add the feta and almond on top.

Serve and enjoy! We really liked the dish, even though we all generally aren't big fans of beans, but we have never had beans like this. Crunchy and delicious. Sharlene ate every last piece of the feta off the salad plate and only then was she satisfied!

Shanghai: Meeting of Worlds

China is with me every day. I work for a New Zealand law firm leading in the field of helping clients from China and Taiwan with cases in New Zealand. Our clients bring with them a little piece of their home, which I cherish immensely; by getting to know their family stories and business endeavours, I have the privilege of learning a bit more about their culture and customs every day.

But hearing and learning about a place, it can never be the same as experiencing a place. And how excited I was when I got offered the opportunity to travel to China for myself, to get to know the country and some of our friends and clients.

I spent eight nights in Shanghai with my husband and in this post I briefly describe some of the things that have impressed me the most on my visit.

The Food

Thanks to some excellent local guides, I was never one to starve for the most outstanding food during my stay in Shanghai. According to my husband, there is only one type of Chinese restaurant in his native Germany, a.k.a. 'Chinese Restaurant'. You would be pressed hard to find one of those in Shanghai. Each meal was like travelling to a different province of China (with an occasional trip to Taiwan) and every dish presented its own range of flavours. With the food being so diverse, it was very surprising that I loved all of it.


Amazing Food!

The Architecture

I have been to some places in Asia where the local blend of architecture appeared to me as a blend of utility and chaos. Not so in Shanghai! It is a city which not only features beautiful individual buildings and sites but where large pieces of the central city feel like they have been crafted with one overarching aesthetic goal. Moreover, between the different precincts there is significant diversity which can be experienced, reaching from more Chinese traditional building in the Yùyuán Gardens to the early 1900s European architecture in the The Bund area to the futuristic skyscrapers  in the Pudong district. I cannot remember being to any place more architecturally impressive than Shanghai.


Skyscrapers in The Pudong District Scraping the Sky

The Prices

China's enormous economic rise in the past three decades has been to some degree fueled by being able to produce goods at drastically lower prices than competing production centers. Thus, we often think of China as a place where the price conscious might revel in. For Shanghai, this couldn't be further from the truth.

Buy a coffee at Starbucks? NZD $7. Eat out for lunch? NZD $20/pp. These prices make Auckland look like a budget traveller's paradise. I maybe didn't look in the right places before, but Shanghai has officially been the first place where I came within 10 centimetres of a NZD $20,000 hand bag.


Starbucks: We Only Went There Once

The Cleanliness

I have been to Hong Kong and it has easily been the cleanest place I have visited thus far. So I wasn't very surprised to find Shanghai a very clean and orderly city, maybe even more so than Hong Kong. However, with it being the most populous city on Earth, it is no unremarkable accomplishment that it is that much more clean and tidy than many other places that I visited in the western world.


With My Colleague Paul in the Very Tidy Pudong District

The People

When we think of big cities we often think of hustle and bustle and expect a bit less of the friendliness and politeness associated with rural and laid back places. As far as cities go, there should hardly be a place with more hustle and bustle than Shanghai. All the more surprising it is how very calm, understanding and friendly the Shanghainese are. Wherever we went, we would sometimes be received curtly but also always with understanding, friendliness and helpfulness when we would be in need of special attention (which would happen quite often when temporarily without our guides and left to our own devices).


This Is a Picture of Buns Max Took to Show to the Staff of the Restaurant To Order Them

I have always wanted to go to China, and, although I had travelled to Hong Kong before, I always used to say that I haven't really been to China. Now I have visited Shanghai and I must say that still I feel that I haven't really been to China. How could I say that of a country with so innumerable many cities, people and so diverse regions. Also, I feel like there is far more to see of Shanghai than I was able to see during my visit there. After all, almost as many people live there than live in Australia and New Zealand combined, and there are immeasurably many things about this city I don't even begin to understand. Plenty of reasons to go back to China, and plenty of reasons to come back to Shanghai!

Some More Pictures of Amazing Things


7 NZD For A Cupcacke: Pricey But Delicious!


We Got Plenty of Sunshine in Shanghai Autumn (And Seen No Tiger Claws)


Our Room in the Baron Business Hotel Shanghai Had A Beautiful Balcony


One Building Taller Than the Next


A Delicious Fish Head (The Red Part Is The Spicy One)


The Huangpu River By Day And ...


The Huangpu River By Night.

Flowing in Tranquillity.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Enforcing Overseas Judgment in New Zealand

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are my musings and opinion. They do not constitute legal advice and are not meant to be acted upon as such. For legal advice please contact a lawyer.

After years of litigation and court attendances you finally have a judgment in your favour. A definitive win, hooray! But the defendant (or "the other side" as we like to say) has now decided to pack up and leave across the seas to avoid payment. How do you get your overseas judgment enforced in the country that the other side has run away to?

Lets say, for our benefit that the other side has run away to New Zealand (because that is where we practice!). If you're lucky and your judgment is from an Australian or other Commonwealth country, you can apply to have the overseas judgment enforced in New Zealand under the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010 (if the judgment is from Australia) or the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act 1934 (if the judgment is from a country with with New Zealand has a reciprocal agreement, including many Commonwealth countries). 

You're also in luck if your judgment is from a Commonwealth country as it can then be enforceable under section 56 of the Judicature Act 1908

"Ah, but what if my judgment is not from one of these countries?" you say. What if, like many of our clients, your judgment is from China? A judgment from a Chinese court is not directly able to be registered in New Zealand. That doesn't mean that you can't enforce it here though - you just need to go through a few more steps before you can enforce it in New Zealand. 

I recently worked on a case where we had a judgment from China in the sum of approximately $4,000,000.00 NZD. The judgment was against a debtor who did not have sufficient assets in China to satisfy the judgment but there was real property in New Zealand, which might satisfy some of the amount owing. A Chinese judgment can be enforced in New Zealand through the common law. That is, you need to bring fresh proceedings in New Zealand at the High Court, based on the Chinese judgment. 

Before you can do so, however, you need to satisfy a few requirements if the defendant is outside New Zealand. In the above example, we could satisfy the requirement because:

  •  the contract between the parties was to be performed in New Zealand, and
  • the subject matter of the case was land or other property in New Zealand.

Once the requirements are satisfied, the New Zealand High Court is able to hear the case. But it may still decline to hear it if the Court is satisfied that New Zealand is not the most appropriate country to hear the case - for example, if the Court thinks that it is better for the case to be dealt with in China instead. In legal jargon, we call this the forum non conveniens.

Okay, so you've passed the first hurdle. What now?

Now, you need to make a claim to the High Court. You do this by filing:

  • A Statement of Claim
  • A Notice of Proceeding 
  • To make the process shorter, you can also make an application for Summary Judgment. This is basically an application to tell the court that the other side does not have a defence to your claim and it asks the court to give judgment in your favour. The procedure for seeking summary judgment is in Part 12 of the High Court Rules.
  • The application for Summary Judgment needs to be supported by affidavit evidence (this is basically your written evidence, giving information about the proceedings in China, about the Chinese judgment and the amount owing to you).

The case of Reeves v One World Challenge LLC helpfully sets out the three things that you must show in order to successfully enforce the overseas judgment in New Zealand. These are:

1. The Chinese court had jurisdiction over the debtor according to New Zealand's conflict of law rules. This means, you need to show one of the following:
    • The debtor was in China at the time the case was heard
    • The debtor was the plaintiff (the person bringing the case) in China, or he/she made a counterclaim against you in China
    • The debtor voluntarily appeared in the court proceedings in China
    • the debtor agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of the Chinese court before the case began in China.
2. The judgment is for a definite sum of money
3. The judgment is final and conclusive. That is to say, the debtor has exhausted all his/her appeal rights in China.

The debtor can try to defend the case, but he/she is not allowed to reopen the entire case, which has already been decided by the Chinese court. In case, the debtor tried to do just that, claiming various things regarding the contract and repeating the arguments brought before the Chinese court. It is not a valid ground of defence for the debtor to say that the plaintiff (you) did not attempt the enforce the judgment in China first. 

In our case, the High Court granted the summary judgment and found that the Chinese judgment is enforceable in New Zealand. However, we now have a question about the interest ordered on the $4,000,000.00 by the Chinese court, which is calculated at a significantly higher rate than that prescribed by the Judicature Act. 

The question is this: Can the New Zealand High Court direct the debtor to pay a lower amount of interest than that ordered by the Chinese judgment (or order that no interest is payable at all)? If you have any thoughts on this, I would be interested in hearing your views :)