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Barrel & Bushel, Tysons Corner Mall One December 5, 2015

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants.
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Barrel & Bushel, known as B&B, is a new American style, casual restaurant located at the newly opened plaza on the outside of the mall, serving dishes usually not found in the traditional American restaurants.

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Well, let me put it this way, when I want a hamburg, I will not come back to B&B. Other than that, the outdoor seating was great, you get to see people walking by you on a warm and wonderful evening. The casual and relaxed vibe give you plenty reason to enjoy your meal and beer. The service was amicable and our waiter took his time to explain to us what we are getting so that there wasn’t any surprises.

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Well, you have to like the food to like the restart .

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A piece of deep fried chicken on top of two thick slices of toast topped with gravy-like sauce. Kind of strange, if you ask me.

Here are what we got:

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Grass fed burger.

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Shake Shack, Tysons Corner, VA September 2, 2014

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants.
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The Tysons Corner Plaza has opened to the public for a while now but I have only been there twice. The 2nd time was last night; the evening before  school starts today, Tuesday, 09-02-2014.

My wife and I went to Tysons’ to jog and have something to eat. But we decided to try Shake Shack’s burgers first. Shake Shack is located right on the Plaza next to the entrance. It was busy when we got there around 7:30 pm and there were a lot of small kids running around. It also has an open area adjacent to the restaurant for kids to play. The Plaza is an open space area for mall shoppers, residents of the luxury apartment complex and office workers of the new Hyatt tower. They two high-rise buildings will be open in late 2014 or early 2015. The Plaza is very nice and is designed for people to relax, sit around, play and watch the world goes by.

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Shake Shack’s burgers are tastier than 5 Guys’ burgers and way better than McDonald’s or Burger King’s.

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But Shake Shack’s burgers are much saltier, extremely greasy, very small in size and much more expensive than its competitors’. They probably have to charge you an arm and a leg because they are paying big bucks for the space and for the prime location on the Plaza.

I also believe that Shake Shack makes most of its profits from shacks and frozen treats because a shack is $5 and a small (yes, when they say small, they mean small) frozen is $3.25. The fries were nothing to brag about. I rather like to have 5 Guys’ fries even though we can only finish about half of a regular order.

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Go give it a try if you must. I don’t think it’s the only one in northern VA. This is the first time we’ve been here and it is likely our last.

Fancy toy for the 1% September 1, 2013

Posted by hslu in Economics.
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This is the Tesla showroom at Tysons Shopping Center in Northern Virginia.

Would you like to buy one? You probably can place an order here.

$100,000.

 

Siciliano, Great Falls, VA September 1, 2013

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants.
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A small and cozy Italian restaurant located in the Great Falls Shopping Center in Northern Virginia.

They serve the standard Italian food but they paid attention to details. Quantity was good too.

The service was attentive but not very personal: you know the usual:”How is the salad?” “Was the soup good?”.

We had Carpacii Bruchetta, a side Caesar salad, a bowl of Curry Lentil and a Tuscan Turkey Panini.

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One thing I can say is that we ordered way too much for lunch and we had to take half of the panini sandwich home.

The setting is pleasant, the food is great, the quantity is good and the price is right.

I suggest you give it a try.

Middle Eastern Food Festival, Northern Virginia August 31, 2013

Posted by hslu in Cooking, Food, Religion.
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I didn’t realize that this is the 20th year this church had this food Festival. I also didn’t know that there is a big church on Leiwensville Road even though I have driven by this place hundreds of times.

The festival is held every year over the labor day weekend.

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I came here for the food even though I can’t eat a lot.

There were hundreds of people when we got there around 2 pm. There were about 100 people in the big hall already when we got there and there was a line to order food.

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We had #3 platter which was M’nezzeleh: roasted egg plant with ground lamb and beef. The sides were rice, salad called fattoush and 2 small pieces of pita bread.

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The roast egg plant was great: well cooked and very flavorful. I didn’t think I tasted any lamb thougg and there was little meat to begin with. The rice was a little under cooked though.

Fattoush was fresh and well seasoned. We also got some sweets and we like it too because they weren’t soaked in syrup.

We also had some roasted lamb which took 6 hours to prepare. The lamb meat was tender, juicy and slightly seasoned and best of all was it didn’t have that lamb taste. I like it.

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We had a lot of fun.

BTW, 10% if all the proceeds will be donated to people in the Middle East who have been suffering from the war.

Bali – Private Villa and St. Regis July 27, 2013

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants, Travel.
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Beautiful island with excellent beaches. The weather was excellent too. We were there for four nights as a 2-person tourist group. We got the package from Lion Travel at 忠孝复兴 捷云站 in Taipei. I double checked with my agent at Lion Travel that we’d be staying at St. Regis before I sent them my money. St. Regis is ranked #1 out of 27 hotels in Nusa Dua and we liked it a lot. It was definitely one of the fanciest hotels we had ever stayed with.

Lion Travel taipei did a great job and my agent, 柯小姐, was excellent. I also think the price was very reasonable considering what we got when we were there.

The name of the tour package is called “瑞吉套房“ and the ~$1,500 US price we paid included the following:

1. RT airfare from Taipei 桃园机场 on Eva Airline.

2.  A local tour guide and a driver. Tips were $10 US per person per day. The tour guide speaks Chinese.

3.  Two nights at Swiss Bel Bay View Villa which included a huge private villa with our own swimming pool about 15′ x 30′, free breakfast buffet, 2-hour spa treatment, and a candlelight romantic dinner by the swimming pool.

4.  Two nights at St. Regis in Nusa Dua in a St. Regis suite. Upon our arrival, we were treated with a honey moon package which included welcome cocktail in hotel’s spacious and beautiful lobby, our own butler, sun hats, beach bag, decorated king-size bed, tropical fruit in our room, rose petals decorated bathtub and a beautiful white roses bouquet. The package also included free breakfast buffet, a 60-minute aqua vital sea salt bath therapy, a 60-minute balinese massage, a classic afternoon tea and a bicycle ride. We didn’t go for the bicycle ride because Maria didn’t know how to ride a bicycle.

5.  This is not the end of the package yet. It also included an afternoon tea at Ocean 27 off the beach. (Very unappealing.)

6.  All meals were paid for except two lunches. Meals included an Italian dinner (we didn’t go,) a Mexican dinner (we didn’t go,) a lunch at Sushi Tei (huge restaurant, busy, bland, noisy, set menu with teriyaki chicken, miso soup, sushi,  than enough to fill us up, just okay,) and a Balinese “cuisine” of deep-fried chicken in a pressure cooker plus a can of coke at Malioboro (very bad, I didn’t eat any.) Malioboro was filled with Asian tourists and the restaurant was packed at all times when we were there. My advice: don’t go.

7.  Other things included in the package we could do but didn’t was Seawalk in Sanur and free ice cream. We went to see the 海神庙 about an hour away by car.

8.  A pre-paid phone card to be used with my cell phone. Since my iPhone wasn’t unlocked, I gave the phone card back to my tour guide.

9.  I also told my tour guide and driver that they didn’t have to stay and wait for us when we were out for dinner or shopping in the evening. We would take a taxi back to our villa or hotel  on our own so that they could go home and be with their family earlier.

Bali wa a great place to relax but the city looked somewhat backward in terms of infrastructure such as roads, buildings and shops in the city.  We stayed at a villa for two nights and then at St. Regis for two nights.

We went to Kayuputi for dinner on our own. I knew it is very expensive but it was okay because I just wanted to tried it out. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the exceedingly high wine prices. Kayuputi was beautiful from the outside and nicely decorated on the inside. The dining room is spacious. They also offer tables on the outside overlooking the sea in the distance.  Service was impeccable. The servers were polite, warm, not intrusive and professional. The were trained to watch the details and take good care of the guests. The food was very good. The ambiance was warm and cozy. It has an open kitchen in the middle of the dining room. There were 6 or 7 chefs working and about equal number of servers plus some food runners.

Wines were extremely expensive. My servers told me that the import tax was very high. I paid Rp.  1.350.000 (about $145 ) for a bottle of Kim Crawford 2011 Sauvignon Blanc which was about 4 times more expensive than what I’d pay in an equivalent restaurant in Washington D.C, or Northern Virginia. Last I checked, the same bottle retails $12.95 online. What a rip off! Too bad that I can’t bring my own bottle.

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Consider that you have been forewarned! Next time I’ll have a glass of wine instead.

Here are some pictures from our trip.

Our first meal in Bali. We got to choose what we like from the menu, including a bottle of wine (extra charge.) The dinner was served at an open, big and nicely appointed sitting are by the pool inside our villa. Very romantic.

Our villa. Quiet, relaxing. Huge. Just for the two of us.

Our villa. Quiet, relaxing. Huge. Just for the two of us.

A wild cat enjoyed our left-over.

A wild cat enjoyed our left-over.

Part of the villa.

Part of the villa.

Relax in St. Regis compound. "世外桃源“

Relax at St. Regis compound. “世外桃源“

Our hosts at St. Regis. This is hotel lobby.

Our hosts at St. Regis. This is hotel lobby.

Personal touch St. Regis style.

Personal touch, St. Regis style. Very classic.

A lot nicer than what we got on a cruise.

A lot nicer than what we got on a cruise.

Gifts for us.

Gifts for us.

Our bathroom. I thought this only happens in the movie. Again, included in the package.

Our bathroom. I thought this only happens in the movie. Again, included in the package.

Another gift set.

Another gift set.

At the beach. Kayuputi is in the background.

At the beach. Kayuputi is in the background.

Unique. In the back of the lobby.

Unique. In the back of the lobby.

 

About 6:30 in the morning.

About 6:30 in the morning.

Kayuputi in the morning.

Kayuputi in the morning.

The food at St. Regis is first class. We ate at three restaurants:

Kayuputi – White wood in Indonesian dialect.

Contemporary cuisine based Asian Inspired Haute Cuisine: Wagyu beef from Australia, seafood from local waters, as well as imported specialties.

Boneka – Breakfast and dinner buffets. Top quality. Excellent service.

King Cole Bar – Afternoon tea with multiple choices of sweet pastries and deserts.

I will write these in a separate blog.

The bottom line: This is one of the places you have to experience before you die.

西塘古镇 March 31, 2011

Posted by hslu in China, Travel.
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西塘古镇 is an ancient city about 25 miles from Shanghai in 浙江省嘉善縣”zhe4 jiang1 sheng3 jia1 shan4 xian4,” or the County of JiaShan in Zhejiang Province.

Bao saw an article on the Internet promoting this city and asked me to take her over there on a day trip.

I found out that we could take a high-speed train at Shanghai train station and assumed that it was the main train station in the center of the city.

Well, it wasn’t. We needed to go to 虹橋火車站 on the west side of the city instead. We got there via subway and bought the 1 pm ticket to 嘉善縣. Tickets to almost every city on the railroad network could be purchased at one of probably 20 or more automated ticketing machines. If we needed assistance, we had to walk to a different section of the train station and someone over there could help us.

While waiting we went to one of the four restaurants on the second floor of the train station to have a cup of coffee. The small restaurant was packed with customers and judging by the prices on the menu, I guessed that most of the customers were either rich businessmen, rich businesswomen or party officials on expense account. Common people on 2,000 renminbi a month could not afford this kind of spending at all.

The name of the cafe was called 左岸咖啡 "zuo3 an4 ka1 fei1" Left Bank Cafe. 68 Renminbi for a latte and a regular coffee. Not cheap even by Northern Virginia standard.

We used to do this around Chinese New Year at our home in Taizhong. Mom and Dad made sausages from scratch, air-dried ducks, 腊肉 "la4 rou4" BBQ pork Chinese style and air-dried chickens. Seeing this dried in the cold air certainly bought back some fond memories from the old days. Wow, that was 50 years ago.

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A restaurant on the river

Zoom in to see the 對聯 "dui4 lian2."

Well prepared for the winter.

A stage for local opera and music performance

Trash bin

Entrance to a couple of local hotels. Hmm.., I am not sure I wanted to stay here.

Take a closer look of the 對聯 "dui4 lian2" and see if you can see something unique about it. Hint: same five words>

Docked for the winter season.

好一個 "醉里乾坤大" "壺中日月長." 横批嗎來一個 "半醉半醒"

百轉千回在塵外 "bai3 zhuan3 qian1 hui2 zai4 chen2 wai4." 不論你如何鑽營﹐到頭來還是在紅塵之外. 也就是說人生苦短,不要為名利而鑽營, 拼命去拍馬屁. 到頭來還是落的一场空。

豆腐花"dou4fu3 hua1" also called 豆花 "dou4 hua1" Silken Tofu or soybean custard. Literally it means soy bean flower.

豆花 "dou4 hua1" with ginger laced brown sugar syrup. I also like the syrup with cooked peanuts.

A mini series on Chinese TV called "我的青春誰做主" "wo3 de4 qing1 chun1 shui2 zuo4 zhu3" was filmed at this restaurant. The name of the mini series means: Who will decide my youth?

Mission Impossible III by Tom Cruise was filmed here.

桂花湯圓 "gui4 hua1 tang1 yuan2" Sweet rice balls with dried "Sweet Tea Olive." Comfort food in the winter time.

The best wonton soup I have ever had: paper thin skins practically melted in your mouth. Very little meat hence: small wonton 小餛飩 "xiao3 hun2 tun1." Lots of onions just the way I like it. Clear chicken broth was so flavorful that I could never inmitate. Make sure you try it when you visit here. Only 5 renminbi; about 90 cents. 1000 times better than what you can get from the A&J's in Northern Virginia.

Wonton by 陆 "lu4"

You need to zoom in to see the details.

Happy Pig

10 renminbi a pair. About $1.50

Small craft shop with a 对联 "dui4 lian2" that makes you think about your love life.

酒 "jiu3" Chinese rice wine.

On the way back to Shanghai on 高鐵 "gao1 tie3" (High speed railroad) at 339 KM/hour. Pretty fast.

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