Friday, March 30, 2007

Facing East: Taiwanese Cuisine in Bellevue

At my husband’s request, this is our second time visiting Facing East in one week. We made the mistake of coming at around 6 p.m. on a Saturday and faced a wait inside the crowded tiny restaurant located in a strip mall next to the Bellevue Post Office. The second time we came in at around 5 p.m. on a weekday, and there was no wait. I’ve been eating Chinese food for a long time, but Taiwanese cuisine is new territory for me so I asked the friendly server for recommendations in addition to the favorites my husband had ordered.

We started off with the Citrus Fruit Tea, a refreshing medley of fruit flavors in an eye-catching array of lemons, oranges and green apples floating in a clear teapot that can be served hot or cold. I spotted these on almost every table during our first visit and inquired about it immediately. We ordered it hot the first time on a cold and rainy day, and the second time, ordered it cold after a day at the park; both are delicious. The Sweet Potato Flour Dumplings with Pork Stuffing (sold out the first time we went) arrived next, followed by the Taiwanese Style Chow Mein, Spiced Pork Stew over Rice (a popular favorite), Five Spiced Fried Chicken with Basil Puree, Pork Pottage with Noodles (husband’s favorite), and the Taiwanese Pork Burger.

Because I am not a big fan of black mushrooms and bamboo shoots, I passed the Dumplings over to my husband as the stuffing contained a generous portion of the above. The Taiwanese Style Chow Mein ($8.25) is great for the kids. The Spiced Pork Stew ($2.75-small, $3.99-large, pictured) is incredibly flavorful; rice topped with minced fatty pork and bathed in a delicious broth-something to be had every once in awhile before you’ll start needing a prescription for Lipitor. My favorites are the Five Spiced Fried chicken with Basil Puree ($5.25)—bits of chicken deep-fried with basil, and the Taiwanese Pork Burger ($2.75)—another luscious and fatty slice of pork with bits of preserved vegetable and an indescribable sauce, sandwiched between traditional white flour bread. The Pork Pottage with noodles ($4.99) is nicely done according to my husband; large chunks of pork steeped in fish paste and suspended in a starchy sweet broth. There are still many other items to be had on the small, yet comprehensive menu. Next on my list to try: the Salt Pepper Shrimp and Broiled Cod with Miso Glaze.

ETA: Favorite dishes are now: Broiled Cod with Miso Glaze, Shrimp Rolls (delicious, and you must ask for their chili sauce), Taiwanese Shaved Ice (not on the menu) for dessert.
Closed Mondays; credit cards $20 minimum
1075 Bellevue Way NE (inside the Belgate Plaza)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Then Sings My Soul: Stories of the Hymns by Robert J. Morgan

Some of the world’s most beautiful music and poetry can be found in the hundreds of hymns written by devout believers over the centuries. I have to admit that I preferred more contemporary worship music during my youth, but over time, when the first sprigs of white hair seem to be here to stay, I have come to appreciate the beauty and magnificence of the hymn. Robert J. Morgan offers stories and perspectives behind 150 well-loved hymns in this first volume (there is a second one) complete with music and lyrics.

Among all the hymns, there is one that always brings a tear to my eye, and after reading the story behind Horatio G. Spafford’s well-loved 1873 hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul,” I will have an even greater appreciation for the lyrics—“when sorrows like sea billows roar.”

Mr. Spafford was an attorney who had lost most of his fortune in real estate investments during the great Chicago fire in 1871. He lost his only son to scarlet fever during the same period of time as well. Two years later, he planned a vacation abroad to Europe with his wife and four daughters; however, when an urgent matter detained him, he sent his wife and his four daughters ahead of him on another ship. That ship wound up colliding with another vessel, and sank, killing the majority of the passengers, including all four of his daughters. His wife was found barely conscious. En route to join his wife, when he passed the waters where the ship had sank it is written that he said, “It is well; the will of God be done.”

I hope that when my head is fully crowned with silver (or hopefully a nice salt- pepper gray), I will have attained that level of contentment and confidence with whatever comes my way. One thing I know, I am sure I will be wondering then as I do now, why we don’t sing hymns more often.

Available at

Mama’s Got Edge Darn it!: The Hermes Collier de Chien Cuff

It will soon come to light that I am an ardent admirer of Hermes of Paris. Bags, scarves, bracelets, houseware, blankets, ready-to-wear, you name it, I love it. I recently picked up their Collier de Chien cuff in Rouge Garance Chamonix. I love the hardware on the cuff; I’m pretty wimpy by nature in my attire and in my demeanor so wearing it is just my passive-aggressive way of saying, “Don’t mess with me!” Blame it on Wonder Woman I say.

As with many of the famed goods from the house of Hermes, debatable necessity is the mother of invention. Hermes lore states that the signature Collier de Chien design made its way towards accessories for humans when a customer requested that one of their dog collar leashes be extended into a belt. Soon, the signature hardware became attached to necklaces, bracelets, gloves, and now, even their bags—with the current arrival of the Medor Clutch as shown in the photo above. It’s just too bad the meaning hasn’t changed; Collier de Chien translates to "dog collar" in French. "Dog collar" cuff just doesn't have as nice a ring to it eh?

Collier de Chien cuff available at Hermes stores or at
Photo: Harper’s Bazzar

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

MAC’s Whirl Lipliner: An Alternative to the Old Spice

I know a lot of you out there are fans of perennial favorite, MAC’s Spice lip liner, but did you know that it’s changed over the years? I first picked up the pencil at the age of 19 after reading how Michelle Pfeiffer used it with a layer of Clinique’s Black Honey Semi-Lipstick over it; a formula that worked perfectly for my fair skin. I finally reached the tail-end of a five-year old pencil (not as gross as it sounds—initially lost, but found at a later point) and went to buy another one, only to discover it didn’t look as good on me anymore. Was it time? Did my lips change coloring to render the pigment peachy and pasty versus the light and pinky brown I had gotten used to? Well, on a recent visit to my local MAC counter I told the cosmetician of my plight, and that’s when she let me in on a little secret: Spice had changed—in fact, it used to be more of a “pinky brown.” WHAT?!? Why on earth would they even toy with perfection? Well, she didn’t know the answer, but she had a recommendation for an alternative: MACs Whirl—a more pinky version of Spice. While it’s not quite exactly like the old Spice, it’s closer than the newer version of Spice which is a bit more pasty on me. Go ahead, give it a Whirl—(sorry, I coudn't resist. It’s the latte kicking in.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Out on DVD: The Curse of the Golden Flower

It's Tuesday, DVD release day! On my shopping list: Zhang Yimou’s The Curse of the Golden Flower.

I had meant to see this one in the theatre, but instead, after eating some suspicious foie gras terrine at Bergdorf’s for lunch and having to prematurely leave dinner at L’Atelier due to the belated effects of that terrine, wound up watching this in my hotel room bed with a pizza from Ray’s in New York. DH and I were riveted to the screen from the opening scene to the credits. The movie's plot centers around a highly-dysfunctional imperial family that gives the House of Atreus a run for its money; however, whereas Clytemnestra's little plot was successfully carried out against Agamemnon by Orestes, Gong Li's Empress and Jay Chou's Prince Jai struggle a bit more in their endeavor against Chow Yun Fat's mighty Emperor. The storyline is just so-so, but the costumes and sets steal the show. As a sidebar, I must add that we were relieved and impressed to hear a vastly improved Mandarin-speaking Chow Yun Fat; for native Chinese speakers, listening to traditionally Cantonese-speaking actors painfully churn out Mandarin in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was a major distraction.

After seeing director Zhang Yimou’s considerably depressing "To Live" and "Shanghai Triad," many many years ago, I was happy to hear from my dad that he made a journey towards movies with a slightly brighter theme with “The Road Home” and “Not One Less.” Then it seems he had a bit of director envy after Ang Lee’s "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" as he began to explore the Wuxia genre with "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers"; both of which I appreciated for their visual beauty. In terms of this last characteristic, "the Curse of the Golden Flower" is the crown in his triumvirate of this genre. Can I just say it again? The costumes and sets are spectacular!

All in all----visually and tragically beautiful to watch. Check out the film's website for the gorgeous production photos:

Photo: Sony Classics Production Photos from Yahoo

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tory Burch's Amy Pump: An Elevated Reva

While I adore my 4" Louboutins, I lack Sarah Jessica Parker's remarkable ability of running in them. Everytime I see her run in Manolos or sky-high platforms in old SATC episodes, I'm in awe. I can barely handle the coordination involved in merely standing in 4" heels; throw in the fact that most days will require running after or holding a 30-pound plus toddler, and it just ain't gonna happen. That's when stylish flats such as my favorite and the ever-popular and constantly sold out Tory Burch Revas (first photo) come into play. The flats named after the designer's mother are perfect for running around with/after a toddler and add a bit of pizazz to whatever you're wearing. But what about those days when you just want something in between the classic ballerina flat and the sexy four-inchers? That would be the Reva re-incarnated as Tory Burch's Amy pump; essentially, the Reva with a two-inch stacked heel gilded with gold trim. As Goldilocks would say, "This one is just right!" Well, almost, if only they would come with silver hardware and in colors other than black and brown...but for now, I'm managing a fast-paced walk in them just fine.

Available at

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rover's in Seattle: the March 2007 Classics Menu

After a long week, I tossed the gym clothes and milk-stained sweats into the hamper, put on my new Vivaldi coat (see earlier post), Louboutin wedges, kissed my daughter good night, said goodbye to our sitter, and skipped out the door for a dinner date with my husband and some good friends of ours at Rover’s in Seattle.

Even though we’ve lived in Washington for several years, we only recently began creeping out of our parental comfort zone and acquainting ourselves with its finer dining establishments. My husband had read about chef Thierry Rautureau’s Rover’s restaurant in Seattle magazine; it has been a longtime favorite with critics and local epicureans alike. He thought it would be the perfect dining destination for a rare night out knowing my penchant for French food.

The atmosphere is quaint and charming, like many of the restaurants on Madison in Seattle. Upon first glance at the menu, I have to say that I felt a little disappointed as the menu items did not reflect traditional French fare; as I was about to curse my husband’s incorrect assessment of the cuisine*, I spotted the Classics menu being offered for the month of March, which as luck would have it, pays homage to traditional French dishes. I chose the Vichyssoise, Salade Lyonnaise, Boeuf Bourguignon, and Cherry Clafoutis. Each course had me wanting more; in fact, if I just had a trough full of the Boeuf Bourguignon, I would have been quite happy. The Clafoutis reminded me of a delicious Berry Cobbler I once had at Chez Paul’s in Maui; light, airy, not too sweet, and just pure perfection. In short, this was one of the best meals I’ve had since we moved here. After our server told us this was the first time in 20 years that Boeuf Bourguignon has been offered on the menu, I am already plotting our next visit before the Boeuf disappears at the end of this month.

*In hindsight If I had only visited the restaurant’s website I would have seen this accurate description of Rover's cuisine; “Our menu is best described as the cuisine of the Pacific Northwest refined by a French accent.”

Rover’s March Classics Menu

Vichyssoise or Lobster Bisque

Salade Lyonnaise or Celery Remoulade

Sole Normande or Boeuf Bourguignon
Swiss Chard Tart with Pine Nuts, Raisins and an Herb Mushroom Etuvée

Chocolate Souffle or Cherry Clafoutis

Call 206-325-7442 for reservations

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tube Press: At a buck apiece, it's worth getting.

I have to confess that given a brand-new tube of toothpaste, I will haphazardly squeeze it in the middle, beginning, or end with the sole aim of getting toothpaste onto my toothbrush as quickly as possible. This pattern continues every morning and evening for several days until my dear husband spots the mutilated tube atop my bathroom counter; at which point he will venture over to rescue it from its distorted existence by neatly rolling the tube up for me. So when I spotted this nifty contraption while shopping for more shoe boxes (more on that later), I decided to give into my sudden and rare domestic whims and purchased two; one for my husband and one for me. And what a small, yet satisfying difference this simple contraption makes! I am quite pleased in seeing how nice and neat my tube of toothpaste appears...and to know I did it without spousal support.

Available at $1.99 for two

Thursday, March 22, 2007

More Eggs: Faberge's 1906 Swan Egg

Since we’re on the subject of eggs, allow me to mention my childhood fascination with Faberge eggs which began soon after I saw the 1983 James Bond film, Octopussy, in which the opening scene deals with a stolen Faberge egg. After looking through several books on Faberge, there was one egg that I became enamored with: The Swan Egg. Czar Nicholas II presented this egg to his mother for Easter in 1906. The exquisitely jeweled pale lavender exterior alone is an eye-catcher, but what really had me going about this egg were the multiple surprises inside. Once opened, the egg reveals a platinum swan sitting in a small lake carved out of aquamarine. But that isn’t all. The swan has a mechanism that when activated causes the swan to move its rump and arch its neck. Pure genius! I then cheekily declared to my mother (at the age of nine), that whomever I married would have to procure this egg for me to win my hand in marriage. Needless to say, my married surname is not Sandoz, the Swiss foundation that currently owns my beloved egg.


Cadbury Mini-Eggs: An Annual Treat

Let me start by saying that I am not a chocolate lover by nature; given the choice between a slice of pizza and a bar of chocolate, pizza would win hands down as it would satisfy my savory palate everytime. But right around early March, when Target gets their remaining Easter stock, I quickly & purposefully stride towards the Easter display aisle, keeping my eyes peeled for the shiny purple package that holds the objects of my desire: Cadbury Mini-Eggs. A high-school classmate of mine introduced these special treats to me many years ago during one particularly slow AP English class. These mini-eggs have a crisp and thin candy shell, and the inside, of course, has the most delicious creamy Cadbury milk chocolate that M&M’s don’t even come close to. I know you chocolate connoisseurs revere chocolate to a whole other level and are probably smirking at the thought of drugstore chocolate, but give these a try. Every year, they have my simple tastebuds coming back for more.

Photo: Cosmopolitan Pearls

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tiffany's $275,000 Octopus

Although I wear the same simple jewelry everyday, I appreciate extraordinary jewelry designs that demonstrate remarkable craftsmanship. I first saw this glorious piece in a Tiffany advertisement last year and was delighted to find it in the Tiffany Blue Book for 2006-2007. Although the Blue Book has been out for quite some time, I thought it a worthy piece to include here nonetheless. The bracelet is made up of hundreds of “specially-cut melee diamonds,” pink and green sapphires set in etched white gold. C’est très magnifique!

Photo: Tiffany 2006-2007 Blue Book

It's About Time: The Bugaboo Cup Holder

As if I needed another accessory cost for my money pit of a stroller (albeit, I love my Bugaboo Chameleon) Bugaboo has finally decided to come out with their own cup holder, one that doesn't require any screws--it just snaps onto the frame. Finally! My local Babystyle has sold out of them so I'm patiently waiting for a new shipment to come in. Now if only they would come out with a snack tray...

Nanette Lepore: The Vivaldi Coat

A few weeks ago I tried on a lovely black Chloe silk evening coat with little bow closures and fell in love; however, given the climate I live in, I couldn’t justify the price considering I’d use it just a handful of times. Then in New York I found something a little funkier and a bit more dramatic, and at a fifth of the price of my Chloe find: the Nanette Lepore Vivaldi Coat. The coat is made of a linen blend with ¾ length bell sleeves with the neckline and center opening trimmed with a lovely taffeta-like ruffle. The back of the coat has a lovely bow. Granted, it’s a bit more in-your-face than the subtle and minimalist design of the lovely Chloe coat, but with a title like the “Vivaldi” coat, what does one expect? Ms. Vivaldi will be making her debut this Friday during a dinner date at a lovely French restaurant near you.

Available at and
Photo: from

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Leigh Nash: Blue on Blue

One of the few albums I can recommend to purchase in its entirety, Blue on Blue is the beautiful solo debut from Leigh Nash, the former lead singer of the now sadly defunct group, Sixpence None The Richer. Melodic and not over-produced, the album is gorgeous. Favorite tracks: "All Along the Wall," "My Idea of Heaven," and "Ocean Size Love."

Available through

Monday, March 19, 2007

Christian Louboutin: Not Just For Boosting Your Height

Fresh off the UPS truck from Christian Louboutin’s store on Madison and in my closet are a pair of black calfskin Louboutin platform pumps with a stacked 3.5 inch wooden heel. Take note, these are shorter than the popular Bruges oft-spotted on the startlet du jour, and different from this Spring’s version, the Super 868, which has a pointier toe and a sky-high heel. In short, this is the perfect shoe.

My current shoe? $10 flipflops from Nordstrom Rack. What did I wear outside the house today in the torrential rain? That would be my Asics Kayanos to the gym. When would I wear this perfect shoe then? Good question. Pre-pregnancy and marriage, I would tell you that I would wear these with the pantsuits I used to wear to work to attend team and client meetings with CFOs and attorneys.

The ugly truth is that post-pregnancy I couldn’t bear to look at a heel, not helped by the fact that my foot size went up by a ½ size; the best I could do were clogs to those post-partum doctor visits. And even then, those were a stretch. Ever try to carry a 9 pound newborn inside a hefty infant carrier post-C section?

It took me about a year before I could even remotely think about myself again. Post-partum depression, shedding some of the baby weight, dealing with the stress of a very steep learning curve of being a first-time parent away from family who could help, were things that I found very overwhelming. Style got put on the backburner, and keeping my head above water became paramount.

When my daughter turned one, I also reached a mini-milestone; I became re-interested in looking somewhat presentable when going out. Invigorating my wardrobe was a head-to-toe process, so that’s when I got my first pair of Louboutin shoes; a pair of leopard-print wingtip slingback wedges I found on sale at Bergdorfs on-line. Wearing those shoes made me feel taller—both literally and figuratively. The leopard-print made me feel cool & stylish. In short, those were the shoes in which Mama got her groove back.

So when will I wear the perfect shoe? The answer: whenever Mama needs a little boost. ☺

HBO's Classical Baby: Music, Art, and Dance

As the rookie mother of a two-year old, I've seen a lot of children's DVDs and can practically recite from memory what animal will appear next on Baby Einstein's Baby Noah DVD. By far, the most well-done series I have seen is HBO's Classical Baby series. The series is comprised of three DVDs that originally aired on HBO; there is the Music show, Dance show, and the Art show (or "Ah-t" show as my daughter likes to say). The last is my absolute favorite as it bring to life well-known works of art and pairs them with familiar classical pieces. Watching Chagall's 1915 painting, "Birthday" come to life or two mischievous bees contributing to the creation of one of Pollock's canvases are just some of the ways this wonderful series proves to be entertaining and educational for both children and parents. For a classical music buff, it was also a pleasant surprise to see in the credits that the selections used were taken from wonderful recordings. i.e., the Music show's "Busy Caterpillar" segment is set to cellist Yo-Yo Ma's recording of "Prelude from Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major." The Music and Art show segments are soothing enough that we have incorporated it as part of the nightly bedtime ritual.

Don't despair if your child doesn't take to it right is inevitable that they will fall madly in love with it--just as my fickle little toddler did.

Photo: HBO
Available at

Ode to Nobu Malibu

One of our favorite restaurants on the planet is Nobu Matsuhisa's restaurant in Malibu. Everytime we go to Southern California, it's a mandatory stop for us. Celebrity sightings are an added plus or minus depending on how you view it. On one visit, we almost ran over Tommy Lee who inexplicably made a sudden mad dash across the parking lot, almost giving our elderly parents a small heart attack. We never order the sushi as you really want to focus on what they're known for---their specialty dishes.

What to Order:

Raw Dishes:
Tiradito: thinly sliced white fish delicately laced with lemon juice and adorned with a tiny Sriracha dot

Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno: thinly sliced yellowtail with cilantro and a jalapeno sliver capping each slice; one of Nobu's signature dishes

Albacore Vegas Salsa with Avocado: thinly sliced albacore with avocado served with a refreshing blend of chopped tomatoes, cilantro & white onion.

Other dishes:
LIVE Sweet Shrimp fried in Phyllo dough (make sure that it's LIVE and you say "fried in Phyllo" otherwise you'll wind up with the raw version of live sweet shrimp)--you must ask your server if it is available as it is considered a special that is not on the menu. For the faint of heart, please note that the head will arrive to you separately flash-fried (with the antennae dusted with goldleaf no less). It is perfectly kosher for you to eat the shrimp heads, although I always pass mine off to my DH.

Lobster Salad: essentially, their Shitake Mushroom Salad served with fresh lobster. You can spend the market price of around $50 for the salad which is quite good, or if you're just in the mood for some greens, just get the Shitake Mushroom salad which eases the guilt that accompanies some of the richer courses.

Soft Shell Crab Spring Rolls--crisp rolls generously stuffed with soft shelled crab. Unbelievably good.

Rock Shrimp with Creamy Spicy Sauce and/or with Butter Ponzu Sauce: Tempura rock shrimp mixed with a creamy spicy sauce and topped with chives & shitake mushrooms; the Ponzu sauce variety is also good--the rock shrimp is tossed with a delicious butter and ponzu-based sauce.

Kobe Beef Special: thinly shaved and marinated Kobe beef prepared with crispy onions, sugar snap peas, and crisp shitake mushrooms (order at least 1 oz per person); my favorite dish by far. This would be my choice for a last meal. Be very descriptive when ordering this as Nobu prepares their Kobe Beef in a variety of ways. At Malibu, this form of preparation is unfortunately also known as "the Leg Spreader."

Miso Cod: by far, their most popular dish, although it definitely is not one of my favorites, but for the sake of fairness, will put it here b/c maybe I'm just missing the requisite tastebuds for this one.

Dessert: order the below and it will arrived on one platter; perfect for sharing

Bento Box: chocolate souffle cake with green tea ice cream

Spring Rolls: thinly rolled crisps filled with butterscotch, white chocolate and chocolate fillings served with caramel, chocolate and raspberry dipping sauces.

Shiso Crepe: filled with delicious bananas and served with ice cream

Now I'm quite a lightweight, but I do adore their fruit infused Sakes which come in a variety of flavors; we've tried Lychee, Passionfruit, Blood Orange, Strawberry, and Coconut. Passionfruit and Blood Orange were among my favorites. Availability varies daily.

Nobu Malibu (in the Malibu Country Mart)
3835 Cross Creek Rd Ste 18A
Malibu, CA 90265

When to Go: supposedly fresh fish deliveries happen on Monday!
Hours: Mon-Thu 5:45pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 5:45pm-11pm
Sun 5:45pm-10pm