labor day shenanigans, our style

From Hello Kitty’s Facebook page —

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Hope everyone had a terrific Labor Day! Just wanted to share what my family did yesterday on our day off — as many of you know, Mondays are our family’s only day off — speaking of which . . . my sister found this the other day on Facebook from one of her old server friends at (gasp!) another restaurant: Image

(No idea why it is a picture of a picture, but never mind.)

I digress. Anyway, my boyfriend Anthony had been asking my mom to teach him how to prepare live fish (i.e., fresh-picked while still alive) for ages, so we finally figured that Labor Day would be the perfect opportunity for her to take him “fishing” at Chinatown (her preferred spot for live fish) and teach him her kitchen skillz at home. (We have a townhouse in the city near the restaurant, but since the ’rents spend most of their time there at Mei Shung, the kitchen at the townhouse isn’t fully equipped for cooking.)

To our surprise, my sister opted to join us for the outing, which she is currently writing for on her own blog, The Naked Canvas. (I will re-post her article on Thursday.)

When we got to Chinatown, we of course got distracted by shiny things — gift shops, kitchen wares, and wound up shopping around for a good hour or so before we even managed to pick out our fish.

ImageMoose and I started a mini-collection of kitty mugs and cups. Not too sure of the significance of cats in Chinese culture, but they’re fairly prevalent — turns out, though, that that golden cat with the moving arm? The one you see in tons of Chinese restaurants? It’s actually Japanese, called the Maneki-neko. I found this photo on Google images —

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. . . which is why we don’t have one in our restaurant!

But I do have to confess one guilty pleasure: Hello Kitty! She’s Japanese, too, but too cute for us to ignore. More on this later.

For some reason, the first two supermarkets that carry live fish were out of the fish my mom prefers (big-mouth bass), but third time was the charm — managed to get hold of two medium-sized fishies, at my request, because I love live fish so much I can have an entire one on my own.

At home, Anthony promptly put on my black Cucina Italiana apron (I know, it’s blasphemous — but the only food I know how to make is Italian from all my time in the country ;)) and vigorously took notes of my mom’s instruction.

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The result? DELICIOUSNESS. If you’re curious, this is one of the savory delights off our upcoming Super Secret Authentic Taiwanese menu that you can order. My mom will most likely not be the one personally cooking it for you, but I assure you it is just as tasty. (And, by the way, you can order it even before we release the Super Secret Menu! Just make sure you give her ample time to go buy your fish.)

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Moose also randomly asked her to teach her how to make miso soup, so my kitchen-goddess mom also decided to whip up some spicy sushi (maki).

. . . So this is extremely clear, Mei Shung is NOT an Asian fusion restaurant — it is strictly Mandarin and Taiwanese cuisine. This means no Pad Thai, no sushi, no sake.

But I can’t say the same for what goes on under our roof. 😉

A glimpse of the feast that ensued:

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And just for fun, since we love to give things away, and since we apparently have such an affinity for Japanese fare —

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This Hello Kitty coffee tumbler (double-porcelain walled) is up for grabs! One lucky winner of our newest contest will win this eco-friendly alternative to to-go cups, detailed here:

Hello New Dish Contest

Come in to Mei Shung in the month of September (or get delivery), order something you have never tried before off our menu (perhaps off our upcoming Super Secret Authentic Taiwanese menu!), and write us a short review covering:

-what you ordered & what was in it

-comparison to what you normally order

-how you liked it

We have TONS of stuff to choose from, even if you’re not adventurous enough to try something you can’t pronounce. 😉

Entries will be posted to our Facebook page as well as the blog for a voting contest — the review with the most “likes” will win the Hello Kitty tumbler! (While you’re at it, be sure to “like” the page, too, for our ongoing Facebook Likes Us contest.)

Contest ends Sunday, 30 September at 11.59pm. (This gives you about two hours after we close!)

I’ve been diligently working to convince my parents to go green with the restaurant, but alas, old habits die hard (especially for old-school immigrants from Taiwan). So . . . instead, I can ensure giveaways will be environmentally friendly, when possible.

Good luck!

Stay tuned for my sister’s guest post on Thursday!

(special event) food & fashion

Sorry for my sort-of disappearance. I hope some of you knew we’d have the sense to have a Father’s Day special running last weekend (we know you did!) and you got to enjoy lunch with Pop with us.

I’ve been MIA because of random busy-ness at home in the ’burbs, getting involved with a trillion different things and meeting TONS of new and awesome people, and also because I’ve recently opened a new jewelry business!

This may seem neither here nor there, but I mention it because my mother is hosting a free lunch on Sunday, 22 July with my jewelry show — it’s going to be awesome. And fabulous. You’ll learn some great fashion tips and learn how to use accessorizing to your advantage and dress up your favorite outfits. In fact — feel free to bring your favorite clothes for work, the weekend, or for going out and I’ll give you a hand.

The event is invite-only — which means you need to get your name on the guest list!

Here’s the info. Share it with anyone you know who loves jewelry and fashion — or come by yourself if you’ve got a birthday or anniversary to shop for . . .

request an invitation by e-mail or phone . . . or by commenting here. We’re going green on tickets, so your name on the list serves as admission.

love for mother earth

Commit to being green.

Earth Day is today. I never forget this day, because — and don’t laugh at me even though this was 14 years ago — it’s the anniversary of my breakup with my first-ever boyfriend. Bahaha.

Anyway, luckily, caring for our planet is far more important to me than that teenage tryst is today. I’m sure that you’ve already got a stance for or against environmentalism, and I’m not here to lecture you.

But I’d like to throw this suggestion into the wind: No doubt, we’ve all noticed the change in weather patterns of late (warmest Chicago winter ever, anyone?), and whether we’d like to take responsibility for such obvious global trends or not, ask yourself what harm can it do for us to just be a bit more conscious of our decisions?

A lot of times being more environmentally aware asks us to make the slightly more inconvenient choice — to surrender our time to the bus or train schedules, for instance, or to throw our refuse away in a different bin that’s not in an obvious place.

But whether you believe in our carbon footprints affecting everyone on Earth or not in the long run, think about the legacy we are leaving as the current generation of man on this planet — if it’s true, if we’re running a planetary “credit card” and maxing it out to the expenditures of 1.5 Earths, and we’re destroying our home, is that really what we want to take part in?

Granted, changing our lifestyles isn’t always easy. Sometimes it takes all my energy just to convince my own parents to use a cloth napkin or towel instead — but if we want to make sure we have a healthy and sustainable environment for the future inhabitants of Earth, be it our children and grandchildren or our friends’ children and grandchildren or our fellow creatures of the forest, it starts with a little consciousness.

I encourage you to join the 4YG movement, something I committed myself to last year at a personal development seminar — watch this short and inspiring video on Youtube and join me. It’s also part of this blog linked up in the pages (Get Moving).

Seriousness aside, take a look at this very innovative solution to a rainy day — a very “reuse and recycle” one, at that! It made me smile.

Have you seen the film? It's good! ...Image taken from http://bit.ly/9EGrz0

I’ve been trying to convince the ’rents to invest in more sustainable packaging for the restaurant — rather than plastic and Styrofoam — but, in the words of the Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” So if you guys think this would be an important way to shape our restaurant — speak up!