Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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A Nood Awakening

This post is for my friend VP because I promised her I would immortalise a couple of her terms in a post, and one term in particular has taken off in our circle of friends-explanation to come! (I think it is one of her steps to world domination).  First of all muchos (one of VP’s fav words) sorry for the absence of blog write-ups recently. Let’s just say my time has not been my own for the last month and as always, things like hobbies become sidelined for more important things like sleep and zoning out in front of the TV. Secondly, if I’m not writing, I am posting photos of my food grazing on Instagram (a girl still has to eat), so you can always have a look on there instead. But either way, thanks for being patient my friends

If you are a bit health conscious, you may have guessed what this write up is about from my title. Now, I was going to put something slightly less delicate like  ‘The Sh*tscapades’ but I thought that might alarm some people. So let me explain. Pure Yoga have launched their own food concept called Nood Food which offers raw, healthy and organic superfood-rich foods and cold-pressed juice cleanses.noodfood

Nood Food is one in a muchos long line of companies that have been appearing faster than a crop of radishes (apparently one of the faster growing vegetables, useless bit of information). I have, until now, been avoiding the likes of Be-juiced, Punch Detox, Genie Concept and Pure Swell, as a) our bodies already have a highly efficient system of filtering out harmful substances and cleansing itself- thank you liver, kidneys and intestines, b) being sensible and eating fairly cleanly throughout the week is already part of my routine, c) these cleanses are not exactly cheap and d) I’m not sure I can go very long without solid food. That isn’t to say that I think detoxing is not a good idea now and then and these juice cleanses do offer a way of detoxing fast and resetting your bodies after a thorough washing out, especially if you are too lazy to make your own juices. And it would be silly to assume that even with the healthiest of regimes, one is able to be completely toxin free, as we do live in a world far more polluted and rife with chemicals than our forebears.

So when my lovely friend F, F&B marketing manager babe at Pure invited me to try a 3-day Nood juice cleanse, I thought, why not. My background is rooted in Science, science geeks love experiments, I shall see what this is going to be like, won’t be that bad surely. HAH. Fool. Who knew that drinking juice could be so hazardous?!

Nood Food have three different programmes which I was told are ‘categorised by lifestyle rather than levels of difficulty’. These cleanses are: C01 Green Cleanse, CO2 Active Cleanse and CO3 Classic Cleanse. The juices in the cleanse programmes are created for varying levels of activity and general diet and the difficulty is dictated by how many days of starvation and torture you can manage. As a complete beginner, I was recommended to do either the Classic or Active cleanse depending on my level of activity. The Green Cleanse is for the more experienced cleanser or those who cannot tolerate much sugar in their diet. Programme prices are: 1 day $600/ 3 days $1700 / 6 days $3200. However, they will provide prices for a longer or shorter times upon request.

All the cleanses come with supplements to aid your detox and formulated with a combination of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and superfoods. Vegetables are the main ingredients more than fruit in order to promote healing and all organic ingredients are marked with an (*) on the packaging. There is 100% juice, no added water or substitutes, so you are really getting a raw deal (pun fully intended). You get 6 organic cold-pressed juices and supplements (which you mix in) daily and you are meant to drink one every 2-3 hours.

Logistics- orders need two days to process, juices can be picked up from any Pure location or Nood Food SoHo and to to guarantee freshness, juices need to be collected each day and then stashed in the fridge ASAP as the juices are unpasteurized and expire the day after the intended consumption.

I chose to start my CO3 Classic Cleanse on a Sunday, shortly after returning from a week’s break in the Philippines, and the day after a full-on dinner at The Chairman (lots of seafood, meat, crab in wine) followed by drinks at The Envoy. Nood recommends preparing ahead of a detox by cutting down on sugar/salt/caffeine/meat. Obviously I failed spectacularly on this front, but after my experience, I highly recommend doing what they say!Nood Cool Bag

Nood Cool Bag

Nood Cool Bag

I had arranged to pick up juices that were for next day consumption due to work schedule logistics, so I had already collected Day 1’s juices on Saturday afternoon. Nood Food lady supplied me with a nice cooler bag and an ice-pack- both of which need to be brought back each day when picking up the next day’s set. I wouldn’t say the juices looked that yummy. The 6 juices are an intimidating, intense array of green, orange and red and the supplements look mostly like coloured powdered chalk. But full marks for names that are meant to lull you into a false sense of security- Recharge/Spring Clean/Whole Food/Turn Me On/Miracle Milk/Royal Flush.

Cold-pressed juices

Cold-pressed juices

The supplements are straight to the point and do the following:

Zeolite- a deeply detoxifying and alkalising earth clay supplement which bonds with toxins like heavy metals and environmental chemicals to aid in their removal; Camu Camu- sounds like a fluffy animal but actually contains a high concentration of Vitamin C; Broccoli and Kale Sprout Mix- Suforaphane from broccoli aids liver detox and the carotenoids and flavonoids in kale are powerful antioxidants; Chia Seeds- these babies are good for for your gut as they are high in fibre as well as omega-3 and protein; Barley Grass Powder- a highly concentrated concoction of vitamins, insoluble fibre and chlorophyll and Vitamineral Earth- a herbal superfood complex for the promotion of healing.

Supplements!

Supplements!

Cue Sunday morning and I referred to my Classic Cleanse guide book which recommended that I start with the Zeolite supplement with warm water at 7am. It was 9am. Fail. Looking at their schedule, this meant that my whole juicing day wouldn’t end till 9pm if I was truly going to be regimental about things. Zeolite mixed in with water is supposedly meant to taste of ‘nothing’, but it tasted of something- a  strange, bland metallic substance with a sort of ash-like aftertaste. Mmmm.Classic Cleanse Schedule

2 hours later it was time for Recharge with Camu Camu. Recharge is by far the yummiest and least dangerous of the juices; a lovely citrusy mixture of carrot, orange, apple, lemon, ginger and lemon grass. Even at this early stage, my tummy was starting to gurgle a little, but I wasn’t sure if it was due to the previous night’s festivities, so at this point I popped out to fetch my next day’s batch of juices. On my return, it was Spring Clean with Broccoli and Kale Sprout Mix. I didn’t enjoy on two levels: 1) Carrot, celery, spinach and parsley juice did not want to absorb the sprout mix so it became quite clumpy even with me shaking it like a polaroid picture 2) This juice kick-started what was to become the Sh*tscapades.Nood Food

Juice no. 2 was palatable but may be quite ‘green’ tasting for those new to veggie shakes  so you should brace yourselves for juice no. 3 Whole Food. This bugger pretty much destroyed me that Sunday afternoon. 2 hours after my intestines got a light Spring Clean, Whole Food (no supplement with this one), came, conquered and annihilated the contents of my gut. Since this particular experience my friends and I have come up with some puns- Stoolicide/ crapisode/crapventure. It was quite literally a sh*tstorm. Whole Food is GREEN. An alarmingly dark algae green which just shouts I’M CLEANSING. The book does warn you of some of the dramatic effects a juice cleanse may have on you, as some are affected more than others, like yours truly. Coupled with the extreme crapisode, I also got bloating, serious sweats and some joint aches which are all apparently indicative of toxins leaving every pore of your body. At this point I was confined to either my bed with aircon on full blast or the bathroom, which was fast becoming my best friend. Whole Food was so potent that I was not even 10% of the way through before my body decided it needed to see its best friend. Undeterred, I pressed on 2 hours later with juice 4- Turn Me On. This was actually quite pleasant tasting except I was beyond caring at this point and slowly whimpering, “I have nothing left to give”. Carrot, apple, sweet potato, flaxseed oil and maca powder maketh quite a yummy combination, but the chia seeds would not go down no matter how much I mixed. Exorcism of the gut was still continuing and I was fast losing my resolve to stick with the juicing.

pocari-sweat

Stock one of these in your fridge for emergencies!

By 7pm, Skyping my parents, my mum told me I looked ‘thinner’ (this juice is FAST WORK my friends) and then asked me, “why are you still doing this? Just stop if you are feeling this uncomfortable!” Wise words. Miracle Milk, juice 5, was no miracle. First, celery, cucumber, hemp seeds and sesame with barley powder juice is not my cup of tea and second, this miracle did not stem the tide. After getting a quarter of the way through, I finally gave up and thought BAGMI. B*tch Ain’t Gonna Make It. (VP’s favourite term in the whole world). Lying defeated on my bed, I had to stop with juice 5 and admit to myself, that I was completely and utterly cleansed, inside and out and right to the depths of my soul. The sixth juice- Royal Flush would have ended me so I decided to swap that for a Pocari Sweat.

Day 2 rolled round. Did I continue the cleanse? OF COURSE NOT!! I’m not crazy. My intestines were delicate, so delicate. I had work. It was going to be a long day. My gut still had unfinished business (I have no idea how this is possible given the previous day), so I sipped a bit of the Recharge as that’s tasty and tried some Royal Flush (a bright red and very beetrooty), which I instantly regretted as that set me off for a couple of hours. So I passed the baton to my friend R who collected Day 3’s juices and tried them the next day. She got no such dramatic effect, lucky thing. All she got were aches and pains.

So there you have it! My first and most probably last experience of juice cleansing. There is no denying its cleansing effects. I lost 1.5kg in water weight alone but I must caution that you need to be aware of your limits and your body because other friends who have done it have told me that the first 2-3 days are a hard slog. I’m certainly not the only one who gets such a dramatic effect but with work, you may find yourself having to think about when it is logistically a good time to do a cleanse. Would I recommend it? I think it is fine to do one, once in a blue moon if you need to reset your body or you have been maltreating it. But I think exercise and eating in moderation is key and maybe introducing a Whole Food or one of the other juices in your diet on a regular basis will be better for you instead of doing a cleanse. Have a go, but be safe and position yourself near a loo. And remember- there is no shame in admitting BAGMI.

All information including nutritional content can be found at www.allnood.com


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All things organic

The last month I have been noticeably absent from my blogging duties, and I wish I could say I was doing something noble like building a bridge or training for Trailwalker, but honestly? All I’ve been up to is overindulging with friends and visitors, eating at new places and being selfish and keeping these eating hotspots to myself. (Sorry readers). BUT, after hairy crabbing myself out and experiencing Halloween, Hong Kong style, I’ve realised I need to rein myself in.

So, after 4 weeks of feeling a bit like the greedy Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I’ve put the brakes, (for a few days at least), on eating at a “never before tried” establishment until I’ve bashed out at least one review.

A couple of months ago I went to Yin Yang. It’s a place that, although highly rated by some, was a major disappointment for me. The fact that it can be so inconsistent in its cooking is somewhat worrying, that is not to say though, that this place can’t or won’t be able to produce the goods on another day, but maybe I was just unlucky!

Yin Yang, named after HK’s local drink of half-coffee and half-tea, is a tiny, 3 table private kitchen hidden behind wooden doors on the ground floor of an ye-olde stone building on Ship Street in Wan Chai. It was opened by ad-agency owner turned organic chef, Margaret Xu Yuan, who takes most of the produce from her organic farm in the New Territories. The food is HK cuisine eclectic- Contemporary Chinese with a throwback to traditional Cantonese, Hakka, Chiu Chow cooking techniques, mixed with a colonial edge. Confused? I was. But, that descriptive pastiche aside, it’s the taste that counts.

As I sat down at a rickety wooden table with my friend, I cast an eye around the place and was struck by the very cool, retro kitchen at the back of the establishment. The kitchen itself is the decorative centerpiece and that, plus the rest of the tiny decorative details and music, really fosters a HK circa 1950s nostalgic atmosphere. I loved the SMEG fridge which reminded me of my Grandfather’s SMEG in KL and made me smile in fond memory.

My friend told me that when he booked, he was told the menu was somewhat set, but we had a choice between either the “Yellow Earth Roast Chicken” or the “Red Hot Baby Pig”. Luckily for me, he chose the Red Hot Baby Pig (there’s nothing quite like a bit of suckling pig), so I was really looking forward to it when the food started arriving.

The menu was peppered with dishes with vague names and we really didn’t have a clue what to expect, so the waiter had to explain everything to us.First up, was the “Organic Eggxplosion”, “Shiny Spiny”, “Spring water tofu” and the “Summer Sun”.

Shiny Spiny, turned out to be a a whole langoustine set in a plate of chicken jelly and organic fruit. Organic eggxplosion was a large plate filled with very small organic things. The waiter ‘helpfully’ told us, “…that is organic fig, that is organic dried vegetable leaf, that is organic eggplant, that is organic bitter gourd.” Halfway through hearing this spiel, I interrupted and said, “So basically everything is organic?” To which the waiter replied, “Yes” and then proceeded to continue being the spokesperson for all things organic. The plate of organic produce was not presented in a very attractive way and quite frankly, all of it tasted the same, with or without the organic condiments that were nestled in small spoons on the platter. The soft shell crabs were the smallest crabs I had ever seen and were not nearly crispy enough.

The Shiny Spiny dish was scary looking and flummoxed the both of us. After spending 5 minutes trying to work out how to cut and eat the langoustine without flicking it onto the neighbouring table, we decided to call the waiter back to cut it up, as we had only been provided with chopsticks to tackle it with. The meat, unfortunately, was chewy like rubber and the jelly odd and tasteless. Summer Sun was homemade minced ham wrapped around an organic egg, like a very posh Scotch egg. This dish was good, and the only one out of the starters that had any taste to it. The spring water tofu? Watery. G wanted to try out their homemade Kumquatcello, a parody of the lemoncello. It was approximately 98% ethanol, 2% fruit. You could’ve set the table on fire with that stuff. Horrendous. The Red Hot Baby Pig was served next, and that was lovely- juicy, tender with a fantastic crispy skin. It was served with a quirky lychee jam that complimented it very well and lessened the richness of the fat! After the unusual “Soup without Water” interlude, there followed the ‘Chinese Lemon Wok Paella’ and the ‘More More Vegetables’. The paella smelt amazing, but sadly, it did not taste as good as it smelt. There was major crustacean overload, and we had to fight to get to the bottom of the dish to scoop out the rice which was far too al-dente, borderline undercooked.I felt that Yin Yang, although noble for their quest to be all organic, forgot to pay attention to portion size. For 2 people, they served a ridiculous portion of vegetables, enough to feed 6 at least, and it was a complete waste when we could only make a tiny dent in a mountain of greens. I realise the name of the dish was “More more vegetables” but that’s just taking it to the extreme! Added to that, the dish was limply presented and extremely bland. As the last dish to be served before dessert, it certainly lacked the oomph to keep me interested till the end of the meal.Dessert was better, the best out of the selection was the mini banana wrapped in a sugared crepe, sweet and light. Again though, the presentation was lacklustre, maybe I am being overly-harsh but I honestly felt everything was lost in an expanse of crockery.

Verdict? Yin Yang is yearning to be something different, but it should stick to classics instead of attempting to be innovative and giving traditional dishes a contemporary twist. What’s wrong with replicating our ancestors’ cooking step by step and leaving it alone?

Chopstixfix rating: 2/5 (‘cos the pork was good)

Yin Yang, 18 Ship Street, Wan Chai. Tel: 2866 0868

$$$$$$-$$$$$$$$$$ Expensive!!!

Apologies for the photo quality- I left my camera at home that day- very remiss of me!