#2096| open heart surgery at bakehouse hongkong

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Bakehouse Hong Kong
Photos taken on the Nikon z6, edited in VSCO

hey guys,

From ranting about romcoms to waxing lyrical about bread you sure can find it all here at jemmawei.com. Seriously, i think that’s about to be my new tagline.

I’m really heartened by all the emails and stories you guys have been sending me regarding your own experiences with expectations specific to asian families and relationships, and it’ll take me some time to gather my thoughts (the emails are still coming in!) and respond. But in the meanwhile, I bring you news of our carbohydrate champion: these incredible pastries from Bakehouse Hong Kong.

Located in the Wan Chai district, Bakehouse is something you plan for – simply because whether you actually make it in past the constant queues is a question no one really has the answers to. It was a 26 minute walk from our hotel, which sounds like a long time if you’re Singaporean, but honestly – given the crisp, cold january air and the amount of food you’ll be eating in hongkong anyway, the walk is something you’ll actually welcome. My bread-addicted girlfriend xiaoqi (her sappy face pictured above, housing more affection than I’ve seen from her in months) had this on her hongkong bucketlist, so we penciled it in for a post-hike pre-sunset snack, took a bite, and fell in love. (Still a better love story than It Started with a Kiss)

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Semi open kitchen concept means you can see just how fresh their pastries are, essentially kneaded and baked nonstop

It was 4pm on a Wednesday, we queued about 20 minutes before getting a table. At the time we didn’t know how big of a deal this was till we told Steph, our hk based friend, about it later. She gasped and sighed and put a hand on her chest and went: I’ve never even managed to sit down inside before. Apparently the queues on weekends are monstrous, and the pastries sell out just like that. I can only imagine. But at the time we had no idea: we just sat down and ordered from the glass display, and obliviously waited for the best pastries in hongkong to turn up.

We got three things to share between us – a raspberry cruffin, scones, and a pain au chocolat. How do I say this lightly? Everything was excellent. I thought perhaps I might just be one of those very easily impressed people but my own feelings were reflected in my friends’ stuffed faces, and in that i find validation and comfort. In other words: 好!

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This is kind of a gross but cool photo because doesnt it look like you’re performing open heart surgery?!

The pastries that are meant to flake just flake perfectly, and the scones are dense and buttery with a clotted cream that you’ll cry about later. I’m really not a food writer at all even though i realise when I travel i talk about food a lot (i wonder why?), so the words that come to mind… fantastic.. amazing.. buttery.. delicious… just make me sound like im some kind of cupcake pushcart stand trying to hawk you my wares and bakes. I was hoping the pictures would do the talking for me, though separately note to self: figure out why i talk about food when traveling so much, and also, learn to talk about food more productively?

I googled Bakehouse afterwards, and one of the reviews online described it as ‘so delicious you’ll commit treason’. Well, treason isnt something you joke about in singapore so the best i can present you with is a no comment. But, mmm.

Bakehouse Hongkong
14 Tai Wong St E, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Weekdays – 8am – 5pm
Weekends – 9am – 5pm

x
Jem

#2095 | It’s 2019, and stupidity is somehow still romantic.

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Hey guys,

So tonight I caught what is possibly the stupidest show I’ve watched since Dylan Dog Dead Of the Night in 2010, and I was so mad I came straight home to write a post about it. The show in question is the 2019 remake of the very popular manga turned drama, It Started with a Kiss, starring Darren Wang and Jelly Lin, and till tonight I have never felt such a strong compulsion to fling a shoe at the movie screen before. Instead, bound by social conventions and niceties, I settled for sighing very loudly and rolling my eyes at every turn till my boyfriend told me to stop being a hater, which is why I’m here instead where no one can interrupt my tirade. Here we go.

The movie’s plot doesnt digress too much from the original drama, which admittedly, is very problematic in hindsight. I actually watched the original taiwanese drama back in the day, ten years ago now, and I remember being very addicted to it, which just goes to show that I had kind of mortifying taste. The story follows a girl who’s kind of stupid (her challenged intellect is actually a real and emphasized plot point in the show) and who is in love with the school genius who has an IQ of 200. Seriously, only in asia will you be a total king in school because you’re smart. But ok, we like our As and what not, so I can buy it. Anyway, said genius rejects her confession of love, but her house collapses in an earthquake and she somehow moves in to his (no surprises there!) very huge mansion because their parents were friends back in school. And although he is totally disgusted by her stalkerish behavior (at some point she actually sleeps with a pillow that has his face printed on the side), he eventually falls in love with her and asks her to marry him because – and I kid you not – “no one will ever love me more than you have”.

Lets put aside the total ludicrousness of the plot. If Koreans can have their alien boyfriends and the Japanese can have their custom made robotic boyfriends, then fine, we can have an earthquake that forces the female protagonist to move in with her school crush. Whatever. And I can even close an eye to the bad acting and the incredibly irritating romanticizing of this puppy dog behavior where a girl stalking a guy around the school is seen as cute and somehow persistently romantic instead of actually creepy and kind of maniac. But I nearly lost it when the female protagonist, who’s one defining characteristic the whole movie was that she’s really stupid, was described as being a carefree romantic. She rocks up to the new house, meets her new foster family, and is mocked by a kid for being stupid. In that moment, the mother of her crush takes her hands, sighs, and says: “Actually, I always wanted a romantic character like yours. It’s better to live a simple, carefree life, you’ll be happier as a person.”

At this point in the movie I turned to my boyfriend and said loudly: “When are they going to stop equating total stupidity to an actual romantic quality? It’s kind of totally insulting for everyone involved.”

And he was like: “Jem this is a movie theater, keep it down.”

But the more the show went on the more upset I got. The show’s writing never gave the actress a chance to introduce any sort of complexity into the character – she continues to faithfully be the wide-eyed, melodramatic girl who laughs cutely when she gets 9/100 for math because she’s so cute that it hurts her brain to study. She devotes her entire existence to the material comforts of her crush, running out into the rain to give him a blanket (even though he had an umbrella and a jacket), stalking him when he moves out of the house to make sure her romantic rival isn’t spending the night at his new place, and even staying up late to sew him some kind of voodoo exam charm before his SATS in a show of support. Of course none of this is done quietly: she appears at his exam venue looking all wraith-like, her dark eye circles a physical stamp of her devotion to him, and promptly faints from exhaustion, getting knocked over by a car and causing him to miss the exam so he can get her to the hospital. She only deviates from being this nonentity of a person once, which is to stand up for another friend of hers (who’s obviously also secretly in love with her) when her crush is characteristically cruel to him. She says: I regret liking you, I’ll go to university and move on from you.

And he corners her, forces a kiss onto her, and says: oh yeah? You think you can move on from liking me? Right. And walks away.

How, in 2019, is this still a thing? How is this still being greenlighted, still being made?

The worst, totally offensive thing about that whole farce is that it quite clearly wasnt set up as satire, and nothing about the scene possessed any kind of timely self-awareness. Everything about the lingering camera pull, the background music swell – hell, even the totally cinematic golden hour lighting for what is supposedly a midday occurrence, suggested that we find this moment to be a romantic one, a show of hidden affection for her, a win in the larger scheme of girl-likes-boy.

No. Take your win, and stuff it.

The problem with framing stupidity as a cute, romantic quality is that everybody loses. Girls lose, because in performing this utterly brainless behavior that orients itself around the movements of a man, they have no chance to cultivate any sort of self-respect. Boys lose, because instead of being allowed to develop thoughtful relationships with women, they’re socialised to mentor and encourage this flouncy behavior in their potential partners. Society loses, because millions of dollars invested into a first world education system is wasted on kids who’d rather prance around and make origami structures out of their exam scripts. Worse, when you frame stupidity as a primitive, instinctive quality that is seductive in its naivete, it validates a matching primitive response from the other party, which of course has been socially nurtured over the years to refer to a traditionally alpha show of force. In the absence of level intellectual engagement, girls swoon, boys take charge, consent flies out of the window, and we all have to clap and call it romantic.

At the end of the movie, when the boy realises that no one will ever love him as much as she does, and proposes to her, I felt this incredible melancholy settle into me. I felt sad because these are the romantic narratives that we have grown up with, that are not unfamiliar to us even as we revisit them a decade later. I felt sad because when there was an opportunity for a remake to improve upon the original material, even keeping in mind all that has happened in the world, the writers made a choice to present the same, dated narrative that has no doubt fed into international stereotypes of Asian girls being moony, giggly, and all about the man. I felt sad because these narratives are cute, they’re (unintentionally) insiduous in their cuteness, and so young girls will watch these growing up, and think that self-respect, intellectual independence, and love are mutually exclusive, and given the emphasis on romance the world over, many of these girls will choose the only version of love they are conditioned to know and accept. I felt sad because there are ways to preserve the innocent and all-consuming excitement of a schoolgirl crush without rendering it toxic, and the showrunners did not take that choice to deepen the development of the show.

Because let’s be clear: it’s toxic behavior. This show was a classic portrayal of toxic girlfriend behavior, except with a cutesy filter slapped on. When a man she likes rejects her, she can’t take no for an answer. When he tells her he wants to be left alone, she blackmails him with an embarassing clip of him dancing which she got from his mum. When his family’s business goes into crisis, she makes it all about her, and takes it upon herself to make decisions about how long he should work, sleep, and eat. When he stays late at work, trying to save his company from going bankrupt, we see her near tears, sitting by a cup of coffee she made for him, which he didn’t drink (or want). This inability to take no for an answer, and insistence on making everything about oneself is problematic behavior whether it’s performed by a man or a woman. Angling it as romantic, and writing this as a lead up to a happy ending, is an insult to all parties involved.

It’s 2019 people. Resorting to literal, low IQ that correlates to an all consuming devotion to a man is lazy and annoying character development. Maybe it’s time we demand more from our romcoms. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for us to be totally radical, and stop framing an inability to pass algebra as cute.

x
Jem

#2094 | Doing Literally Everything in my Activewear

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Hong Kong
All photos taken on the Nikon Z6, and edited on VSCO

Hey guys,

In my mind hong kong is good for a couple of things, and those things mainly – nightlife, food, and the option of easy access to seasonal weather. Hiking, obviously, is conspicuously missing, a natural byproduct of the other thing I conspicuously lack; ie. a sense of balance. It was no small horror then, that on our recent trip to hongkong my two very fit girlfriends wanted to dedicate a day to hiking… even though one of them had recently sprained a leg doing the exact same thing in Jogjakarta. Why would you voluntarily elect to hike again a mere six months after being incapacitated by the very thing? Quite clearly this hiking business drives people loopy. And there is no point protesting against loopy, since logic plays no part in its formation, so off we went.

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Fit friend 1 and fit friend 2

We did the extremely touristy Dragon’s Back, which is admittedly very nice. Also I wore my new Lululemon tights which I am super in love with because they are both the most expensive (unfortunately) and the best (fortunately, but also unfortunately when taken in relation to the cost) tights I have ever worn. That is really all I have to say about the entire endeavor, as to elaborate would only serve to reveal my ineptitude towards anything that even vaguely requires hand-eye coordination. So it is here that I shall leave you, with an air of mystery and potential. (yeah, right.)

Here is a guide on how to hike dragon’s back, in case you came to this blogpost looking for pragmatic information and are now sorely disappointed or whatever.

x
Jem

#2093 | Tell me what to drink – LQV Hong Kong

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Red is the yummiest color
Pictures taken on the Nikon Z6, edited in VSCO

Hey guys,

If having a tall French man smile at you and tell you exactly what to drink is your kind of vibe, then you must make a point of swinging by Le Quinze Vins Hong Kong. I claim no credit for stumbling upon the place since our happy evening there was no coincidence – my friend who relocated to hongkong for work last year (and who now dubiously claims to be the hong kong tour guide extraordinaire ) led us there during our recent visit. A solid recommendation too, which led to this exchange:

me: hey i wanna plug LQV in a blogpost is that k
marcus: yes please note that i’ll be anyone’s tour guide for a modest fee
marcus: of a bottle of wine at LQV
me: that’s very reasonable indeed
marcus: as reasonable as the wine prices at LQV

So it goes.

If you’re headed to Hong Kong, it follows that you’re headed to a bar. It’s not like I have a pokedex of every single wine bar in hong kong, but I’ve been to my fair share over the years, and LQV is one of the more memorable ones. It joins a growing trend of wine importers that also sells bottles on the side, bars which are getting increasingly popular due to the advantages of scale (LQV has over 1,000 wines) and cozy hole-in-the-wall vibes (I’m pretty sure it only seats 30pax, max). It’s a great way to discover new wines, theoretically, though if you’re a cheerfully undiscerning winehead like me, the best part is really asking for recommendations and being extra delighted when the wines appear in the correct sort of glass, making you look like a more refined wino than you actually are. The wine, by the way, was excellent. And yes, it’s true, the place smells like a stale fart, characteristic of all serious wine bars that also serve cheese.. but if the rapid adaptation to the horrendously ugly iOS7 was anything to go by, people will get used to anything. So it’s not a deal breaker; in fact, possibly it adds to the place’s charm.

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Tee hee!

You know what the annoying thing is? When googling for the address of LQV Hong Kong to plug here, I realised they have an outlet in Singapore too. Seriously, what’s the point of my country specific recommendations then? But, yknw, having not been to the Singapore outlet I cannot in good conscience attest to the presence of a friendly frenchie, nor the lingering quaint smell of a stale fart. And with that, I present:

Le Quinze Vins
G/F, No.9 Swatow Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China
+852 2673 7636
12pm – 12 am

x
Jem

#2092 | How good does Crab Congee sound?! // Chee Kei, Hong Kong

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Photos taken on the Nikon Z6 and edited in VSCO

Hey guys,

So how good does crab congee sound, anyway? Crab is such a luxury, yet such an obsession with us Singaporeans, which is to be expected since our national dish is the debatably the chilli crab. All that is a roundabout way of saying, I suppose, that when we heard of a place in Hong Kong serving up golden crab congee, we kind of were all over it. Obviously.

Chee Kei is a local place with several branches, the one we visited this time was near our hotel in Causeway Bay. There was a short queue which moved quite fast, so we were seated in about ten minutes and ready for some yum yum in our tum tum business. You can order ala carte or in sets, and it’s quite good value for money at approximately 70 to 100HKD per set depending on what you get. Chee Kei is primarily known as a wonton shop, but dont be fooled – the permanent queues outside the outlets are there for the crab congee. For wontons abound in hongkong but crab congee is one in a million.

And of the fabled congee? It comes in a little bamboo pot, with a crab sitting atop a steaming bowl of pasty golden porridge. Golden, because the porridge is blended with crab roe, which makes it absolutely magical.

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Golden golden goodness

Dont get me wrong, everything else was good too. But that crab congee: it was something else. Chee Kei recently opened in Singapore but the crab congee seems to be firmly a hongkong exclusive. All the more reason to go back to hongkong, i suppose.

銅鑼灣店
Causeway Bay Shop
香港銅鑼灣波斯富街84號
84 Percival St., Causeway Bay
Phone: +852 2890 8616

x
Jem