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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My no-fail recipe for chicken karaage over brown rice



In Tokyo yesterday, living a Travelife, I suddenly had a hankering for a very good chicken karaage. 

It was midway in the afternoon, and I'd just had a salmon donburi plus six piece of my all-time favourite aburi toro sushi for lunch.



Yes, six pieces. My neighbourhood sushi chef had excellent aburi toro yesterday and he must've been in an extra good mood because he gave me very large servings.

Of course, I took advantage of this and kept ordering it until I was positively stuffed.

Then I had dinner out planned. Still, I was hungry enough to keep thinking about a really delicious chicken karaage, which is a Japanese-style fried chicken.

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A CHICKEN KARAAGE IN MY HEAD

For some reason, I couldn't get this delicious chicken karaage out of my head since yesterday morning, so I marinated some chicken just in case I decided to make myself some as an afternoon snack.

Chicken karaage, by the way, is one of these ubiquitous Japanese foods that are available everywhere, even in the convenience stores.

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But, although it's widely available, it's actually hard to find a really good chicken karaage. So I usually make my own when I feel like eating a good one.

There's quite a number of calories involved in chicken karaage, you see. So, for me, it had better be a really delicious one that's worth the calories.

MY NO-FAIL VERSION

And here's my no-fail version, which is also so easy to make.



WHAT YOU NEED

Dark meat chicken, the very best quality you can find.

I have a chicken supplier who sells the juiciest chicken in Tokyo, so I'm very lucky. The dryness of the meat can ruin a chicken karaage.

For the marinade:
Freshly grated ginger
Freshly grated garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sake
A pinch of lemon and salt

For deep-frying:
A pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1 bag of potato starch 
(or corn starch if you don't have any)

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INSTRUCTIONS

- Marinate the chicken for at least two hours in the refrigerator. The longer you can keep the chicken marinated, the better.

- Mix the egg yolk, salt and potato starch. When the chicken is ready for frying, coat the chicken pieces in this and then drop into a fryer.

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- Serve the chicken on top of a bed of brown rice and garnish with finely chopped Japanese onions and lemon wedges.

- You can also drizzle wasabi mayonnaise on top of the chicken for accent. To make this, simply mix Japanese mayonnaise with some wasabi paste. Drizzle this over the chicken with an icing holder, or serve alongside it on a small plate if you don't have an icing holder.



Driving in Tokyo, and sitting through a driving refresher course every three years


Last week, over lunch at the Tokyo American Club, living a Travelife, I mentioned to my friend Y how pleasant it was to live in Tokyo and to drive around Tokyo, after being away for so long.

What a nice surprise this was, that there was virtually no traffic in the centre of Tokyo, so that I could drive around town and actually time my appointments down to the minute.

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What a wonderful and welcome contrast this was, too, compared to the city I usually now call home.

In this city, traffic has clogged almost every artery, and with no relief in sight.

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MOVING BACK TO TOKYO?

"It's so nice," I said to Y. "Maybe I should move back here."

Y said to me: "Tokyo is so nice right now because everyone is away."

What she meant is that many people living in central Tokyo are away for the summer. The expatriate families were all on holiday, while lots of Tokyo residents were spending August in their summer homes somewhere in Japan or somewhere in the world.



WHAT A DIFFERENCE A WEEK MAKES

And, just as she said, there was a noticeable difference in traffic conditions this week. It took me 15 minutes longer, for instance, to drive across town.

Nevertheless, traffic in central Tokyo is still a piece of cake.

Tokyo is one of the biggest, busiest and most heavily populated cities in the world, but living in the centre of town is surprisingly civilised for a place teeming with people and activity.

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WHAT A DIFFERENCE GOOD DRIVING HABITS MAKE

One of the main reasons for this is the driving habits of Tokyo residents. Everyone follows the rules and there are so few infractions, resulting in way less accidents and hindrances.

Why can't good driving happen more in other traffic-infested cities, you might be asking.

The answer is pretty simple, although it's a big pain in the neck for people like me who drive with a Japanese license.




RENEWING A LICENSE
IS LIKE GOING TO SCHOOL

Every three years, you see, every single holder of a Japanese driving license must troop to the nearest testing center and sit through a refresher course on driving and traffic regulations.

There's no exception and it doesn't matter who you are or what you do -- you are required to sit through this three-house course if you wish to renew your license.


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As you can imagine, I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do this, at my first renewal. It was like pulling teeth.

The testing centre is in the middle of nowhere and you lose a good part of a busy day just to attend this course. Plus, there is no great restaurant nearby for a good lunch to soften the impact.

TOUGH LUCK FOR SOME GUYS.
VIBER ISN'T ALLOWED HERE.



And just in case you think you can sit in the classroom and Viber all your friends on your mobile phone while the lecture is going on, you're dreaming.

This lecture is worse than school.

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Lecturers are incredibly strict about anyone doing anything other than sitting straight up and listening to the lecture. You cannot take out your phone or something to read.

In fact, you can't take out anything -- if you do, you're sent out.

No doodling on a scrap of paper or doing things like sorting out the stuff in your wallet, either.

EXCUSES DON'T WORK AT ALL



You might think, too, of getting out midway with a tummy ache or a migraine as an excuse. Of course you can do this.

However, you're not getting your renewal done until you actually are able to sit through the whole lecture without missing a minute.

The result is that 100% of the population driving with a Japanese license knows the rules of the road by heart.

ROAD COURTESY IS THE RAGE.
RATHER THAN ROAD RAGE.



No one cuts a lane and everyone generally observes road signs. Most people are polite drivers and you can go the whole day on the road without hearing a single horn being tooted.

This certainly makes for a very pleasant drive in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

More on driving in Japan, and it's Big Brother system for drunken driving, in my next blog entry.... 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pangaea and Chaos nightclubs to open at City of Dreams Manila



Ultra-luxe bottle service lounge Pangaea enters the Philippine market for the first time, while Chaos, the world's first bottle and table service nightclub brand, will make its Asian debut at the end of 2014.

Integrated casino resort developer Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corporation, a developer, owner and operator of casino gaming and entertainment resort facilities in Asia, yesterday announced its collaboration with The Ault Group, the nightclub consulting firm led by Michael Van Cleef Ault, the 'International King of Clubs.'

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A DESTINATION FOR MANILA BAY

The Ault Group is bringing the world-renowned nightclub brands – Pangaea and Chaos – into the fast-growing Philippine market.

Both clubs will be situated in City of Dreams Manila's iconic Fortune Egg, an architecturally-unique dome-like structure, which will be accented with creative exterior lighting design.

This design will most certainly become a landmark in the Manila Bay area.

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ABOUT PANGAEA

Renowned for pioneering the “Ultra-Lounge” concept in the 1990s, Pangaea has become a staple for those familiar with its intimate and sophisticated club set.

Its bespoke-designed furniture and custom-made dance tiers make this a club where every inch of space is literally meant to be danced on.

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VIPs AT PANGAEA

Pangaea has hosted A-listers including Madonna, David Beckham, Steven Tyler, Cee-Lo Green, Jessica Alba, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Moss, Will Smith, and Jack Nicholson.

As Manila's most exclusive ultra lounge, Pangaea will fuse the exotic and the glamorous, where audiences can experience the best in entertainment at tables encircling a rotating grand piano DJ booth.

The exuberant atmosphere will offer an intimate escape in the 'Study Lounge' and the ultimate VIP experience in the 'Peacock Room.' It will be able to host up to 400 guests a night in over 730 square meters of clubbing space.


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ABOUT CHAOS

Meanwhile, Chaos is credited for being the world's first 'bottle service' night club.

The New York Times Magazine once declared it "The Hottest Club in New York" when it opened in 1996 and quickly became a regular haunt for Hollywood and international celebrities.

It earned similar bragging rights when it opened a year later in Miami's South Beach and São Paulo, Brazil.

THE ULTIMATE NIGHTCLUB EXPERIENCE



Manila's Chaos Nightclub will offer an unparalleled nightlife experience.

Audiences can indulge in their fantasies as acrobats dance and performers entertain alongside world-class DJs in the high-energy Dance Club or enjoy the unique KTV Rooms.

The nightclub will be spread across two levels, over some 3,000 square meters. It will open its doors to over 2,000 clubbers looking for the best mix from the international DJs.

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WORLD-CLASS CLUBS IN MANILA

“Following our recent announcements of other global entertainment brands, Melco Crown Philippines is introducing the internationally acclaimed nightclub brands Pangaea and Chaos to City of Dreams Manila,” said Clarence Chung, Chairman and President, Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corporation.

He added: “Introducing world-class clubs and a sophisticated international nightlife experience to City of Dreams Manila reinforces our overall entertainment destination strategy, as envisioned by Mr. Lawrence Ho, Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Melco Crown Entertainment Limited."