Friday, January 26, 2007

Kashgar's Desert Willow 喀什葛爾胡楊

Song & lyrics by Dao Lang (click on title)
Arrangement by Mac Chew

From the beginning, I never considered where
in my heart you should be placed.
From the beginning, you called to my imaginations.
At that moment when I was about to give you a special place there,
You had forgotten me already,
I, in turn, had to look hard and deep into my memory
for every little bit of our love,
hoping that your heart would turn to me again.
You told me that " 'Till death do us part" means one's entire lifetime,
and you would not give it up for me.

I felt that I should find other ways to see you,
yet fear that we shall never be together.
I'm willing to wait until our next life,
when we'll hold each other in our arms,
and you'll renew your love for me.

I will silently pray that when Heaven remakes this world
to pay you special attention so that your appearance will not be altered,
Then no matter in however impoverished a village or however noisy a city,
I'll see you and recognize you immediately.

Let me wander through this earth for three thousand years,
and grow as old as the Kashgar desert willow.

I will search carefully for you for centuries onwards,
and find you in any reincarnated form.
I do not fear the gusting of the wind,
nor the thrashing of the rain,
nor the burning under the sun,
nor any harm this sandy desert may do me;
I'll lay down my heart and my love plainly for you to see.
I would that my body be eroded over the ages by the wind,
and hope that then, you'll feel my true love.

Our love stopped in this century,
from the moment we arrived to the moment we left.
What landscape has it transformed into?
Our love is hidden under the soil, which has made it suffer so,
and become such a lament.

Kashgar page on Wikipedia
Desert Willow (Huyang) on Wikipedia in Chinese only

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Rice Paper: Restaurant Review

Last night, my friends and I went to the new Rice Paper restaurant located at Leslie and Finch, inside Leslie Square Plaza. It is a new restaurant that just opened up about a month ago. It serves Vietnamese/Thai cuisine.

We got there nearly at 8pm, and we had to wait another 40 mins. for a table. The restaurant has a lounge area near the entrance for this reason. The couches were very comfortable to sit in, and they were also arranged in a pattern that allowed patrons to sit facing one another and chat while we wait. I really liked this touch. The 40 minute wait did not feel like it because we felt comfortable and cozy. This was a very nice touch.

The restaurant's interiors look very modern and very clean. By clean, I mean the view of the dining room from where you're sitting. The glass strips that divide the various sections of the dining room makes it look much roomier than it already is, being a big space. The glass strips also create a lot of optical illusions because of the reflecting light and images. Strangely, this creates a sense of privacy.

Unfortunately, the most important thing to a restaurant is not the appearance and the atmosphere, but the quality of the food. And Rice Paper's food is truly not worth the price ($20/person). Here's why:
1. "Bo Koh" - Vietnamese tomato and beef stew. The beef was so chewy, it was impossible to eat. This tells me that the chef doesn't know how to cook this cut of beef properly. Secondly, the soup in the stew did not taste anything like the authentic "bo-koh," which is made using a particular blend of spices. Without these spices, it will only taste like spicy tomato soup. This is my favourite stew of all stews, and I, needless to say, was tremendously disappointed.

2. "Bei-rgoong" - Shrimp wrap. This is another one of my favourites of Vietnamese cuisine. My family makes this occasionally, and I like to do the wrapping. When eaten fresh, the rice wrapping is soft, yet chewy. This restaurant "bei-rgoong" was not soft at all. It was, again, VERY CHEWY. This tells me that they were not made fresh.

3. "Chicken with Red Curry". The sauce was very good, excellent for dipping. They did not go cheap on the spices for this dish. The chicken was moist and succulent. The only drawback to this dish was that they put chicken wings in it, instead of meatier parts of the chicken. For a stew, that's a disappointment for me personally, but those who love chicken wings will love this dish.
NOTE: This dish comes with 1 small French baguette. To order the rice, it costs $1 extra. For another piece of baguette, it'll cost $1.50 extra.

4. "Thai Glass Noodles." This was the spiciest dish of all. That wouldn't have been bad at all, if not for the fishy tasting shrimps and squids. That tells me that they used very low quality seafood to make it. The seafood must have been the low-grade frozen type. I don't like seafood because of the fishy taste, and seafood that isn't fresh has a very strong odour of that fishy taste. This was the worst dish of all and that's why more than half of it was left uneaten on the table.

5. "Roat Pig's Neck with fake 'Fish Sauce'". This was one of the best dishes, but too bad it was only an appetizer. Thin strips of roast pork sat on a bed of lettuce with a fake "fish sauce." The FISH SAUCE is another major flop. It can't even qualify as fish sauce, which is the most basic dipping sauce to Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Like ketchup to western dishes, and soy sauce to Chinese dishes, the fish sauce must not be compromised.

6. The Drinks. Very tasty, but you can't go wrong with drinks.

For the service, it was quite good. The servers were all very cordial and accomodating.

Atmosphere and service: 4 stars out of 5.
Food: 2 star out of 5.