An axis for artistic and creative-types of the Asian persuasian… Redefining Otaku Culture.

Asian casinos will try just about anything to attract Chinese gamblers

Vincent Yu  / Associated Press

Mainland Chinese visitors gather at the lobby of the Galaxy casino in Macau

Bloomberg (by Liza Lin):

At the oceanfront Ramada Plaza hotel on South Korea’s Jeju island, about a hundred Chinese gamblers huddle around felt-topped tables, wagering as much as 5 million won ($4,500) at baccarat. Shouts in Mandarin — “Beautiful!”, “Good!” — ring out as bettors with winning hands slam their cards on the green table-tops.

Asian casino operators from South Korea to Australia are pulling in China’s gamblers as the country’s corruption crackdown scares many away from Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub. They are capitalizing on a downturn in the city’s gaming industry, which last month suffered its worst drop ever.

Operators such as Paradise Co. in South Korea are hiring Mandarin-speaking staff and offering VIP treatment including free flights, limousines and hotel stays to big spenders. Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. of Sydney and NagaCorp Ltd. in Cambodia cater to the junket operators who organize trips for Chinese gamblers with perks such as higher commissions, lower taxes and private jets.

Premium mass players can be recognized as VIP players and treated better than in Macau,” said Lee Hyuk-Byung, vice chairman of Paradise, in an interview in Seoul. “And we have other attractions in Korea such as culture, fashion, food.”

Macau casino revenue fell last year for the first time and may decline another 8 percent this year, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. By contrast, South Korea and the Philippines will grow 16 percent and 33 percent respectively this year, gaining from the spillover of Chinese gamblers, Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang wrote in a note.

Plastic Surgeons

President Xi Jinping has urged Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal, to diversify from gambling. Macau’s government imposed more scrutiny over junket operators, as mass market gambling also weakened amid China’s economic slowdown, and new restrictions on visas and cigarette smoking.

The anti-corruption measures are discouraging some people from traveling to Macau, and as a result we are seeing a slight shift in travel from Macau to other destinations,” said Aaron Fischer, a Hong Kong-based analyst at CLSA Ltd. “Vietnam and Philippines will likely benefit as they are the closest. Korea will pick up people in the northern parts of China.”

Gamblers who bet at least $50,000 at Paradise’s casinos qualify for freebies usually available only to VIP players, Lee said. In Macau, the minimum needed to get similar perks from junket operators is about $500,000, according to CLSA data. The company also draws Chinese gamblers to the celebrity-obsessed country by touting its pop culture and offering recommendations of top Korean plastic surgeons, Lee said.

Operators have more risqué offerings too. A gambler who exchanges 300,000 yuan ($48,000) worth of chips can receive free flights to Jeju, tours with a Mandarin-speaking guide, and the companionship of a “third-tier” Korean actress or model, according to an e-mailed brochure from Shanghai-based tour operator CNS. A CNS travel agent, who would only give her name as “Xiao Qi”, confirmed the services when contacted by phone.

Shanghai and Shenyang

It’s illegal for foreign companies to advertise casino operations in China and Paradise avoids public solicitations, Lee said. Its staff reaches out to high-stakes gamblers recommended by existing customers and makes frequent trips to major Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, he added.

Companies are able to sidestep China’s ban on casino marketing by advertising non-gaming aspects such as a concert or entertainment show held on its venue, said Grant Govertsen, an analyst at Union Gaming Group in Macau.

Junket operators own restaurants, night clubs, they sponsor golf tournaments and other getaways,” Govertsen said in an interview. “There is plenty of stuff a junket could advertise in a mass-market sort of format.”

Still, foreign operators’ efforts to attract China’s gamblers have caught the notice of local authorities, which announced last month a crackdown on representative offices that “attract and recruit Chinese citizens” to casinos.

Peking Duck

Manila’s members-only Signature Club in Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.’s City of Dreams casino has entrance signs in both English and Chinese, while Mandarin-speaking staff direct guests to cashiers, shops, and restaurants. The neighboring Solaire Resort and Casino owned by Bloomberry Resorts Corp. has suckling pig and Peking duck on the menu, catering to Chinese palates.

There are a lot of excuses to go the Philippines; we always promote the Philippines not on the casino but the whole package,” Cristino Naguiat, chairman at gaming regular Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp., said in an interview.

Even with the crackdown in China, we still had higher volume in terms of gross gaming revenue and in terms of junket and VIPs,” he said last month in Manila.

Too Many Chinese

South Korea is preparing to welcome more Chinese gamblers after tourist arrivals from the country rose last year to 6.1 million, with new casinos planned including at Incheon Airport.

On Jeju island, junket operators have set up shop to offer gambling chips on loan, a service common in Macau that helps bettors sidestep China’s limits on taking currency out of the country.

Competition between the island’s eight foreigner-only casinos has led to a flourishing of more than 100 unlicensed junket operators and their agents on the island, said Seo Won- Seok, a hotel and tourism management professor at Kyunghee University in Seoul.

As Chinese gamblers become more important, there’s a need to better regulate the growth of the junket operators that bring them, he said.

Our casino industry may be too dependent on the Chinese market and that means there is always risk from China’s government policy,” Seo said. “I think that’s the downside — too many Chinese in Korea.”

 

 

“The Food of Taiwan” by Cathy Erway

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Beyond Chinatown:

Her name may belie the fact that she grew up with family dinners prepared by her Taiwanese mother and uncle, but Cathy Erway, author of The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove and the blog Not Eating Out In New York (both essential DIY readings for NYC-dwellers), wants to spread the gospel of Taiwanese food.  Using her knack for sharing personal discovery and appreciation for food from farm to table, her forthcoming cookbook, The Food of Taiwan, introduces the cuisine and culture that is much loved in Asia as a unique jewel but has only recently gained recognition in the United States thanks to an increasing number of Taiwanese restaurants and social media-friendly articles like CNN’s 45 Taiwanese Foods We Can’t Live Without.

To master Taiwanese cooking, Cathy spent time in Taiwan visiting restaurants and night markets and researching recipes and techniques.  However, much of what makes Taiwanese food so interesting is found outside of the kitchen.  She also explored the sub-tropical island’s local ingredients — vegetables, herbs, spices, and bountiful catch from the sea — as well as the complex historical, social, and ethnic influences and confluences that led to the remarkable diversity of Taiwan’s food.  The joys of sharing the kitchen and table were an important part of her culinary experiences in Taipei.  Cathy got in with the locals and found herself helping with the preparation a banquet for three generations of a family and another for a group of old friends that often gathered at a shop turned teahouse.

Back in New York, her recipes were perfected at six “Taiwanese Test Kitchen Dinners” at her apartment in Brooklyn.  At each dinner, ten dishes were prepared for and served to ten guests, allowing Cathy to test her recipes and receive feedback, some of which led to realization that people here might not be ready for bitter melon.

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As one of the few English-language cookbooks dedicated to this cuisine, The Food of Taiwan is poised to get a new audience salivating over the food from the island of 23 million and shows another facet of the unending diversity of the Chinese-speaking world.The Food of Taiwan presents traditional recipes, like this recipe for Dried Radish Omelet (菜脯蛋), (a salty-sweet omelet with a crunch that is often eaten with congee, but is great on its own), as well as Cathy’s own creations that incorporates Taiwanese cooking techniques and flavor combinations, like cilantro and peanuts.

The Food of Taiwan is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and will be released on March 24, 2015.  Pick up your copy online at Amazon. For updates on the book and events, follow the book’s Facebook page.

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See the original article at:

http://www.beyondchinatown.com/2015/03/01/the-food-of-taiwan-by-cathy-erway-book-release-and-nyc-events/

Free egg rolls at Panda Express for Chinese New Year

custom-FCCB-Free-Gold-BarFoodBeast:

Who: Panda Express

What: One free chicken egg roll. Must present printed-out coupon or show coupon through mobile device

When: Thursday, February 19

Where: All participating Panda Express stores

Why: In celebration of Chinese New Year

 

Pot-sticker paradise, hot-spring hotel just outside of Tokyo makes for a tasty retreat

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RocketNews 24:

Ask a Japanese person to give some examples of Chinese food, and they’ll likely reply with things like chaahan (fried rice) and the quintessential gyoza (pot-stickers). With their crispy fried outsides and juicy, flavorful insides, you can’t go wrong with gyoza, and many would say that Chinese food chain GYOZANOMANSYU (餃子の満州), based in the Kanto region of Japan, is the leader of them all.

Those wishing to take the gyoza experience a bit further can visit the hot-spring hotel Toumeikan in Gunma Prefecture, managed by GYOZANOMANSYU, and for a mere 5,900 yen per night (roughly US$59) you can stay in one of their cozy Japanese-style rooms, take a relaxing soak in the onsen hot springs, and get your fill at their breakfast buffet. Located deep in the mountains of Gunma, yet within a two- to three-hour drive from Tokyo, makes this a great place for a weekend getaway. Albeit one involving lots of garlic and chives.

Being located in the mountains means the area gets a bit of snow in the winter, so a word of caution to those making the trip by car – you may need to bring chains. If you’re not confident enough driving in the snow, it might be best to opt for public transportation instead, or to wait for spring.

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After the long drive, what better way to unwind than by taking a soak in the onsen? The water is beautifully clean and the temperature just right for relaxing, and you can move freely between the indoor tubs and the outdoor bath (called rotenburo). You’ll want to make sure to wash yourself down first before hopping in, though, as is custom before entering the baths in Japanese onsen.

You’ll probably be hungry once you’ve finished your soak, so it’s GYOZANOMASYU to the rescue with some piping-hot gyoza to fill your belly and a cold beer to cool you off. Of course, you’re not just limited to dumplings – there are other Chinese dishes aplenty to satiate your cravings, and you can eat and drink your fill for around 1,500 yen ($12.50).

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The breakfast buffet, which is included in the cost of your stay, includes various Chinese-style side dishes, a salad bar, rice, soup, and more.

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If you’re looking to get away for the weekend, relax, and eat some great food without breaking the bank, Toumeikan may be just the spot.

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Chinese city blames bacon for severe air pollution

 

Bacon-Pollution

FoodBeast:

Sure, blame the baconChinese municipality Dazhou has been experiencing some pretty severe air pollution, according to the provincial environmental monitoring center. Officials from Dazhou’s environmental protection bureau, however, believe the central cause of this air pollution to be bacon.

Yep, bacon.

They believe that the smoking of bacon by local residents has contributed to the less than spectacular condition of Dazhou’s air. We talk about how much we’d love to live in a world where bacon is constantly cooking, but after a while, we’re guessing it can be overwhelming for folks.

This whole situation kind of reminds us of the Sriracha outrage of 2013.

Zheng Jian, head of Chongquing-based social service agency Bayo NPO Development Center, stated in a report that even if smoking bacon could have a negative impact on air quality, it’s unlikely that impact would be substantial.

Smoked bacon is a much-enjoyed delicacy in Sichuan cuisine.

 

Link

Chinese ‘Iron Chef’ Shu Tomitoku dies

syu20udekumi20MS01_20080107221138   Japan Times:

A Chinese chef who became a popular fixture on Japanese TV shows has died of aspiration pneumonia at a Yokohama hospital, his family said Sunday. He was 71.

Zhou Fude, who died last Tuesday, was especially well-known as a result of his appearances on the variety show “Ryori no Tetsujin” (Iron Chef), where he displayed his unique skills in cooking Chinese cuisine. He also gained popularity as a lecturer on a cooking program that aired on public broadcaster NHK.

Raised in Yokohama’s Chinatown, Zhou, who was known to the public by his Japanese name Shu Tomitoku, learned cooking from his father, who worked as a chef there.

After graduating from high school, Zhou trained as a chef and later opened his own restaurant. He was also the author of several books on cooking.

Check out this link:

Chinese ‘Iron Chef’ Shu Tomitoku dies