5 unique cafés to visit in Asia

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Audrey Magazine (by Alyssa Park):

Cafés are popping up all over America, and they are quickly becoming part of a global culture as well. For instance, all across Asia you can find amazing cafés with different types of aesthetics such as rustic, modern, traditional and even themed. If you are traveling through Asia, then these five destinations are a must.

1. Hoho Myoll Café : (Seoul, South Korea)

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Korea is known to have some of the most beautiful cafés in the world. With a bit of a rustic aesthetic, Hoho Myoll Café is an enchanting little café tucked away in the heart of Seoul.

2. Wangye Teahouse : (Zigong, China)

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Inside of what was once a 100-year-old temple lies a very famous Sichuan Teahouse in Zigong, China. Next to the Fuxi River, visitors not only enjoy a traditional cup of tea, they can also become engrossed in a rich cultural history.

3. Shirohige’s Creampuff Shop: (Tokyo, Japan)

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Shirohige’s Creampuff Shop is one of many of Japan’s themed cafés. Not only are the creampuffs Totoro-shaped, the café itself is extremely sophisticated while maintaining a youthful charm.

4.Up Café: (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

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Up Café is a mandatory destination in Saigon mostly for it’s novelty. With all of the furniture and windows hanging upside down from the ceilings, you can’t help but feel like you are in another dimension.

5. Audrey Café & Bistro: ( Bangkok, Thailand)

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Audrey Café & Bistro is one of the most popular destinations in Bangkok, Thailand because of its beauty. With decor that only reflects elegance and class, your experience here will be nothing short of luxurious.

Photographer captures Chinese families and their belongings over 11 Years

First We Feast: 10 Favorite Chinese Dumplings in Los Angeles

All photos by Clarissa Wei, unless noted otherwise 

All photos by Clarissa Wei, unless noted otherwise 

First We Feast:
From pierogis to samosas, dumplings are a universal dish, embraced by cultures around the globe. But no one values the seemingly endless variations of texture, size, and fillings quite like the Chinese.

In fact, the earliest recording of the dish can be traced back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 AD-220 AD) in China. The legend states that a man noticed that peoples’ ears were suffering from frost bite. He decided to make a dish in the shape of an ear to cure the cold—hence its current iteration. The first dumplings had lamb, chili, and herbs inside, and their soothing qualities quickly gained currency across the country.

Due to mass immigration waves, Los Angeles has continued to carry the torch for Chinese dumpling tradition. What sets the dumpling culture apart here is sheer variety—you can fine representatives from Shanghai, Beijing, Jiangsu, Tianjin, and beyond. There are even variations that were invented in Los Angeles, like the hui tou potsticker. If you’re going to judge the merits of Los Angeles’ Chinese cuisine, dumplings are a good place to start.

Broken down by region, here are First We Feast‘s 10 essential dumplings to understanding L.A.’s varied repertoire.

1. GIANT SOUP DUMPLING AT WANG XING JI

giantsoupdumpling Our 10 Favorite Chinese Dumplings in Los Angeles

Address and phone: 140 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel (626-307-1188)
Website: N/A
Region: Jiangsu

Wang Xing Ji (also known as Juicy Dumplings) makes food inspired from Wuxi in the Jiangsu province. Known affectionately throughout the country as the Land of Fish and Rice, the region is know for dumplings that are sweeter and commonly stuffed with fresh, pulverized crab because an abundance of crustaceans during certain months of the year. Wang Xing Ji is a soup dumpling specialist known for its softball-sized dumplings that require a boba straw to extract the liquid.

2. BEIJING PIE AT BEIJING PIE HOUSE

meatpie Our 10 Favorite Chinese Dumplings in Los Angeles

Address and phone: 846 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park (626-288-3818)
Website: N/A
Region: Beijing

The dumpling in question is called a xian bing—a pan-fried disc stuffed with heavily spiced pork and assorted aromatics. This is a Beijing meat pie and is arguably the most addictive stand-alone dish in greater Los Angeles area. Pies come flying out of the kitchen in plates of four. Pair the dish with their cucumber salad, and if you have a hankering for more carbs, Pie House does wonderful zhajiang noodles—cold noodles with thin cuts of cucumber and a dollop of fermented soy beans.

3. SICHUAN WONTON AT CHENGDU TASTE

wontonchili Our 10 Favorite Chinese Dumplings in Los Angeles

Address and phone: 828 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra (626-588-2284)
Website: N/A
Region: Sichuan

The Sichuan wonton is called hong you chao shou. Hong you means red chili oil, and chao shou means ”folded hands,” a reference to how the dumpling is formed, and how—during the cold months in Sichuan—folks would fold their hands across their chest for warmth. The wonton is usually served as an appetizer and the skin is delicate—bordering on translucent. Chengdu Taste, the Sichuanese king of Los Angeles, undoubtedly serves the best rendition in town. It’s stuffed with ground pork, and served over with a light chili oil infused with the potent Sichuan peppercorn—a notorious spice known for its lip-numbing after-effect.

4. SHENJIANBAO AT EMPEROR NOODLE

shenjiangbao Our 10 Favorite Chinese Dumplings in Los Angeles

Address and phone: 800 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel (626-281-2777)
Website: N/A
Region: Shanghai

While Emperor Noodle is marketed as a noodle joint, their specialty is really the shenjianbao. Invented in the 1920s in Shanghai, the shenjianbao has become an iconic breakfast snack of the region, usually served outdoors on street carts. Stuffed with pork, it has a thicker skin than most dumplings. It is first steamed in a huge bamboo steamer and then pan-fried on the bottom before getting a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

5. WONTON NOODLE SOUP AT SAM WOO

wontonnoodle Our 10 Favorite Chinese Dumplings in Los Angeles

Address and phone: 937 E Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel (626-286-3118)
Website: N/A
Region: Guangdong and Hong Kong

Fragrance is the key to a good wonton noodle soup, and the fortified broth from Sam Woo—an institution that has been open for over three decades—takes days to make. You can ask them to throw a piece of roast duck on top if you’re extra hungry, but the dish by itself is enough to satisfy. The wonton, stuffed with pork and shrimp, is served with egg noodles imported straight from Hong Kong.

6. CRYSTAL SHRIMP DUMPLING AT LUNASIA DIM SUM HOUSE

lunasia4hagow Our 10 Favorite Chinese Dumplings in Los Angeles

Address and phone: 239 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena (626-793-8822)
Website: lunasiadimsumhouse.com
Region: Guangdong and Hong Kong

It is said that the xiajiao, or har gow (in Cantonese), makes or breaks a dim-sum chef. Traditionally, a har gow is supposed to have ten or more pleats. The wrapper is made with wheat and tapioca and worked until it becomes translucent. Lunasia’s version is epic—they manage to tuck in at least three large pieces of shrimp without breaking the chewy, delicate wrapper. We recommend dipping this in sweet soy sauce, mustard, or sambal chili.  (Photo:The Minty Musing)

7. THE RETURN DUMPLING AT HUI TOU XIANG

huitou Our 10 Favorite Chinese Dumplings in Los Angeles

Address and phone: 704 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel (626-281-9888)
Website: huitouxiang.com
Region: California

Hui Tou Xiang takes the guo tie, a traditional potsticker, usually oblong in shape, and sealed both sides. They call it the hui tou—which means “to return” in Mandarin—to symbolize their desire for customers to return. The dish is pan-fried on all sides and meticulously fried to a juicy crisp. A single order will get you eight pot stickers. Be sure to pair it with chili sauce. (Photo:Hui Tou Xiang)

8. GLUTEN-FREE DUMPLINGS FROM PEKING TAVERN

glutenfreedumpling Our 10 Favorite Chinese Dumplings in Los Angeles

Address and phone: 806 S Spring St, Los Angeles (213-988-8308)
Website: tooguapo.com
Region: California

Dumplings are extremely difficult to make gluten-free, but the owners of Peking Tavern knew that if they wanted to open a dumpling house in the heart of Downtown, they needed to appeal to Angelenos’ finicky eating habits. Months of recipe testing paid off: You can barely taste the difference (though the gluten-free variations are a little bit gummier). We recommend getting them pan-fried and stuffed with beef. Pairing them with a small shot of the Chinese spirit baijiu. (Photo: Peking Tavern)

9. SWEET GLUTINOUS RICE BALLS AT EMPEROR NOODLE

tangyuan Our 10 Favorite Chinese Dumplings in Los Angeles

Address and phone: 800 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel (626-281-2777)
Website: N/A
Region: All over China

These sweet rice balls (tang yuan in Southern China, yuan xiao in Northern China) are traditionally stuffed with sesame paste or ground peanuts. It’s a common dish on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. The roundness of the rice ball is indicative of a complete circle of harmony within the family. Emperor Noodle in San Gabriel serves a beautiful version spiked with sweet rice wine and dried osmanthus flowers.

10. TIANJIN BAO AT TASTY NOODLE HOUSE

tianjinbun Our 10 Favorite Chinese Dumplings in Los Angeles

Address and phone: 827 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel (626-284-8898)
Website: N/A
Region: Tianjin

Tianjin is a coastal city in northern China known for an abundance of seafood and dough. The Tianjin bao is a thick doughy bun, made with yeast so that it rises slightly. The remarkable quality about this dumpling is that it’s able to hold quite a bit of juice without turning soggy. Each bun fits perfectly in the palm of the hand. Pair it with a dash of black vinegar for an extra kick.

New species of long-necked ‘dragon’ dinosaur discovered in China

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Artist’s conception of Qijianglong, chased by two carnivorous dinosaurs in southern China 160 million years ago. 

(Illustration: Lida Xing)

Fox News:

A new species of long-necked dinosaur was discovered by Canadian paleontologists from bones discovered in central China, according to the “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.”

Dubbed the Qijianglong (“dragon of Quijang”), the sauropod has a neck that measures 25 feet long, virtually half of its body length. “As far as I know, there are no more bones in the field of this dinosaur,” said team leader Phillip Currie of the University of Alberta.

Discovered by construction workers at a site near Quijang City in 2006, the dinosaur is about 50 feet long and thrived in the late Jurassic period. Researchers digging at the site found its head and neck still together – a rare occurrence due to the small cranium often detaching easily after the creature’s death. Though the researchers had the bones cast and even went as far as mounting the cast skeleton in a museum, they had no idea that they’d uncovered a new species. “It had already been collected, prepared and was laid out on tables,” Currie told FoxNews.com. “This region of China has lots of dinosaur fossils, including skeletons, bonebeds and footprints. The preservation is quite nice, and we were asked to help describe it.

The Qijianglong is a mamenchisaurid that lived in China 160 million years ago. While most suaropod necks only make up a third of their body length, mamenchisaur necks can reach up to half, with the largest known specimen’s collar extending 59 feet. However, unlike other mamenchisaurids, the Qijianglong’s neck vertebrae is filled with air, making it a much lighter load to carry. Its interlocking joints showed that the creature moved its neck with more ease horizontally rather than sideways, enabling it to eat from extremely tall trees in movements similar to a construction crane’s. The giant herbivores were also mostly immune to attacks from carnivorous dinosaurs due to their size – though that’s not to say they were completely invincible. “I suspect that once they were mature, they were probably immune to the attacks of predators the way elephants are today,” Currie says. “However, like elephants (which are hunted in some parts of Africa by large prides of lions), they were probably never completely immune to attack. And as juveniles, there is some evidence to suggest that the adults stayed with and protected them.”

While long-necked dinosaurs did thrive in other parts of the world, mamenchisaurids were indigenous to China for reasons still unknown. According to Currie, “Mamenchisaur sauropods are so far only known from China, but they do have close relatives all over the world. I assume that mamenchisaurs evolved in that part of the world, but were unable to spread to other continents because China was rather isolated at that time.”

Some researchers believe that mamenchisaurs were unable to migrate due to the sea barrier, and lost in competition when invading species arrived once the land connection was restored.

Currie and his team named it the “dragon of Quijang” due to its similarity to the mythical long-necked Chinese dragon. In a statement, doctoral student and team member Tetsuto Miyashita revealed, “I wonder if the ancient Chinese stumbled upon a skeleton of a long-necked dinosaur like Qijianglong and pictured that mythical creature.”

He might not be far off: in 300 BC, the historian Chang Qu documented discovering “dragon bones” in Sichuan, which Quijang is a province of.

 

Chinese city blames bacon for severe air pollution

 

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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.

 

Chinese tennis champion who defected during the Cold War to chase her dream of playing Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova returns to Beijing to volley of abuse

Former tennis champion Hu Na, posing for a portrait in Beijing.
Gilles SabriÈ for the Daily Telegraph

The Telegraph:

 

 

Long before China had Li Na, its French and Australian Open champion, there was Hu Na, a tall and rangy teenage tennis prodigy from Sichuan.

At 19, she was China’s female tennis champion and a favorite of the Communist party‘s leaders; she often played mixed doubles with the then 65-year-old Wan Li, who later became China’s vice premier.

But on July 16, 1982, a day after arriving in America to compete in the Federation Cup, Hu Na slipped out of her hotel room in Santa Clara, California and disappeared.

Ten days later, her Chinese-American lawyer filed a request for political asylum. It caused a storm: it had only been three years since China and the US had reestablished diplomatic relations.

I never thought it would make such big news,” said Ms Hu, now 51, on a visit to Beijing to promote an exhibition of her art.

But I knew I had to take the chance. Back then we only played overseas twice or three times a year and I did not know when I might be back in the US again.”

Ms Hu said she had been inspired by Martina Navratilova, who was 18 when she defected from Communist Czechoslovakia to the US.

I did not tell anyone about it, not even my parents. I was very worried at the time. I did not know when I would see my parents again. But I wanted to be a tennis professional and my dream gave me the courage to do it,” she said.

Hu Na in1985 at Wimbledon Championships.

Beijing was furious and the Chinese team demanded the US find and return Ms Hu. “We hereby demand the US takes effective measures to find and immediately send her back to our team,” said a statement. Later, the Foreign ministry said the defection was “sure to adversely affect the cultural exchanges between the two countries“.

However, Ms Hu claimed that her parents were not punished for her betrayal. Her grandfather was a men’s’ doubles tennis champion, her father coached the army basketball team in Chengdu and her mother was an official at the Sports Commission.

I do not think my parents had any trouble. At that time China was opening up and reforming and I had my first letter from them a few months later,” she said. A year after her defection, the Chinese tried to tempt her back saying she would not be prosecuted if she returned.

Ms Hu said she had received an offer from Vic Braden, then one of the world’s foremost tennis coaches, to manage her. “I told him to ask the Chinese Tennis Association and he sent many letters but never got an answer,” she said.

There was such a big difference between the US and China. There were tennis courts everywhere. And the players wore dresses at the US Open. In China at that time we just had blue shirts and shorts,” she said.

My parents knew my dream. By the time I was champion of Asia I had no rivals to play with. I wanted to play with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova,” she said. She played them both, but lost.

Her best championship was Wimbledon in 1985 where she reached the third round, knocking out Annabel Croft. “The next day, even the taxi drivers recognised me because everyone in Britain had watched that match,” she said.

In 1990 her parents were allowed to visit her in the US for the first time. “My mother cried because my skin was so tanned she thought I was ugly,” she said. Eventually her entire family resettled in the US, and Ms Hu was allowed to return to China.

However, her latest visit has been greeted with abuse by Chinese nationalists, who questioned whether a former “traitor” should be allowed back on Chinese soil.

Who let her in?” wrote one commenter on the Chinese Internet. “How long does the crime of defection last for? It is a provocation to come back for an art exhibition.”

You bring shame to our country. The motherland does not forbid her from coming back, this shows the tolerance and the progress of the nation; But our countrymen have rejected her, this is how the people judged her,” wrote another, according to a translation on the ChinaSmack website.

Ms Hu said she does not pay any attention to the criticism. “I remember the first time I came back to China there had been such a big change,” she said. “When I was young I would play tennis into the evening and then I would have to walk home for half an hour and there were no lights. It used to be so dark.”

And she praised Li Na for standing up to the Chinese state sports system. “Li Na chose her own way and you can see from the success she had that it was a good thing. I think things have changed now,” she added.

Chinese drug dealer weds girlfriend in elaborate prison wedding

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RocketNews 24:

 

Between bad dates and missed connections, ever feel like true love is a myth invented to sell flowers and chocolates at arbitrary times of the year? This story straight from a Chinese prison may be able to warm your cold, jaded heart and renew your hope in love.

A man serving an almost eight-year sentence for dealing drugs recently married his sweetheart in one of the most elaborate weddings you will probably ever see in a correctional facility.

When Wang Zhi (pseudonym) was arrested last year for drug-dealing, his then-girlfriend was apparently caught off-guard by Wang’s chosen profession. But instead of dumping him when he went off to serve time for his crimes, she decided to stick around and even visited him every month at the prison in China’s southwest Sichuan province.

 

▼ The happy couple shows off their love during a prison visit

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Obviously the woman’s family was less than thrilled about the her choice in men, and the fact that Wang had a child from a previous marriage probably didn’t help the situation.

 

▼ A family outing to the prison

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Prison officials apparently approved the union and helped out in putting together an outdoor wedding that the couple will never forget. Although the bride wore a gorgeous white dress, Wang was sporting his chic blue prison uniform for the ceremony.

 

▼ Wang and his bride say their vows in what appears to be a correctional officer-themed musical number

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By the power vested in me by the Sichuan Provincial prison system, I now pronounce you convicted drug dealer and wife

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