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Thursday 31 January 2013

Psst...Tell No One....

We're nearly through with one whole month of 2013 and I can confidently assume that dry January has been broken, the thrice weekly gym visits are starting to wear a bit thin and saving to pay back Christmas debts is long forgotten! If that ticks all the boxes then I have the perfect solution to cheer up the start of your February and more importantly, wave goodbye to dull January and re-inject some excitement into your life!  

Whether you use it as the best date idea ever or just a girls' day/evening out...prepare yourself to be wow'ed...I'm talking an immersive cinema experience with a ridiculous amount of twists and turns - a film viewing never to be forgotten!  

Future cinema describes itself as a 'live events company that specialises in creating living, breathing experiences of the cinema' and from the sound of the raving reviews it definitely doesn't fall short of this! The concept is simply bringing classic films to life through interactive experiences for the audience - think a fusion of performance, film, design and multimedia. Are you having difficulty working out exactly what's involved? Yup, us too but it's pretty difficult to explain given the secrecy surrounding each event. Future Cinema's sister company, Secret Cinema, sums it up with its strap line - 'Tell No one', half the fun is not knowing what to expect! When you buy your ticket you have no idea about which film you'll be seeing or where you'll be seeing it, you'll just know when you must be available and you'll find out all the rest along the way! 

For the darn right inquisitive (like me), Google means that we can get a little sneaky peek of what to expect though! I've read up about previous experiences and I can't help but share a couple with you as it sounds simply amazing! While there are some people in life who can cope with not planning and are quite happy just going with the flow, stop reading now...however if like me, you're the type that likes to get excited, research and plan, read on...! I repeat, laid back types, please beware the following is a *SPOILER*...if you don't want to know any details and want it to be a total surprise DO NOT read on! 

Now that's out of the way, lets get into the fun details! So back by popular demand is The Shawshank Redemption which you can buy your tickets for here and which has been a phenomenal success in the past!

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It went like this...the cinema goers were sent a court summons telling them to meet at Bethnal Green library in a suit at a specific time. On arrival, each audience member was given a prison jumpsuit to change into and bundled into a blacked out bus to a secret location... which turned out to be a disused school transformed into a prison of course! The 'prisoners' were then locked in their cells, given chilled beers at the same time as the actors in the film, swapped tokens in the library for illicit drinks and experienced a brawl in the prison yard involving gun shots and choreographed fighting scenes by 'other' prisoners (actors)....could this sound any more fun?! Especially as all the while  the audience had no idea what was around the next corner, where they were or what was real....?!?

Most recently added to the list especially for Valentine's Day is Casablanca, with the promise of Nazi's, refugees, nightclubs, piano sing-a-longs and gambling dens...intrigued...for just £25 a ticket a once in a lifetime cinema experience could be yours, pick up your tickets ASAP right here with 15th Feb - 3rd March dates still available! 

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Wednesday 30 January 2013

Hey, Hey, It's the Monkeys...

In his usual hilariously non-PC manner, Prince Philip once observed, "if it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and flies but is not an aeroplane and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it."

During my four years in Asia, I've eaten chicken's feet, jellyfish and abalone. I've gawped at deep fried scorpions and sniffed a black thousand year old egg (but politely declined to actually eat it). I've seen menus including various unappealing sounding offal dishes and even meats like sparrow and turtle. Although I've never come across a meal including the much fabled monkey's brain, frankly I really wouldn't be surprised if this delicacy was more than just a myth.

Feeling suitably sick now? 

In that case, let me introduce the newest Hong Kong dining spot, Three Monkeys...

No need to go ape though, this isn't a specialist monkey joint, in fact, the primate name has nothing to do with the cuisine served up there, but instead takes its name from the Japanese proverb of the Three Wise Monkeys. Following hot on the heels of the success stories of other new Izakaya-style HK hot spots, Three Monkeys is a Japanese gastropub specialising in yakitori.

Officially throwing open its doors to the public on 15th January, I decided to head down and check it out last Thursday while it was still fresh out of the box. 

The restaurant is a two-storey space perched at the Sheung Wan end of Hollywood Road right opposite the Blue Butcher and the Press Rooms. Bright and airy with big windows and high ceilings, Three Monkeys has a slightly gritty, industrial feel with its exposed light bulbs and metal beams. Happily bucking the growing trend for no-reservations restaurants, Three Monkeys takes bookings but make sure you get in there well in advance, the restaurant was packed to the rafters when we settled down to eat at around 8pm.

To kick things off we ordered a round of cocktails and some edamame to keep us going while we decided what to order. Ten minutes later the edamame had been decimated but we were still waiting for those cocktails... A quick word with the manager and we were told our drinks would be another five to seven minutes but if we wanted 'a simpler cocktail like a vodka and soda', that would be ready faster... Tempting as quick liquor sounded (even if it was just a vodka & soda) we decided to stick to our original drinks, but decided to order a second round which we correctly guessed would be served right around the time that we'd thirstily downed our first round...

We then got down to the important business of picking our food. Wanting to make sure that we got through as much of the menu as possible, we ordered up a great feast of numerous dishes to be shared between us.

We started with Kani Croquette - croquettes of crab, Hokkaido cream, soft onions and asparagus. I loved these miniature crabcake bites with their crispy coating and creamy middle packed with crab. The boys were less enamoured finding them a bit too rich and creamy.

Starter gobbled, the parade of skewers began... 

Early favourites were a couple of beef dishes - the Angus rib which was served topped with a finger-licking good spring onion daikon ponzu dressing and the Kalbi - beef rib grilled with spring onion, garlic and chili.

While the boys liked the GYU-Tongue - thick-cut ox tongue served with a dollop of wholegrain mustard (a Three Monkeys speciality), I can never quite get over the wellington boot texture and the fact that it's a tongue... (I'm a baby!)

The Pork skewers arrived next and received mixed reviews. We all loved the Tomato Bacon skewers - three cherry tomatoes wrapped in bacon - what's not to love? The only slight warning, eat these quickly at your peril, the middles of the tomatoes are molten hot...

The Kurobuta Belly skewer which came topped with shiso leaves and sea salt was also delicious, buttery soft and full of flavour.

Pork Loin deviled with basil & corn was unanimously declared too sickly sweet and a little disappointing.

While the pork belly wraps which came with romaine lettuce leaf wrappers and a scrummy sesame sauce were messily devoured in seconds.

Next up, another Three Monkeys speciality, Tsukune -
a skewered minced chicken meatball served with an egg yolk. This is my top dish at Yardbird, so I'd been looking forward to sampling the Three Monkeys version.Immediate minus point for presentation as the egg yolk was broken when served. But more disappointing still, the meatball was a really unpleasant texture, so full of gristle that we only ate a tiny nibble each before sending the rest back untouched. 

Our second chicken skewer pulled it back again though - the Negima - chicken thigh skewered with picant scallions. We fought over the last couple of cubes of tender meat to mop up the puddle of tangy sauce.

We finished off with the lamb chop (rather confusingly listed under the beef section of the menu...). Which while perfectly tasty, was nothing particularly special and seemed a little bit out of place alongside its skewery menu mates.

Last but not least a closing Korean kick from the Kimchi Kurobuta - thinly sliced stir fried pork topped with a generous heap of garlicky kimchi.

The bill for three of us came in at HK$1,739 (food and three round of drinks) which seemed a little bit punchy.  

Definitely still in its early infancy, Three Monkeys has a few teething issues to sort out. It calls itself a pub, and it definitely delivers on the buzzy, pubby atmosphere. Cocktails are unusual and generally delicious but a fifteen minute wait is pretty poor. Pick carefully and the food's scrumptious, great for sharing and the perfect accompaniment to a couple of post-work drinks. I'll definitely be heading back again in a few weeks to give the monkeys another go. 

And when all's said and done, yakitori are infinitely more appealing to my unadventurous, Western palette than jellyfish and chicken's feet...

Three Monkeys
G/F, 151 - 155 Hollywood Road,
Sheung Wan
+852 3151 7771

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Printstagram Your Life...

Instagram is a recent obsession of mine, yeah yeah yeah some may say 'get with the programme' or you are 'late to the party' - agreed, in this case I have unarguably taken my good old sweet time in appreciating the snap happy craze. Regardless - I love it now.

YES taking photos with your eyes would be pretty awesome but not something that's likely to be possible in my lifetime SO for the time being I have to work with what I've got... It's not practical to always have my chunky DSLR handy to freeze beautiful moments so I rely day-to-day on my trusty Smartphone camera. After taking a shot I instinctively select a filter or a creative effect to make my picture look the best it can. It's second nature now and one that has been made easier with the invention of photography aps like Instagram. You can capture, stylise and share seamlessly in a few seconds flat.

All Instagram enthusiasts reading this will agree when I say there's nothing quite like that proud and glorious moment when you take a picture, transform it in Instragram, share it with the world and seconds later are rewarded with a flurry of likes and congratulatory comments from fellow followers ... 'wow what a shot' ... 'amazing picture' ... 'quite the photographer aren't we' ... If only that online minute of Instagram fame could live on in reality and be displayed for all to swoon over for ever more! Well I'm happy to say it can! Last week I read about the new service which gives you the option of turning your Instagram masterpieces into a range of printed products. Tear-off calendars, posters, stickers and even coffee table books - neat huh?!

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To mark this inspired idea, I have scoured the web and collected some of my all time favourite shots so sit back and check out my cream of the Instagram crop below... 

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Monday 28 January 2013

King of Cocktails: House of Wolf...

The London Mice are, as always, on the look out for a new place to go for an expertly mixed cocktail, a great vibe and lots of fun! As luck would have it, we just happen to have a little gem to add to your London black book of bars - the fabulous House of Wolf.

The website describes House of Wolf as 'a multi-functional, multi-sensory pleasure palace, dedicated to the creative pursuits of dining, drinking, art and entertainment', from this I was none the wiser as to what to expect but intrigued to say the least. And after one pretty awesome visit, I have a suspicion that it still has even more to give...!

House of Wolf is located in a three story Victorian building on Upper Street (Highbury and Islington end) - immediately impressive, seeminlgly popular and distinguishable by the grey wolf welcoming you in!

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You enter on the ground floor walking straight into The Music Hall, this comprises of the main bar and infamous stage that houses the 'entertainment' - unfortunately we didn't get to experience this element when we were there but I believe the likes of burlesque and cabaret feature throughout the week and the website nods towards other more mysterious goings on ...'creative events for discerning adults, high profile club nights and fun filled 'get-on-down' parties...' The interiors are beautiful yet quirky with oversized mirrors, diamond encrusted wolves, mushroom printed chairs, candles littering all surfaces and decadent light fixtures...

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The main pull for me was the much raved about Apothecary bar - experimental cocktail king, Stephen Quainton and his team claim to push the boundaries of taste through unusual combinations, drama and fun! This they most certainly did, providing a definite experience that we can't recommend enough! Located on the first floor, the Apothecary bar is compact to say the least but this only adds to the exclusivity. The main feature among the Victorian knick-knacks and oversized street lamps is the impressive 'Prescriptions' bar complete with a bartender mixing his personalised concoctions in a white lab coat and a flat cap! 

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When we arrived our enthusiastic waitress raved that we had the best seat in the house and led us to a bookcase at the back of the room, this was pulled away from the wall and behind was a candlelit cubby hole with a table for four! Perfect! Especially as we hadn't all caught up since Christmas Eve so there were lots of raised voices, squawks and excitable shouting over each other ... where better to be concealed than within a secret book case?!
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SO the drinks ... we decided to pick from the Apothecary menu - the real essence of what the House of Wolf does best - how could we refuse! We decided on 'Over the Pop' - a popcorn infused Bourbon sour which came with a side of iced cherries and a shot of popping candy, a 'Crumble' - a group favourite of spiced fruit jam, vodka, egg white and apple juice all topped off with cinnamon foam, a 'T.I.K.I' described only as a ridiculous rum drink served with an edible beach scene and finally a 'Black Treacle' - Middle Mouse's adventurous choice of black pudding infused rum and apple served with a side of black pudding! They were all devoured (bar the side of black pudding!) with top taste points going to the Crumble and the award for most quirky and never to be forgotten going to Black Treacle - strong, unusual and like nothing you've ever had before!

Finally, on the top floor you'll find the Attic Dining Room - we weren't eating, so we didn't visit this section but it's said to be a den of decadence ... velvet, beams, impressive light features and with a totally unpredictable menu! Once again House of Wolf boasts another unique slant by presenting a permanent series of pop up chefs - currently Kemble and Rodgers have taken over the kitchen space with their 5-course tasting menu which apparently has a progressive British style and Japanese aesthetic ... confused? Why not head on down and try it out for yourself? Kemble & Rodgers are set to reign the Attic until 23rd February, so plenty of time to get it scheduled in! 

This is a difficult one to do justice in a blog post, you can't quite describe the unpredictable, unusual beauty and creative genius behind this project. Having visited I now understand the shroud of mystery the website creates - I predict that every time you go, you'll have a completely new and unknown experience! 

We spent the evening drinking behind a bookcase, discovering hidden dens and snugs...

and finally stumbling back to the Music Hall to be taken through the decades in music - I can safely say this was the most fun I have had in a long time! Dancing to songs from the 40's, 50's and 60's and a few top tunes of today all spun by a DJ in goggles ... which of course Middle Mouse was given a challenge to steal...

Final word...not your average run of the mill bar, but instead a totally unique immersive experience with delicious cocktails waiting to be explored. 


House of Wolf
181 Upper Street
N1 1RQ
020 7288 1470

Friday 25 January 2013

This Week The Mice Have Mostly Been...

In London the week started out with a snow storm! Maybe a little bit of an exaggeration but you know how us British can be when it comes to the weather. A bit of sun and there's a drought, a scattering of snow and the country shuts down... Anyway, it has been a bitterly cold week with lots of evening duvet and hot water bottle action! Over in Hong Kong we're assured its a pretty similar story. It may be clear, sunny and a steady 20+ Celsius but HK Mouse has become a bit of an expat wuss. She claims that because the flats are built to let out the heat and have no central heating that 20 C is the equivalent of -1 C, we're not convinced...!

Aside from squabbling about the weather, this Week The Mice Have Mostly Been...

Eagerly devouring F.Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby'. So much so that I semi look forward to getting on the tube each day at the crack of dawn and fighting for a seat just so I can get my morning Gatsby fix!

If you saw our post back in May 2012 hyperventilating about the film release then we may sound like a broken record, but as I'm reading it for the first time I hope you'll let it slide and allow me to gush about it once again! 

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When HK mouse was home for Christmas she showed me the forthcoming film trailer which if I were to describe in one word I would say ... breathtaking! I seriously could not take my eyes off the screen. The costumes! The Music! The cast! Well you've guessed it I was straight onto Amazon ordering myself a copy of the book. Sadly I wasn't lucky enough to read it at school, instead I slowly made my way through 'Underground to Canada' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. If 'The Great Gatsby' had have been on the syllabus I would have definitely received a few more A+ grades that's for sure! 

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I hate being told by smug book worms after watching a film that ... 'the book is so much better' and that 'the film just didn't do the book justice'. I've therefore made a pact to try and always read the books first so I don't feel like i'm missing out so much! In my experience however, it is often true and near impossible to make a short 120 minute film live up to a beautifully written book packed with page after page of imagination. Examples for me include 'One Day', 'My Sister's Keeper', 'The Time Traveller's Wife' and 'The Help' (although the latter I must admit was a stronger adaptation than the rest). However, having seen 'The Great Gatsby' trailer I have a good feeling that this one will live up to my very high expectations! 

If like me you haven't read the book then order a copy now! Don't let the fact that it was written 80 odd years ago put you off. Its 115 pages of pure glamour, glitz, parties, love affairs and secrets - you would never guess that it was published back in 1925! Set in the roaring twenties it exposes the rich lifestyles of a social set living in mansions in Long Island. It boasts tonnes of fun, a real page turner and is thought to be Fitzgerald's finest novel. 

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Honestly if the trailor is anything to go by we are in for a treat ... there is a stellar cast - Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire, Joel Egderton, Carey Mulligan and Isla Fisher and the film is Directed by the amazing Baz Luhrmann, creator of Romeo and Juliet. The release date has already been put back from Christmas 2012 to 10th May 2013. All I can say is roll on the next 105 days and get your tickets booked ASAP!

Take a sneak peak here and get excited with us...!

Falling nose over heels for Jimmy Choo's subtle new fragrance, 'Flash'. I'm always a little cautious when it comes to brands who are famous for creating something, in this case, shoes, so perfectly who then decide to branch out into new product areas. However I am happy to report that Jimmy Choo knows its perfume just as much as it knows its stilettos! 

Everything about this fragrance oozes glitz from its cut glass bottle design inspired by a paparazzi's flashbulb to its glitter-tastic outer box packaging! 

The pocket sized scent could be described in one word as 'floral' but personally I think it has much more depth than that with notes of strawberry, jasmine and white lily coming through. The fragrance works hard to last on your skin which is a must in my opinion, there's nothing worse than spritzing yourself all day long with little effect. 

Bag yours now at Debenhams online - £36 for 40ml

Pleasantly surprised by the new Bombay-style cafe in town, Dishoom. I say 'pleasantly surprised' because I had booked a reservation to try the much hyped Dishoom before Christmas but had since read a really negative review from the well known Food Critic, Jay Rayner. My expectations were therefore lowered and my richter scale of excitement pulled back to a mere 6 - with my newly adjusted outlook in place, I made my way to the Shoreditch restaurant eager to see/taste for myself. 

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First things first, the interior is beautiful with so much to look at - chunky marble bar tops, exposed brick, black and white tiled flooring, antique family photos scattered on the walls and generally a rough round the edges / shabby-chic feel. 

Next up the food - curry with a difference! We're not talking run of the mill Brick Lane curry but Indian dishes packed full of flavour and spice, sure to get your tastebuds tingling! Firm favourites included lamb samosas, gunpowder potatoes, masala prawns, mahi tikka, paneer roll and biryani. The Dishoom signature dish, the house black daal, deserves a stand alone mention - simmered for 24 hours it is dark, rich and deeply flavoured. But the star of the Bombay show goes hands down to the Lamb Raan, a whole leg of lamb marinated in chilli, garlic and ginger, braised overnight with spices, then flame-grilled, sliced and dressed with fresh lime - quite simply, out of this world amazing! 

The puddings were also incredible. We opted for Pineapple and black pepper crumble to share and then I couldn't help but be a greedy guts and order the mango kulfi on a stick, which was basically yummy mango sorbet in the form of a pointy mini milk!

As you will have guessed I absolutely loved Dishoom and would go back in a heartbeat. The food is really something else and to top it all off super affordable too. Our bill came in just shy of £200 for six people and we most definitely over ordered. There's whispers that this winning concept is going to be rolled out as a chain - watch this space!

7 Boundary Street
E2 7JE
020 7420 9324

12 Upper Street
Martin's Lane
020 7420 9320

That's your lot and the end of another week - January has flown by hasn't it? It will be Christmas again before we know it and we'll all be another year older and wiser - slightly depressing...!

Happy weekend all - The Mice x