30 November 2009

Working with a Little Tech Help

Yank Sing, San Francisco

A suited manager straightened chopsticks at a place setting while uniformed servers pushed dim sum carts and tidy runners delivered special orders on trays. It was like witnessing a choreographed dance. Each Yank Sing staff was equipped with an earpiece and radio to expedite orders to diners' tables. This was clearly not my grandmother's dim sum house.

A cart rolled up to my table which didn't have what I wanted. Instantly, the server spoke into her cuff and three minutes later, my pork buns arrived by tray. Steaming. She was like a security detail for dim sum.

Another server approached my table:
"This is our signature dish: pork soup dumplings."
"Thank you. I'll take one."
"Thank you. Enjoy."

Fluent in English, the Chinese staff were quick, friendly and happy to deliver whatever was on the tip of my palate. They all worked together. A united front. Selling with a smile. As new tables of guests were seated, carts of fresh dim sum and servers with special dishes surrounded the tables like bees to honey, moths to a flame. It was a glutton's fantasy. Nowadays, it is rare to find dim sum houses with push carts, even in Hong Kong.

There were a couple of dishes that I hadn't seen on a dim sum cart before this time: Chicken Lettuce Wrap and Peking Duck, both served and charged per serving. This was very convenient because typically the lettuce wrap is served for at least four and the duck is served whole. Yank Sing also offers a dim sum box to-go. Nice touch.

So with a little modern expediency and a team working tightly together, selling good product can be easy and enjoyable for all. The only regret I have is that I should have gone with someone other than myself.

Yank Sing I www.yanksing.com

22 November 2009


Apple Store Ginza, Tokyo

"Regarding your MacBook Air data transfer and hard drive replacement,
we were unable to save one song from your iTunes library.
We hope that this will be OK for you."
(Genius Bar)

11 November 2009

A Thousand Words

Chanel Boutique, Soho, New York

A print advertising window next to the store entrance,
with a spritz of condensation

10 November 2009


Anderson Bakery, San Francisco

"I have been craving for these (thick-cut, sliced bread) for so long. You have no idea!"
"Oh really? Why?......Are you pms-ing?"
"Uh..no..I usually crave something else when that happens."
"Oh, not me. I crave bread, always bread."

09 November 2009

Heart Care

The recently opened Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center was a sight for sore eyes and a calm for anxious nerves. It couldn't have been a more dignified experience for me as a family member of a patient's recent visit.

The marble-strewn entrance was like that of New York's Four Seasons hotel (I later confirmed that they share the same architecture firm). Behind the reception were two concierge-like staff dressed in smart, black suits. Energetic, polite and assertive (this was a hospital after all), they received me and my patient with warmth. For a moment, I thought we were checking in for a weekend getaway but the name tag being attached to my patient's wrist was a sure sign that we in fact were not. It was, thankfully, attached with a smile. We were then escorted together to the recovery room so that I'd be familiar with the day's procedure.

Upon my return to the five-story atrium waiting area, I was given a pager in case I would leave the area. With carefully appointed trees and bamboo planters, wireless internet access and an education resource center, why would I leave this place? A welcome bag/survival kit for me included a crossword puzzle book, a CD of relaxing music ("for the patient"), hand sanitizer and lip gloss. A food concession offered healthy snacks so I didn't need to trek to the main, subterranean cafeteria of the hospital. This department clearly takes bringing comfort and quietude seriously to those of us waiting and hoping for positive medical results and news.

I was updated regularly about my patient's status:
"She getting ready to go into the surgery room."
"She's doing fine and is heading to the recovery room."
"Please follow me. The surgeon would like to speak with you now."

There couldn't have been more hand-holding than what I was given.

The Heart Institute successfully merges generous personal attention, cardiac education and thoughtfully appointed surroundings. It was seamless. Sometimes, we need to be taken care of just as much as our patients do. All it takes is just a little heart.


04 November 2009

A Thousand Words

Parking sign, Treviso, Italy

One is required to pay for parking on weekdays, from 8:00 - 13:00 and 15:00 - 20:00
There is no need to pay if parked between 13:00 - 15:00
(There is no attendant during these hours)

The Passion for Perfection

There are few Michelin-starred restaurants in France whose cuisine is that of traditional of French cooking. There are even fewer whose chef personally markets in the mornings, runs a kitchen staff of Asian sou-chefs and overseas a dining room run by a three-man show.

In the small town of La Turbie, wedged between Eze and Monte Carlo on the French Riviera, Hostellerie Jerome welcomes seasoned and adventurous diners into a world of subtle charm and high cuisine. The restaurant is part of a hotel, both of which are housed in a former convent. Wood panels remain and are balanced with crisp white linens and water color paintings of flowers and fruits on the vaulted ceilings and menus.

A trio of French waitstaff wear multiple hats, from host to translator and sommelier as well as server and clearer all evening long with a smile. What I noticed immediately was our server's enthusiasm for being there, entertaining us while taking care of us. It was intoxicating. He spoke of Chef Cirino's dedication: early to rise, last to rest. That he had a manic passion in the way he lived and worked. I could see that our waiter's admiration was filled with inspiration. Before I could jokingly ask, "so, what don't you like about Chef?" we heard shouting coming through the kitchen door. It was the chef.

Roughly translated into a PG version, and with laughter throughout the dining room, the chef was angry that the sauce was taking too long. Only in France! And that was for us, the patrons! This was the moment where the chef's passion met madness. I would take it any day for the exquisitely prepared and decadent dinner we indulged in.

Upon leaving the restaurant, I looked into the kitchen through a small glass window. The chef was a vision. A conductor, face and body taught with precision, leading his orchestra through a furious symphony. It was clear that the passion from the top engages and draws each of us in and why shouldn't it? We should so lucky to be inspired everyday.

Hostellerie Jerome, 20 rue Comte de Cessole, 06320 La Turbie, France; +33 4 92 41 51 51