Category Archives: Food & Restaurants

2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a big success… or was it Gung HAPA Fat Choy?


We celebrated the 14th Annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner on January 30th, 2011.
Our 2011 theme featured so many performers of Asian-Celtic-Gaelic heritage that we could have called it
Gung HAPA Fat Choy!

Co-hosts were actor Patrick Gallagher (Glee, Men of a Certain Age, Night at the Museum), Jenna Choy (CBC Radio), writer/comedian Tetsuro Shigematsu, and creator of the event Todd Wong aka “Toddish McWong”Featured performers were: Jocelyn Pettit and her band – Siew & Joel Pettit + Bob Collins
Joe McDonald on pipes, accordion, Address to the Haggis, and Highland Fling.
Jay MacDonald, performing Loch Lomand and “Ring of Burns”
Jaime Foster singing Ae Fond Kiss
Vancouver Poet Laureate: Brad Cran
Dr. Leith Davis: Immortal Memory
Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums: led by Pipe Major Bob Wilkins with: Allan McMordie, Trish McMoride, Brenda McNair, Don Scobie, Danny Graham, drummers were: Casandra Lihn, Bill Burr and Tracey Morris

All photos below from our official photographer Lydia Nagai.

Creator and co-host Todd Wong aka Toddish McWong with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, try out the haggis won ton with chop sticks. – photo Lydia Nagai
Fiddler Jocelyn Pettit with her French-Celtic-Canadian father and the Chinese-Canadian mother – the Jocelyn Pettit Band! – photo Lydia Nagai

CNN reporter Percy Von Lipinski and his cameraman film Jocelyn Pettit as she performs! – photo Lydia Nagai

Actor Patrick Gallagher was our co-host, while our Bearded Scottish Lady roamed, and all posed for a picture with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and host and Gung Haggis creator Todd Wong – photo Lydia Nagai


Co-hosts 3 =  2 1/2 Asians…. Todd Wong, writer/comedian Tetsuro Shigematsu and Jenna Chow (CBC Radio). – photo Lydia Nagai


Todd Wong and Jenna Chow read the poem “Recipe For Tea”, written by Jim Wong-Chu, which describes how tea first traveled from China to the UK, via Scottish traders. – photo Lydia Nagai

Floata manager Antonio Hung carries the haggis during the Piping of the Haggis – photo Lydia Nagai

Dr. Leith Davis, director of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University, cuts the haggis, as she read the 3rd verse of Robert Burns immortal poem “Address To A Haggis” as CNN reporter Percy Von Lipinski, films Leith close up. – photo Lydia Nagai


Film maker Jeff Chiba Stearns explains the meaning of “Hapa” as a word to describe people of Mixed ancestry with Asian heritage.  His film “One Big Hapa Family” was featured at the 2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.  Co-host Patrick Gallagher, of Irish and Chinese Ancestry, looks on. – photo Lydia Nagai

The Head Table with MLA Shane Simpson, co-host Jenna Chow and friend Mattias, Meeka, Bahareh (partner of co-host Tetsuro Shigematsu),  co-host and founder Todd Wong, Jeff Chiba Stearns and partner Jen Kato. – photo Lydia Nagai

Musician Joe McDonald, sans bagpipes, flute or accordion – dances a jig, with bagpiper Don Scobie. – photo Lydia Nagai


Dr. Leith Davis, gives the Immortal Memory – talking about the “Life of Robbie Burns” and the connections of Todd Wong – photo Lydia Nagai


Trish & Allan McMordie, with guitarists Jay MacDonald and Bob Collins, join in the singing of “I Went to a Robbie Burns Dinner” – Burns lyrics set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s famous song – “Ring of Fire” – photo Lydia Nagai

During the singing of Auld Lang Syne, people joined hands to sing…. as the Chinese Dragon weaved through the crowd. – photo Lydia Nagai


Members of the audience joined performers on stage to sing Auld Lang Syne for the closing song.
(l-r Siew Pettit, Jocelyn Pettit, Todd Wong, Trish McMordie, Allan McMordie + 3 members of the audience) – photo Lydia Nagai

After the singing was over, a posed picture of kilts and legs, was taken!
(l-r: bearded Scots Lady, Bruce Clark, Todd Wong, Adam Todd, Don Harder and Allan McMordie – photo Lydia Nagai

50 pounds of Haggis – from the butcher to Chinatown

Where do you get your haggis from?


I have bought my haggis from Peter Black & Sons, at Park Royal in West Vancouver since 2000, with the exception of 2001, which I regretted. So every year in early January, I phone up Peter Black & Sons to put in my order – or they phone me to confirm. Or as was the case this year, they made up my usual order, then told me it was ready.  They are great people.

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Wild haggis “sleeping” in the cage.

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Peter Black looks over the big box of 60 small one pounders of haggis.

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40 wee haggi (plural) + 1 big 3 pounder, and a 2 pounder.

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How to cook a haggis. – Click on the picture.

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Frozen raw haggis, without the casing.  We take a bucket of haggis to the restaurant, and they use it to make the haggis won ton and the haggis pork dumplings.

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Deep-fried haggis won ton!  yum yum….  Now the finished product looks inviting… next step: dip them in sweet sauce!

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Haggis pork dumpling (Su-mei), with turnip cake (lo-bak-goh) and spicy jelly fish.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner in Nanaimo with Shelagh Rogers

What happens when you combine
Scottish, Chinese & First Nations
BC heritage together?
Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner!

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Shelagh Rogers has impecable timing.  Here CBC Radio flagship show moved to Vancouver in 2004 and asked if I could present a gift for Shelagh.  I created haggis won ton to represent the youngest generations of my family who are of mixed race heritage.  In 2005, Shelagh came to co-host Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.  

Recently, Shelagh has been hosting Reconciliation pot luck dinners between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.  We hosted a fireside chat at Kogawa House with members of the Japanese, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community.  In a conversation, we came up with the idea that could include the three pioneer cultures of First Nations, Scottish and Chinese.  I called it Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner.  Shelagh loved it.

On January 23, 2011 – It became a reality at Iron Wok Restaurant in Victoria.

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Here is a new twist on our famed haggis & shrimp won ton appetizer dish.  It is served with a special sweet sauce flavored with orange.

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This appetizer plate of BBQ pork and jelly fish, included spoons filled with smoked salmon marinated with citrus flavors.

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Lynette shared her Lebanese-Celtic-Canadian heritage by doing a celtic sword dance after a performance of belly dancing, with the sword balanced on her head.  She is wearing a vest featuring the Maple Leaf tartan.

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We called this dish Gung Pow Wow chicken – very tender!

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Here I am making up my haggis lettuce wrap.

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Wild sockeye salmon seared with hot oil, ginger, green onions and soy sauce – yummy!

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Neeps and tatties and sliced beef in a classic Cantonese dish

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Mongolian gold coin beef

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The Jim family shares an offering of thanks for the food and friendship.

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Bagpiper Allan McMordie and my 95 year old Grand-Auntie Helen, who lived in Nanaimo as a child with her grandparents Rev. and Mrs. Chan Yu Tan.  Rev. Chan ministered at the Chinese United Church in Nanaimo, as well as Victoria, Vancouver and New Westminster.  In Nanaimo, he also looked after the miners in Cumberland.

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The Shelagh Rogers dessert – a fusion of Scottish, Chinese and First Nations flavors.  Blueberry sauce on sliced mango and bannock, served with mango and green tea ice cream.

See more pictures in my Flickr set:

Nanaimo Gung Haggis Pow Wow Dinner

Nanaimo Gung Haggis Pow Wow…

2011 Menu revealed for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

Steamed Wild Sockeye Salmon – new feature for 2011 Menu + new style of haggis won ton

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Bagpipers Trish and Allan McMordie are hungry for wild sockeye salmon – photo T.Wong

It was January 26th, the day after Robbie Burns Day.  We had our taste-test dinner music rehearsal tonight… and are very happy!
Good music and good food – what could be better?  This is a great way for us to ensure that both food quality and music quality is a high standard. 

There are always changes for the dinner menu for the Gung Haggis Fat
Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  We try to vary the dinner
items from year to year, add some new surprises, take out items we are
bored with.  !  We have added a new dish – steamed wild sockeye salmon. We have brought back long life E-Fu Noodles and we have created a new look to the Haggis & Shrimp deep-fried won ton.

Vegetarian dishes?  Lots of them… We alternate vegetarian and meat dishes. My mother complains if there aren't enough vegetarian dishes.  Good thing she also eats fish!  If you are looking for beef…. It's in the haggis.

1. Floata Appetizer Platter

a. Haggis Pork dumpling (Shiu Mai)
b. Turnip cake (Lo-bak-goh) Vegetarian
c. Honey BBQ Pork
d. Jelly Fish

2. Deep fried haggis & shrimp won ton – NEW LOOK
3. Vegetarian Winter Melon Soup
4. Traditional Haggis – Beef
5. Diced Vegetable with Lettuce Wrap
6. Steamed Wild Sockeye Salmon with ginger, soy sauce, and seared with hot oil.  NEW
7. Budda Feast with Deep Fried Tofu
8. Deep Fried Crispy Chicken
9. Long Life E-Fu Noodles with Mushroom Sauce  NEW
10. Dessert: Mango & Coconut Pudding

10-course traditional Chinese Dinner featuring:

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Cold platter (Fusion of Chinese and Scottish Appetizers – Won Ton;
Haggis Siu Mai; and Jelly fish – Vegetarian spring rolls or BBQ pork).

Haggis stuffed shu-mei pork dumplings – Dim
Sum means “pieces of the heart” or “pieces that touch the heart.” 
Absolutely delicious morsels of delicacy and succulence… and we stuff
them with haggis!  It's either very good or very “offal.”  But people
are always so hungry they eat it up without realizing they are having
Neeps and tatties
are a tradition serving at Burns dinners, so we like to have pan-fried
turnip cakes – a staple at dim sum lunches… just like my great-grandma
used to make.
Honey BBQ Pork – what more can you say? 
Jelly fish –  a strange Chinese delicacy… rubbery… weird… textury… the perfect
compliment to haggis.  Photographers can try stuffing their haggis with
jelly fish, for a memorable portrait.

This year, the appetizer
platter will be served promptly at 6pm.  So we encourage every body to
arrive between 5 and 5:45pm, so they can order their drinks from the
bar, and browse the raffle prizes, and sign up for their free subscription to Ricepaper Magazine.

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2) Deep-fried Haggis & Shrimp Won Ton – New Look!
We are combining haggis and shrimp in this dish.  When I created the
first deep-fried haggis won-ton in 2003, it was a gift to welcome CBC
radio host Shelagh Rogers and her Sounds Like Canada crew to Vancouver.
My gift was the creation of deep-fried haggis won ton which symbolized the new generations growing up with mixed cultures.  Last weekend in Nanaimo, we again combined with Sh
elagh Rogers and created the inaugural Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner for a private party that also celebrated her birthday, as we combined Scottish, Chinese and First Nations history and culture. This NEW LOOK haggis won ton is modeled after that dinner.

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3)   Vegetarian Hot & Sour soup or maybe Winter Melon soup.
At the very first legendary
private Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner for 16 friends, I cooked up a
Winter Melon soup with lemon grass.  It was wonderful! 
It's a good
hearty soup full of vegetables that I think Rabbie would enjoy.  Very
appropriate for Chinese New Year.
Fin soup is a traditional soup for wedding banquets, and was one of my favorite soups as a
youth, but due to its environmental impact of
Shark fishing – it is not an option now. I now support the movement to ban
Shark Fin soup!  

4)   Haggis ( piped in with Scottish bagpipes) Chinese Lettuce wrap with diced vegetables
are moving up the Haggis offering this year.  In past years, it was
menu item #6 or #7.  The piping in of the haggis is always an important
ceremony at any Burns Dinner.  But too much bagpiping can turn a lot
of heads in a Chinese restaurant.  It is also very important to read
the Burns poem “Address to a Haggis”
prior to the serving of haggis.  So please…. do NOT cut into your
haggis, until after we have finished reading the poem.  Oh – by the
way… We don't usually do the usual traditional reading of the

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5) Chinese Lettuce wrap with diced vegetables
y ways can you serve haggis?  Take a spoonful of haggis, spread some
Chinese plum sauce on it, add some crunchy noodles and diced vegetables
with water chestnuts, and wrap it up in a delicate piece of lettuce.
Magnificient!  Imagine if Marco Polo should have brought back lettuce
wrap to Italy instead of noodles?  Or if you are vegetarian – leave out
the haggis.

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6)  Steamed Wild Sockeye Salmon.  This is what I cooked at the very first
Gung Haggis dinner back in 1998, but have never served at the dinners following for some reason  Past seafood dishes have been ginger crab, crab & lobster, pan fried spicy prawns, .  After paddling down the Fraser River
for the “Paddle for Wild Salmon

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7)   Buddha feast with deep-fried tofu
an important traditional New Year dish – with lots of
vegetables that are good for you such as lotus root, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and mushrooms.  All the good things that every vegetarian
loves.  The
Chinese calendar is based on the 12 animals that came when
Buddha called.  The first animal to see Buddha was the Rat, I was born
in the
Year of the Rat.
  Next came the Ox, Tiger, then the Rabbit.

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8)   Crispy skinned chicken with shrimp chips
Another dish that was a childhood favorite.  Healthier than KFC.  And the shrimp chips were always my favorites as a child. 

9)   E-Fu noodles with Mushroom sauce
noodles signify long life – a very important part of traditional Chinese
New Year greetings.  I really like the E-Fu noodles.  They are lighter
than regular Chow Mein noodles – very heavenly.  Another traditional
belief is that the Kitchen God goes to heaven, to report on the family. 
Maybe this is why the e-fu noodles are so special! 
is the dish you eat to fill yourself up, if you are still hungry.  We
had E-Fu long life noodles in 2008, but a lot of the Scottish people
thought that these traditional delicate noodles were too plain.  There
wasn't a strong sauce on them, and they weren't like chow mein
noodles… because they were E-Fu noodles!  Maybe it's an acquired
taste (like haggis).

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10)  Mango & Coconut pudding
Last year we alternated mango and coconut pudding at alternated tables. 
It's always a tradition to have
something sweet after the meal. 
The contrasting tastes of each, heightens the taste of the other.  So now to get both the sweet and subtle flavors, in typical Gung Haggis tradition, we have combined both flavors in one pudding… kind of like a mango-coconut swirl.  We thought about having Scottish blood
pudding… but the moment passed….

Hogan's Alley Cafe: Best Coffee Shop to have a Christmas Eve snack at

Hogan's Alley Cafe coffee shop acknowledges Vancouver's Black History

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Hogan's Alley Cafe is a new coffee shop on the edge of Chinatown.  It's along the historic “Hogan's Alley” area  at the corner of Union and Gore, just at the East end of the block, down from the Jimi Hendrix Shrine @ Main & Union, off the lane.

I asked owner Jennifer Halley why she re-named the former Bean Around the World, as Hogan's Alley.  Her answer simply was to reflect the historical nature of Vancouver's heritage.  Eventually, she would like to add more artwork and artifacts to acknowledge the lost chapter of  Vancouver's only Black neighborhood, which was torn down to create the Georgia Viaduct connector to Prior St.

We chatted about the area, and asked if she knew about Black History Month in February.  Jennifer said that some of the organizers had just been in that morning and were looking to set something up in the new year, as one of them is Terry Hunter, creator of the Heart of the City Festival with his partner Savannah Walling.  I shared with Jennifer, that I had been featured in the recent Heart of the City Festival, when I moderated a showing of the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy.  My great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan, had ministered at the old Chinese United Church, which used to stand at the Northeast corner of Pender and Dunlevy St., before it was torn down in the 70's to make way for condominiums.  My grandmother and her siblings, as well as my parents all went to Strathcona Elementary School.  The houses they lived in still stand on Pender and Princess Streets.

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Food!  I asked Jennifer for the house specialties.  She made me an Americano coffee and served me up one of the pan-pressed eggwich with feta cheese and spinach.  Delicious!  But the favorite at the cafe is the eggwich with bacon!  Already sold out  🙁

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Jennifer takes a pose on top of the coffee maker, after she climbed onto the top of the counter.  And yes… she is 7 months pregnant.

It was a wonderful visit a a new-to-me coffee shop, and a great meeting with Jennifer and her husband Mike!

Check out the Hogan's Alley Memorial Project Blog

More later…  Merry Christmas.

Ricepaper Magazine 15th Anniversary + ACWW Community Builder Awards

ACWW Community Builder Awards
to Evelyn Lau and Tradewind Books
at the 15th Anniversary Ricepaper Dinner

December 11th
Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant
Vancouver Chinatow

It was a successful evening, when somebody tells you that they can hear people laughing from down the hall.  Co-hosts Tetsuro Shigematsu and Todd Wong had the audience laughing and feeling they were all part of the Ricepaper community.   From their opening welcomes, they acknowledged all the writers in the room: Sean Gunn, Faye Leung, Charlie Cho, Lee Su-Feh, Larry Wong, Jim Wong-Chu, Evelyn Lau, Jenny Uechi, Bob Sung, Gail Yip, Ken Yip.  They introduced the Ricepaper editors, Eury Chang and Patricia Lim + Ricepaper volunteers, ACWW Board members, Allan Cho, Ray Hsu, Tetsuro and Todd, as well as the members of the Friend's of Foo's Ho Ho Committee that had helped to organize the event with ACWW, and Ricepaper.

Tetsuro worked the crowd talking about the role that Ricepaper Magazine plays, while Todd playfully held up a cover of Ricepaper Magazine with Tetsuro's picture on it – “The Icon Issue”. Todd gave a very quick history of Ricepaper Magazine from it's humble beginnings as a newletter, acknowledging some of it's founders in the room, Jim Wong-Chu, Sean Gunn and Sid Tan, opening up the 15th Anniversary issue, to the Ricepaper origins stories Jim and Sean had written.  Todd also pointed out the people that had been profiled in Ricepaper such as writers Wayson Choy, Joy Kogawa, Denise Chong, environmentalist David Suzuki, dancer/choreographer Andrea Nann, and many others.

Good old Cantonese Pioneer “Soul Food”, is how attendee Bob Sun described the menu.  It was very fitting considering the pioneer history roots from which many of the ACWW and Ricepaper organizers have.  Soup was followed by an appetizer plate of garlic ribs, pan-fried squid and deep-fried chicken wings. Pan-fried sticky rice chicken is a Foo's Ho Ho specialty.  Mushrooms and Bok Choy, followed the black bean vegetables. Pan-fried prawns were followed by black bean fish, and more dishes.  It was good eating all around. 

During the dinner courses, volunteers sold raffle tickets, people socialized, and also checked out the many prizes such as theatre tickets to Red Letters and Rising Phoenix, bottles of wine,  + more.

2010_December_Ricepaper_Dinner 008 Co-host Todd Wong – photo Deb Martin

Tradewind books by Paul Yee, were a very successful live auction item.  Todd successfully conducted the live auction taking bids from both sides of the room with Tetsuro's help.  The book set contained “The Bone Collector's Son” which is the only children's book to be nominated for the Vancouver Book Prize. Also included were The Jade Necklace, What Happened This Summer, Shu-Li and Tamara, Shu-Li and Diego and also Bamboo – which was a nominee for BC Book Prizes Childrens' Literature Award. Lively bidding went between many different bidders… finally going to Vancouver City Councilor Raymond Louie.

What an introduction to Tradewind Books!  Todd next gave a brief history about the ACWW Community Builder Award, citing the first recipients were Paul Yee, Wayson Choy and Roy Mah in 2002.  In 2003, awards went to Roy Miki, Fred Wah, Harvey Lowe, and The Japanese Bulletin Magazine. In 2005, recipients were Joy Kogawa, Scott McIntyre publisher of Douglas MacIntyre and Gim Wong.  And earlier in May 2010, ACWW had acknowledged Edmonton writer/playwright
Marty Chan as a ACWW Community Builder, while he was in Vancouver for
the book launch of Henry Chow and Other Stories.

And with that, Carol Frank was invited up to the stage to receive a certificate for the ACWW Community Builder Award.  Carol gave thanks for the award and talked about working with ACWW and Ricepaper on the “Henry Chow and Other Stories” anthology which also included stories by Paul Yee and Evelyn Lau.  She talked about the important role that cultural diversity makes in the books published by Tradewind Books, and acknowledged how grateful she was to Ricepaper Magazine was in helping them find writers for Henry Chow project.  It was an earnest and sincere thanks that closed with her hope and promise to work with Ricepaper more in the future

Evelyn Lau was acknowledged for her trail blazing contributions to the community and significant body of work.  Tetsuro talked about how her works are studied in classes, as well as inspiring to writers.  Todd mentioned how as a young teenager she had first met with Jim Wong-Chu to submit her work to Jim's anthology “Many Mouthed Birds” and how she had only two weeks ago, received the City of Vancouver Mayor's Arts Award prize for Literary Arts.
2010_December_Ricepaper_Dinner 011 Evelyn Lau gives thanks for the Community Builder Award and shares stories of being a writer – photo Deb Martin

Evelyn shared with the audience how strange it is to be considered a community builder when as a writer she spends much of her time alone writing and thinking, but it was so gratifying that her work was able to touch so many.  She specifically thanked Jim Wong-Chu and Marlene Enns for sharing time and meals with her when she was a wayward youth.  It was a very heart-warming acknowledgement.   She next went on to read two poems: A Grain of Rice from the 15th Anniversary edition of Ricepaper; and a poem about Sidney Crosby's goal that won the Olympic Gold Medal.  Evelyn joked about how her poems are mostly dark, and she wanted to read something happier for the occasion.

It was a wonderful evening, as lots of fun was made when Tetsuro led the raffle draw prizes.  More than 25 prizes were shared amongst the ticket buyers.  The room became smaller and friendlier as all the winners were introduced to the audience, and many of the prize donors were acknowledge.  It was a great end for a small organization and small magazine to acknowledge its community, and its community builders.

Night in December

Many people who struggle to get a good night’s sleep might be surprised to find out how much of an impact their environment has in getting some quality shut-eye. People who live in St. Louis, MO may have a hard time falling asleep during the hot summer season. Good thing there are a number of ways residents can create the perfect conditions for having a refreshing amount of rest in their own homes.

All it takes is making a few adjustments to your heating and air conditioning system. Simple tweaks can increase your likelihood of falling asleep quickly and gaining good-quality rest at the same time. Try some of these HVAC tips for a better sleep. If you encounter any kind of failures cease use immediately and get professional assistance from HVAC techs in Hawaii.

Achieving the Ideal Temperature

besttemperatureAs your body gets ready for its sleep cycle, it tends to cool down naturally to help you feel more relaxed. It’s possible to aid in this process by reducing the temperature in your bedroom.

Studies show the best temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67 degrees. Program your thermostat to begin cooling down shortly before your bedtime. By the time you’re in bed conditions should be perfect.

If you do this during winter, you may be able to save on heating costs. Summertime is a different story, and you may want to resort to using fans. Homeowners with zone-control air conditioning can just cool their own bedrooms.

Keep an Eye on Humidity

HumidityHumidity levels can also impact sleep. High levels can make the air feel stuffy and difficult to breathe. It also has a tendency to attract insects and promote mold growth in your home.

Low levels, on the other hand, can cause your throat and sinuses to feel dry and scratchy. Ideally, you will want between 40-50% humidity.

You can test the level using a hygrometer; an inexpensive device. Then use a dehumidifier or humidifier to adjust the humidity to your liking.

Make Use of Fans

FanSometimes fans are a better cooling option than air conditioners for sleeping. They consume a fraction of the energy while still being able to produce a draft that can cool down your skin and keep temperatures within the desired range.

It also circulates the air in a room, which can make it feel fresh and easy to breathe. Fans also come with a bonus feature. The noise they produce can be calming and help induce sleep while drowning out other noises that might wake you up. The perfect sleep accompaniment.

With a few simple tweaks, you can take advantage of your home’s HVAC system to both save money and get a refreshing night’s sleep. Just learn to program your thermostat and monitor humidity levels. Fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep by using fans to cool down your body. Get more quality sleep.

Accordion Flamenco – Todd Wong sits in with guitarist Rod Malkin and dancer Elin

Flamenco accordion player named “El Toddo Don Wong”

love flamenco music.  My usual claim to flamenco fame, is that I have twice had dinner with flamenco guitarist legend Paco Pena.

But on Thursday night at the La Zuppa restaurant in North Vancouver, I sat in with guitarist Rod Malkin and dancer Elen Ghulam.  I was walking by the restaurant on Lonsdale Avenue and decided to have a listen.  The music was lovely, the space was intimate and friendly.  I spoke with the restaurant operators Juan Carlos and Vicky. We talked about the restaurant and flamenco music. They introduced me to Rod and Elen, and told them I play accordion.

Rod invited me to sit in with them. I had never played with a flamenco guitarist before.  But they were keen that I had shared my knowledge about attending Paco Pena's Misa Flamenco concert in Vancouver, and that I knew of Al Mozaico Flamenco's productions of “Cafe de Chinatas”.  It was a big stretch for me to improvise
freely, and I gained confidence to add flourishes. It was good enough
that the dancer took to the platform. A wonderful experience musically

It was a big challenge… I have been playing with a Celtic Ceilidh
group since Christmas… and learning to play accompaniment and fills. I
still go into shock and panic when somebody says “Accordion Solo” – but
playing with Robert last night was very cool – lots of listening to
each other, and just taking it slow… working in some flourishes. And
they kept me playing with them! 🙂

While at the restaurant, I discovered postcards for Mozaico Flamenco – the company founded and directed by Oscar Nieto and Kasandra La China in 2002.  I reviewed their show “Cafe De Chinatas” in 2006 at the Norman Rothstein Theatre and in 2006 at Edie's Hats on Granville Island.  I am thrilled that “Mozaico Flamenco” is going to be perform again
in November at the Scotiabank Dance Centre.

Look what I just discovered!
Flamenco Guitar with Accordion and performed in Edinburgh, Scotland

Chinatown Canada tv documentary on OMNI tonight at 8pm

Watch the Chinatown Canada documentary on OMNI TV tonight

Saturday, Aug 21 at 8pm PST on Omni News (BC)

Todd Wong is interviewed about Vancouver Chinatown and see the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team in action at '09 Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.

The footage was shot last June, when Kerry Beattie contacted me.  I recommended a number of people for them to talk to including Andrew Wong of Wild Rice Restaurant (Andrew's grandfather used to own the Lotus Hotel, where my grandfather Sonny Wong ran the Lotus Cafe Restaurant), and Shirley Chan and many others.

check link for other provinces

Silver Medal @ 3rd Banff Dragon Boat Races

Silver medal @ 3rd Annual Banff Dragon Boat Races, Aug 14/15, 2010.  Banff is named after Banffshire in Scotland, so I wore my new Macleod tartan.

It's been a busy week…..

Thursday I attended my Uncle Victor's funeral
Then… my girlfriend Deb and I drove to Vernon to stay at her parent's home in Vernon, enroute to attend the 3rd annual Banff Dragon Boat Festival.

On Friday morning, we went for a short kayak/canoe paddle, as 4 of our dragon boat team members had joined us at Kalamalka Lake.  We paddled just around Rattlensnake Point, for a good stretch of our paddling muscles.  Then after lunch we headed on the road to Banff.  It was longer than we expected.  I made the mistake of googling for road distance and calculated travel times – that did not take into account winding roads nor road construction.

When we reached Revelstoke, we all agreed not to take the scenic circle route of going to Radium Hot Springs, but instead to proceed straight to Banff.  Along the way, we had a brief stop in Golden BC, and a short visit to Lake Louise.

Upon arrival to Banff, we checked into our motel where the team was staying then headed to the Banff Brewing Company for a bite to eat and some socializing time with team members.

Saturday morning, we climbed on board the buses that took us to Lake Minewaka, where the 3rd annual Banff Dragon Boat Festival was being held.  Our first 200m race was a doozy.  The Dynasty style dragon boats are tippy enough with a round hull as opposed to the traditional double hull dragon boats – but we really did not need the Lane 4 boat Bear Scare going off course and forcing Lane 3 into our lane, and continuing to cut across the lanes until they finished off course, as lane 1 collided into us too.  A time penalty was accessed to Bear Scare team.  We finished off our Saturday racing with a 500m that saw us place 2nd.

Saturday night we went to a social at The Paddock bar, organized for all the dragon boat teams.  Then we went to the Legendary Wild Bill's restaurant where many of our team member's orders got terribly mixed up.  Steaks ordered as rare came out as well-done, and the prime rib that my girlfriend ordered came out as rare.  We did send it back to be returned as well-done minus the vegetables.  We can't recommend the service, but the restaurant was very interesting with cowboy decor, and a fun dance floor that saw a few of our team members joining in for some line dancing.  We did not stay for the KISS tribute band.

On Sunday, we came second in our semi-final heat that placed us into the C Final.  Then we relaxed and took lots of photos at the gorgeous Lake Minewaka site.  I was interviewed for a Banff Tourism video, as the film crew Matt and Jeff asked me questions about why I was in Banff, and what I enjoyed about my visit.  I enthusiastically told them I was in Banff for the dragon boat races, and the water was soooo much cleaner than in Vancouver, and it was great to see all the abundance of wildlife in Banff.

I also told them that I was wearing my kilt, because: 1) Banff was named after Banffshire in Scotland as the town's founders were from Scotland; and 2) the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team celebrates BC's founding pioneering cultures of Scottish and Chinese.

We raced in the C Final Division on Sunday afternoon.  It was a very tight race.  We were behind on the starts but caught up to the leading teams at the half-way mark.  We closely raced to the finish line against our ealier nemesis Bear Scare and an Edmonton team named Rice is Right.  We appeared to pull ahead and challenge Bear Scare for the finish.  All our paddlers dug in deep and reached out for front water, as our drummer Keng called for Power Series.  We called an early finish, and our team paddled harder, knowing we had good cardio training as our team core had been paddling since March – long before Calgary teams could get on the water before the ice melted on the Bow River.  Lanes 1, 2, and 3 all crossed the finish line, practically together.  Further behind in Lane 4, was the Red-Eyed Dragons, which were led by our team captain's cousin. (Talk about family rivalries!)


Spirit of Vancouver GHFC dragon boat team with a strong core of Gung Haggis paddlers, Gung Haggis alumni paddlers, 2 brand new first timers, + Richard's cousin from Calgary.

1/10th of a second was all that separated us between 2nd and 1st place.  Rice is Right came 3rd. We came in second place , as Bear Scare came 1/10th of a second faster than us.

Oh well…. medals for us!!!  We were happy!