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March 31, 2006

April menu

I decided from this month on, my main vegetable entree will just be "Ask us about our seasonal vegetables". It's because when I go to the market, it kills me when I see something beautiful and can't quite put in for that night to use because it's not on the menu. Or when I put something on the menu because I saw it so nice and pretty at the market when I was creating my menu, but they didn't have that anymore in 2 weeks. Therefore this way I can ensure I can always offer the freshest and available produce! So be sure to "Ask us about our seasonal vegetables"!


Having this restaurant is really the best thing happened to me so far, everyday you experience all kinds of things and meet all kinds of people.

Honesty is the #1 thing to me. Doesn't matter if it's business, friendships or personal matters. I forgive very easily, but you got to be honest! Many years ago, I was betrayed by a very dear friend of mine. I got many warnings from other friends, but I'm the kind of person who "believe", and have too much faith in people. Not only I found out the truth, but also got blamed for her actions. It was very heart broken. I broke up that friendship right away. At the time, it felt more heart broken than breaking up a relationship.

A few months ago, this friend walked in to the restaurant! We were both in shock! I always try to greet my customers whenever I have a chance. I greeted many that night, sat with some friends for a bit...what should I do? It took me quite a while before I could go over and said "hi". We exchanged some informations, updated each other a bit... Then I found that I was only caught in surprised, and didn't feel much of what had happened anymore. It was in the past after all and sure time has taken care of it somewhat. I hope she's doing and living well!

Until this very recent weeks, I found that I lost my trust, faith and love again to someone I totally believed in. I was given all these hopes but were all taken away in one day. It's was like you were the princess living in this castle, but when you woke up the next day, you found yourself on the street being homeless and didn't know what or how did that happened? I was traumatised. It's so painful that I was completely torn apart, and I think my body gave up because of that. What would you do when someone violated your trust? To think about it, the last time I felt sad was when I lost my lease to a location that I was looking into, again because of my good faith...oh well, inexperience too in dealing with business.

I remember my father once told me, "You're in this country for too long already. You won't be able to do business in Asia, people would eat you alive." Simply because I have too much trust and faith in people. It's true, if you gave me an apple, I would return a dozen. However that's "me", and I believe that's what made me special and that's why I have these many dear friends!

I love to laugh, and can just laugh and be silly for no reason. I can also be happy and be pleased very easily and was very content. However not able to laugh or smile kills me! When things like this happened, it's really not easy! How do you pick yourself up and perform? How long would it take, and how could you regain your trust and faith again? Jean said, "Think about it this way, it's really good that you have your restaurant! Imagine you're still with your last job, you would be dragging yourself just to get out of bed." It's true, as soon as my body felt better, I have to go in right away! It's my business and I can't let my staff down!? Forcing myself out of the house and smile at my customers helped. Then meeting some new customers who truly appreciate Restaurant Furenzu definitely keeps me going.

Josephine almost talked me into getting a dog! "You're too nurturing and have too much love right now you have to channel it to something which would for sure give it back to you unconditionally." That's why I love dogs, but since Juppa past right before the restaurant opened; my schedule wouldn't allow me to have another dog. It wouldn't be fair to it, but it sure was tempting and I have found myself looking into dogs' ads lately. This is the time I sure miss Juppa, my loyal pal, who shared so many of my joys and cries over the last 11 years.

Well for now, Lourdes, Josephine, Elizabeth, Jean, Vivian and Jane: Thank you for being there for me, ALL the time! Thanks for letting me borrow Chocolate, Josephine; she sure is a great cuddling pal. And Ada, thanks for your call, that's really very nice of you! Ward, you're one dear friend who couldn't show up at any other better time! Love you all!

March 23, 2006


When I was still in college studying for some management 101 classes, what I remember most from that class was if you want to be a good manager, you'd have to have a constant attitude. So that your staff can always be able to count on you, and be able to walk into your office and speak with you at any circumstances.

I found that could be applied to many other things than just in an office or be a manager. It sounded easy, but not at all. Human is human. Everyone has his or her emotions, tempers and situations that affect their performances.

I know I personally don't have much of a temper(yes I double checked with my friends!), but until last October; I realized I had developed quite a temper. Simply because I got pressured and too much stress from the business, the lost in sales, and performances from my staff. I'm sure part of the reason was also because I never had a day off since before opening. I've heard of all kinds of stories about how all the famous chefs tossing plates and glassware at their staff in the kitchen. Hope that's not the way to be one!?

I also noticed it usually only happened when I was cooking in the kitchen. From the Chinese medicine stand point, it's because too much "heat" inside the body, plus facing the fire whole day would cause that. Those were the times when I missed my mother most, because when she was here, she would make all kind of Chinese herbal soup to bring down the heat, for better skin...etc. My friends and my staff know me well enough to forgive me or just ignore me, let me vent and respond to my questions. It's because they all know after that, will be the happy me again to party and eat and drink with.

I think the last time I was most frustrated was the last Valentine's Day. From not enough sleep to start with, tremendous pressure working on my 1st Valentine's day, high expectations to the chef menu with the regular menu, to hadn't got enough time to prepare, reservations were over booked, on top of that, SF chronicle came at the peak time for photo shoot...etc. I was still handling fine until the same staff came in at least 3 times asking for the same order that I cooked for more than 3 times already. That's when I stopped everybody and raised my voice trying to find out what's going on.

Other than that, things that happened in your personal life, which may affect you most at work also. How can you still pull yourself together and go to work? AND bring a smile on your face to face your customers and your staff!? THAT'S hard! When a customer asked you, "how are you tonight?" Even though you felt like hell, "Oh great! How are you?" I must say, that's so not me! I always express my feelings truly and honestly. However how could you tell your customers, "oh I feel horrible, really not in the mood to talk at all...." You can't! You have to put up that face!

So when I work the floor, it forces me to smile at the customers, chit chat some random topics with my customers, oh and you still have to operate in front of your staff! Hopefully you don't have any headache or stomach cramps or back pain or simply tired or physically drained...etc. However by doing that, it also forces me to take all other thoughts off my head and just concentrate on what I'm doing on the floor. Maybe tha'ts also a good thing!?

All I can say is, take a deep breath, put on that big smile and keep it up! If you can fool everybody, so that they all can still have a great time at the restaurant, that's your reward behind all the sorrows already! (Hmmm...but will I be able to smile inside yet?) At the end, I still have to thank all my true and loving friends because they're always there for me, holding my arms to make sure I won't fall. Everytime I see them walk through the front door, whatever inside me that's boiling, it feels like their presence would just pour a big pot of ice water in and cool down everything. To all freinds who love me so dearly, THANK YOU!

March 21, 2006

Visitors from Hong Kong

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It was a surprise to hear from Michelle! A friend I made about 2 years ago when I was back in Hong Kong visiting families. Her mother and my parents both have a condo in resort, Clifford Estate; in China. We met on the bus returning to Hong Kong.

I was with a friend who was there for the Chinese export expo. Overhearing our conversation, Michelle introduced herself. She used to study in the US and now she works for her mother who owns a factory in Hong Kong, Hung Fat Shing Industrial Co.; which manfacture glass and plastic, from jars and bottles to commercial glassware and decorative items.

She and her mother are here visiting friends and it was delightful to see them last night at the restaurant and made a new friend of theirs, Connie.

March 11, 2006

Another night of good food and good furenzu


This is another night full of fun for all of us! Last week, we talked about we haven't had hot pot for awhile. Therefore we decided it's about time for another night of fun food at the restaurant. Turned out it's a perfect night to do hot pot while it's so cold out.

So who were the gang this time? The usual suspects of course, Josephine, Elizabeth, Vivian, Tony; plus couple "strangers", Karin and Ada Ormsby, the owner of the loft next door.

It was a slow night to start with. We thought, it must have been because of the rain and the hail... Vivian and I were in the kitchen preparing the food for the hot pot. We were joking about as soon as we started the hot pot, customers would start to come in to make us gave up our table. Sure enough, as we finished putting out the food, my staff came in and asked, "do you have to reserve your table?" Well for this night, yes we had to. However we were still be able to accommodate all the customers and only one couple had to wait for about 5-10 minutes. So we only had one rush last night, but it was still a pretty good night.

We all had a wonderful time and my stuff started their hot pot shortly before closing. So far we had pasta, hot pot, let's see what will it be next time!?

March 4, 2006

Old "furenzu"

Other than the stress, the frustrations of continuous problems, all the expected and unexpected issues... I really love this restaurant more day after day!

It brings all my friends together, a place for them to hang out, to see everybody weekly, a place to meet new friends and definitely a place to bring back my old time friends!

When I opened the restaurant back in July last year. I decided to do a pre-opening dinner, just to test run the kitchen and a rehearsal for my staff. Sure enough, it wasn't a day that I expected. The diswasher didn't show up, my chef helper called in sick, and the front was sure not ready! Thank goodness, all my customers from that day were all my friends and ex-coworkers. And I was very lucky that a friend of mine, Karin's parents who used to have a restaurant in Holland before they retired were in town. Took them less than a second, they had already rolled up their sleeves and positioned themselves in the kitchen. Auntie Maureen, who had the reservation at 7:30pm; found herself behind the counter and hosting. Toward the end of the night, couple other friends of mine who also have restaurants, Kiet Cheung & Christopher Cheung stopped by, found out my problems, called and found helpers for me right away for my opening day. It was a great learning experience that day and I was so glad I did that!

On the opening day, we only served hors d'oeuvres. What surprised me was many old friends of mine all showed up! Joe Kaline with his band, and played in front of the restaurant! Sure caught many attentions from the locals who drove by. Cecilia Chiang and Bill Carbonel, what an honor! Of course my cousins, Alex and Francis; who flew in far from Hong Kong! Curtis and Christina Silbermann, old time friends that I haven't seen for years! And they came again last week with their kids! They were all grown and I only wish I had taken a picture with them that night! And of course many others...

The restaurant makes me feel I'm so blessed, with all my friends, and I'm so lucky to have them all! I thank my parents for that! They must have raised me well that I got to be some what a decent person to deserve all these friends!? ;) "Thank you, mommy & daddy!"