Wednesday, January 14, 2009

$22 Haircut with da works @ Jun Salon (Chinatown, NY)

MULTIMEDIA: $22 'do with the works @ Jun Salon

"It's just hair."

This, from a card-carrying hairdressing salon owner. It's a statement that might freak some cashed-up coiffsters right out, and put others at ease - like me.

After umming and ahhing at spending $65-100+ on a trim in Manhattan I thought, there must be a cheaper, yet choosier, way.

I mean, look at our Asian hair - straight as the highway to hell and in any color you like as long as it's black - what's so hard about that?

I decided to try the well-reviewed-considering (see Jun Salon in Chinatown.

Jun is an unpretentious gal who reminds me of one of my favorite gal cousins. She says she use to do $105+ Uptown cuts before she went cheap'n'choosy - and many of her clients followed her, not minding having to pick their way along the cracked and cabbage-strewn sidewalks of Chinatown for their discount 'do.

There is something twee (we use the word 'daggy' downunder) about China town decor - the surgery-grade fluorescent lighting, hard white tiles, red lanterns and Taiwanese auto mechanic's calendars featuring off-duty Singapore girls ... yet as a Chinese descendent I find it strangely comforting as well.

Be prepared for a super lengthy shampoo and scalp massage. We're talking two different kinds of shiatsu and several sudses - "to relax the hair", said my attendant. Oh my god. Heaven. And to prove it, my movie got an inordinate number of hits on YouTube right after I posted it, from the shampoo kinky brigade. I wrote about this strange phenomenon here.

"What, you never seen Warren Beatty in Shampoo?" chided a friend.

Then followed a full service cut and blow dry ranging anywhere from a trim to a total transformation - all for just $22 ($18 for guy cut).

I've made a project of getting a cheap'n'whatever haircut in every country I visit - a $2 re-style in Peru, a trim in Cuba, a scissoring by an olde school 'dresser complete with those big boofy hairdryers that look like cranial MRI units in Dublin.

Results vary - my last cut was a disaster, and required styling with a brush and hair dryer, things I have no patience or room for when on the road. It was layeres and ended up like hippy dippy mama.

"You need wash and go," said Jun, showing me a bob style that was long at the sides and shorter at the back, exposing, dare I say, a little neck, "to make you look taller," she said.

When I hesitated, she said, "it's just hair. It will grow."

A bit of Zen and the art of pageboy maintenance never went astray ...

Afterwards, you can walk next door for terrific dim sum at Ping's, recommended by the Filipino client in the chair next to me.

What's not to love? Keep up the great work, Jun, by keeping down the great price!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cheap'n'Chocolatey: Galfromdownunder 3+ minute Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake

This is my slightly healthier spin on the 5-minute Chocolate Mug Cake recipe circulating furiously around the internet.
I say 3+ minutes because abandoning it in the nuker for 5 minutes can lead to burned bits - better to coax it gently to doneness ... here's me doing the dishes in County Kerry back in 1999

Galfromdownunder 3+ minute Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake
(with original, non-vegan substitutions indicated)

4 Tablespoons buckwheat pancake mix (or ordinary flour)

3-4 Tablespoons Splenda/Stevia (or sugar)

2 Tablespoons good cocoa (I used Fair Trade Organic unsweetened)

2 tbsp no-sugar fruit conserve (not in original recipe - I used Wholefoods grapejuice sweetened Raspberry spread)

1 glob of soy yoghurt (or 1 Egg)

3 Tablespoons almond milk (or regular milk/half&half)

3 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (or regular oil)

Few chocolate drops/chunks (optional - I used 70% chunks because I like it dark)

Few nuts (optional)

1 Mug


Mix dry ingredients in 1 mug.
Mix wet ingredients in another.
Make well in the dry mug and pour in wet.
Mix well with a teaspoon - don't leave flour in corners, not a good look
Mixture should resemble thick pancake mix in consistency. Add more liquid sparingly if too stiff.
Microwave 3 mins on high - until cake rises and then settles in mug.
Test with knife - check sides too.
If gooey in center, m'wave 1 minute more, test, m'wave 30 sec more, test.
Should need no more than 5 mins total.
Let rest in mug a bit - it's still cooking.
Run knife around and turn out on plate.
Good with cream, ice cream or someting baaaaad.

I'd post a picture but it was eaten by the occupants of this house before I got a chance!

I slammed this one together after my Uncle sent me the original and I couldn't be bothered going out in a Manhattan snowstorm to buy the ingredients. I've always been partial to getting to a destination via an uncommon route - story of my life. As a kitchen manager on a Vipassana course, I found a flour made from pulverized oats made a perfectly acceptable lasagne, sauce etc ...

Microwave cakes aren't new - there are moist, puddingy recipes based on pumpkin and other ingredients dating back to 20-25 years ago ... as long as you don't mind a puddingy texture. And as long as you believe that microwaves don't do health-hazardous things to the structure of food as the Toaster Oven Lobby claims.