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Restaurant: Beijing Resteraunt

Location: 250 W Valley Blvd. Ste B2. San Gabriel, CA 91776. (626) 570-8598

Date: April 20, 2014

Cuisine: Beijing Style Chinese

Rating: Really tasty


Ah, the riches of the SGV (San Gabriel Valley), so many delicious Chinese regional cuisines to chose from. Tonight’s entry is Beijing Restaurant, in the very same minimall as Shanghai #1.

Boiled peanuts are a traditional opener all across China.

From my cellar: 1994 Ulrich Langguth Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese. 92 points. Tons of petrol, still sweet, but not too sweet. A great wine with this food.

Fried sweet garlic fish. I used to get this dish as a kid at a restaurant called Schezuan in DC. I don’t think it’s actually a Schezuan dish, but it Beijing’s version was delicious. Like fish and chips in goopy sweet sauce. Doesn’t sound so great, but it is.

2005 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel. 92 points. This was beautiful and in a great spot. An expressive nose that struck a fine balance between expressive floral notes, vibrant fruit, and chalk. On the palate the wine exploded in the mid-palate with a melange of stone & tropical fruits with a long mineral driven finish. Outstanding, my favorite Riesling of the night.

Meat pancakes. Sort of like a scallion pancake (and there are scallions inside).

But also one of those delicious Chinese meat patties (pork or beef?). Oily and scrumptious.

1990 Zind-Humbrecht Tokay Pinot Gris Vieilles Vignes. 90 points. Medium yellow in color this seems to be an off bottle. Very earthy on the nose, maybe too much so. Very dry. Not a terrible wine but not what this wine should be.

Eggs and pork. This has to be a homestyle dish. Scrambled eggs, pork, in a sweet and sour sauce. In fact, it tasted like great hot and soul soup. Really, really fabulous. Not fancy, just fabulous.

2012 Loosen Bros. Riesling. 84 points. Too sweet for me. Nose is full of flowery notes and little bit of honey. Short finish.

Cumin lamb. A fine version of this typical Western Chinese dish.

2012 Weingut Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling Spätlese. IWC 94. Seductive aromas of mango, banana, sweet herbs and honey. Rich, spicy tropical fruit flavors show a vague hint of botrytis and creamy depth. Certainly a touch on the sweet side, but nicely balanced and intriguingly long, this is one of the best spatleses of the vintage.

Lamb blintzes. I don’t know what else to call them. Inside the panfried crepe was a lamb version of that ground meat yummy stuff.

Dry hot pot. This wasn’t actually ours, they just put it on our table by accident for a second.

2012 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Kabinett. IWC 89. Fresh bouquet of pear, apple blossom and lemon zest. Delicately sweet on the palate, with a nice interplay of apricot and luscious citricity. Lip-smacking elegance on an appealing finish. A textbook kabinett.

Schezuan chicken. A drier peanut free kung pao. Might sometimes be called twice cooked. This had a LOT of taste, and both red Schezuan peppers (heaven facing?) and Schezuan peppercorns — for that tongue numbing effect.

Soy sauce fried rice. Very tasty, with shrimp, egg, and bits of a spam like stuff in there.

Pork dumplings. These aren’t the lightest or most elegant dumpling I’ve ever had, but with a little vinegar they were pretty delicious.

Crystal shrimp. This hot pot contained all sorts of Schezuan pepper goodness, cabbage, and…

These flavorful little shrimp. The sauce was awesome over rice too.

2006 Clarendon Hills Grenache Old Vines Romas. IWC 94. Vivid ruby. Exotic Asian spices and smoky minerals accent fresh raspberry and boysenberry on the nose; shows more perfumed anise, patchouli and vanilla notes with aeration. Sweet black raspberry and cherry-vanilla flavors are sharpened by tangy minerals but betray no rough edges. This really stains the palate, leaving deep dark berry liqueur and candied floral notes behind, eventually. This is irresistible now.

Lamb burger. Roast lamb on a weird Western Chinese bread. The meat was tasty, the bread kinda heavy.

Shrimp and Spam. The same shrimp, and the yummy spam-like stuff in a dry hot pot.

Spareribs. Tasty hot cumin laced fried pork ribs.

Pork Noodles. The noodles were a little heavy and pan fried, but it was certainly tasty. Green beans, garlic, and pork round it out.

Cabbage and egg? Another homestyle dish of cabbage, egg, pork, mushrooms, and maybe even some spam. Really tasty tough.

Toothpick lamb. Another lamb dish, very similar to the skewers.

Cabbage. I have to say, this was probably the best cabbage dish I’ve ever had. How can a vegetable this humble be so tasty? Maybe it was the porky soy sauce.

Overall, I was very impressed with Beijing Restaurant. This feast ran $27 with tax and a huge tip. It wasn’t fancy, but nearly every dish was incredibly tasty. Really good fun. The cuisine has a western feel, lots of Schezuan elements and dishes. I love that stuff. It’s also breadier, or doughier than many other areas of China.

For more LA Chinese reviews click here,

or more crazy Hedonist dinners here!

Hedonists go to Beijing
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For the last year, every time I’ve gone to a public hearing or meeting about development, I’ve heard people fret about how there’s not enough capacity to absorb the new people who will be coming with the developments. Not enough schools, hospital space, parks, libraries, you name it.

And it used to be that, along with all that, people complained about the inevitable increase in traffic and decrease in parking space. But there’s a new twist on that in Vancouver. Now people say there’s not enough room on the transit lines, especially if anything is planned along the Canada Line or (less frequently) the SkyTrain line.

In the spirit of public inquiry, I called TransLink to get the numbers on the current state of use and what the future holds. (My Globe story here.) Jeff Busby, who does the agency’s infrastructure planning, kindly answered me in two separate interviews. What it made clear to me is that the Canada Line and SkyTrain do have the physical capacity to absorb a lot more people.

What was clear from speaking with mayors, councillors and engineers who are involved with this issue is that there’s no guarantee that, as lines reach their capacity, TransLink will have the money to do the upgrades needed to increase it.

“I suppose that’s a risk,” Busby said cautiously when I asked him whether there isn’t a danger that, even when the people come, no one will want to fund an increase in capacity.

There is no automatic trigger or defined point at which anyone will say, “Okay, we  now have 300,000 people along this line and you’re legally required to provide a higher level of transit.” (To be fair, doesn’t work that way with cars, roads and suburban development either.)

One could take it as a positive sign that TransLink is currently starting $1 billion worth of renovations to upgrade the capacity of the Expo Line. (And, have to say, I’m totally loving the new look of the Main Street/Terminal station.)

But, given how rapidly and ferociously both commuters and developers have taken to clustering around rapid transit, you have to wonder if the Canada Line expansion isn’t going to be needed a lot sooner and be a tougher fight than the Expo Line’s expansions.

Richmond is expanding its city centre from 40,000 to 80,000. A whole pile of new developments are planned to go in around Capstan Way, where developers are paying for a new station. There’s a cluster of towers under construction or in the works now for the foot of Cambie and, I would guess, more to come. There are developments all along Cambie, with two giant projects — Oakridge and the Pearson-Dogwood site — in the works.

Anyway, because I know there are wonks are there who love numbers, here are a few:

- The current line has a capacity for 6,100 people per hour per direction.

- At the latest count (yes, they go in and do physical counts), the line is carrying a maximum of 5,500 pphpd

- The line could carry 10,000 pphpd if it shortened the headroom between cars from 3 minutes 20 seconds to two minutes. Why don’t they do that now during rush hour? I asked Busby. Well, it’s not that easy. There are 16 two-car trains running. (The system has 20 in all, but two sets are always kept in reserve for breakdowns, repairs, etc) You could run them every two minutes for a brief period but then you’d be stuck with no trains for the rest of the hour because it takes a certain amount of time to do the whole run and back. There’s no way to shorten that up unless you can convince people to load themselves on faster.

So the two-minute runs won’t happen until TransLink orders a whole extra fleet of cars. And that won’t happen until crowding goes up substantially.

- The line can carry 15,000 pphpd if it moves to three-car trains arriving every two minutes. That will mean punching through the walls at the end of the current platforms to extend them. (The stations were designed for that eventuality.)

- One other interesting fact. Development along a line doesn’t necessarily drive the transit numbers. According to Busby, two-thirds of the people in the morning rush hour who use rapid transit arrive from beyond walking distance. So the numbers will go up as growth goes up overall, not just in proximity to stations.

Is the Canada Line at maximum capacity? No. Will it be in a decade? Depends on …
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Silvia Tolisano, Langwitches, April 22, 2014

I really like the idea of student-led conferences, though I think they should be used more imaginatively than to “present to their parents about the state of their learning.” Why can’t they be real conferences about real things, presenting original work and research they devised on their own? This would allow them to appeal to all students (one wonders how many lives would have been changed were the industrial arts students’ work valued and presented as just as important as academic work (or for that matter were academic and industrial arts work valued and presented as just as important as athletics)). But more to the point, we have to get away from this: “I am writing what my teachers want to hear, but not really what I think.” Why not create student-led conferences that are genuine examples of students’ interests? (p.s. the name of the blog is finally explained here).

[Link] [Comment]

Student Led Conferences: Sick and Tired of Blogs & Reflection?
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Karenn Krangle, the rigorous reporter from Novae Res Urbis, did comprehensive coverage of the two-day symposium called “Planning the Metropolitan Vancouver Region: A Critical Perspective,” organized by the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC last week.  There will be more to come as the videos are released.

Here are the extensive quotes from her coverage of my comments on the opening panel following SCARP honorary professor John Friedman’s major address.  This as forceful as I’ve been publicly (next to Price Tags):


Gordon Price, director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program, said some recent decisions made provincially or regionally indicate we’re operating on the assumption that disasters are not going to affect our day-to day-lives.

“Think about what the [provincial government’s planned new] Massey bridge means,” he said. “There’s something that’s going to cost us roughly the cost of the Broadway subway — $2 to $3 billion. “It’s going to put immense pressure on the land south of the Fraser — that’s what transportation infrastructure does.”

Price noted that a good part of the land in that area is below sea level (or, relatively soon, will be – ed).

“Now, what kind of people would spend that kind of money to do that at this point? It’s the people who don’t take catastrophe, whether it’s slow-moving or one that could occur in the next half hour [seriously],” he said. “Not only that, they’ve moved into denial — denial at the highest level, because those are serious commitments that have been made.”

Price said goods movement, particularly of fuels, is shaping the regional growth strategy and who we are becoming. He said he is distressed to see that the area south of the Fraser, the region’s fastest growing, is “becoming motordom by default.

“And it’s again shaping decision-making in places you would not expect it.” Price said the Tsawwassen band’s Tsawwassen Mills development is one of those decisions.

“What it says is the aboriginal peoples, who speak of their seven generations and their love and respect and connection to the land, are prepared to, with the right dollars in front of them, build the worst manifestation of a car-dependent growth that we’ve seen in about a generation and they’re doing it on an international flyway and they’re doing it below sea level and they’re doing it on the edge of the region,” he said.

???????????????????????????????Price noted the Tsawwassen Mills site’s proximity to the agricultural land reserve (right, under development).

He also argued that Metro Vancouver is becoming one of the largest “carbon transfer points” on the planet. “If you can dig it up, put it in a pipe and get it to a port, we’ll sell it, so you can burn it somewhere else,” he said. “Oil, certainly. Bitumen, maybe. Natural gas, for sure. And coal, thermal coal.”

Price said the provincial government’s planned referendum on transit is not just about transit but “potentially a moral crisis.

“Because if that goes down, who can we say we are? We’re a carbon dealer to the planet, one that’s prepared to open up the ALR and lands below sea level, motordom by default and basically nullify the regional plans and the meaning of the region itself.

“No more compact region. No more complete communities. No more of them being joined by rapid transit. No more region that means anything.”

Price, referring to the fact that the regional body was created in 1948 after the Fraser River flooded, said Metro Vancouver has proven it can handle natural disasters, but it now has to prove itself in a different way.

“We’re going to redefine ourselves by this vote, and everything else that follows,” he said.

SCARP symposium: “Disasters – Natural and Otherwise”
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Let’s take a break from the business news cycle. I love the news and I’ve covered it for a decade: what new startup is launching, why a stock price just moved, who’s being hired or fired. But there’s a whole universe of fascinating stories waiting to be covered about what’s old in business.

That’s why we’re launching The Distance, a new online magazine featuring original journalism about bootstrapped businesses that are at least 25 years old. If you’ve ever been curious about your favorite family-owned restaurant or that little shop on the corner, this is the publication for you. These businesses might not make headlines, but their owners have compelling stories about how they started, what they’ve learned, and why they keep doing it.

This is a heady time for people interested in great stories, whether it’s telling them or reading them. From newer sites like Vox and FiveThirtyEight and to legacy media outlets that keep producing indispensable work (I still subscribe to two print newspapers), today’s readers have a lot of choices competing for their limited time. The Distance offers its own kind of storytelling – enjoyable reads about long-lasting businesses and the people behind them.

We’ll be publishing one story a month starting in May. We hope you find the companies of The Distance as interesting as we do and come back each month for more. (And while Basecamp is sponsoring the magazine, The Distance is editorially independent and we will not write about Basecamp customers.)

We’d also love to hear from you. If you know of any companies that would make good profile subjects, please let me know!

Looking into The Distance

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Join the VANCOUVER BIENNALE for an evening workshop at Artists for Kids with one of our Brazilian Artists in Residence, Túlio Pinto. Come help Pinto create one of his ephemeral floating sculptures made out of interconnected orange balloons filled with helium gas and watch as the space transforms into a sculpture.
Date:         Thursday, April 24, 2014
Time:        6:30  – 9:00 pm
Location:  Artists for Kids - 2121 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver
This is a free event.

Túlio Pinto, at Artists for Kids – Apr 24
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This is it. You’ve aligned calendars and will have all the right decision-makers in the room. It’s the moment when they either decide to give you resources to begin to turn your innovative idea into reality, or send you back to the drawing board. How will you make your most persuasive case?

Inside most companies, the natural tendency is to marshal as much data as possible. Get the analyst reports that show market trends. Build a detailed spreadsheet promising a juicy return on corporate investment. Create a dense PowerPoint document demonstrating that you really have done your homework.

Assembling and interpreting data is fine. Please do it. But it’s hard to make a purely analytical case for a highly innovative idea because data only shows what has happened, not what might happen.

If you really want to make the case for an innovative idea, then you need to go one step further. Don’t just gather data. Generate your own. Strengthen your case and bolster your own confidence – or expose flaws before you even make a major resource request – by running an experiment that investigates one or a handful of the key uncertainties that would need to be resolved for your idea to succeed.

That may sound daunting if you haven’t tried it. And, you may well ask, how do you do it when you lack a dedicated team and budget?  Fortunately, there’s a fairly systematic way to go about it.

Start by focusing your attention on resolving the biggest question on the minds of the people who will decide to give you those resources. That might be whether a customer will really be willing to use – and purchase – your proposed offering. Or perhaps whether the idea is technologically feasible. Or maybe there’s concern that some operational detail could stand in the way of success.

Once you’ve identified the most important potentially “deal-killing” issue, the next step is to find a cheap and quick way to investigate it. The key here is to find some low-cost way to simulate the conditions you’re trying to test.

Read the rest at Harvard Business Review.

Scott Anthony is the managing partner of Innosight.

Why You Have to Generate Your Own Data
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This year’s PyCon US (Python Conference) was in my city of residence (Montréal) so I took the opportunity to go and see what was up in the world of the language I use the most at Mozilla. It was pretty great!


The highlight for me was learning about the possibilities of ipython notebooks, an absolutely fantastic interactive tool for debugging python in a live browser-based environment. I’d heard about it before, but it wasn’t immediately apparent how it would really improve things — it seemed to be just a less convenient interface to the python console that required me to futz around with my web browser. Watching a few presentations on the topic made me realize how wrong I was. It’s already changed the way I do work with Eideticker data, for the better.

Using ipython to analyze some eideticker data
Using ipython to analyze some eideticker data

I think the basic premise is really quite simple: a better interface for typing in, experimenting with, and running python code. If you stop and think about it, the modern web interface supports a much richer vocabulary of interactive concepts that the console (or even text editors like emacs): there’s no reason we shouldn’t take advantage of it.

Here are the (IMO) killer features that make it worth using:

  • The ability to immediately re-execute a block of code after editing and seeing an error (essentially merging the immediacy of the python console with the permanency / cut & pastability of an actual script)
  • Live-printing out graphs of numerical results using matplotlib. ZOMG this is so handy. Especially in conjunction with the live-editing outlined above, there’s no better tool for fine-tuning mathematical/statistical analysis.
  • The shareability of the results. Any ipython notebook can be saved and then saved to a public website. Many presentations at PyCon 2014, in fact, were done entirely with ipython notebooks. So handy for answering questions like “how did you get that”?

To learn more about how to use ipython notebooks for data analysis, I highly recommend Julie Evan’s talk Diving into Open Data with IPython Notebook & Pandas, which you can find on

Other Good Talks

I saw some other good talks at the conference, here are some of them:

  • All Your Ducks In A Row: Data Structures in the Standard Library and Beyond – A useful talk by Brandon Rhoades on the implementation of basic data structures in Python, and how to select the ones to use for optimal performance. It turns out that lists aren’t the best thing to use for long sequences of numerical data (who knew?)
  • Fast Python, Slow Python – An interesting talk by Alex Gaynor about how to write decent performing pure-python code in a single-threaded context. Lots of intelligent stuff about producing robust code that matches your intention and data structures, and caution against doing fancy things in the name of being “pythonic” or “general”.
  • Analyzing Rap Lyrics with Python – Another data analysis talk, this one about a subject I knew almost nothing about. The best part of it (for me anyway) was learning how the speaker (Julie Lavoie) narrowed her focus in her research to the exact aspects of the problem that would let her answer the question she was interested in (“Can we automatically find out which rap lyrics are the most sexist?”) as opposed to interesting problems (“how can I design the most general scraping library possible?”) that don’t answer the question. In my opinion, this ability to focus is one of the key things that seperates successful projects from unsuccessful ones.

PyCon 2014 impressions: ipython notebook is the future & more
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Just read Walt Mossberg’s piece on “Apple is Like a Movie Studio” where he (as he typically does) makes excellent points on consumer electronics and Apple’s role in them for the past decade. But then the piece moves into the following statement:

But there have been no new game-changing products, the kind that establish whole new categories, or which finally get product categories right after others had attempted for years to do so. The last of these, the original iPad, was released four years ago this month.

This is true. But really – how off the charts are these expectations? In the last decade Apple “pioneered” (I use the term somewhat loosely since there were actually other players in the space, just none of them building anything on par with what Apple did), and today lead the categories for:

  • ultrathin laptops – MacBook Air
  • smartphones – iPhone
  • tablets – iPad
  • internet STBS – Apple TV

So if we’re doing the “movie studio” analogy let’s call them Pixar (or Universal or whatever).  If the comparison is “invented entire categories” can we name *ANY* other movie studio on a relative basis?  I cannot. Sure, Samsung, LG, Microsoft, others “make devices” but what have they actually done on par with Apple?  Nothing.  I’m not bashing the Galaxy phone or LG TVs or HP laptops in any way disparaging those companies – but they have NOT created new markets out of thin air the way Apple has this past decade.

So perhaps they might not have any more category killers that the world’s never seen. So what? “sequel time is over”? This is the problem with setting such expectations – if they “just” act like their competitors, and make (and sell) lots of devices – is that really such a failure? Mind you I don’t believe this to be their fate, but so what?

If you really, REALLY must compare to movies, then let’s call them James Bond. some years you get The Living Daylights or The World is Not Enough (excuse me while I vomit into my popcorn watching Denise Richards be a “Nucular” Engineer or whatever)… But sometimes you get Dr. No, or Goldfinger, and those are the ones everyone remembers. And along the way a Bourne or Mission Impossible show up, and they’re pretty great too – for a while. And it could even be another decade, but somehow, out of nowhere, you get a Casino Royale, and all is right in the world again.

Why Does Anyone Expect More From Apple?
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