Chengdu, Oct 23 (Xinhua/UNB) -- He Zhangwen, 64, is slightly hunchbacked and not particularly fond of smiling. Wearing a grey-striped T-shirt and a brown apron, he is the linchpin of the tiny baked egg pancake shop "The He's" in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province.
While Sichuan cuisine is known for spicy and pungent flavors, baked egg pancakes are sweet, also a signature flavor of the local food.
Laying out all the ingredients and materials their son bought an hour ago, He Zhangwen and his wife He Yunping begin their typical day by making fillings and flour paste at around 8 a.m.
Their son bought 2 kg of pork, 2 kg of beef, 1 kg of potatoes, some chilies and carrots. "All the fillings and paste are freshly prepared, the taste would change if made in advance and stored overnight," said He.
"Making an egg pancake seems easy but is in fact not that simple," said He. "Any change in the proportion of ingredients makes a big difference. A good egg pancake should be crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. I put all my over 20 years of experiences in it and have the confidence that our pancake is second to none in Chengdu."
The flavors of traditional street food have evolved from traditional Chinese pickles, red bean and cream to over 30 varieties, including eye-catching spicy minced beef, Laoganma chili sauce, durian and Oreo, reflecting the ever-changing taste of picky foodies.
By 10:00 a.m., they have used up all the fillings and two buckets of paste, each weighing 10 kg. Every day they use two to four buckets.
Their store opens each day at 11:00 a.m., and a long queue of gluttonous foodies often welcomes him.
They opened this store seven years ago after doing this business on a small trolley in 1990. In addition to this store, the He's chain business has opened nine franchise stores in Chengdu.
The window of He's store looks the same as their trolley. Three prominent Chinese characters which read "egg pancake" are pasted in red on the window, and the fillings are put in order beside the ovens, the same as 30 years ago.
"I can even make a pancake with my eyes closed," said He.
Soon one of China's longest holiday, the week-long National Day holiday will be coming, and He expects a tourist peak. "We can sell up to 2,000 pancakes a day during holidays," said He. "We only have time to eat after 10 p.m."
Over the past 30 years, He has witnessed great changes in Chengdu. "I can't believe it's been nearly 30 years," He said. "Areas outside the first ring road were all idle fields when we started, but now even the suburban ring road has traffic jams."
The small pancake has given locals a touch of nostalgia amid rapid social change. Four years ago, their son quit his job and returned home. "My parents are getting older and their skills need to be passed on," said their son.
"Many college students said buying our pancakes is the first thing they do when they come back home for holidays. When they leave, many would come to eat some pancakes before heading to the airport," said He.
"More than 90 percent of our buyers are regular customers," said He with pride.
Jafran opened back in 2016 with the idea of bringing Hyderabadi and Afghani Biryanis to customers at an affordable price compared to the others in Dhaka. Little did they know exactly how popular their food would become amongst students around Bashundhara Residential area. Not only does this “multi-cuisine” restaurant sell aforementioned biryanis but they also serve an array of kebabs, curries, and bread to satisfy the palates.
Their first outlet was a very small one with a seating arrangement for about 40 people. The space wasn’t clean and especially their hand washing station and kitchen entrance were questionable in terms of hygiene. Regardless, for students affordability is more of a concern than hygiene (sadly). Their new location is now at Bashundhara Gate (right opposite to Jamuna Future Park) and is quite an upgrade from their previous one. The restaurant is quite furnished with oversized fancy chairs. Despite of having a rush since they were offering a 25% discount on their grand reopening, they didn’t increase the price of their prior items and the service provided to 7 of us was quite satisfying.
After having tried 2 or 3 of their biryanis, I am convinced that the Tandoori Chicken Biryani is the best in their menu. Here’s why: Firstly, the quantity is more than enough for one person. In fact, at times it gets way too much for me. Secondly, the piece of chicken that comes with it is quite huge. Finally, the unlimited eggplant chutney and salad compliment the dish really well. The only down of this dish is that the chicken tends to get dry at times which makes it difficult to swallow. It was an occasional scene at their previous outlet and it was disappointing to find the chicken dry at my visit to their new outlet as well.
How my experience was turned around though, was through ordering a Butter Chicken. Since there was a discount going on, I dared to try a new item from their menu and now this order is going to be a regular for me. The butter chicken can be easily shared by two people. It had a rich, creamy, and slightly sweet gravy with bite sized pieces of chicken. While it is quite unusual to pair biryanis with butter chicken, the dryness of the Tandoori biryanis was balanced out with the gravy of the butter chicken.
Jafran will remain a top pick for me as long as I am studying at North South University. It’s affordable, quick, and filling for days when you are not in the mood for cafeteria food.
If there’s one restaurant that I have seen the most reviews online on, it has got to be Dhaka XO. Every food related group or page has great reviews on that place. Their Ramen has been making rounds ever since Shyamoli Square Market has opened with some people even comparing it to the authentic Japanese Ramen. Tucked away in a messy and highly unhygienic food court, 3 of us found ourselves a seat inside Dhaka XO. However, we had come for a completely different dish.
I had been seeing reviews on a Chicken Steak of theirs for Tk 299 which was deemed to be too good for a food court meal. Reviews were overflowing with comparisons of it to premium places as well. And to be honest, I thought that it looked good on pictures as well for Tk 299 so might as well give it a try. We had to wait for about 20 minutes for a single dish to order! What was even more infuriating is that the servers were too busy gossiping amongst themselves and even the chef. We could see this happening as you can view directly inside the dirty kitchen.
To make things worse, when our order arrived we were shocked to see how small the steak really was. The pictures I saw online were taken in such an angle that you’d think that the portion is quite large. However, the small sliced chicken breast pieces couldn’t even be considered a meal. White sauce was drizzled over the steak with a side of sautéed vegetables and garlic mushroom.
The Chicken itself was quite juicy I’ll admit however, the seasoning of simply salt and a lot of black pepper was quite obvious. The white sauce was made using too much flour and you could really get an unpleasant taste with every bite. The garlic mushrooms were something we enjoyed. It was slightly tart in taste because of what I assume to be lime juice and the use of garlic was just the right amount. As for the sautéed vegetable, I feel like all they did was boil them. There was barely any salt or sign of being sautéed. In terms of content, it mostly had beans, 2 or 3 pieces of carrots and papaya.
Overall, I would just like to suggest you all to not go to a restaurant or café by the hype. Do your research well and try to differentiate between authentic and paid reviews. Instagram has a lot of Bangladeshi Foodbloggers now who are providing genuine reviews on food which you may look up to. As for Dhaka XO, it’s a big no for me and can never compete with a steakhouse which specializes in steaks!
Corvallis, Oct 19 (AP/UNB) — As he stood amid the thick old-growth forests in the coastal range of Oregon, Dave Wiens was nervous. Before he trained to shoot his first barred owl, he had never fired a gun.
He eyed the big female owl, her feathers streaked brown and white, perched on a branch at just the right distance. Then he squeezed the trigger and the owl fell to the forest floor, its carcass adding to a running tally of more than 2,400 barred owls killed so far in a controversial experiment by the U.S. government to test whether the northern spotted owl's rapid decline in the Pacific Northwest can be stopped by killing its aggressive East Coast cousin.
Wiens is the son of a well-known ornithologist and grew up fascinated by birds, and his graduate research in owl interactions helped lay the groundwork for this tense moment.
"It's a little distasteful, I think, to go out killing owls to save another owl species," said Wiens, a biologist who still views each shooting as "gut-wrenching" as the first. "Nonetheless, I also feel like from a conservation standpoint, our back was up against the wall. We knew that barred owls were outcompeting spotted owls and their populations were going haywire."
The federal government has been trying for decades to save the northern spotted owl, a native bird that sparked an intense battle over logging across Washington, Oregon and California decades ago.
After the owl was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990, earning it a cover on Time Magazine, federal officials halted logging on millions of acres of old-growth forests on federal lands to protect the bird's habitat. But the birds' population continued to decline.
Meanwhile, researchers, including Wiens, began documenting another threat — larger, more aggressive barred owls competing with spotted owls for food and space and displacing them in some areas.
In almost all ways, the barred owl is the spotted owl's worst enemy: They reproduce more often, have more babies per year and eat the same prey, like squirrels and wood rats. And they now outnumber spotted owls in many areas of the native bird's historic range.
So in a last-ditch effort to see whether they can save spotted owls, federal officials are resorting to killing hundreds of federally protected barred owls.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service experiment, which began in 2015, has raised thorny questions: To what extent can we reverse declines that have unfolded over decades, often due partially to actions by humans? And as climate change continues to shake up the landscape, displacing species and altering how and where plants and animals live and thrive, how should we intervene?
The experimental killing of barred owls raised such moral dilemmas when it first was proposed in 2012 that the Fish and Wildlife Service took the unusual step of hiring an ethicist to help work through whether it was acceptable and could be done humanely.
Just as with other conservation measures that involve killing one creature to save another, the program also prompted litigation and debate.
Federal and state officials, for example, have broken the necks of thousands of cowbirds to save the warbler, a songbird once on the brink of extinction. To preserve salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest and perch and other fish in the Midwest, federal and state agencies kill thousands of large seabirds called double-crested cormorants. And last year, Congress passed a law making it easier for Oregon, Washington, Idaho and American Indian tribes to kill sea lions that gobble imperiled salmon runs in the Columbia River.
The owl experiment is unusual because it involves killing one species of owl to save another owl species — and it may well be the largest killing program involving raptors.
In four small study areas in Washington, Oregon and Northern California, Wiens and his trained team have been picking off invasive barred owls with 12-gauge shotguns to see whether the native birds return to their nesting habitat once their competitors are gone. Small efforts to remove barred owls in British Columbia and northern California already showed promising results.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has a permit to kill up to 3,600 owls and, if the $5 million program works, could decide to expand its efforts.
Wiens, who works for the U.S. Geological Survey, now views his gun as "a research tool" in humankind's attempts to maintain biodiversity and rebalance the forest ecosystem. Because the barred owl has few predators in Northwest forests, he sees his team's role as apex predator, acting as a cap on a population that doesn't have one.
"Humans, by stepping in and taking that role in nature, we may be able to achieve more biodiversity in the environment, rather than just having barred owls take over and wipe out all the prey species," he said.
Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, finds the practice abhorrent and said humans should find another way to help owls.
"There's no way to couch it as a good thing if you're killing one species to save another," Bekoff said.
And Michael Harris, who directs the wildlife law program for Friends of Animals, thinks the government should focus on what humans are doing to the environment and protect habitats rather than scapegoating barred owls.
"Things were put into motion a century ago. We really have to let these things work themselves out," said Harris, whose group unsuccessfully sued to stop the killing and is now contesting an Endangered Species Act provision called an "incidental take" permit that exempts landowners who kill spotted owls during activities considered lawful, such as logging.
"It's going to be very common with climate change," Harris said. "What are we going to do — pick and choose the winners?"
Some see a responsibility to intervene, however, noting that humans are partly to blame for the underlying conditions with activities like logging, which helped lead to the spotted owl's decline. And others just see a no-win situation.
"A decision not to kill the barred owl is a decision to let the spotted owl go extinct," said Bob Sallinger, conservation director with the Audubon Society of Portland. "That's what we have to wrestle with."
Barred owls are native to eastern North America but began moving West at the turn of the 20th century. Scientists believe they migrated to western Canada across the Great Plains in the early 1900s, using forests that popped up as people learned to manage wildfires and planted trees around farms. They arrived in Washington in 1973 and then moved south into Oregon and California.
If the experimental removal of barred owls improves the spotted owl populations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife may consider killing more owls as part of a larger, long-term management strategy. Enough success has been noted that the experiment already has been extended to August 2021.
"What we're trying to do is find a way to manage barred owls — not to get rid of them completely — ... so that spotted owls can still survive on the landscape while we look for opportunities to help the spotted owl recover," said Robin Bown, who leads the agency's owl experiment.
At the study site, Washington's Central Cascades, only a few pairs of spotted owls remain and Wiens questions whether they can be saved there. But in Oregon and Northern California, they're at least more robust, while still dwindling.
"We're seeing a pattern with removals that the spotted owls that were there when we began are still there, yet the area where we're not doing removals, they're vanishing very quickly," Wiens said. "But we're not seeing new spotted owls move into these areas. New owls moving in is really the key sign of success."
"I certainly don't see northern spotted owls going extinct completely," he said, adding that "extinction in this case will be much longer process and from what we've seen from doing these removal experiments, we may be able to slow some of those declines."
Wiens has established a routine: It is pitch black when he parks his truck on an isolated road west of the central Oregon town of Corvallis, the town where he grew up. The forest reverberates as rain pelts towering stands of Douglas firs and cedars.
Wiens is 6 feet, 6 inches tall, but the trees dwarfs him as he approaches a clearing, the ground squeezing like a sponge at his every step. He sets a digital bird caller on the ground, steps back and waits as the first of several vocalizations penetrates the night, sounding a lot like: "Who? Who? Who cooks for you?"
Barred owls can't stand intruders in their territory so they will swoop in to chase another owl out. Sometimes, they attack.
Wiens ramps up the pre-recorded calls until he hits one that sounds a lot like screeching monkeys. Somewhere in the darkness comes the muffled call of a male owl. "You hear that?" he says, his headlamp scanning high branches. "He's way up there." He plays a few more calls, but the male bird never shows.
That same night, at another remote location, Wiens' colleague Jordan Hazan has better luck.
Just after midnight, after spending several hours in the woods, Hazan carries a dead male owl in a white plastic bag into the lab in Corvallis. Inside the tight space, he weighs it, lays it on the counter and spreads the wings to measure its wingspan, revealing streaks of white and dark brown feathers on the bird's chest.
The owl appears intact, an effort taken so specimens can be shipped out for research at museums and universities across the country. Several dozen had been shipped earlier that day to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
"They're beautiful birds. It's a little sad to have to kill them," said Hazan, a wildlife technician who took the job in 2015 after spending two years surveying for increasingly scarce spotted owls.
His hands still shake every time he pulls the trigger.
"You're taught all of your life that owls and raptors are to be protected," he said. "People ask me how it is killing the owls. As a hunter, it's fun going out and bagging your ducks and geese. With the owls, you don't get any kind of pleasure out of it. It's just something you have to do."
Courtyard- a term usually denoting an enclosed, open to sky space, has often been a design feature in most architectural masterpieces all around the world. Its initiation is from our rural roots, where no cluster of houses lacked “উঠান”. However, with the rapid urban sprawl, the concept of courtyard had been replaced with rigid skyscrapers. Presently, the concept of courtyard is regaining popularity in spatial design in an attempt to bring in a part of the open into the built environment. Bay’s Park Heights in Dhanmondi is an example on how to create sellable open spaces for the public in spite of being a commercial building. Almost hidden within the site, the park side plaza of this building houses “The Courtyard” that offers a unique leisure space amidst the monotonous concrete jungle.
Indoor seating arrangement with food counters; Photo © Itminan Tasneea
With their passion for food and art, the space caters to art fanatics and food lovers, by being an art gallery and a multi-concept restaurant.
Vibrant greens, brightly lit atmosphere with delightful water features welcome you to this place. What awaits inside is a well-designed restaurant with attention to details reflected in every corner. The lush greens peaking from concrete offers a soothing atmosphere for individuals, be it the youngsters who are visiting for chill, or workers meeting up for official meetings.
Water plaza view from drop-off; Photo © Itminan Tasneea
The monochromatic tone of furniture and the pop of colors in the display add to the chicness of the restaurant. The expression of exposed bricks is a fantastic focal point in the space adding texture to the interiors, where else, the exposed concrete material brings a warm atmosphere to the restaurant, making visitors feel welcomed and relaxed.
The frameless glass walls open up to its highlight ‘the courtyard’. Shaded with a glass canopy, the outdoor space is full of natural daylight and ventilation, which one often forgets residing in glass towers. The curved enclosure acts as the wall for displaying art. In their own language,
Landscape feature with concrete treads and greens; Photo © Itminan Tasneea
“Imagine walking through a garden, with works of art hanging amidst greenery and flowers. This coalescence of spaces and of purposes would teleport guests into a distant wonderland that is available in no other space in the capital.”
The restaurant has already gotten its fair share of popularity after its launch among architecture enthusiasts, youngsters and office workers. Even though it’s located in the busy Mirpur Road, being below road level, helps in noise reduction. The transition of the indoor and outdoor seating gives off a European food street vibe.
Peeking into the courtyard from higher plinth; Photo © Itminan Tasneea
The restaurant is also thinking to add another level of seating arrangement in their park side plaza that merges into the landscaped greens and designed stairway elements.
Besides, there is a secluded seating arrangement that can be used for official meetings. The walls are well decorated with art, and pots of green peeps through every space. Different sized vintage bulbs are suspended from the ceiling for additional lighting during the night, which turns the evening setting into a much romantic one.
Lighting arrangements in the double height space, Photo © Itminan Tasneea
The Courtyard stars as a community space in the heart of Dhanmondi with an emphasis on rooting creative cultural communities to the space with the unison of art and food. Its opening hours are from 12:00 pm to 10:00pm.