Friday, 28 February 2014

La-la-la-love... PLAID BOY!

Ending the la-la-la-love month series with this photo I've posted on my Instagram a few weeks ago.
Ditto, Plaid Boy. Ditto.
And I'm sorry for being sungit... sometimes.

February has been a crazy month, it's been so busy that steam would come out unnecessarily in the most inappropriate situations. It's been a month of wedding-related bickering discussions too, but it's nice to know we'd just laugh about it once we've calmed down. I also can't help but feel a bit kiligers knowing I've got a great partner to go through the next 11 months with... and that we still want to marry each other!

Thank You Lord for giving me a boyfriend who likes flirting... with me! 
It definitely makes everything a bit more tongue in cheek and less stressful.
Spread the love, people!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

6 Tracks for February 2014

This month's playlist is a tad bit too late for my liking. 
I do apologise, I've just been feeling like this little bugger:

Anyway. Six tracks of the month as usual...

Echosmith - Tell Her You Love Her
Kicking off the playlist with a gentle nudge for all my torpe guy friends.
And everyone in a relationship.
And all of us who need to appreciate our mothers more. =)

The Afghan Whigs - Algiers
Remember this band? Their super catchy song 66 got us all singing "Come on little rabbit.." at one point. They've been out of the loop and off airplay for about 16 years (!) and the new offering is pretty decent. Reminds me a little bit of the alternative music scene from the early '90s to early noughties, which I super love. Greg Dulli's voice sounds a bit more mature and a little more playful, don't you think?

Clean Bandit - Rather Be
Clean Bandit's hitting the mainstream with this catchy track featuring Jess Glynne. I love the violins and the steady vibe which reminds me of dance tracks of the 90s.

Magic! - Rude
I've been searching for this song for aaaaages! Such a fun and funny song with a very catchy chorus you can sing when you're pissed off at people you can't exactly get pissed at. That said, I'm glad my future husband doesn't have to sing this to my dad! =)

Cut Copy - Take Me Higher
February's been quite fabulous at work but it has also brought about long work hours and a ton of items on my to-do list. When I need a bit of headspace I'd step out for a walk around the block listening to this tune and in a span of five minutes, I'm swept away by ocean waves, the sun kissing the freckles on my face.

Paolo Nutini - Iron Sky (live at Abbey Road)
Got a really nice text from someone who said he really appreciates my playlists and that I've introduced Paolo Nutini to him. He then sent this fresh track from the artist saying it's 'powerful stuff'. It's a good tune but more importantly, is it just me or is Mr Nutini blooming? Har.

Enjoy! x

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

La-la-la-love... DIM SUM! Yauatcha, Revisited

My friend C wanted to catch up for dinner in Yauatcha and the night started off pretty badly. I arrived early and asked to be led to our table at the restaurant downstairs instead of waiting by the bar upstairs. When the server showed me our table a group of foreign men were sprawled across a part of our booth.

SERVER: Excuse me, would you mind moving please, the guest has arrived for this table
FOREIGN GUY 1: Oooh, so young.
FOREIGN GUY 2: Would you like to sit here (points to our booth) or sit here (points to his lap)
ME: (to the server) Right, could you sit us somewhere far from these arrogant, imbecile halfwits please.
SERVER: Certainly. That's VERY rude!

They sat me far from the men but I they still heckled and craned their necks while hooting. Talk about superbastos!!! I prayed they wouldn't come over and just busied myself with the menu. C arrived a few minutes later and I just had to vent. Jeez. Some people seriously do not have manners. Disgusting.


I love the stars in Yauatcha and by this I don't just mean the gorgeous star-like fixtures in the basement restaurant, but the stars on the menu as well. The restaurant is still quite dependable for dim sum after all; no wonder they've retained their Michelin star all these years. They do have big plates and actual dishes too, but I really prefer their dim sum offering and patisserie treats. 

 Soy sauce and sundries: chili sauce, pickled cucumber, chili oil.

My ultimate Yauatcha favourite has always been their venison puffs (£4.60). I'm happy to report they taste better. The pastry is buttery good and flaky. Each pocket was bursting with sweet, savoury meat which I enjoyed so much, I forgot to take a photo of the filling because I was too busy munching away!

I've never tried their har gau (£5.60) before. The prawns looked as delicate as pearls in the glutinous dim sum wrapper and they just burst with heaps of flavour. The prawn shone here 100%.

We had some roasted duck pumpkin puffs (£5.60) which I wasn't too keen on. It had an interesting texture and I got excited with the pine nuts in the filling. But is there actual pumpkin in there or were they just referring to the shape? Because a) I definitely didn't taste any in he filling and b) they looked more like clementines!

I was curious to try the spinach balls (£5.20). These were stuffed with prawn and cuttlefish served in some sort of black bean sauce. I like that the sauce was quite tame - the seafood flavour was still apparent and there was quite a lot of it delicately enveloped in the spinach leaves.

I ordered spicy pork Szechuan won ton in spicy sauce (£4.90), remembering how Plaid Boy would pour the spicy chili sauce of the same dish over his rice in Din Tai Fung. I wouldn't advise him to do the same in Yauatcha because the sauce was quite bland. The won ton had a lot of filling in it unlike most won tons I've tried here, though!

C wanted cheung fun. I secretly wanted to try the wagyu beef variety but we ended up getting the three-style mushroom cheung fun (£7). I thought the earthy mushroom flavours were slightly overpowered by the sweet soy concoction poured on the plate. I like it enough, but I prefer the ones I've tried before.

Full to the brim, we decided to stay for a round of digestif to calm our bellies but the servers told us that our table needed to be vacated as it was only booked til 8pm. I didn't realise there was still a 2-hour turnover. Really? Oh well.

We still enjoyed our dinner I must say. Food is still good, dependable, and accessible just like an old familiar friend you're happy to have.

15 Broadwick Street  London W1F 0DL | Tel: +44(0)20 7494 8888
Average spend pp £25 for dim sum dinner with wine
Yauatcha on Urbanspoon

We ended up having some aperitifs instead at a club nearby. Nothing like a burst of bubbles to cheer us up!

Bellini for me, Rossini for C.

It's been a while since I've had a proper one-to-one with C as we've both been quite busy with work and, uh, life. It was fun to talk about both our journeys since we knew of each other. We talked about how different things were from uni (we were in the same year and served the same student council but I don't think we ever spoke then) to when we started hanging out (we were in long-term relationships very different  than our current ones) to where we are. Crikey.

Oh and if anyone asks, I'm wearing MAC Rebel.

Cheers m'dears!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

La-la-la-love... LIPSTICK

Here are a five good reasons why lipstick can be a bit dyahe:
  • They can dry out your lips, making your puckeroos unsuitable for kissing...
  • ...and even if your lips are suitable enough, it's definitely hassle to MOMOL because nobody wants to have lipstick smeared all over their face.
  • Eating can be a bit of a pain. Think stains on your spoons, forks, chopsticks and eventually, your teeth. And when you're done, the colour's already gone from the middle part of your lips making you look a bit trouty. 
  • The annoying lipstick rim on your coffee cup/mug. 
  • You have to test them to see if they suit your skin tone but how clean are the testers, seriously? This reminds me of what my college blockmate said when I gave him the remnants of my coffee cup: "Uy, para tayong nag lips-to-lips!" ("Wow, drinking off your cup feels like I've kissed you on the lips!") This, buddies, is why I never try lipstick on my lips which sometimes can be a costly mistake.

But lip colour is such a fun way to change looks/express moods and to show one's personality which is why I still love the stuff. My makeup kit is very basic but I do have a little over 30 tubes of lip gunk lying around, varying from high end and drugstore brands to cult classics and favourites. I guess whilst most girls shop for clothes when they're stressed for a quick perk me up, I switch lip colour instead. 

As previously mentioned, I like MAC lippies best because their colour range excites me and they're quite long-wearing. As promised, here's a rundown of my MAC lipstick mini-collection.

Mac Lipstick

Paramount - deep, reddish brown. This colour looks a bit more brown on me than red and is quite a good colour for fall.
Finish: Satin
Application: Smooth and easy
Retouch: Once

Cherish - beige, nude. This was my first ever nude lipstick and though I was convinced I loved it, I realise now that it washes me out a teeeensy bit. Best paired with 'dark smoky eyes'.
Finish: Satin
Application: Smooth and creamy
Retouch: Twice

Mocha - (Satin finish) medium brown with a slight peachy tint. My go to lipstick when I fancy the natural look. Definitely one of my favourite "MLBB" shades around.
Finish: Satin
Application: Smooth
Retouch: Twice

MAC Brown Lipstick swatch
Paramount, Cherish, Mocha

MAC Pink Lipstick

Sin - oxblood red, bluish undertones. I wanted to get a vampy colour for fall/winter and ended up getting this shade as it looked like a nice, deep plum on a sales assistant's face. It's very dark on me so I only apply a single stroke when I wear it at daytime.
Finish: Matte
Application: Quite pigmented so you have to be careful with your lip lines
Retouch: Zero to once

Rebel - berry red, puple undertones. One of my favourite shades of all time! I think if I were a lip colour I'd like to be Rebel. It's bold but not too bright, fierce but not aggressive, flirty and playful altogether. It's pinky and purply at the same time and can easily be worn for a day-to-night look.
Finish: Satin
Application: Easy
Retouch: Once

All Fired Up - bright fuschia pink, red undertones. I think this is one of the nicest pink and red "inbetweener" shades around. It's highly pigmented and lasts a long time.
Finish: Retro Matte
Application: Make sure you prep your lips for moisture as it's quite dry
Retouch: Once

Pink Nouveau - pale pink, blue undertones. This was my first pink lipstick and I still love it to pieces. I love how this shade seems to suit any skin tone. It's such a playful Barbie girl colour too.
Finish: Satin
Application: Easy
Retouch: Twice

Mehr - warm pink, slight blue undertones. This is such a nice colour on medium skin tones because it's another MLBB shade. It's quite subtle, perfect for a clean, dewy, natural look.
Finish: Matte
Application: Easy
Retouch: Once

Angel - aka Kim Kardashian's favourite and my biggest lipstick mistake. I wanted a pale pink colour and bought this after reading reviews. As I don't exactly test lipstick for fear of cooties (har), I ended up buying Angel and regretting it as it totally makes me look like I've had twenty convulsions in a day. NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in Bangkok is so much better.
Finish - Frost
Application - Easy
Retouch - Twice

MAC Pink Lipstick Swatch
Sin, Rebel, All Fired Up, Pink Nouveau, Mehr, Angel

MAC Red Lipstick swatch

Fresh Moroccan - warm red with gold specks. I hate glitter so I was a bit reluctant to get this but for the sake of variety, I did and I'm glad. It's not as drag as I thought it would be and the gold specks aren't too loud at all. Such a pretty colour and I love how it lights up my face and makes my lips look fuller.
Finish: Frost
Application: Easy, but be careful of the lip line.
Retouch: Once

Russian Red - bright warm red, slight blue undertones. My super-favourite power red lipstick of all time, the MAC lipstick that started this slight obession.
Finish: Matte
Application: Quite pigmented so be careful of your lip line!
Retouch: Once (it's that good!)

Ruby Woo - bright red, blue undertones. My other favourite red lipstick of all time and it would've taken first place if not for its relatively more difficult application process. It's slightly more opaque than Russian Red so I need to put a bit more coats of it.
Finish: Retro Matte
Application: Like All Fired Up, make sure your lips are moisturised before application as it's quite dry.
Retouch: Once

Chili - warm red. Another colour that seems to go well with all skin tones. It has orange undertones and is quite a safe shade of red if you don't want to go as bright as Russian Red or Ruby Woo.
Finish: Matte
Application: Easy
Retouch: Once

Brick-o-la - berry, reddish pink. I wanted to find a MAC dupe for my Revlon Toast of New York favourite and I thought by looking at the shades without testing, this was it. It's not. Brick-o-la, however, is quite opaque so I use it as a lip stain or an emergency perk me up.
Finish: Amplified
Application: Smooth and creamy
Retouch: Twice

Retro - red with brown tones. I like this colour a lot. It's a muted red so it's very wearable and very old school glam.
Finish: Satin
Application: Easy and creamy
Retouch: Once

Mac Red Lipstick swatch
Fresh Moroccan, Russian Red, Ruby Woo, Chili, Brick-o-la, Retro

Mac Good to Go Lipstick

Good to Go - neon orange. I don't usually wear orange and coral lipstick because I don't think they suit me. My friend gave this to me as a birthday pressie and I was surprised by how much I love it. It's a cool spring-summer colour, don't you think?
Finish: Pro Longwear Lipcreme
Application: Smooth and creamy, but careful of your lip line (and teeth) as it's a flat stick
Retouch: Zero to once

Mac Good to Go Lipstick
Good to Go

So there you have it, my mini collection of MAC lippies. I wanted to share with you three other colours I quite like (Amorous, Viva Glam I and Freckletone) but I can't find them for the life of me. I hope this is enough to show a range of colours they have, though admittedly the best way to find a lip colour that suits you is to really try. If you have a slight phobia of using testers like me, I've been told that the next best way to test a lipstick is to swipe it on a fingertip. But make sure you wash your hands after!!!

Oh, and excuse the goosebumps, it was quite cold when I took these photos.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Com Viet Revisited: where the CHACK BUS came around

There's something about the subtlety of Vietnamese cuisine that makes it stand out. The marriage of fresh herbs/aromatics and fresh produce is a strong one especially when you have really good ingredients and really good people who know how to play them for.

I also like Vietnamese because whenever I eat it, I feel like I've had a cheat day/lazy night takeaway minus the calories and health hazards. 

A few weeks ago the Filo Supper Club girls and I went back to Com Viet to celebrate K Lighter Day. It was good to see the girls again (we missed sweet momma R!) and I'm super ecstatic that my MOH & cousin D is now part of our posse!

Everyone had a piece of blue as it's K's favourite colour.

Even the ladies in red.

From outside the restaurant along Garrick Street, Com Viet looks super tiny and almost hole-in-the-wall-ish for Covent Garden standards. Down a narrow wooden staircase though, the place looks like a proper restaurant with really nice booths like so:

The thing with Vietnamese food is that I like EVERYTHING! There was a server who knew the menu like the back of his hand and we played a bit of a game.

US: Number 48
HIM: Bun Sa!
US: Number 7a
HIM: Prawn skewers!
US: Number 21b
HIM: Tofu in caramelised sauce!
ME: Number 44a
HIM: Ahhh... we do not have 44a!

Impressive... and the dude gave me my large glass of red - for free!

Few minutes after our little quiz our food arrived.

There was gai cuo ton again (£4.60). The spring rolls were as good as they were: fragrant, fresh and beautifully wrapped. Still served with that hoi sin / plum sauce thing which I still find bizarre.

Salt and pepper squid (£6.90) was decent but not totally mind blowing. I like that the batter was crispy and light. 

The Saigon stewed pork belly (£8.50) tasted a bit of adobo minus the tart flavour. The pork was soft and tender, braised in fish sauce and soy. 

I ordered some BBQ grilled squid (£6.90) because I liked it so much before. Unfortunately I was let down on this visit. It was flat as French pancakes, dry and tough on the edges. Darn.

The water spinach (£7) stir fried in garlic was a great health kick and there was plenty enough to share between eight people. I wish they seasoned it more though.

Crowd favourite of the night was the BBQ pork loin with rice vermicelli (£9.5) but as I've had it before I wanted something different. Still in the mood for noodles, I opted for beef bun sa (£9). It's basically a massive plate of sauteed beef strips, rice vermicelli, veggies and herbs. At first sight the only difference between this and the pork noodle dish is the meat. Oh, and they have an extra spring roll. #ifeelsoleftout

Served with the holy mother of Viet sauces my dish came alive. There wasn't really much of a difference between the two dishes taste-wise either except one was porky, the other beefy. Not that it's a bad thing because the ingredients are the same anyway and both are pretty darn good dishes. Except they have a spring roll and my dish didn't. 

I do sense great comfort whenever I visit Com Viet - possibly because the place is so cosy, most likely because I'm always with the FSC ladies when I go. K was smiling at me from heaven that night. Surrounded by friends with happy bellies full up to brim, there was a show of support and love. These women are so strong and I am inspired.

Oh and if you're wondering about the title... it's kind of an inside joke but here's a clue:

Com Viet
2-4 Garrick St  London, City of London, Greater London WC2E 9BH | +44(0)20 7497 2779
Ave spend pp: £20 (no desserts, but there's a lot of cafés and froyo places around)
Square Meal

Thursday, 20 February 2014

La-la-la-love... THROWBACK THURSDAY: A Fishy Fresh Date

I love this time of the week, when my social media feeds are flooded with people's memories. I remember it started with #sentisaturday, which became #flashbackfriday, which became #throwbackthursday. Here's a memory I'd like to share.

So you know Plaid Boy and I went to the SEA Aquarium in Singas, right? I've always known Plaid Boy had a thing for aquariums (to the point of watching fish from outside Chinatown restaurants in New York) but I didn't think he'd actually want to visit the tourist-laden aquarium on his first London trip with me. I thought he'd want to do something much cooler, like a crawl of the city's best speakeasies or a trek up to the Lake District. This actually set off alarms in my head. Who flies to London from New York to visit the aquarium? It's like me flying to New York to eat fish and chips. It's so... geeky! Of course as the local (we hadn't done labels yet then) I had to put on my Blue Badge tour guide face and oblige. Keep the boy happy, why don't we.

It was R Kelly all over again.

But secretly... I actually love the aquarium too.

So, we started the day looking at fish in Borough Market making pun and fun of the fins in the sun and silly little rhymes about the gills and slime. (That was bad, I know.)

Can't really say "It's a jungle out there!" but...

And then we went off to see the fishies in the tanks, starting with sharks at our feet. I hate glass floors - they get me paranoid.

We walked into a room where they had a pool for rays and flat fish. I busted out a groove and said "Hey Ray, come out to play!" and this little one swam by.

Then we went to see the bigger tanks. It was quite eerie and dark as if something else was on stealth mode waiting to jump at you...

Until I realised it was a family place and a young woman lurking behind props would look seriously suspicious on CCTV so I came out and was awed by the enormity of the tanks.

They had quite a community down there.

Look, a massive tortoise!

I have a slight phobia of jellyfish much thanks to the one with the pee. They're beautiful creatures but...

Plaid Boy: Girlfriend, can you handle this?
Girl Next Shore: I don't think I'm ready for this jelly.

And when you see a bunch of clownfish and blue tang... you know what's coming, don't you?

We found Nemo and Dory!!!! (There, I said it.) Look, they made beso pa!

We also found this photogenic fish which reminded me of the word 'grandpa'.

Found a little one with a tear in its eye... (it looks so kawawa!)

...and a big one who scared the bajeezus out of me.

But look how happy it made little boy blue!

All my apprehensions about losing street cred and geekery dissipated when I saw this. I think I fell in love with him a little bit here. A little bit lang!

I've never been a fan of crocs (the footwear brand and the animal) but I was totally mesmerized by this beauty.

Whilst those crazy sharp whites do not say "Hug me! Let's be friends!" I was super drawn into this gorgeous display of sloth. He was just perched on that rock, sleeping like a baby.

And look! I can't help but drool over that gorgeous skin.

I think I stayed by his window for a good five minutes or so thinking, "Dear Mr Crocky, I think you're pretty. Don't eat me."

And then we went to see the penguins!!!!! OMG, this made me so happy. We spent a good half hour in the penguin zone and I was in total glee. By the time we thought we've had enough, I realised that I wanted more so Plaid Boy allowed me to go back and play whilst he roamed around and looked at other fishies.

I took crap photos, but there were decent videos. ;)

And then we were out.

It was defo one of the nicest early dates I've had. Never mind the grey skies and the manong stranger in the background, I had a great time. In retrospect, the date was sort of a sign and a little practice of things to come (ie us being official) - putting someone else's interests before mine to make them super happy, almost liking things I thought I detested, that awesome feeling of not being alone even in my lonesome. He said he knew I was going to be his girlfriend, I wasn't too sure. I was quite happy being single and independent, quite used to getting my way. And look where we are now.

The Aquarium is definitely a touristy thing to do, but it's good fun when you've got awesome company. It definitely made me appreciate the beauty of the underwater world and God's creations all around. You should go see it, too.

London SEA Life Aquarium
County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7PB
Tickets at £22 for adults, £16 for kids