Monday, 29 June 2015

Thinking about random happy thoughts

And just like that, we're halfway through 2015. Seriously, folks. Where did the time go?! 

To say it's been a challenging couple of months is an understatement but I'm not here to bore you with all the crazy details and sob stories of life. As #motivationalmonday seems to put a smile on your faces, here's a random thought-dump of things that have been making me spread butterballs of sunshine these days.

My hair is naturally straight and I've always been envious of ladies with beachy/wavy tresses. After years of pondering, I finally had my hair digitally permed and I'm quite pleased with the end result. My hair now has natural-looking waves that coil in some places and it's so easy to style. If you're thinking of perms, I highly recommend going digital and checking out  J Hair and Beauty in Fitzrovia.

I first started going to Lab in 2010 after a life-changing milestone and have been drawn in, not only by their seriously fantastic cocktails but also the whole ambience and service. The place has become some sort of sanctuary and through the years, some of the amazing staff and regulars have been friends. Five years, hundreds of cocktails, thousands of faces and a lifetime's worth of learnings later, it's still my favourite post-work watering hole in Soho.

I've been eating a lot of burgers lately, particularly from Honest Burgers (and their monthly specials) and Bukowski. Not ideally bikini-ready-body meals, but I'd be darned to turn down a burger brunch especially when I can find these two burger joints just around the corner from home! Too good to say "no" too!

Here's another Brixton Village institution that's starting to be a Sunday staple. I've been getting my caffeine fix from Federation Coffee for the past few weeks and it seriously hits the spot. Paired with toasted banana bread with Nutella, their coffee concoctions are worth queuing up (and waking up) for!

This week, I received a number of surprises in the office from various "sponsors" haha: Hummingbird Bakery cupcakes (which went down a treat) and Vita Coco drinks that I seriously can't wait to create fantastic cocktails with! Watch this space...

I've never been a flower person (and I always get embarrassed receiving them at work or carrying them around town) but there's something about roses that seriously make me feel a little bit more feminine... and adored. Merci buckets to my ex-boyfriend for sending these across.

Whatever or whoever it is that's making you smile, I do hope you don't forget to chin up to the sun and embrace the greatness of life. Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead! x

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Skin-y Love: Skin Inc Serums

At 30, I still get ID'ed and quite frankly it's getting a bit embarrassing. Spare me the #AsianGenes joke (well.. unless you're Asian, too) because really and truly, it's what you do to your body and to your face that matters most and not your ethnic lineage.

But let's face it (har har), whatever our heritage is, age brings forth a lot of skin issues and we have to really take care of our skin else we'd look like manky potatoes. Most of us have been curious about the Korean 10+ steps to beautiful skin and though it sounds like a feasible regimented course, it's still a bit tortuous when you're always on the go. Heck, I'd put my hands up and say some nights I don't even have time to take my makeup off. Eww, but true.

I chanced on Skin Inc serums during my last Singapore trip early this year. Skin Inc is the world’s first skin supplement bar offering beauty solutions tailor-made for customers to help ease their beauty regimen. They have nine individual serums (SG$128 or £60 per 20ml) you can play with to create custom-formulated combos designed to solve multiple skin issues in just ONE step. This is what they call "My Daily Dose."

The products feature highly concentrated, pure and active serums and skincare from Japan. The best thing? No added scents and no parabens. I bought four serums back in February but have only started using them in April. Three months later, I am convinced these serums are some of the best I've tried!

For my daily dose bottle, I only combined two serums (you're meant to use three). The REPLENISH serum is a hyaluronic acid designed to replenish and hold moisture for long lasting hydration in your skin; whilst the REBALANCE serum is a cocktail of Vitamin C, B6 and E, which targets to reduce appearance of pores and to balance sebum production in your skin.

My two favourites, though:

REBORN Collagen serum contains an optimal level of marine collagen and elastin that are rich in amino acids and penetrate the skin effectively. Collagen gives your skin structural support, smoothing out fine lines and keeping your complexion supple.

REGENERATE Vitamin A serum targets uneven skin tone, dull skin and..... DARK EYE CIRCLES! Lack of Vitamin A causes skin to become coarse and sluggish so this aims to keep skin healthy by increasing cell metabolism and circulation, banishing dark circles, dryness and dullness.

SkinInc also has a wide range of other beauty products such as toners, masks, moisturisers and even devices that help target all skin concerns. The products are currently only available in Singapore and in the States, but I seriously hope they'd come to the UK soon. Seriously amazing!

Do you use serums? What are your favourites? x

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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

ChickenLiquor (Brixton): where we had more liquor than wish bones

I'm not too huge on chicken but there are times when the mood just calls for proper, dirty chicken - like when your brain itself feels like it's in a deep fried state and when all things seem battered. When the Meatailer group (of MeatLiquor fame) rebranded Wishbone in Brixton Market, I never thought I'd see the day I'd walk into ChickenLiquor. But one bad day, I got off work and all I ever wanted was everything submerged in oil, a little bit of chicken and a little bit of liquor. 

The chicken shop boneless chicken bites (£6.50) came aplenty with a pot of barbecue sauce. The house coating itself was decent and was crispy enough. It's the chicken I have an issue with as it wasn't as juicy as I would've wanted.

I went for the dirty chicken burger (£8) as it seemed like the safest choice of the four burgers on offer (all chicken save for the halloumi veggie option). It sounded promising enough in its simplicity: chicken fillet, mayo, red onions. However I was underwhelmed with 1) its size; 2) its appearance; and 3) its flavour.

I've had this sort of burger from that famous chicken joint and though it's probably heaps dirtier than ChickenLiquor's dirty burger, I'm pretty sure it was bigger, better and more finger-licking-good (just over half the price, too).

It wasn't all that bad. I felt an affinity with the hot mess (£4.50) as it was exactly how I felt at the time, har har. It's ridiculously dirty and is so bad for any type of diet but damnit, you need this in your life. Hash browns, jalapenos, melted cheese, hot sauce and pickles. It's enough to make you feel better.

What's a run to a chicken shop sans liquor, non? I opted for good ol' scotch and ginger beer whilst my cousin-BFF-MOH D went for the Paloma (£7), a concoction of tequila and sparkling grapefruit juice with lime and a tajin rim.

We may have had one tequila, two tequila, some whiskey shots and more. But who's counting?

Would I go back to ChickenLiquor? Staff's friendly and flirty enough to make you chuckle on a bad day. The hot mess is definitely a good side and they have a decent selection of liquor for hair of the dog habits. But as a chicken shop, I seriously think they need a bit of improvement. 

Unit 12 Market Row, Brixton Market, London SW9
Ave spend pp: £20
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Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Sunday Currently: Girl Next Shore vol 4

I've not updated this series in quite some time. I've been distracted by a heap load of food, some developments at work, and some life decisions.

Do you ever have that unsettling desire to re-write history? Case in point: my mother enrolled me in ballet classes when I was a kid. The tutu we had to wear was quite itchy so I took my clothes off whilst in session class. The teacher tried to reprimand me for showing my ladybits so I bit her and spanked her bum. My mom was told her rowdy child might be suitable for something a bit less controlled... like jazz or hiphop. I ended up doing street dance for the rest of my life but often dream of spinning gracefully like a ballet dancer for expression (and I work near the Royal Ballet School). If I knew then what I know now, I would've sucked it up 26 years ago and let the itchy tutu take over for an hour a day. But I was just a kid and I couldn't have known better.

Thing is these days, I'm no longer a kid and there are some things that can't take over. I know better. Or do I really? 

Over the past few weeks I have well wondered if there's a parallel universe somewhere out there, where our mirror-selves are allowed to erase memories (and mistakes) with a pirouette here or a grand jeté there.

Alas, I am living on Earth and unfortunately not ballerina. 

The FT Weekend.

More posts about amazing food from all over Londontown.


If you could know what I was feeling
You'd know that I belong with you
And in this love never defeated
Living, dying here for you

And everyday seems it will never end
I fall asleep to wake and it starts over again

I've got all the time in the world

and every night to think of you
and empty seems like to last forever
but I guess I've got nothing left to lose

about my Daddy and all men responsible for all the cool kids in the world. Happy Father's Day, y'all!

Aesop Rind Concentrate Body Balm. Trying badly to refrain from licking my arms because I smell like creamy grapefruit.

I could turn back time so I could have made better decisions. Non, je ne regrette rien, because you live and learn after all... and I firmly believe that things will fall into place (if you try hard enough).

for a little bit of a breather and a very good week ahead.

an old rose sweater, Breton stripe shorts, white Chuck Taylors.

Game of Thrones season finale. Oh, Jon Snow.

to travel more. Dreaming of flying to Porto for a bit of surfing and gorging on a heap load of octopus.

to go on a holiday.


Andrea's Passions, Wander to Wonder, Hecticophilia, Silverspoon London and Zomato UK.
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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Salon (Brixton): where brunch had potential...

I've always passed by Salon en route to other establishments along Brixton Market Row (ie the original Franco Manca and my favourite Thai in town, Yum-D) but I've never really given it much thought for a visit as it always came across another coffee shop (and I always go to Federation Coffee in Brixton). So when @bakeryee suggested a brunch rendezvous there, I was surprised to know they actually serve proper food.

There's a decent sized dining area upstairs reminiscent of the type you see in hipster magazines/Pinterest with its shabby chic meets industrial meets country home vibe.

Yee booked us a table for Sunday brunch (they require a £5/head deposit for groups over 8). Pleasantries exchanged after the latecomers *ahem* arrived and shortly after, we were all sorted for orders. We immersed ourselves in pleasant Sunday-brunch banter until our orders arrived. Like the place itself, each dish had that Instagrammable factor.

Tamsin's scrambled eggs with 'nduja on toast (£6.5)

Miho's hot smoked salmon, buttermilk scone with beetroot & cabbage slaw (£9)

T's and John's lamb special (£9)

Duck egg

It was Alex's smashed avocado on toast with chilli and smoked lardons (£6.5) that had me salivating. I wanted to get this myself but as I've pretty much smashed (har har) this recipe at home, I decided to get something else. Alex's appreciative 'Oh, yum!' utterances did give me massive food envy, though.

E, Angela, Yee & I went for the three-cheese cornbread with ham hock and supergreens (£7.5). I had high hopes for this dish, but unfortunately something seemed amiss... and something seemed too prominent. We realised that the cornbread lacked a bit of moistness and creamy texture whilst everything else on the plate was a bit overseasoned. This was when everyone pretty much agreed that the kitchen might have gotten a tad too excited with salt.

I opted out of the poached egg but everyone else had /#eggporn-worthy plates. Instead, I ordered a side of wild mushrooms with pickled walnut (£2.5) on the side, which I enjoyed more than my main.

We ordered a few slices of warm banana bread served with hazelnut ganache (£4). This sounded really promising but I honestly didn't like it as much as I thought I would. The banana flavour was slightly overpowered by spices and the superseeds on top just gave it a strange texture. The ganache, however, was pretty yum. I'd've licked all four bowls of it if I were that greedy. 

Oh, we also managed to score amazing macarons by E who nailed the matcha flavour on first try!

Don't you love brunch with buddies? Especially those couple friends who just make your heart melt like butter (atop scones and pancakes and cornbread and... oops, I'm getting carried away, aren't I?)

And because this is one of the cutest things I've ever seen (nevermind the photobomber)

Overall, Salon Brixton has a lot of potential. Their seasonal a la carte and brunch menus have strong contenders for really outstanding dishes, as long as they go easy on the salt! If you do visit, go bring a bunch of people you can laugh with. After all, it's the company that makes up for a good time.

18 Market Row, Coldharbour Lane, London SW9
Ave spend pp: £20
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Monday, 15 June 2015

Palomar (Rupert St): where Jewish fare trumps everything else in Chinatown

I can't tell you the number of times I've tried to book space at The Palomar since its inception last June. Walk-ins are allowed, but 1) I'm perpetually hungry; 2) a hungry person has no patience to wait even for 1.5 hours (which sometimes, in no-reservations resto talk means "Go away and go somewhere else"); and 3) my stomach goes violent when I get hangry. A year later, we (finally and triumphantly) managed to secure a table and were able to see if it was worth the wait.

With fare rooted in Jewish, Arabic and Mediterranean traditions, Palomar's menu seemed as exciting as the action by the bar where chefs and servers entertain punters with cheeky winks and funky prep.

Thankfully we were sent to the back where we have a proper table because I wasn't in the mood for that kind of cheese. The space is tinier than I'd imagined and it was rather humid (they had aircon issues) where they sat us. That said, I did like our corner booth as it gave us a good vantage point for my other favourite past time: people watching.

It was quite a long day. So yes, this menu was much needed!

We wanted some bread to begin with and though our minds were in it for the challah, our server suggested the kubaneh (£5). It's steamed pull-apart bread usually cooked overnight and eaten for brekky on Sabbath day. I've had sugar-dusted kubaneh before in the Philippines but Palomar's is quite the savoury type. The bread was soft and salty, warm and perfect.

Our bread was served with two dips, tahini and grated tomato. I thought the grated toms dip was creamy and tangy to a tee, but it was the tahini that impressed me. I don't like tahini that much but this was superb. If it's good enough to convert someone then woopdeedoo, it must be really good.

We were given some sweet potato crisps with some sort of tahini and parsley dip. Quite a nice snack to munch on while waiting for mains.

We ordered some kubenia (£9), hand chopped beef fillet served on a bed of (more) tahini, and pine nuts. Frankly, this was more exciting that the steak tartare dishes I've had in Paris. The beef was well seasoned and the pine nuts gave the dish such a nice texture. The tahini may have tipped the dish to a saltier profile, but I do like its overall flavour.

The seared scallops (£13.5) were quite pleasant. These were served atop sliced new pots and swiss chard and artichoke, dressed in a delicious lemon beurre blanc light and delicate to the palate. I didn't think the hazelnut tuille was necessary but it was a good dish, nonetheless.

You can't ignore something called octo-hummous on a menu so we went out to get that, too. The octopus is "josperised" (ie cooked in an indoor barbecue oven) and is nice and tender on its own... however, as it's swimming in a bed of hummous - albeit really good and creamy - the smokiness I expected was lost.

Another josperised dish we ordered was the cauliflower steak (£7.5) which came in a pool of labneh and sprinkled with almonds. I was most excited of this dish, which is a shame because it was the most underwhelming. The cauliflower itself lacked seasoning but the labneh was some of the best I've had. Ever.

We washed it all with a glass of Riesling each. Serving size was quite generous for 'small plates' and considering we didn't order much (between two) we were comfortably full in the end.

Overall, I liked The Palomar a lot and I can't believe it took a year to try it out. The dishes were well thought of and produce was top class. I'd definitely go back for sure (with a proper camera this time!), as there are still heaps of dishes I would love to try, even if I had to brave the queues and nurse my hangry stomach. Well worth it.

The Palomar
34 Rupert Street, London W1D 
Ave spend pp: £40
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