Monday, 1 June 2015

Ippin Cafe Bar @ Mohamed Sultan - Casual Japanese Home Style Dining [Sponsored Review]

First off, apologies for the recent absence! The last leg of my pregnancy has not been as breezy so I've unfortunately spent a fair amount of time feeling kinda bleagh. But let's not go there lol XD 

Back in April, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invite for food tasting at a fairly new Japanese cafe bar that labeled itself a Japanese Makan & Drinks Place~ I rarely blog about lifestyle stuff so I was initially quite baffled why I was included in the mix ^^;; But the press kit was enticing and you know how I love Japan so naturally, I accepted.

Abit of background info:

Ippin Cafe Bar only just opened late last year and, being situated along Mohamed Sultan Rd, is across the road from En Dining Bar at UE Square and thus just a short walk from Liang Court. 


They boast their very own certified sake sommelier Ayumi, who is also the owner, and naturally offer a wide variety of premium sake (Prices range $35 - $95 for 720ml), shochu and craft beers. Ippin's head chef Naomi used to be a culinary teacher in Hong Kong, teaching home style Japanese cooking to the domestic helpers of Japanese expats missing the taste of home and I also heard from my Japanese colleague that she used to teach at a very popular cooking school in Japan too!

Aside from food and drink, Ippin also offers a wide range of Japanese home and food products so you can browse while kicking back after a nice meal that incidentally may have been made using a few in-store products! This cafe bar also holds the occasional cooking workshop, flea market and other little projects so be sure to check with the staff if they have anything coming up~

Oh and may I mention that all the menu prices are NETT? I love not having to factor in taxes and all plus there's free Wifi too!

Let's take a look at the place now shall we~

 Lots of natural sunlight =)

Casual atmosphere all set up for the tasting session



I liked the general feel of the place, lots of wood and white with smatterings of colour....abit of Scandinavian and Japanese...kind of like how I would like my own home to be y'know?

Digging this sofa and table set.....

A look at the simple non-alcoholic drinks menu:



Due to the pregnancy I was unable to try the alcohol and much of the tea selection but from the reactions of my fellow diners it seems to be favourable all around! I had the Hojicha since it had the lowest caffeine content, nice!

Most of the food here comes in a set but they've since expanded the menu to include smaller bites like sandwiches and other appetizers. Sets generally come with salad, Japanese rice (with barley so it's healthier!), Hatcho miso soup, a small side of Nikujaga (pork & potato stew) and dessert so talk about a full meal!


The AWESOME Nikujaga up there that should have a set of its own. Seriously I swear the stew is really really good!

On the food tasting menu that day were:

Grilled Oyster & Veggies in Ponzu Butter Sauce Set $20 NETT

Said oysters hail from Hiroshima, famous for their clean tasting oysters. This was surprisingly light, which sort of set the tone for the rest of the session. The oysters were had a very clean taste but I wish the ponzu taste was stronger. I wouldn't have known that ponzu was in the mix if not for the menu description.


Deep Fried Oyster Set $24 NETT


Here's a closer look at the oysters & the dip (tasting size):


I liked the dip (a light but chunky wasabi mayo I think) very much, it was nice & chunky and not any sort of in-your-face taste so it didn't overwhelm the lightly battered/breaded oysters nicely~ I rarely eat oysters because I'm terribly afraid of any sort of overwhelming sea or fishy taste but these oysters (both the fried and grilled versions) tasted nice and clean. 

Oyakodon Set $15 NETT (this set comes with Miso soup and dessert)


Again, the taste is on the light side so you don't feel overloaded with a whole lot of seasoning and sauce. It's really up to personal preference if you'd like this over the usual heavier versions though. I really like the Japanese rice mixed with barley, it makes the dish less heavy and that much healthier! Also available for purchase in-store if you like ^..^ 

Miso Udon Noodle with Oyster Set $15 NETT

Yes, oysters again!!
This is Aichi Prefecture soul food and uses naturally produced red miso that takes 2 whole years to ferment. This set comes with kobachi (small side dish) and dessert.

This was....ok for me. I prefer my soups thinner so this wasn't really my thing since the soup was on the thick side. Pretty rich overall.

And lastly, the Yakisoba Set $12 NETT (comes with a small side dish and dessert)


For some reason I've never been a fan of this daily Japanese fare but some of the diners liked it very much and even bought the noodles which were available in-store.

Last look at some of the sets that were plated to show the usual serving sizes~

Background - Miso Udon Set, Foreground - Grilled Oysters & Veggie Set

Oyakodon set

I noticed this little note on free rice refills on the menu:


Furikake for the rice refills

I think it's nice that they also provide a small selection of furikake (rice seasonings) to accompany your rice refills =)

Poking around the shopping area:

Some of the food & drink selections

A selection of Washi fiber goods

Curetex Washi fiber from the Fukui Prefecture, a natural fabric with a very high fiber count, is supposedly able to absorb odour, is anti-bacterial and block UV rays while providing coolness. Items made from this fabric range from $11 for a dual-side face mitten to $82 for a T-shirt. 

It started to rain before I left so I hung back to chat and the friendly staff at Ippin let me just sit around while waiting out the rain. So I got to see how the cafe is usually arranged and it really is very cosy and casual.

Looking a tad dim due to the rain

And here's what I brought home at the end of my visit:

Clockwise from top left: Wasabi Dressing, Sudachi Honey juice ($3/280ml), Plum Chazuke (tea rice) mix,
Koji Amazake (Sweet rice juice $18/500ml) and Curetex Washi fiber face mitt ($11).

Items without prices were part of our goodie bag for the day (^__^)v

So at the end of my rather long visit to Ippin, I would say that this cafe bar: 
  • is a nice place to spend an afternoon with the girlfriends or relaxing dinner and drinks after work. 
  • has a nice casual vibe and if you enjoy unpretentious home-style fare cooked with a light touch then Ippin's menu is definately up your alley.
  • boasts a wide range of both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks plus even a sake tasting where one can try 3 types of sake from their selection for just $15.
  • has friendly staff who're up for a chat if you feel like it.
Would I go back? Yes~~~ For the Nikujaga and the Fried Oysters!! ( ´͈ ॢꇴ `͈ॢ)♡ 
IPPIN CAFE BAR - Japanese Makan & Drinks Place

18 Mohamed Sultan Rd (Just across the road from En Dining Bar at UE Square)
Tel: 6733 4794
Hours: Mon - Sat 11am - 11pm
NETT prices and FreeWiFi

@IPPINCAFEBAR
#BetterThanMom

Last but not least, a big Thank You to Ippin and Hazel for the invite and setting up the tasting session! ♡´・ᴗ・`♡ And thank you too for reading another lengthy post! Hope you've had a good long weekend!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Kanebo Seasonal Sale 2015 is on next week!

If you haven't already heard, the Kanebo Seasonal Sale 2015 is happening next midweek!

Date: 22 & 23 April 2015 / 10am - 7pm
Where: 83 Clemenceau Avenue #01-35 / 36 UE Square 

My Japanese ex-colleague is all of a flutter~ =D


Past season sales had prices starting from single digits for much of the Kate range and go up to about 70% for the more expensive brands! With my limited spending power now, that sounds really good~ (insert Homer Simpson slobber here)

Still a week to go but~ Happy Shopping Ladies!!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

☀ Sunscreen Showdown ☀ Dr Jart+ vs Somme Institute vs Supergoop! [Sponsored Review]

A little while ago I was very pleasantly surprised to be gifted a small selection of sunscreens from Luxola Singapore for comparison! Seeing as the sunny (omg oh-so-sunny.....┌(▀Ĺ̯▀)┐)  days are upon us, it was perfect timing~ As you may know, pregnancy is one of those times when you are more susceptible to hyper pigmentation and higher production of melanin (I've already discovered 1 new freckle urrgh!) due to decreased adrenal gland function. So I've definitely been in the market for a good lightweight sunscreen! As it turned out, I had quite a few town errands to run over the past week or so and was able to test the sunscreens for 1 to 2 days apiece~

From Left: Somme Institute Double Defense, Dr Jart+ Ctrl-A Sensitive Sun Protector
and Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen with Cellular Response Technology

Let's pretend to be organised and proceed in the pictured sequence shall we? =D

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SUNSCREEN NO. 1

Somme Institute Double Defense SPF 30+

S$65 / 3.8 fl. oz (approx 112ml)

About the product:

Double Defense with SPC30+ and Parsol 1789 is a light-weight moisturising lotion to protect the skin from premature ageing whilst locking in vital moisture. Perfect for the whole body and suitable for all skin types, this moisturiser with added SPF provides the skin with a broad spectrum of protection from UVA and UVB rays ensuring your skin is protected and remains healthy and youthful looking.

In case you were curious about Parsol 1789:

Also known as Avobenzone. Because of its long history of safe and effective use, it is documented as a strong UVA absorber and the most-used UVA organic sunscreen worldwide.

Back of the Box:


Active Ingredients: Homosalate (10%), Octinoxate (7.5%), Oxybenzone (6%), Octisalate (5%), Avobenzone (2%)


THE EXPERIENCE:

It's a simple but stylish-looking packaging, a little more on the clinical side in terms of design. Features a twist lock pump style dispenser, just turn the pump top in the direction of the arrow and push to dispense~ A tad bulky to pop into your handbag but ok for a beach tote.


I have to say, I was slightly put-off upon dispensing the product because it was thicker than expected =\ Definitely the creamiest of the 3, it'd probably be more suited for those with drier skin types. Although it spread well, absorbed decently and didn't leave a whitish tint, I could still feel like there was an extra layer on my face and that it was just slightly tacky. I was thinking this might be so because it's supposed to function as an all-over moisturiser as well? As a body sunscreen it was fine though, there wasn't that much stickiness and absorbed decently.

The packaging states that Double Defense is suitable for all skin types but my (still slightly sensitive) jawline sprang a couple of oil clogs at the end of my 1st day so....maybe the moisturiser aspect was a little too rich for my combo-oily skin. Whilst the 'sunscreen-y' smell is also present here, it's extremely light and so shouldn't be an issue.


In the ingredients department, you may notice it contains 6% Oxybenzone which was one of the ingredients that both Dr Jart+ and Supergoop! found necessary to omit (see why in the Dr Jart+ section of this post). So that might put you off if you're particular about what goes into your skincare. Personally, though I'm not THAT particular, I would've preferred it to have been omitted as well. That's what reading up does to you.

Oh and there was a little note inside the box that highlighted this:


I would think this is mainly for the skincare products in the line? I still don't like that my jawline reacted so I'm more inclined to use this sunscreen on the body instead of my face in future.

+++

SUNSCREEN NO. 2

Dr Jart+ Ctrl-A Sensitive Sun Protector SPF 35 / PA++ 

S$36 / 40ml

About the product:

Get maximum sun protection without the harsh chemicals with Ctrl-A Sensitive Sun Protector. Fear not those solar rays with this well-formulated product which shields the skin while leaving behind a smooth powdery finish. Proven safe and non-comedogenic, this product is composed of ingredients that prevent acne and keeps skin from being irritated by external factors. Being under the sun is no longer a cause for concern with Dr Jart's Ctrl-A Sun Protector, giving your skin a natural look with added protection.

Benefits:
  • Light on the skin, this product leaves a powdery finish without the stickiness.
  • Proven non-comedogenic; does not contain any ingredients that may potentially cause acne.
  • Passed skin irritation test and is free from the following substances (10-Free System): Paraben, Fragrances, Tar Colours, Mineral Oils, Benzophenone, Triethanolamine, Sulfate Surfactant, Benzyl Alcohol, Talc, Polyacrylamide.

Active Ingredients: AC-Fensine, Salicylic Acid, Centella Asiatica, Celtic Water.

Product information extracted from Luxola

Back of the Box:

To add to the list of active ingredients in the product description; info on the
side also indicates this as a Cruelty Free product!

I thought I might add little extra info here on a few components for us non-scientific folk =P

From the 10-free list:

Benzophenone (Aka Oxybenzone) - Although a common ingredient in sunscreens, a study conducted by the CDC on 2,500 Americans found that 97% of subjects tested positive chemical remnants in their systems. It's also a powerful free radical generator activated by ultraviolet light that can possibly set off  a reaction that may lead to melanoma and other skin cancers. Yikes.

Triethanolamine - A strongly alkaline substance and classified as a respiratory toxicant, can give rise to allergic reactions in short-term use whilst long-term use could damage the skin. Concentration in skincare products or makeup should be within 5% for safe daily usage and even so, be sure to wash it off throughly.

From the active ingredients list:

AC-Fensine - The patented mainstay of the Dr Jart line for acne-prone skin; it is anti-bacterial and serves to eliminate acne-causing bacteria and strengthen the skin's immune system.

Centella Asiatica - Also known as Asiatic Pennywort, native to the wetlands of Asia, is traditionally used (in the area of skincare) in the treatment of skin damage. A popular ingredient in anti-aging formulas, it has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is supposedly good for stimulating collagen production and skin repair therefore improving elasticity and firmness.

THE EXPERIENCE:

Primarily a sunscreen for the face, the Ctrl-A sunscreen applied and absorbed well without leaving any sort of whitish tint on me. The texture is slightly thinner than our conventional sunscreen and although 'fragrance-free' there's still an extremely light 'sunscreen-y' smell that you wouldn't notice unless you stuck your nose in it.

I'm happy that it didn't have a tacky finish and didn't make my skin degenerate into an oil slick over the course of the day even though I broke into a sweat going in and out of the afternoon sun and aircon. Promises a powdery finish but I wouldn't go that far. Definitely not oily at all, decently matte but, sorry to say, not to the extent of powdery ( ^_^ ) That said, it didn't interfere with my makeup~


Being from the Ctrl-A (i.e anti acne) series, this isn't your regular sunscreen. I was leaning towards Dr Jart+ in terms of preference at first as the formula included one of my favourite acne fighters: Salicylic Acid. So those who are appreciative of the effect this ingredient has on your skin will probably consider this a big tick in Dr Jart+'s favour.

+++

SUNSCREEN NO. 3

Supergoop! Everyday SPF 30 with Cellular Response Technology

S$27 / 2.4 fl. oz (approx 71ml) or S$68 / 18 fl. oz (approx 532ml)

About the product: 

Everyday Sunscreen SPF 30 (Also available in SPF 50) provides super broad spectrum sun protection for face and body in an oil-free, non-comedogenic lotion. Powered by potent anti-oxidant-rich Cellular Response Technology, this lotion preserves and protects skin's youthful glow. Ideal for a day of play, this feel-good formula easily absorbs into the skin allowing skin to breathe and sweat. Replenishing moisture through a unique beta-glucan proven to deliver better long term moisturization than hyaluronic acid. Natural extracts of citrus, basil and boise de rose provide a subtle sensorial experience with no unpleasant "sunscreen" smell. The 18oz has an easy twist-and-lock pump so you never have to worry about spills or drips when you put it in your bag or suitcase. 

Formulated with Avobenzone, it is a good product for people of darker skin tones as it absorbs into the skin and will not leave a white veil. If you're looking for a sunscreen to use while playing sports this is your good go-to as it allows the skin to breathe unlike a mineral sunscreen which creates a physical barrier on top of the skin.

Back of the Box:

Oxybenzone Free!

Cruelty-free!

THE EXPERIENCE:

Just a small note which may or may not matter: this was the only sunscreen that came with a foil seal. Anyway, I LOVE the texture of the Supergoop! sunscreen! It was the lightest of the 3, more on the watery side, and even though I sweat through it (dog walking till around noon), it didn't leave an oil slick and felt comfortably smooth and quite matte on my skin after dabbing the sweat away and thus worked nicely under makeup too!

Can you tell it's more watery in consistency?

Instead of the usual sunscreen smell, Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen is formulated with some herbal & floral extracts so it smells...well...prettier? Instead of bringing a swimming pool to mind, Supergoop! reminds me of the sunscreen my facial salon uses during my sessions =) But as with the other 2 brands reviewed, the smell wasn't strong so no issues there if you're not a fan of any sort of fragrances~

Regarding its performance as a body sunscreen, is it any surprise that there was no issue? Because of the lightweight formula, it absorbed very well and didn't leave any sort of tackiness. Nice!

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THE CONCLUSION

I have to admit I was initially predisposed towards Dr Jart+ from just studying the box but by the time I was done testing all 3, I have to say my money's on Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen.

Product consistency is a big deal for me when it comes to sunscreen and the added fact that it's suitable as a body sunscreen as well just made it that more attractive. I really liked how it absorbed and didn't turn my skin tacky or oily even when I sweat through it, didn't experience any skin reactions over the couple days I used it and it's cruelty free! 。^‿^。 

At S$27 for 71ml, it's reasonably priced and the slim flat packaging makes for easy packing. Should you be purchasing for family use, the 532ml version (S$68) is economically priced too~ I'm popping off for a short trip this week and this sunscreen is definitely coming with me! ^__^

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If you've read the whole post today, thanks for hanging in there! I know it's a pretty lengthy one this time XP 

Luxola has kindly provided me with a promo code for you lovely people! Simply enter at checkout

BLX-RHI

And receive 15% off your first-time order!

(This code expires a month from the date of this post and is not valid on non-discountable brands as stated HERE.) 


Happy Shopping! Thanks to Mallika & Weina from Luxola for the sunscreens and Thank YOU for reading! (◍•ᴗ•◍)❤

*Products featured in this post were kindly provided by Luxola for my review and comparison. I am not affiliated with the company (or any others, just sayin') and my reviews are unbiased and based on personal usage & experience. Photos are my own and should not be reproduced anywhere else without prior documented consent.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Luxola x Skin Inc Get Awesome Skin! Workshop - Optimizer Voyage Showcase

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of being a girlfriend's plus-1 for a joint Luxola & Skin Inc workshop at the pop-up store at Millennia Walk~ The purpose of the event was to showcase the new Optimizer Voyage (S$268) from Skin Inc, a more affordable and travel-friendly alternative to the Optimizer + AIO (S$843).

Skin Inc's new Optimizer Voyage S$268


Some info about the Red light benefits off the Optimizer + AIO device

It was a pretty cosy workshop with macarons and bottled blends from hicJuice for refreshments~ I got a Matcha Nut Milk, which was a mix of organic Matcha powder, raw cashews, raw almonds, Medjool dates, Himalayan Salt and ionized water =) There were other blends available too and they seemed really, and I mean REALLY, healthy! Pity they're a tad pricey >_<

They had this Optimizer Voyage set for S$298 where you'd get the device plus the Pure Revival Peel (20ml), Anti-Ageing Serum (10ml mix of Q10, Hyaluronic Acid and Collagen) and Deep Sea Hydrating Mask (20ml)...so basically you'd pay just S$30 for the New Year New You Set (RRP: S$89). Pretty ok deal but still a tad rich for my blood XP


Anyhoo, for the demo, their model was late so the organisers picked another model from amongst the attendees.

Skin Inc trainer Donna explaining the new Optimizer
Some key points for the Optimizer Voyage:
  • Runs on 3 AAA batteries.
  • Switches off automatically after 10 minutes so there's no worry of accidentally leaving it on.
  • Works only with water-based serums/masks.
  • After Skin Inc serum and Pure Deepsea Hydrating Mask, run the device in a circular, upwards motion for 5 minutes on each side of the face. So 10 minutes total, twice a day.
  • Boosts cell renewal and collagen production, general anti-ageing properties.
  • Supposed to be good for firming the skin and get that V-shape face!
  • Safe to use over the eye area but the red light is quite glaring so closing your eyes would be more comfortable.
  • Apparently some clients use it on the body as well!

If you're thinking that 10 minutes is a long time to spend, I have to say there's no avoiding it because I tested the Optimizer Voyage on the back of my hand and the serum takes MUCH longer to absorb compared to when I apply it on my face at home. The reason for this is that a large amount of product ends up being absorbed by your fingers/hands! According to Donna (the Skin Inc trainer), only up to 40% of skincare is absorbed to the face when applied by hand. Using the Optimiser can bump that number up to 90% so you get more bang for your buck!


The demo began by removing the model's makeup and then prepping it with the Skin Inc Pure Revival Peel before dripping the serum directly onto the skin, slightly distributed over the face by hand and covering that with a layer of the Deep Sea Hydrating Mask. Lastly came the 5 min treatment with the Optimizer Voyage. As u can see from the pic up there, that light's pretty glaring!

After the treatment, we went up and took a closer look at the model's face and it was redder, I guess due to increased blood circulation after the massaging motion. I have to say it's too soon to say if there were lesser wrinkles or pores etc (plus she had good skin to begin with) but her skin looked firmer than before and her jawline seemed slimmer!

Some contraindications to note with this device though:

  • Not to be used on bare skin without a water-based product
  • Not to be used longer than the recommended time to avoid muscle fatigue
  • Do not leave the device on the same spot of the skin during use
  • Not for use during pregnancy 
  • Do not use on implanted areas or injuries
  • Not recommended for use if running a temperature of above 38 degrees, children under 12, if suffering from acute symptoms, cardiac condition, skin diseases, hypertension, cerebral infractions, herpes, folliculate acne, furunculosis, carbuncle, lupus hepatitis, general sclerosis or Madison's disease.

Above info extracted from Luxola

At S$268, the Optimizer Voyage is a lot cheaper than the Optimizer + AIO and makes sense to purchase if you're specifically after the anti-aging function. You don't feel any heat, tingling or prickly sensations during use too so it's comfortable~ Need I mention the frequent sales on Luxola that you can catch?

So after the demo we basically just hung around looking at all the products and redoing our Skin Identity checks after which we would receive a 5ml bottle of serum from the recommended mix. In my case, my results included Hyaluronic Acid (Replenish), Chlorella (Revitalize) and Licorice (Relieve). Licorice is new in my lineup so I picked that for my 5ml sample and went to ask why the sudden introduction and the Skin Inc girls said that it was most likely recommended for skin issues related to hormonal changes i.e my pregnancy. Somehow, even though I didn't touch on much skin sensitivity/hormonal issues, the test still managed to figure that I might have some hormonal skin changes. Impressive!

And lastly, goodie bag contents! Skin Inc & Luxola very kindly gave everyone a 10ml Collagen serum plus a small selection of other goodies in a cute Luxola eco bag! My girlfriend was especially happy with the Hello Kitty nail wraps hehe~


So concluding first thoughts on the Optimizer Voyage are! It's very tempting for the skin firming properties but is still SLIGHTLY pricey at the regular retail price. I would very seriously consider it during a good Luxola sale though! =D

Well it's awhile to go since I can't use it till after delivery so I have time to twiddle my thumbs about it still!