Bubble tea taste-off : All the contenders

Filed Under (coffee, food, local) by rinnah on 10-02-2012

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When I first came to Singapore, I observed a strange phenomenon at the place where I stay. There are many shops all selling bubble teas within the same vicinity. In fact, on a routine walk to/from the MRT station, I pass no fewer than five different shops specializing in bubble tea drinks (not counting the drink stalls at the food court).

There are many contenders for the title of best bubble tea and in the name of blog research (and pure curiosity) I tested a few of the more popular/well-known brands – Koi Cafe, Gong Cha, Chatime and Ochado. The irony is that I seldom think of buying bubble tea back home in Malaysia, but yet in Singapore, here I was, standing patiently in queue with 15 other people for bubble tea. To ensure fairness of my taste test, I ordered the same drink from all franchises – no fancy schmancy specialty teas, just plain straight up milk tea with pearls and less sugar.

koi bubble milk tea
(Erm, I have no photo for Gong Cha, Chatime and Ochado simply because I forgot to take one. #bloggerfail)

What did my not-so-epicurean tastebuds think?

Chatime’s tea seemed to be least refined (tasted like they used cheaper tea leaves to brew) of the four contenders. Ochado’s roasted tea version was the smoothest and most to my liking. Koi and Gong Cha were better than Chatime, but ultimately forgettable. Despite my order of half-sugar, Chatime was also the sweetest mix (maybe to hide the taste of cheaper tea?) and therefore got booted down to the bottom of my bubble tea list.

I can safely say that I prefer the quality and texture of Koi’s pearls (tapioca balls) overall. Gong Cha’s pearls were a wee bit rubbery, as were Chatime’s. Ochado fared slightly better due to the smaller size of their pearls and I even tried their famous pop-egg pearls (which contain coffee syrup). While I liked the concept of the pop-eggs, it was way too sweet for my liking – like taking swigs of syrup straight from the bottle.

Now, if only I could merge Ochado’s roasted milk tea with Koi’s pearls I would be one very happy bubble tea drinker. :P

Disappointed with Shu Uemura’s Mid Valley outlet

Filed Under (beauty, services) by rinnah on 25-09-2011

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I’ve previously written about my good experiences with Shu Uemura’s Brow Atelier here. I whole-heartedly endorse them as the saviours of my uneven brows since 2009 and still do, but a recent experience at the Mid Valley Megamall standalone outlet means that I won’t be going back there (adding on to my blacklist together with the Pavilion standalone outlet).

sad face
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As far as I’ve been patronizing Shu Uemura, I’ve always had my brows done as a walk-in customer. However, when I dropped by the Mid Valley Megamall outlet last month, I was curtly told by one of the consultants there (don’t know if she was the store supervisor or not, but she was behind the cashier counter) that if I wanted to get my brows done, I should make an appointment in advance and they were not entertaining walk-ins. And this was even though there was only one other customer undergoing the very same service at the time.

Naturally when faced with unhelpful customer service, I always walk away.

It was a different story at my regular Shu Uemura outlet at 1Utama just one week later. I was warmly greeted by the consultant who attended to me very nicely and made me happy by giving me perfect brows. Not one mention was made about the need for an ‘appointment’ first before she would attend to me.

So ladies wanting to try out Shu Uemura’s Brow Atelier services, I will only recommend the standalone outlets at 1Utama and Empire Shopping Gallery for their good customer service.

Clinique Superbalanced Makeup Foundation

Filed Under (cosmetics, foundation) by rinnah on 13-02-2011

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clinique superbalanced foundation

According to Clinique’s website, the Superbalanced Makeup Foundation is an adjustable oil-free coverage formula that adds moisture and subtracts oil where needed. It also contains soothing camomile extract to protect skin from environmental damage and vitamin E to help fight free radicals in a water-resistant formula that is streak-proof and perspiration-proof.

How did it fare with me? I had picked up a 7 day sample of Superbalanced foundation from the Clinique counter at Jusco Bandar Utama during one of their sample promotion periods and the consultant color matched me to shade SB#02. Read the rest of this entry »

Zuan Yuan Chinese Restaurant @ One World Hotel

Filed Under (chinese, food) by rinnah on 03-02-2011

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Happy Chinese New Year folks!

Zuan Yuan logo

My ex-colleagues and I have this tradition that we’ve been faithfully keeping for the past 7 years. Every Chinese New Year, we will have our own version of a ‘reunion dinner‘ – that all important meal when family members near and far all attend. In this version, all of us ex-colleagues make it a point to attend the reunion meal and as the years went by and each of us slowly left the ex-company one by one (there’s only one person left there now, haha), it became important that we must attend this yearly traditional meal of ours. This year, we had our reunion meal early (in the 2nd week of January) since one of our group members came back from Hong Kong on business matters.

Entrance of Zuan Yuan

This year, we decided to hold our reunion at Zuan Yuan after seeing some pictures of yummy food from local floggers (“food bloggers”). Also, as Zuan Yuan is pork free, it also met our need to search for a halal restaurant. Zuan Yuan is tucked away at the Ground Floor corridor between One World Hotel and One Utama Shopping Centre. It’s a reasonably convenient location since you can choose to park in either the shopping mall’s carpark or the hotel’s carpark (it’s all joined up anyway). Read the rest of this entry »

The best deal for you

Filed Under (online shopping, retail shopping, tips and tricks) by rinnah on 20-02-2010

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I like to think of myself as a savvy consumer. Make no mistake, I don’t mean being a stingy consumer, just a smart consumer who knows value when she sees it. So, how can you ensure that you end up with the best deal that is just right for you, the savvy consumer? Let’s have a little demonstration of what I mean.

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Sometime last month (in January), I knew I was running out of my Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief. And I definitely knew that I needed to repurchase this staple in my beauty routine. Instead of waiting till the very last moment to repurchase, I decided I needed a plan of action. I would use the time I had between when I decided to repurchase and when I would run out of my moisturizer to ensure that I got the best possible deal.

I already knew that the regular sized jar (50ml) retailed for MYR 160 at all Clinique counters. Was there any way that I could get a better deal? I was willing to pay the full retail price of MYR 160, but yet I wanted assurance that I would get the best possible value for my MYR 160. Let’s see what I did.

Firstly, I checked out the price of online retailers. From friends’ recommendations and good experiences, Strawberrynet seemed the ideal place to start with. Unfortunately, they were having no special promotions and it would have cost me MYR 166 (with free shipping) when purchasing from them. Strawberrynet was a no-go.

At the recommendation of another friend, I checked out BestBuy World. Although the prices there are much cheaper, the product is not the full sized product, but rather travel/sample sizes as a discounted rate. The different type of packaging did not bother me, but unfortunately, they had no ready stocks of Moisture Surge then.

So, at that point of time it seemed as though I would need to pay the full retail price for my moisturizer. No problem, since I was already prepared to pay MYR 160 for the product. The next question was : Where to buy it? I decided to make my purchase at Parkson, since they have a retail program with Bonuslink which allows you to collect reward points for all purchases. In this way, I could be assured of accumulating reward points for future redemption against shopping vouchers. At least there would be some return on my money spent.

Then, as luck would have it, I received a flyer from Bonuslink informing me that there would be a members’ day at Parkson, which would allow me to collect 5 times reward points on any purchase. Even more value for money, right? So I deferred my purchase for a few more days while waiting for the members’ day to roll around.

During the time between the Bonuslink flyer and the members’ day, I received an email from Clinique, informing me of their latest promotion to redeem a sample of their new anti-aging moisturizer. I decided that I would redeem my free sample at the same time when I made my purchase.

When I visited the Clinique counter, I was able to accomplish a number of things at the same time – restock my moisturizer, redeem my free sample and I also asked the consultant for another sample of Clinique’s best-selling All About Eyes eye gel. Even though I did not purchase enough to meet the Gift-With-Purchase limit, I’m satisfied with getting samples on top of my purchased item.

Better yet, since I made my purchase on the members’ day, not only did I get the 5 times reward points, I also got MYR 20 worth of Parkson vouchers for spending above MYR 150 in a single day. Can you say score?

Total haul on that day :
Moisture Surge – MYR 160
Youth Surge sample redemption – free
All About Eyes sample – free
Parkson vouchers worth MYR 20 – free

Wouldn’t you say that’s a good deal? And all that for just waiting 1 week extra.

You might think that I unnecessarily spent a lot of time comparing prices and still ended up paying the full retail price for my moisturizer, but when I look at all that I managed to get for just one trip, to me that’s worth much more than randomly going out shopping.

So, plan your purchases ahead of time and save money.
Getting additional satisfaction in knowing you got a good deal? Priceless.

Shu Uemura Brow Atelier

Filed Under (beauty, services) by rinnah on 08-02-2010

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I’ll have to admit that I was late to cotton on to the magic of transformation that a simple brow shaping can give your face. In fact, I think I only started taking my brow shape seriously after twenty-something. Heh. Mainly, my disregard to this area of my face was due to the fact that I simply didn’t know how to shape my brows well and partly because my mother was always reminding (nagging!) me not to over-tweeze my brows. So why bother, I used to think.

Shu Uemura store
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However, ever since I’ve discovered Shu Uemura’s Brow Atelier (a fancy name for their brow shaping services) I’ve never looked back. In about 10 – 15 minutes, any consultant at Shu Uemura’s counter can transform your shaggy, unkempt, overgrown brows into beautifully shaped and trimmed brows that frame your eyes and enhance your facial outlook. And you do know that the saying goes that “Eyes are the windows to the soul”, right?

Here’s a quick rundown on what happens when you get your brows done at Shu Uemura. (Note : There is no standard shaping technique overall as I’ve noticed that the items and technique used vary from consultant to consultant.) Usually, the consultant attending to you will :

~ Clean the equipment (blade, scissors, tweezer) using a cotton pad and make-up remover and wipe dry with tissue.
~ Assist you to remove any makeup residue if you have drawn or shaded in your brows.
~ Clip up your fringe (depending on your hairstyle).
~ Tweeze off most of the visible brow hairs that are growing out of the brow area.
~ Use a blade to shave off brow hairs into the desired brow shape.
~ Use a spoolie and scissors to trim longer brow hairs to achieve a neat look.
~ Repeat as necessary until you get perfect brows.

I’m not sure since I only get my brows done at the standalone outlets at either 1Utama or MidValley Megamall, but I would presume that the regular Shu counters at major department stores would also provide the same service.

Shu Uemura Brow Atelier
Available at all Shu Uemura outlets.
Cost : MYR30 for a total reshape or MYR20 for maintenance.

However, if you feel brave enough to go it alone and shape your brows yourself, Connie of Skindeco has a really good step-by-step guide here. Syen of So Loverly also has a mini discussion on whether to pluck, shave, thread or wax your brows into shape here.

Read other blogger reviews here :
Paris B

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