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

Ah Yuan Soap : Purple Gromwell & Roselle

Filed Under (bodycare, skincare, soap) by rinnah on 18-02-2009

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Yuan soap : Purple gromwell & roselle

Ingredients : Amebia euchroma, roselle, verbena, patchouli, petitgrain, eucalyptus oil, beeswax, olive oil, grape seed oil

Description : It can reduce eczema and detoxify when used externally. This soap is created for those who develop prickly heat easily and whose skin is too oily and dull. For people with acnes, prickly heat, eczema and itchiness due to unknown causes, inflammation, allergic skin and athlete’s foot; also kills bacteria, stops itchiness and heals wounds.

Recommended retail price: MYR 22.50

My review :

When one is an eczema sufferer, you’ll find yourself willing to try out just about anything to stop that itch!

I first read about Yuan handmade organic soaps on MyWomenStuff.com and immediately thought of trying it out since it was reputed to help eczema sufferers. But as it was not easily locatable at that point of time (only at selected organic standalone shops), I did not go searching for it. However, I was pleased to find a whole selection of Yuan soap being sold at BodyBar on one of my forays to Tropicana City Mall.

Originally I intended to get the Wild Patchouli soap as I had read a blogger review on this particular soap that said that it gave relief to someone with hand eczema. However, Noor, the sales assistant at BodyBar, introduced the Purple Gromwell & Roselle soap to me instead, mentioning that it had helped other customers with eczema. So that’s what I purchased instead.

Firstly, if you’re not used to traditional Chinese herbal medicine, be forewarned that the Yuan soaps give off a very strong herbal smell which lingers in the bathroom after you’ve finished your bath/shower. However, I like the smell, so it doesn’t bother me at all. Using this soap in the shower, I find that it doesn’t lather up like the normal varieties of soap, which is a plus point in my opinion. Also, it left my skin feeling clean but not tight, although I did feel that it dried out my skin more than my regular dermatologist recommended Oilatum or Eubos cleansing liquid. All those were plus points for me.

However, there was just one thing that bugged me about using Yuan soap. Technically the soap variety that I bought – Purple Gromwell & Roselle – was supposed to help with eczema problems. How did that work out for me? Not too well. I found that using the soap tended to aggravate my skin after my shower, leaving me with a strong burning/itching sensation at the areas where my skin was affected with eczema. It was totally not the kind of reaction I had expected. The burning/itching sensation would start the moment I applied the soap and lasted for up to 30 minutes after I’d stepped out of the shower. Not even applying my normal moisturizing lotion immediately could halt the burn/itch. I did find with some experimentation, that showering with hot/warm water increased the sensations whilst cool/cold water helped to calm down the skin somewhat (but still with the burn/itch sensation). Despite the irritant factor, it might be helpful to note that at all times, my skin did not become inflamed (red) nor did my eczema grow worse, just that there is the discomfort of an underlying sensation of burning/itching. Some might say that it is an indication of the healing properties of the soap at work, but I personally feel that my skin is not suited to the soap.

If Yuan soaps work for you, that’s great, but for me, the search for a compatible product goes on.

Yes factors : Unique selling point, herbal smell, all natural ingredients
No factors : Quite pricey, not easy to find, herbal smell, may irritate sensitive skin

Read other blogger reviews on Yuan soap (other varieties) here :
Paris Beaverbanks

Some thoughts on Tropicana City Mall

Filed Under (retail shopping, shopping malls) by rinnah on 30-01-2009

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Mall logo
Image credit

It’s been little over a month since the soft opening of Tropicana City Mall, the newest shopping mall in the Petaling Jaya area. Having visited the place on four separate occasions, I feel that my thoughts and impressions of the mall are ready for publishing.

How to get there
The mall’s website offers a map on how to get there (refer to picture below) but frankly, I find it a little misleading. Why?

Location map
Image credit

One : The access road from Jalan Damansara over the Sprint highway is in the midst of construction, and therefore not usable at the present moment. By looking at the map, I am given the impression that the road is ready for use.

Two : The map does not indicate that if you’re making the U-turn from SS2 side, the road barricades actually prevent you from turning into the parking lot and there are no further signs to indicate how to get into parking thereon. I wish that the mall management would consider putting up more/bigger signs to indicate the entrance to the parking as people might miss it if they’re driving too fast.

Right now, parking is FREE and plentiful. I find parking there to be a breeze although those with larger vehicles may find the parking lots to be on the narrower side. However, there are plans by the mall management plans to charge MYR 1.00 for the first 4 hours and MYR 1.00 for every subsequent hour in the future. I have a minor gripe about the exits though. The signs telling me that there is an exit to SS2 actually works out to be a further distance in driving as compared to when I exit directly onto the LDP highway using another exit. Confused? You bet I am.

Artist representation
Image credit

Main anchor tenants of the mall include Carrefour, Borders, Best Denki, Nichii City and Kitschen at the moment. GSC will be opening a cinema hall there, so that might be more incentive for me to stay for longer periods of time. I find it odd that there are NO fast food tenants in this mall save for Kenny Rogers Roasters (Wendy’s has yet to open), and higher class eating outlets like San Fransisco Steakhouse, Sushi Tei and Santini are more prominently featured. However, that being said, I find that Tropicana City Mall actually has a pretty good mix of tenants. Oh, another minor gripe of mine – why is it so hard to locate Carrefour? I almost forgot that there was a Carrefour in the mall, it is that isolated by itself.

Having a highly visible mall directory near to exit points like lifts and escalators would be good. I spent some time wandering around the mall on my initial visit just looking for one particular store. It was a bit frustrating for me as a shopper because I want to know where I’m going to save time.

Oh and the toilets are located behind closed doors some distance down an isolated corridor away from the main mall, which is not very reassuring for female shoppers. Also, on the two occasions that I went, the toilets were extremely wet (think flooded!) and had faulty taps/pipes, which should not be the case for a new mall. For that, the toilets get a thumbs down from me. I’d rather hold and go elsewhere, it’s that awful.

I think Tropicana City Mall is more of neighborhood mall than a place of attraction mall. I’ll probably end up there only if I have an objective in mind, that is to get/do something there. Otherwise, if I had a choice, I’d rather hang out in 1Utama (same parking fee but longer hours) or the Curve (more places to eat).

Tropicana City Mall
No. 3, Jalan SS20/27
47400 Petaling Jaya
Telephone number : +60 3-7710 1818 / 0101
Facsimile number : +60 3-7710 0202
Email address : enquiries@tropicanacitymall.com
Hours of operation : 10 am till 10 pm daily
Free shuttle service available from Kelana Jaya LRT station

Read other blogger reviews on Tropicana City Mall here :
Pink Elle
william (wN) Ng

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