REVIEW: MAC x Guo Pei Lipsticks – Zenith & Ethereal Orchid

Hello everyone!

China’s most revered haute couturier, Guo Pei, had teamed up with MAC this season to create a collection that is inspired by her “garden of the soul” (the name she gave for this inspiration), merging vibrant jewel tones with rich neutrals and punctuated by deep graphite.

MAC X Guo Pei

MAC X Guo Pei

Virtually unheard of outside of her home country before this collection materialised, Guo is best known in the fashion world for her ornate and elegant gowns which style is influenced by traditional Chinese imperial court design. Hand-sewn, her creations typically take years and a lot of manpower to create. Her work has been featured in many significant events such as the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2015 Met Gala where Rihanna (in)famously donned in her most ambitious empress-style trailing yellow gown and spawned numerous food (e.g. omelette and pizza) memes. Nevertheless, Guo Pei is indeed an incredibly talented fashion designer (she just needs to pick the appropriate person to reinterpret her work)! I stumbled upon some of her runway pieces and instantly fell in love with them. Floral embroidery in oriental colours, the style is so me! If only they are made for normal everyday wear. But then again, it’s not like I would be able to afford them 🙄

MAC x Guo Pei Lipsticks

MAC x Guo Pei Lipsticks (packaging)

In their second collaboration with Chinese designers (after Bao Bao Wan), MAC rolled out a limited-edition collection that features 2 eyeshadow quads (in Morning Light & Night Sky, US$70), 3 gel liners (in Blue Fountain, Darkness of Calm & Palm Tree, US$17.50), 3 lipsticks (in Zenith, Ethereal Orchid & Brave Red, US$30), 3 cremesheen glass (in Bright pink Bouquet, Pale Moon & Love of Roses, US$28), 2 powder blush (in Lotus Blossom & Red Water Lily, US$40), a beauty powder (in Soft Moon Light, US$70) and a pair of brushes (213 Fluff Blush, US$32, & 129 Powder Brush, US$46). Every product in this line – even the brushes – is encased in gold, peony-illustrated fabric stitched along one side. So captivated by the beauty of the design! ❤

MAC x Guo Pei lipsticks

MAC x Guo Pei Lipsticks (casing)

Royally golden metal-like tube... kinda reminds me of Sun Wu Kong's Jingu Bang (Monkey King's golden pole)

Royally golden metal-like tube… kinda reminds me of Sun Wu Kong’s Jingu Bang (Monkey King’s golden pole)

The ingredient list is printed on a separate strip of paper and inserted into the box, just like how it was done for Giambattista Valli collection

The ingredient list is printed on a separate strip of paper and inserted into the box, just like how it was done for Giambattista Valli collection

Unveiling the gorgeous shades of Ethereal Orchid (left) and Zenith

Unveiling the gorgeous shades of Ethereal Orchid (left) and Zenith

Ethereal Orchid (left) & Zenith

Ethereal Orchid (left) & Zenith

I only picked 2 colours from the lipstick line because the third – Brave Red – is a permanent shade which I already have in my stash. Exorbitant is the word to describe the prices for this collection, which correspond to that of Prabal Gurung collection last year. If not for the pretty packaging (well, gotta give props to MAC for knowing how to strike their customers’ soft spots), I wouldn’t have given two hoots about this collection.

But rants aside, I’m sure many of you are curious about the lipsticks (both lustres, by the way like argh, I know right?!).. which probably cost as much as luxury beauty brands like Chanel and Dior *sigh* so let’s get down to the details!

#1 Zenith

Zenith

Zenith is a light nude with Lustre finish (US$30 / S$60)

Zenith

Zenith

Zenith

Zenith

Zenith

Zenith

Zenith

Zenith

Zenith

Zenith

As most of you know, I have a love-hate relationship with lustres…. ok, perhaps leaning more towards the hate spectrum. They are easy to apply but they normally are too sheer to show on the lips. They’re like lip balms with the humectant qualities and all, just more expensive. Zenith here fits perfectly into my perception of lustre lipsticks – very sheer yet lightweight and hydrating.  It glided on smoothly on the lips but provided little to no difference in the lip colour. But that could just be me because of my medium skin tone which unfortunately tend to camouflage nude shades.

However, unlike Lustres I own (and I’ve a box full of them), Zenith somehow manages to conceal my lip lines very well. Although I don’t really like the colour, I was pleased that it didn’t turn out patchy on my lips. The formula surprisingly surpasses my expectations! Whoa, was it me or did MAC improve the quality for this collection to match the steep price?

#2 Ethereal Orchid

Ethereal Orchid

Ethereal Orchid is a midtone dirty coral with Lustre finish (US$30 / S$60)

Ethereal Orchid

Ethereal Orchid

Ethereal Orchid

Ethereal Orchid

Ethereal Orchid

Ethereal Orchid

Ethereal Orchid

Ethereal Orchid

Ethereal Orchid

Ethereal Orchid

In another turn of events, I found myself enjoying the second Lustre lipstick tremendously. The colour is gorgeous and noticeably different (already received compliments from a friend on this shade) and the coverage is impressive because it doesn’t leave streaky marks behind. Furthermore, the soft sheen adds radiance to my dull lips and make it more healthy-looking and plump. It felt almost like the Huggable formula, just less clingy and definitely wouldn’t last as long.

Swatch comparisons

Swatch comparisons

You can probably find a cheaper dupe for Zenith but Ethereal Orchid is a unique shade for sure! At least for MAC. Still, much as I love these lipsticks (I thought they were going to be another disappointment like the Cinderella lipsticks but thankfully they’re not), I don’t think it’s worth the hefty price tag. I take consolation that I had actually paid for two designer lipsticks.

What are your thoughts? Share them with me in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

MAC x Guo Pei is now available on Maccosmetics.com and at Tangs at Tangs Plaza.
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REVIEW: Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette

Hey everyone!

The Vice sequel that everyone has been eagerly waiting for has finally hit stores today! As an avid collector of Urban Decay eyeshadow palettes, I was so thrilled that I had actually placed my order on Sephora.com even before it was launched in Singapore. But due to having too much on my plate recently (woes of being a final-year undergrad), I wasn’t able to post a review until now.

Unless you’ve already made up your mind about getting it, you may want to read on to find out more about the palette before you put your money on it!

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette

Loaded with 20 never-seen-before eyeshadow shades, Vice 4 delivers darkly gorgeous colours inspired by the hues of an oil slick into a palette filled with rich, deep jewel tones. It comes with an extra slim case that doubles as a cosmetics pouch like Vice 3 and similar to all its predecessor, a large mirror that fits nicely against the lid as well as a double-ended Shadow and Crease brush are included along with this palette.

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette (US$60 / S$88)

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette (back)

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette (back)

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette (case)

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette (case)

The design of the palette gets better with each upgrade (although I’d very much prefer the lid to open on its own with just a push of a button à la Vice 1 and 2). Described as a dimensional web of broken-down facets layered over a matte black lid, the palette is an art on its own as it reflects the bold and edgy personality of the brand. The pop-up purple-ombré jagged lines that fronted the palette is made of rather flimsy plastic so be careful not to place anything heavy on it, or risk damaging the delicate overlay.

Urban Decay Vice 4 shades

Urban Decay Vice 4 shades

Urban Decay Vice 4 Swatch (click image to view in landscape mode)

Urban Decay Vice 4 Swatch (click image to view in landscape mode). And oops, please ignore the typo error for Crowbar!

Shades included in Vice 4 are:

Bones (oyster satin w/pearl), Grip (taupe matte w/iridescent micro-glitter), Deadbeat (black satin w/iridescent micro-glitter), Beat Down (deep metallic violet w/blue micro-glitter), Pandemonium (metallic plum w/iridescent micro-glitter), Framed (light neutral matte-satin), Fast-Ball (metallic peachy pink w/pink micro-glitter), 1985 (metallic fuchsia w/fuchsia micro-glitter), Underhand (burgundy-brown satin), Harlot (metallic lavender), Discreet (soft dusty mauve matte), Grasshopper (metallic emerald w/green micro-glitter), C-Note (frosted green w/micro-glitter), Arctic (bright teal w/tonal sparkle), Robbery (deep metallic brown-gunmetal), Bitter (reddish brown matte), Flame (bright orange w/gold micro-glitter), Low (brown matte w/iridescent micro-glitter), Crowbar (black w/golden metallic pearl and micro-glitter) and Delete (deep chestnut brown matte-satin).

Every shade here features the Pigment Infusion System™, which according to Urban Decay, is a proprietary blend of ingredients for rich, velvety, blendable color that lasts and guarantees little to minimal sparkle fallout. Indeed, they blend like a dream but I wouldn’t say the same for the sparkles. Low and Crowbar, for instance, have the tendency to fall out during application and it can be a real pain removing them without destroying the rest of my makeup! So if I had to use these two shades, I’d definitely do my eye makeup before everything else.

On my lids: Framed, Bitter, Delete, Underhand and Beat Down

More light is reflected on the left // On my lids: Framed, Bitter, Delete, Underhand and Beat Down

As with other Urban Decay eyeshadow palettes, Vice 4 has a vast majority of shimmery shades. In fact, only 4 of them (Framed, Discreet, Bitter & Delete) are full-matte with no glitter nonsense. With the exception of Framed which failed to show up well against my arm (and hence making it a great choice for the base colour), all of them have pretty decent colour payoff with a buttery yet slightly airy consistency. But as much as I favour mattes over shimmers, the latter have definitely performed better this time around in terms of application for they had mostly silky texture and fantastic pigmentation.

A quick side-by-side comparison with its predecessors

A quick side-by-side comparison with its predecessors

This is probably the most amateur-friendly Vice palette because clearly, there are more neutral than bold colours to work with here. Blue hues are evidently lacking in this latest Vice as more pans were given up for the greens.

Already own a Vice palette but not sure if you should get this one? Here are some swatch comparisons with similar shades from Vice 1, 2 and 3 to aid in your decision making!

Light Neutrals

Light Neutrals

Iridescent dark neutrals

Iridescent dark neutrals

Shimmery browns and greens

Shimmery browns and greens

Browns

Browns

Iridescent purples

Iridescent purples

Purples

Purples

Shades with a golden hue

Shades with a golden hue

Iridescent pinks

Iridescent pinks

Blues

Blues

Greens

Greens

Still on the fence? I’d say go for it! Apart from the fact that these colours are not really dupeable, there is also a good mix of vibrant and dark colours in this palette.

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette

So ladies, what do you think of this Vice palette? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Urban Decay Vice 4 Eyeshadow Palette is now available on URBANDECAY.COM and in all local Sephora stores.

Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula #1: The Ultimate Beauty Regimen for Acne-Prone Skin

ADVERTORIAL

Hello everyone!

Being a long-time acne sufferer myself, I can fully relate to the inconvenience this common skin condition poses. As envious as I am of friends who are able to live by the simplest beauty routine (like, using just water to cleanse their faces) and yet still have perfect complexion, I know it is virtually impossible for me to do likewise and get similar results. But due to sheer laziness and the fact that I didn’t like the feeling of a pile of skincare products weighing down on my face every night, I had been depending on a single facial cleanser for years solely to keep dirt and oil from clogging my pores.

But with my recent breakouts (no thanks to the prolonged haze), I’ve come to realise that I needed to step up my game if I wanted to clear up my face. And to achieve that, I’d have to incorporate toning and moisturising into my daily beauty regimen. However, finding the right skincare products for my routine can be no easy feat, especially when I have oily skin that breaks out even with the slightest change in my regimen.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to search high and low for a suitable product because help eventually came knocking on my door!

Thank you, Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula!

For oily and acne-prone skin

For oily and acne-prone skin

In case you haven’t heard of Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula (or TDF for short), it was first established in the USA and later Singapore in 1994. A pioneer in alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) glycolic acid formulations, TDF’s areas of expertise include management of acne, pigmentation disorders, photo-ageing and ageing skin conditions. It is a respected name in the field of aesthetic dermatology and also a well-recognised prescriptive skincare brand among medical and aesthetic professionals.

As the saying goes, the best things in life are meant to be shared. Hence, in this first installment of a four-part skin care series, I will be sharing with you guys my day-to-day beauty regimen using TDF products. Have oily and acne-prone skin like me? This should definitely be interest to you so read on! 🙂

Let's begin by wetting our faces! (I wasn't kidding when I said I had breakouts, right?)

Let’s begin by wetting our faces! (I wasn’t kidding when I said I had breakouts, right?)

1. Cleanse

Regardless of gender, face washing is no doubt the most fundamental step in any skincare regimen, especially for night time. No matter how tired or sick I am, I would muster up my last bit of energy just to wash my face and get that squeaky clean feeling. Besides, the last thing I’d want to get during my sleep are more pimples from my contaminated pillow!

This beauty rule doesn’t just apply to people who wear makeup often as research has shown that cleansing is key to maintaining youthful looks. It does a lot more than rinsing the face with water which only removes about 65% of oil and debris from the surface. As a resident in one of the most humid cities in the world, it is also important to note that cleansing helps to unclog pores, dissolve dirt and makeup as well as to remove excess oils and prevent excess oil production in the day.

TDF AHA Facial Wash & Deep Acne Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash & Deep Acne Facial Wash

TDF has recommended 4 types of cleansers for their Oily and Acne-Prone regimen. Here, I’ve shortlisted two – the AHA Facial Wash and AHA Deep Acne Facial Wash. They are primarily catered for the same skin type, just that the former is suitable for oily and acne-prone skin (preventive) while the other is ideal for comedogenic and acne-ridden (corrective) skin. For clearer illustration, I will only be using the AHA Facial Wash in this quick guide!

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

The AHA Facial Wash is a 2-in-1 gel cleanser and exfoliator that combines with an acne-fighting alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) and soothing botanical and marine extracts as well as antiseptic agents to help prevent flare-ups.

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

A pellucid pale green liquid at first, it gradually works into a lather upon contact with wet skin. It gently deep-cleanses pores, removes excess oil without over-drying and clears surface impurities. After cleansing, my skin felt very refreshed and supple!

Do wash with lukewarm water as too hot a water temperature can strip your skin of essential natural moisture and healthy oils. Try not to wash your face in the shower as the high water pressure can also break capillaries and in turn aggravate your skin condition. Besides, your skin will also become dry if it stays in water for too long!

2. Tone

After cleansing comes toning, which is absolutely necessary for people with oily skin. While toners are usually optional for people with normal skin type, they actually provide the extra kick needed by oily skin to remove any little traces of makeup that the cleanser is unable to reach.

Skin toners are available in several kinds – skin fresheners (the mildest form), tonics (slightly stronger) and astringents (strongest form). Astringents are normally recommended for oily skin as they tend to be drying. However, when the skin loses oil, it goes into an overdrive to produce more to keep its moisture balance in check. In view of this fact, TDF has come up with a milder and gentler version of astringent (hence, you probably can call this a tonic instead) so that your skin remains smooth and clean after use!

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

Similar to what I’ve explained earlier, the Mild Astringent is a clarifying toner that removes traces of cleanser and impurities. It maintains your skin at a healthy balanced pH level (which was distorted by the cleanser earlier on) and aids in the application of serum and moisturiser products thereafter. It helps to tighten and shrink pores, making it more difficult for debris and dirt to penetrate your skin. As a result, it also controls acne and prevents blackheads.

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

You can use own fingers for this step but I personally like using cotton pads to prevent wastage (and I don’t really trust that my fingers would be entirely clean too). Unlike the cleanser, you’d only need to apply the astringent to problem areas of the skin, such as the pimples themselves to prevent dehydration on unaffected parts.

Do prevent rubbing the cotton pad back and forth or it may cause irritation to your skin. In addition, toners are meant to be dried off naturally or absorbed into the skin so there is no need for you to rinse it away after that!

3. Moisturise

Finally, moisturise your skin after the toner has dried as a wrap-up to the regimen. The moisturiser helps to retain and restore the moisture (duh!) that was robbed in the process of toning. Nevertheless, this is a step that’s often skipped by those with oily skin due to the common misconception that moisturisers would cause the skin to appear “oilier”. In fact, it’s the complete opposite! Without moisturisers to increase water content of the skin, it would actually produce excess sebum to make up for lack of hydration and then defeat the purpose of this entire routine!

To tackle the problem of having an even greasier complexion after wearing a moisturiser, you can try a light one with mattifying properties like the Ultra Light Hydrator I’m about to introduce to you!

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

The Ultra Light Hydrator is a must-have mattifying moisturiser for oily and combination skin types. This sheer lightweight formula hydrates the skin to restore moisture balance and regulates sebum production, keeping blackhead-bearing oil at bay. Regular use enhances your skin’s texture, firmness and clarity. Oil-free and with a non-greasy finish, it is also excellent as a makeup base.

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator (oops, a little too much here, but this picture is for illustration purpose only!)

With just a tiny amount, massage it into your skin in an upward motion (to prevent premature sagging) and be more gentle on delicate areas around the eyes.

Once you’ve completed the above, you’re done! It’s that simple 🙂

Here’s the result after going through the 3-step beauty regimen!

After

After (you can compare this with my Moisturise selfies)

Notice the natural glow around my face? I definitely felt a lot cleaner and more refreshed after using the recommended TDF products!

Do you have similar experience with TDF? Chime in below!

Thanks for reading and do stay tuned for the next installment 🙂

All TDF products are exclusively sold at all clinics, National Healthcare Group polyclinics, SingHealth polyclinics, hospitals and public/restructured specialist centres. For more information on product availability, click here.

Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula (TDF)

Website | Facebook | Instagram

FIVE Square @ Great Eastern Centre

MEDIA INVITE

Hey everyone!

It was an emotional moment for many Han’s ardent fans when the announcement of the closure of the food chain’s biggest and most popular outlet at Great Eastern Centre came last December. Having served only pocket-friendly gourmet food to hungry office works for a decade, the closure meant that there would be one less affordable eating place amidst the throng of lavish restaurants in the business district.

For months after it shut down, the large ground-floor unit spanning over 13,000 square feet was left vacant for a couple of months before the next lessee took over. With such a vast amount of space, many wondered if the shop would be partitioned into smaller units to accommodate more tenants. Well, it is true enough that the unit has now been cut up into several divisions, but what most people probably didn’t expect was that these different sections are actually operated by the same company in a borderless setting.

FIVE Square @ Great Eastern Centre

FIVE Square @ Great Eastern Centre

Currently occupied by FIVE Square (stylised FIV五 Square), the latest flagship outlet of the FIVE Bar Group cleverly split the unit into 4 different concepts, each signifying a corner that makes up the newly-opened restaurant which has been operating since June 2015. From an impressive range of food choices at The Bazaar to alcoholic beverages like beer, wine and whiskey, there is clearly something for everyone.

The Bar

Synonymous with the renowned all-day-everyday $5 food and drink specials offered at other FIVE outlets, the Bar delivers the FIVE tradition of offering all-day happy hour that doesn’t break the bank. Enjoy sports screenings on large televisions and ‘live’ local bands performances at this 300-seater lounge every night while you hang out with your pals over beer, wine or sake at just $5 per glass.

The stage for live performances

The stage for live performances

The Bar

The Bar

Asahis and Kronenbourg 1664s

Asahi’s and Kronenbourg 1664’s

To chill the glass

To chill the glass

Tapping some beer

Luke showing us how to tap some beer, complete with the foam and all

Successfully did my first beer tapping! Not too bad for a first-timer.

Successfully did my first beer tapping! Not too bad for a first-timer.

And mind you, it’s not just any beer either – it’s icy cold beer! Unlike many pubs which derive their beer from keg coolers at about 4-5 degree Celcius, all beer at the Bar is directly dispensed from the cold room at 0 degree Celsius. It is especially uncommon to find cold rooms at local establishments these days due to the lack of space.

Cold room

Cold room

The Wine Cellar

Located in a tranquil little corner overlooking the busy cross junction into the CBD, visitors can sit back and watch the world go by while sipping on some wine at any time of day. With over a hundred labels of quality wines listed at the Wine Cellar, there are plenty of wine to choose from for a tête-à-tête between friends or for takeaway as gifts or for parties.

The Recess

Hidden away from the public gaze is the Recess which name is a play on words literally meaning going into a hole in the wall, to take a break from (work) proceedings. The secretive location of this 50-seater space makes it an ideal venue for company functions. It enables networking in this sophisticated and posh environment that is free of disruption from external noise and foot traffic while sipping on premium and rare whiskies without the exorbitant price tags. You would also be surprised to find popular whiskies that are already sold out across the rest of the globe!

The semi-hidden entrance to the Recess

The semi-hidden entrance to the Recess

The Recess

The Recess

The Recess

The Recess

Whiskies at the Recess

Whiskies at the Recess

Whiskies at the Recess

Whiskies at the Recess

The Bazaar

Majority of the space at FIVE Square is dedicated to this self-service gourmet food hall that seats up to 300 people. Similar to its predecessor, the Bazaar offers a variety of reasonably priced food for lunch and dinner to feed busy executives and families around the area as well as the merry-makers drinking at the adjacent bar, wine bar or whisky room – all part of FIVE Square.

The Bazaar

The Bazaar

There are five gourmet stalls offering dishes from around the world. Apart from Asian cuisines like Japanese donburis, Korean Bulgogi and our very own wholesome noodles with a twist, the Bazaar also boasts European classics such as Spanish Tapas and German Bratwurst Sausages served with pork, chicken and steak. Vegans and health-conscious individuals can opt for hearty salads to pair with fresh fruit juices from the beverage stall. With so many choices, FIVE Square has managed to achieve a fine balance of everyday affordability and occasional decadence to create a dining concept that can be your everyday lunch spot or your weekly indulgence. What’s more, all prices are nett! Yay to no service charge and GST! 🙂

The food stalls are open from 10am to 10pm every Monday to Saturday.

Beverage stall

Beverage stall

Papaya Milk Shake

Beat the heat with a cup of refreshing Papaya Milk Shake (S$4.50)

1. Cinqo Tapas

A spin-off from the popular Tachinomi Izakaya-inspired Five Tapas Bar at Cuppage Terrace, the Spanish-equivalent to its name (well, sort of, if cinco is spelt properly) offers a selection of the hot-selling items such as the garlic cockles (S$6), bacon mushrooms (S$6) and whole pork knuckle (S$28). For lunch, Cinqo serves up two different Paellas ($9.50) cooked fresh daily – the traditional seafood staple is available every day while the Paella of the day varies. These special Paellas include several Asian-inspired flavours such as the Claypot Rice Paella, Hainanese Chicken Rice Paella and Thai Pineapple Rice Paella which fuses local flavours with European ingredients and cooking styles; a definite must-try!

Cinqo Tapas

Cinqo Tapas

Seafood in Chilli Crab Sauce Pizza (S$15)

Seafood in Chilli Crab Sauce Pizza (S$15)

Seafood in Chilli Crab Sauce Pizza (S$15)

Seafood in Chilli Crab Sauce Pizza (S$15)

Hand-tossed with a 10-inch thin crust, this seafood pizza came topped with a generous shower of squids which unfortunately were too dry and tough for my liking. The chilli crab sauce also failed to impress as it lacked heat and flavour, therefore making the overall taste bland. However, I did enjoy the airy and crispy crust. It was well-balanced with just the right amount of doughy goodness. The pizza is available all-day at S$15 in 5 other flavours – Pepperoni, Vegetarian, Asian-Inspired, Quattro Formaggi and Prosciutto Carpegna & Arugula.

I was supposed to try their signature Paella too, but my stomach had reached its peak by the time it was ready to be served. It was pity as I was pretty sure it would be a million times tastier than the pizza considering the number of times I was urged (albeit subtly) by the marketing team to try it. The unique flavour combinations, too, are definitely worthy of a shot.

The menu gets even more enticing at dinner (from 5pm) with the addition of Truffle Fries (S$10), Angus Beef Carpaccio (S$10), Angus Beef Cubes (S$12), Pan Seared Foie Gras (S$12) and many other crowd favourites. With so many food options at Cinqo to rouse your palate, you certainly would see yourself coming back for more!

2. Teppei Syokudo

If the name rings a bell, that’s because Teppei Syokudo is indeed a branch from its famous parent restaurant, Teppei, at Tanjong Pagar. Best known for his top-grade yet affordable Japanese food at his flagship restaurant, Chef Teppei brings the same goodies that have made him such a hit to his latest outlet at FIVE Square – the Katsu Don (S$15.80), Chicken Nanban Bento (S$13.80), and the ever popular Kaisendon (S$16.80) which are literally flying off the counter. There is also a wide selection of Izakaya style snacks specially created to cater to the drinking crowd!

Teppei Syokudo

Teppei Syokudo

Kaisendon

Kaisendon (S$16)

Kaisendon

Kaisendon

Being the first dish I had sampled for this tasting session, Teppei had unknowingly set the bar for the food standard at the Bazaar sky high with this divine bowl of Kaisendon. This seafood don had thick, large and absolutely fresh salmon sashimi cubes and tuna sashimi chunks atop a bed of well-prepared Japanese rice and completed with tobiko and a tiny dollop of wasabi to clear the palate. The sashimi are to die for and the entire dish was simply scrumptious. It’s so SYOK, I swear!

After a few mouthfuls of the Kaisendon, I had to battle with my inner self to abstain from devouring some more because of the sprawl of food before me. It was tough but I eventually managed to achieve this almost-impossible feat – only after gobbling down every piece of the sashimi in the bowl.

Pork Katsu with Egg

Pork Katsu with Egg (S$15.80)

Served alongside a separate bowl of Japanese rice, the katsudon was another plate of comfort. Besides giving the dish texture, the corn also lent a mild sweetness to the overall flavour. Portions were generous as there was quite a fair bit of pork. The meat was tender and there was sufficient gravy and egg scramble to make it moist yet maintaining the crunch of the batter at the same time.

3. Omnivore

From the brains behind The Soup Spoon comes another healthy concept that offers wholesome salads and grills. Whether you’re a meat eater or a veggie lover, you’d be able to find food that suits your diet at Omnivore. From salads for the Herbivores (S$6.80) and perfectly grilled meat platters for the Carnivores (S$16.80) to a combination of both for the Omnivores (S$12.80), there are numerous food combinations to choose from to create your own perfect plate of healthy goodness. Not sure what to eat? The fickle-minded can also opt for the Carnivore sample platter (S$24.80) which comprises everything!

Omnivore

Omnivore (S$12.80)

Omnivore

Omnivore

Having a balanced meal is imperative in making your body function properly but many a time, busy working professionals fall short on essential nutrients like fresh vegetables or proteins from surviving on merely convenience food. If you’re guilty of this, hopefully this dish would propel you to eat more healthily!

Offering the best of both worlds, not only would you get half-sized Herbibowl (a.k.a. salad) on your Omnivore plate, you would also be able to choose a meat and housemade sauce of your choice. I was given grilled chicken thigh doused with Ponzu Miso Butter sauce that had a sweet citrusy taste and a subtle sour finish to it. The chicken was succulent and cooked perfectly and there were even crispy wonton skins (without fillings) to spruce up your greens (if you’re not a veggie person, that is).

Carnivore Sample Platter

Carnivore Sample Platter (S$21.80)

Carnivore Sample Platter

Carnivore Sample Platter

A food heaven for the carnivores, this platter has all the (common) meat to fulfill your protein needs. Indulge in grilled pork cutlet, 100% NZ grass-fed flank steak, Bratwurst sausage, chicken thigh and chicken breast with this brilliantly thought-out dish. They were all well-garnished and lean. Better still, they also came with a homemade sauce of my choice, or rather, two in my case since it was a food tasting session. I had Ponzu Miso Butter and House Gravy, both of which had their own distinctive taste to compensate for the lack of flavour of the platter. Ponzo had a thicker consistency while House Gravy was lighter and way blander.

However, except the sausage, I personally found the meat (especially the steak) rather dry and tough in general. But then again, perhaps I had too high of an expectation for this platter. Also, unless you’re extremely hungry, chances are you wouldn’t be able to finish the entire platter. Therefore, it’d be a better idea to share this with friends or colleagues!

4. Gogibox

Gogibox is the first quick-serve Korean food concept in Singapore offering 7-8 kinds of daily freshly grilled Bulgogi for you to choose from. They pride themselves on their Bulgogi—literally meaning “fire meat”— which they consider to be  their strength and culinary weapon. On top of that, Gogibox also offers 3 kinds of Korean fried rices namely kimchi, prawn and bulgogi marinade. Snacks like fried dumplings are provided on the side menu should you feel like getting some quick bites.

Gogi Plate - Beef

Gogi Plate – Beef (S$8.50, top-up S$1.80 for each additional meat)

Gogibox’s signature is the Gogi Plate served in a takeaway box. It comes with 1 choice of Korean fried rice, 1 choice of bulgogi (beef, chicken, spicy chicken, spicy pork, pork galbi, gochujang pork bell or wine pork belly), fried egg and a side of salad, all combining to give you a complete meal that would leave you satiated without burning a hole in your pocket at the same time.

My first impression of this dish was that it looked dry but fortunately my beef turned out to be deliciously sweet with the right tenderness. Apart from the beef, the flavours were also coming from the fragrant kimchi fried rice. Presentation-wise, it suffered because of the broken and dried-up egg yolk. And being served egg yolk that is anything but runny is sadly at the top of my list of pet peeves :\ Therefore I didn’t really enjoy Gogi Plate as much as I wanted to.

Gogi Dog

Gogi Dog – Chicken (S$6.80)

If you’re in the mood for a lighter bite, there are plenty of options at Gogibox like Gogi Dog and Gogi Taco that can fill your stomach for awhile. The Gogi Dog is a combination of American hot dog and the bulgogi. It had soft and fluffy buns sandwiching fresh, crunchy cabbage and a steaming hot sausage. The saltiness from the sausage also helped to balance out the overall flavour.

Gogi Taco

Gogi Taco  – Spicy Chicken (S$6.80)

The Gogi Taco, on the other hand, is Gogibox’s interpretation of Mexican taco using thick and chewy wraps and the freshest vegetables. Although not very spicy (it could well be after several bites), the chicken still left a tingling sensation in the mouth. It also has the tendency to become a messy affair if not careful. Divide it with cutlery if you’re a messy eater like me. It surprising cut very smoothly!

Omnivore (left) and Gogibox

Omnivore (left) and Gogibox

5. GRUB Noodle Bar

Previously located at Rangoon Road, the popular brand of noodles has finally made its way to a more accessible location at the CBD. Best known for its tasty broth, it is made using beef bones and vegetables and boiled for long hours to extract the full flavour from the beef bones. Furthermore, it contains no MSG or artificial flavours. GRUB Noodle Bar also prides itself on offering only quality beef with its noodles. Take your pick from grades of beef often only found in high-end steakhouses, starting from a pasture-fed beef brisket (S$10.90) to a tender premium sirloin option (S$13.90).

Grub Noodle Bar

Grub Noodle Bar

Pork Collar Noodles - Dry

Pork Collar Noodles – Dry (S$9.90)

Pork Collar Noodles - Dry

Pork Collar Noodles – Dry

Besides the miso pork broth, GRUB apparently makes great chilli sauce to go along with the noodles too! It was adequately spicy and slightly tart which complemented well with the sweet and flavoursome 100% pork balls and springy egg noodles. If not for my exploding stomach, I would have totally went for one of their the beef noodles as well!

The pork collar noodles is available in both soup (S$7.90) and dry versions. Those with a more exquisite palate may opt for the Kurobuta Collar Noodles that is also sold in soup (S$10.90) and dry (S$12.90) versions.

Payment methods

Payment instructions

Payment instructions

In a bid to reduce reliance on manpower, the Bazaar is the first to roll out a fully automated self-service ordering and payment kiosk. It is integrated to a SMS system which sends customers a message once their food is ready for collection so that they do not have to wait by the store while their orders are prepared. Customers can also use this time to look for a seat or purchase drinks and other items. This system has been warmly received by the masses and touted as a game-changer for the food and beverage industry here.

Family FUN² @ FIVE Square

Although catered mostly to working professionals during the workweek, FIVE Square continues to be abuzz on Saturdays (the only weekend on which it is open for now) with family-centric activities. Starting 10 October 2015, a refreshing concept combining feast, shop and play called Family FUN² @ FIVE Square enables patrons to tuck into a selection of food for lunch and/or dinner and browse through a myriad mix of eclectic items at The Artisan Market while their little ones have a whale of a time at the outdoor Bouncy Castle, mini ball pit and remote control cars.

The free and open-to-public event is only available on Saturdays.

Pushcarts at The Artisan Market

Pushcarts at The Artisan Market

25 vendors will be stationed at The Artisan Market from 12pm to 7pm every Saturday to sell an extensive blend of products and services ranging from hand-made accessories, arts & crafts, fashion apparels, decor, home-ware items and more. Apart from that, visitors can also expect an exciting line up from the bustling marketplace showcasing their participating artisans and lifestyle vendors such as clay miniatures, personalized craft /scrap books, crochet bears, patchwork blankets, bottle lamps and many more, providing a unique shopping experience for both the locals and tourists!

Bouncy Castle

Bouncy Castle

Remote Controlled Cars

Remote Controlled Cars

Mini Ball Pit

Mini Ball Pit

However, the management of FIVE Square is still working on bringing more children-friendly dishes at the Bazaar so food choices for the little ones (especially those below the age of 5) is still quite limited for now. Hence, it is advisable to pack lunch just in case foods like fried calamari do not suit their appetite!

All in all, I feel that FIVE Square has done a pretty good job in taking over Han’s task of providing affordable and quality food for the masses in the CBD area. I, for one, would without a doubt make FIVE Square my regular eating place if I’m working in the vicinity! I will stuff my face with Kaisendon every single day! Omnomnomnomnom.

What about you? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

FIVE Square
Great Eastern Centre @ 1 Pickering Street
#01-03, Singapore 048659
Tel: +65 87980245
Parking available @ Great Eastern Building at the rate of $1.65 per hour
Operation Hours: 10am – 12am, Mondays to Saturdays
Nearest MRT: Telok Ayer / Chinatown / Clarke Quay (all about 5-minute walk away)
Website | Facebook | E-mail

Crab and Crêpe Buffet @ Azur

MEDIA INVITE

Hey everyone!

Due to the distance from where I live, the thought of visiting Changi Airport for recreational purposes has never crossed my mind. All my trips to the airport were either to catch a flight or mainly to welcome the arrival of my loved ones.  They were usually a hasty process so most of the time I would be too preoccupied to explore the surroundings and amenities.

However, every time I was driven to the airport, my attention would never fail to wander off to the façade of Crowne Plaza  The 5-star airport hotel is exceptionally breathtaking with its captivating three-dimensional lace screens resembling orchid petals on the exterior.  It had an inviting presence, yet I had not been inside because I had never wanted to drift too far off the arrival and departure halls. Nobody I know has ever held a wedding banquet there too so there was absolutely no reason for me to set foot in the hotel.

But now, there could be an excuse for me to do so!

From 25 September to 29 November 2015, patrons are able to enjoy Singapore’s most-loved crustacean and delightful savoury and sweet crêpes in an East-meets-West fusion style buffet at the award-winning Azur Restaurant located on the second level of Crowne Plaza Changi Airport. Put together by Executive Chef Kiang Siang Heng and his culinary team, this special weekend-only dinner buffet boasts an array of delectable crab creations, poached tiger prawns and freshly shucked oysters at the seafood bar.

On top of that, diners can also expect sashimi, enticing appetisers like the oriental roasted crêpes (a.k.a Peking Duck Pancakes) and tasty soups at the buffet spread. Finally, finish off the hearty meal with a selection of beloved desserts like durian pancakes, chocolate fountain, ice cream and pastries to give your tongue a sweet twist.

Here are some of the highlights of the buffet that’s bound to be a hit with everyone, regardless of age and especially so if you’re an ultimate crab lover!

Appetisers and Soups

Let’s begin with the first course of the meal. There were 2 choices of soup available – the Hot and Sour Crabmeat and King Crab Bisque with Lemon Cream, each prepared to stimulate different parts of the taste receptors.

Hot and Sour Crabmeat Soup

Hot and Sour Crabmeat Soup

As the name implies, the Hot and Sour Crabmeat Soup was both hot in terms of temperature (not so of spiciness but it could be just me) and slightly acetic with a generous amount of crabmeat and carrot shredded in thin strips. If you’ve tried Sichuan Hot and Sour Soup before, this tasted exactly like it but probably with a lighter texture. However, the soup wasn’t really popular because there was obviously a better option right beside it.

King Crab Bisque with Lemon Cream

King Crab Bisque with Lemon Cream

Under the recommendation of Jolyn who had so kindly extended the media invitation to my boyfriend and I, I tried the King Crab Bisque. Thick, full-of-flavour and rich, the crab bisque was one of the best I had tasted and I had even helped myself to another serving (filled to the brim of the bowl) before leaving the restaurant. It was so darn good. To add a little crunch, I topped the soup with some croutons. Like a sponge, they absorbed the soup and created a mini taste explosion in the mouth. Wouldn’t mind going back again just for this.

Oriental Roasted Duck Crêpes

Oriental Roasted Duck Crêpes

Oriental Roasted Duck Crêpes

Oriental Roasted Duck Crêpes

Oriental Roasted Duck Crêpes

Oriental Roasted Duck Crêpes

Ever since Modern Peking Duck closed permanently at Vivocity and ION Orchard (and does anyone know why and where they are now?), boyfriend and I have been seriously deprived of some succulent Peking roast duck pancakes drenched in delicious hoisin sauce. Fortunately, our psychological craving for them was temporarily satisfied at Azur.

Prepared freshly at room temperature, these crêpes would vanish completely every time a new batch was brought forward. Each roll was made in relatively smaller portion so that you can easily pop it in your mouth. The duck meat was tender but not juicy enough to make up for the absence of hoisin sauce in the roll. Therefore, the entire crêpes actually felt a little dry.

Vegetable Terrine with Roasted Bell Pepper & Chervil Oil

Vegetable Terrine with Roasted Bell Pepper & Chervil Oil

It takes an acquired taste to appreciate terrines because of their unusual taste and texture. But if you love livers, you’d definitely love these. I couldn’t identify the type of meat used to make these terrines (though definitely not pork as Azur doesn’t serve pork and lard but it could well be chicken) because they were extremely soft and delicate to the touch with a buttery feel, like tofu but way smoother and mushier. It didn’t require much effort to break them apart because they would practically just melt in my mouth. However, as I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s not something that most people would enjoy and I, for one, did not 😦

The Homemade Crab in Crêpes Station

The Homemade Crab in Crêpes Station

Combining two main elements of the buffet, the Homemade Crab in Crêpes Station offers a variety of savoury crab fillings like Curry Mayonnaise Crab, Sambal Dry Shrimps Crab, Crab Meat Goulash, Honey Pineapple Chicken and Crab and Crab Wasabi on a plain yet delectable crêpe. The portion is humongous so you’d probably need to share it with your companions.

There is also another crêpe station where you can pick up a hot dessert of delicious French pancake in orange butter sauce.

Seafood Bar, Sashimi & Sushi

Moving on to another segment of the buffet, the seafood bar promises a wide selection of crab dishes such as Spanner Rock Crabs paired with fragrant coriander dressing and Cold Stone Crabs that are best eaten with a mandarin orange compote. You can also make your own cold seafood platter with some Cold Alaska Crab Claws, Poached Tiger Prawns, Freshly Shucked Oysters and perhaps Salmon Sashimi.

Freshly Shucked Oysters

Freshly Shucked Oysters

Perfectly shucked and smoothly tumbled, not a speck of dirt or shell fragmentation could be found on my glistening oysters which looked really seductive by the way. The oysters were gorgeously displayed on a bed of ice to keep them chilled. While they were all remarkably fresh, I felt that they could be even fresher if they were shucked to order. Nevertheless, the oyster flesh was huge, very meaty and slippery with a hint of natural saltiness. They had a distinctive seawater smell but it was mild enough to be overlooked. But if you’re easily bothered by it, you can squirt lemon juice over the oysters to mask the smell.

Spanner Rock Crabs

Spanner Rock Crabs

These Spanner Rock Crabs were a bit of a hassle to eat. Although they were already broken up at the carapace for patrons’ convenience, other areas like the claws were not. But even with a crab cracker, the shell took awhile to break because they were as hard as rocks. And the amount of cold crab meat you obtain after going through all the trouble is just miserable. Being the lazy person that I am, I don’t think this crab is worth all the effort and mess and I would rather spend the time on cooked crab dishes.

Poached Tiger Prawns

Poached Tiger Prawns

Sushi

Sushi

Salmon Sashimi

Salmon Sashimi

No Asian-theme buffet would be complete without a sushi bar. Likewise for Azur, it was no exception. The miniature sushi corner is stocked with Salmon and Tako sashimi and Ikura Salmon Roe Sushi Rolled with Crêpe that’s specially created to suit the theme. You would also be spoilt for choice with an assortment of Nigiri Sushi like Tamago, Ebi and Tuna. In need of more carbs to fuel your body? Try Cha Soba with Mud Crab Roe and Unagi!

But honestly, unless you’re a diehard sushi fan who, I don’t think the sushi are spectacular and can be skipped. The Salmon Sashimi were in dull orange and they lacked the shiok factor because they weren’t cold enough although they were replenished quite regularly. There were definitely other foods at the buffet that were more worthy of your stomach space.

Hot Asian and Western Crab Dishes

A varied selection of crab and seafood-theme Asian and Western dishes can be found at two show kitchens. The Hawker Stall features a different popular local crab dish rotated every thirty minutes to an hour. I spotted Salted Egg Crab while making my rounds and maybe Curry Crab too. If you’re lucky enough, you may find other crab dishes like Wok Fried Cereal Crab, Black Peppercorn Crab and Singapore Chilli Crab.

Salted Egg Crab

Salted Egg Crab

The Salted Egg Crab is another favourite dish of mine that evening. Coated with thick and grainy golden salted egg batter, the crabs were cut up into manageable portions with almost an equal proportions of meat in every little piece. Among them were chunks of salted egg batter which you can probably just eat for fun. Despite using smaller crabs for this dish, there was surprisingly an abundance of meat and the crab shell was interestingly edible as well!

Crab-Chicken Meat Stuffed Grilled Bell Peppers

Crab-Chicken Meat Stuffed Grilled Bell Peppers

Spanish Paella with Baked Crab and Tomato Sauce

Spanish Paella with Baked Crab and Tomato Sauce

If you’re beginning to suffer from crab-fatigue, fret not! There are also other hot dishes available at the Hawker Stall. There you will be able to find Crayfish with Blue Sea Prawn and Minced Chicken in “Rendang Style” and a Thai-inspired dish called “Bamee Poo”. The latter is an egg vermicelli noodle dish mixed with a rich sauce made of garlic, fish sauce and light sauce, topped with sweet steamed crab meat, fried ikan bilis and tangy green mustard. Whoa! Sounds absolutely marvelous, doesn’t it?

Blue Sea Prawn & Minced Chicken in Rendang Style

Blue Sea Prawn & Minced Chicken in Rendang Style

Deep-fried Crabmeat and Tofu with Leek & Oyster Sauce

Deep-fried Crabmeat and Tofu with Leek & Oyster Sauce

Grilled Beef Yakitori with Crabmeat Ball

Grilled Beef Yakitori with Crabmeat Ball

For diners who are looking for western options, some of the highlights from the Western show kitchen are the Saffron Rice with Tomato Crab, Baked Whole Barramundi Fish with Crab Meat Herbs Crust, BBQ Sri Lanka Crab, Crispy Dungeness Crab Cakes with Chestnuts in Mango-Pineapple Salsa and Steamed Stone Claw with Zesty Orange Horseradish Sauce.

Baked Whole Barramundi Fish with Crab Meat Herbs Crust

Baked Whole Barramundi Fish with Crab Meat Herbs Crust

Another highly sought-after dish at Azur, the whole Barramundi Fish (also known as Asian Seabass) was reduced to a partial skeleton within minutes of putting it out for the public to devour. The skin of the fish was fried to a crisp and its flesh were luscious and juicy. I had never seen nor tasted crust made of crab meat before so this was certainly new and refreshing to me.

Dessert Island

Finally, complete your feast with some desserts. At the dessert corner, you will be able to find timeless classics like Durian Pancakes and Chocolate Fountain with mixed berries, melons and marshmellows. Other forms of chilled miniature desserts are also available should you be too replete for anything more. All pastries except for the kuehs are personally prepared by the chef himself.

Durian Pancake

Durian Pancake

Regrettably, the miniature durian pancakes were a bit of a letdown. Not only were they cold and slightly soggy because they were obviously mass-prepared and left to cool for awhile, the pancake itself felt a little too mushy and starchy for my liking. Their only saving grace was perhaps the durian pulp which was fragrant (duh!) and creamy.

Kueh Pie Tee

Kueh Pie Tee

Ingredients for Kueh Pie Tee

Ingredients for Kueh Pie Tee

Marshmallows to dip into the chocolate fondue

Marshmallows to dip into the chocolate fondue

Garnishes for your ice cream

Garnishes for your ice cream

If I still had space for ice cream, I would have totally gone crazy with the garnishes especially those M&Ms chocolates!

Lemon Curd Pie

Lemon Curd Pie

With a portion so small, you definitely won’t feel guilty about eating these Lemon Curd Pie. Dressed with berries and a mixture of stevia and lemon powder, the pie gave an addictively tart flavour which propelled me to get another helping. It was piquant and delicious and I just loved how the beautiful crust crumbled in my mouth.

Green Tea Panna Cotta

Green Tea Panna Cotta

The visually striking presentation of the panna cotta first caught my attention. The soft and silky green tea cream sat cleverly atop a layer of mousse (can’t remember what flavour) and embellished with a rose macaron and a slice of strawberry. The cream had a faint tinge of bitterness but the overall taste was decent. Perhaps it would go better with red bean mousse.

Red Bean Custard

Red Bean Custard

More desserts

More desserts

Nutty Crumble & Coconut Tartlet

Nutty Crumble & Coconut Tartlet

Small enough to fit the entire piece into the mouth, these tartlets were not only aesthetically pleasing but also very easy to eat! Topped with blueberries and pounded nuts, the coconut-laden tartlets were dusted with cocoa powder on the surface. The blueberries lent a sweet flavour and juicy quality to the tartlet which could otherwise be dominated by the bland and fibrous grated coconut. Hence, the resulting taste was an exquisite surprise.

Nonya Kueh

Nonya Kueh

Nonya Kueh

Nonya Kueh

All in all, the extensive spread of high-quality food at the buffet was definitely beyond impressive. I like that diners can literally try all the different crab creations at the same time and to their heart’s content. But I feel the price tag of $75++ per person for a not-so-novel concept (as quite a number of restaurants have already rolled out similar crab-themed buffets in recent years) is a tad extravagant. On the other hand, crab lovers with an insatiable appetite may find the price extremely reasonable. So yeah, to each his own, I guess!

What do you think? How do you find the food? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Thanks for the warm hospitality, Azur!

Thanks for the warm hospitality, Azur!

Thanks for reading!

The Crab and Crêpe Buffet is priced at $75++ per pax and available for dinner on Friday to Sunday. Prices are subjected to a 10% service charge and prevailing government taxes. Prior reservations are greatly encouraged.

Azur
Crowne Plaza @ Changi Airport
Level 2
75 Airport Boulevard
Singapore 819664
Call 6823 5354 for reservations
Website | Facebook | E-mail

REVIEW: NEXGEN Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum & Phantom Mask

ADVERTORIAL

Hey everyone!

It has been drilled into our heads since we were little children that preserved food is detrimental to our health. But do you know that preservatives are also existent in beauty products? Like food preservatives, they allow extend the shelf life of the products by allowing them to remain fresh during the long span between the time of manufacture and the time the customer finishes using it. Similarly, they are often unhealthy as they may pose long-term health risks. However, preservatives form an integral part of the cosmetics ingredients. Without them, you’d most likely be tossing out your barely-used lipstick and facial cream every other few weeks.

Furthermore, it’s perfectly legal to use these toxic materials despite the fact that they may cause adverse effects to the health. Therefore, don’t be alarmed to see them on the list of ingredients of your everyday beauty products. They are everywhere.

Ingredients of a very popular body lotion sold in Singapore

Ingredients of a very popular body lotion sold in Singapore

Methylchloroisothiazolinone is an allergen and can cause severe skin reactions in some people.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone is an allergen and can cause severe skin reactions in some people.

Ingredients of a branded lipstick I own

Ingredients of a branded lipstick I own

Phenoxyethanol is believed to cause damage to the brain cells and the central nervous system when used in large quantities

Phenoxyethanol is believed to cause damage to the brain cells and the central nervous system when used in large quantities.

On the other hand, there are still cosmetics brands around that tout to be completely free of preservatives and specially formulated to be self-preserving. But the problem lies with the fact that they are often reusable. Reusable cosmetics products which are free of preservatives usually can’t withstand the test of time (hence the shorter expiry dates) because they get contaminated very easily with repeated contact with the skin. That’s why most of such products are sold in small packaging, but at premium prices. With that said, are you getting more bang for your bucks, or not?

But not all hope is lost! With the advancement of technology today, nothing is impossible. In the case of NEXGEN, instead of using preservatives, their products are packed separately before undergoing a sterilizing process, all while ensuring that the composition and functions of the products are not altered.

skinthenext

Established in 1999 in South Korea, NEXGEN is a biotechnology company specialising in second generation (hence the name) plant biotechnology which does not involve the use of herbicide, pesticides and genetically modified plants. Diversifying from the medical, agricultural and industrial business, NEXGEN started venturing into the cosmetics industry in 2011 under the subsidiary name of SKIN THE NEXT.

What sets SKIN THE NEXT/NEXGEN apart from other cosmetics brands is that it makes beauty products that are perfectly sterile and as mentioned earlier, preservative-free because of the individual and disposable packaging. On top of that, it also bans the use of plant extracts.

“Wait, aren’t plant extracts supposed to be good?”

Not many people know this (neither did I!) but besides the active ingredients in plants which are highly effective and pure with high biological value [1], they also contain synthetic substances which can be really harmful to humans. In order to extract the beneficial ingredients, companies have to pay a truckload of money and go through a dreadful process. Realistically speaking, not many commercial enterprises would do it.

Therefore, instead of using these unknown substances, SKIN THE NEXT incorporates Growth Factor Protein (a protein almost identical to human DNA and found in vegetables and fruits) into their products to help stimulate human tissues to repair themselves. Another active ingredient is the Cellular Vital Complex which contains 21 essential amino acids and 14 minerals in an optimum proportion to nourish your skin.

Here are 2 beauty products recently launched by SKIN THE NEXT/NEXGEN.

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Die Hard Hydrating Serum

Die hard® is a moisturizing repair serum that doubles as a wrinkle treatment. It is composed with genetically engineered growth factor protein named Spider Silk Protein, which is 18 times stronger than steel that replaces collagen and elastin to improve skin elasticity and triggers cell  division.

As a moisturizing and anti-aging product, it contains vital complex (21 kinds of essential amino acids, and 11 kinds of minerals), sH-Oligopeptide-1 (EGF) 10ppm and Spider Silk Protein. There are 60 sachets in each box.

There is a perforated line on the individual packaging to facilitate the opening. 

There is a perforated line on the individual packaging to facilitate the opening.

Easy to tear

Easy to tear

Extract all the serum from the pouch

Extract all the serum from the pouch

Colourless serum

Colourless serum

You just need one sachet for every application. Apply the serum evenly onto the face and smooth it gently until it is completely absorbed into the skin. I use this only at night before heading to bed because it does leave a mildly sticky residue on my skin. The amount of serum in the pouch may look insufficient but trust me, it’s more than enough to cover the entire face because it has a flowy consistency. It’s colourless and formulated without fragrance but it doesn’t have a pungent chemical smell.

Effectiveness-wise, my skin did feel a lot more moisturised, supple and revitalised the following day. Most importantly, it didn’t break my skin out one bit. In fact, I’m not sure if it’s pure coincidence but I noticed some of my acne scars lightened up a little. Nevertheless, the product worked well enough for me to continue using it.

I also love the travel-friendly size of the individual packaging and how two sachets are adhered together to save even more space. It will definitely come in handy for me when I go abroad at the end of the year!

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Biosteel Spider Silk Protein Phantom Mask

Like the hydrating serum, one of the key ingredients of the Phantom Mask is spider silk protein. Phantom Mask is suitable for sensitive skin and it helps to replenish moisture and add glow to the skin. It is separated into 3 sections for the upper and lower half of the face as well as the neck area. There are 8 sheets in each box.

3 sections of Phantom Mask folded into one so be careful when you open it up!

3 sections of Phantom Mask folded into one so be careful when you open it up!

Mask application

Mask application. Leave mask on your face for about 30 minutes (minimum 20 minutes)

Moisturizing my eyelids with the flaps. Time to doze off!

Moisturizing my eyelids with the flaps. Time to doze off!

Neck area

Neck area

If you like truffle oil, you’d love this mask because it smells almost like it. But if you don’t, you’d probably find the smell unpleasant. It didn’t quite bother me because I fell asleep soon after I went to bed with it. This mask gave me a sense of luxury, the feeling I had when I was in the esthetician room a few weeks back. The moisture of the mask on my face coupled with the cool breeze from my air conditioner just spelled bliss. Plus, I had actually refrigerated my mask before application. It felt so, so good and relaxing! My worn out face looked evidently lifted, tighter and calmer (inflammation of pimples greatly reduced) when I peeled off the mask and I also realised my skin tone becoming a teeny weeny bit more even.

And the best part? The aftermath feeling wasn’t as tacky as I thought. Just smack on some sunblock and you’re ready to leave the house! (No I’m not kidding because I really did go to Orchard after one of the sessions).

The mask is made of great quality cotton sheet to prevent clumsy people like me from tearing it accidentally while trying to separate the sections. There would also be plenty of remaining essence left in the packaging which you can massage onto other areas of the neck, or wherever you deem fit. This is what I call “stretching your dollar” 😀

What do you think of these products? Would you be more wary when purchasing your beauty products now? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

NEXGEN BIOTECHNOLOGIES

NEXGEN: Website (English) | Website (Korean)
SKIN THE NEXT: Website (English) | Facebook | TwitterNaver (Korean)
To order, please visit SKINTHENEXT.COM or email to lei@nexgenbiolab.com

Get Crunching with Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies by BHP

SPONSORED

Hello everyone!

You can probably remember my post on the Roasted Buckwheat Green Tea published a few months back where I highlighted the health benefits of buckwheat (or soba in Japanese). Many diabetic and cancer patients, upon my recommendation, have tried either the green tea or the coffee to incredible results. It had even astounded and piqued the interest of a doctor who had noticed the consistently healthy blood pressure level in a diabetic patient ever since she started including at least two cups of freshly brewed Roasted Buckwheat Coffee in her daily diet. The last time she met her doctor, he also enquired about how he could get his hands on the coffee too!

In fact, one of the co-founders of the Buckwheat Healthcare Products (BHP) is also testimony of the effectiveness of buckwheat in bringing about health changes. Being a serious diabetes, liver cancer and kidney disease sufferer previously himself, not even the maximum dosage of insulin prescribed by his doctor at the Singapore General Hospital was able to help his condition. He was delivered the bad news that he would not be able to make it past 3 months in May 2007 by several experienced doctors he consulted. But instead of resigning to his fate, he remained optimistic and continued to seek alternative solutions. Then one day, he stumbled upon an article about buckwheat and decided to give Buckwheat Roasted Green Tea a shot. Even though he is still on medication for his kidney failure today, his other damaged organs have reverted to normal conditions, much to the amazement of his doctors. That’s right, he managed to fully recover from liver cancer and diabetes without undergoing chemotherapy!

Due to its unsweetened and slightly bitter taste, many, especially children however, may find it hard to adjust their taste buds. That’s why BHP had come up with other variations like coffee and honey, as well as in cans. Now, it has also come in cookie form! So cookie lovers, REJOICE!

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

Apart from buckwheat, the powehouse cookies are also packed with the wholesomeness of chia seeds, one of the most nutritious foods on the planet that’s loaded with fiber, protein, antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids and various micronutrients (source).

Ingredients of Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies:

Wheat Flour, Butter, Buckwheat, Chia Seeds, Egg, Sodium Bicarbonate, Baking Powder, Sugar, Salt, Milk Powder, Vanilla Essence.

Store in a cool dry place. Contains wheat, gluten, eggs, milk. Processed in a facility that uses nuts.

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

The adorable golden-brown heart-shaped cookies are baked in bite-sized pieces that melt in your mouth. They are crunchy to the bite (you can even hear the satisfying crunch of the chia seeds in your mouth, no joke!) and are absolutely flavourful – a little like Suji cookies. Not only is it a great choice of snacks for in between meals (hear ye, hear ye, office workers!), it’s also a very healthy nibble for your kids. Who said cookies can’t be delicious and nutricious at the same time, eh? With the buckwheat chia seed cookies, you can now turn your guilty pleasure into a guiltless one! 🙂

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

As these cookies are still at the trial stage to gather more feedback on the taste, each packet is only limited to 25g with 5 pieces of cookies. Plans to have more quantity (40-60 pieces) in a bigger, better-designed packaging (200-300g in a heart-shaped tin) are well under way. I will update this post again when the time comes.

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies (S$3.50/pkt)

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies

Feeling the munchies? You can now order the all-new Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies from BHP! Click here to be directed to the product page.

Click image to be directed to product page

Click image to be directed to product page

Or, you could join my giveaway! 😉

** SECOND BHP GIVEAWAY **

From now ’til 15 November 2015, I will be selecting 10 lucky winners to receive FIVE packets of the Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies. On top of that, I will also be giving away TWO boxes of Roasted Buckwheat Green Tea (25 sachets each) and TWO boxes of Buckwheat Black Coffee (30 sachets each). How does that sound?

TL;DR

WIN 5 x Buckwheat Chia Seed Cookies + 2 x Roasted Buckwheat Green Tea (25 sachets) + 2 x Buckwheat Black Coffee (30 sachets)

To join this giveaway:

  1. Simply share this post on Facebook. Your privacy settings must be set to “public”.
  2. Then, comment here with your e-mail address or or e-mail me at askme@fionaseah.com with “I want Roasted Buckwheat Green Tea!” as your subject. Alternatively, you can use the contact form below if you’d like to maintain your privacy 🙂

As product is bulky, self-collection is advised at the following MRT stations: Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Gombak, Bukit Batok, Jurong East, Serangoon, Orchard and Dhoby Ghaut. All are welcome to participate in this giveaway (even those who have won the first giveaway) as long as you’re able to meet me at any of the above-mentioned locations! 🙂

Remember, contest closes on 15 November 2015 or earlier if response is overwhelming. Share this with your family and friends whom you think will benefit from these products! Good luck and I look forward to meeting some of you when you collect your prizes! 🙂

Giveaway has ended on 15 November 2015! Thank you for your e-mails and comments. Winners have been notified via e-mail! Do check your inbox/junk to see if you’ve won the giveaway! 🙂

Together, let’s all work towards a diabetes-free nation!

Buckwheat Health Products Pte Ltd

FREE LOCAL DELIVERY
www.buckwheat.com.sg
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