Essentials by Cinci handmade soaps review – land of soap and glory!

ec soaps hong kong

For me, soap is something old people use. It sits on your soap-dish for ages looking unattractively scummy, it doesn’t lather up properly and it leaves you feeling almost too squeakily clean. Suffice to say, I’m a shower gel girl all the way.

However, bringing the humble soap into the 21st century is Essentials By Cinci EC Soap. The brainchild of qualified Chinese medicine practitioner Cinci Leung, these soaps are handmade in Hong Kong from all-natural ingredients – and look absolutely gorgeous to boot.

essentials by cinci hong kong

Before you start imagining Leung as some wizened bearded old man concocting noxious-smelling brews in a ye olde style apothecary, let me tell you that she’s actually a bright young woman with a more modern approach to Chinese medicine – a philosophy which is totally reflected in the Essentials by Cinci soaps themselves.

Leung explained to me that many shower gels are formulated with ingredients that end up stripping off your skin’s natural oils as well as the dirt and sweat we want rid of. Her soaps are much milder and have been created to both cleanse and moisturise – sudsational stuff!

handmade soaps hong kong essentials by cinci

Continue reading

Dazzling Café restaurant review – the toast of the town

dazzling cafe hong kong

You learn something new every day… and in the case of the day where Mirander and I visited Dazzling Café, it was how to eat a piece of the toast the size of your face.

Giant bricks of toast filled with yet more baby cubes of toast sound like a strange carb-loaded monster from Dr Atkins’ worst nightmares, but these bread-head desserts have become a bona fide “thing” in Hong Kong, alongside the recent influx of cutesy Taiwanese cafés with queues almost as long at the restaurants’ daily bread orders.

dazzling cafe hk

Dazzling Café – the latest Taiwanese café import to hit Hong Kong, hot on the heels of Coffee Alley and Teawood except with a much cushier location in Tsim Sha Tsui’s The One mall – definitely delivers on the cute factor. Eggshell blue walls, chairs with bunny ears, waitresses dressed as French maids, a logo featuring lace, baby pink AND pearls… it all feels like you’ve entered a real-life doll’s house.

dazzling cafe hong kong caramel honey toast

Continue reading

Benefit The POREfessional: Agent Zero Shine finishing powder review – your secret weapon against sticky summers

benefit the porefessional agent zero shine powder

“Girls don’t sweat, they perspire.”

… Said no girl who lived in Hong Kong ever.

Hong Kong is not the place to come if you’re scared of a bit of sweat. Our summers basically read like the keywords for an x-rated video – hot, wet, sticky, sweaty – and there ain’t much you can do about it. However, there are a few secret weapons you can deploy to help you look a little more fresh-faced and fragrant even in the stickiest of summers, and one of my favourites is Benefit’s The POREfessional: Agent Zero Shine powder.

benefit the porefessional spy gal

“Secret weapon” is a totally apt phrase for Agent Zero Shine. Not only is the packaging officially the cutest – adorned with Benefit’s cartoon Spy Gal, a secret agent “porefessional” whose mission (should you choose to accept it) is to combat the appearance of pores – but like many of the best cosmetics, when applied right, no one can even tell you’re using it… just that you look extra awesome instead.

Continue reading

Bread Street Kitchen & Bar restaurant review – Gordon Ramsay hits Hong Kong

bread street kitchen hong kong snapper

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock (in which case I’d quite like to join you, as I’m sick of seeing his face all over my social media!), Brit celeb chef Gordon Ramsay has opened his first restaurant in Hong Kong – Bread Street Kitchen & Bar in Central.

I’m not going to bore you with comparisons to fellow Brit celeb chef Jamie Oliver, as with the recent opening of Hong Kong’s first Jamie’s Italian restaurant, nearly every other publication is doing that for you. If you know your TV chefs, you should already be well aware that the two are very different propositions – both as TV personalities and as chefs – and that Bread Street Kitchen was always going to be a somewhat fancier affair than the much more casual Jamie’s Italian chain.

bread street kitchen hong kong

Ramsay’s cuisine has been brought over to Hong Kong thanks to restaurant group behemoth Dining Concepts, who have form transporting famous chef eateries to our shores with the likes of Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Burger, Mario Batali’s Lupa, Will Meyrick’s Mama San and Michael White’s Al Molo. They’ve also managed to transplant Bread Street Kitchen’s original London décor almost exactly to Hong Kong – that curiously anonymous blend of “vintage and modern” which feels like it was dreamed up by a committee. Think a bustling brasserie vibe with tiled floors, leather banquettes and clusters of antique-style lamps in the massive space formerly occupied by LKF ice bar favourite, Balalaika.

Ramsay won’t actually be cooking here himself (does he ever anywhere these days?!) so sadly, you won’t be getting your scallops with a side order of swearwords. Instead, the cuisine at Bread Street is posh British gastropub fare, with a menu that’s currently near identical to London’s – and having checked said menu, the Hong Kong prices are pretty spot on too.

Continue reading

Christian Louboutin nail polish launches in Hong Kong – head over heels for designer lacquer

louboutin nail polish hong kong

Would you pay HK$450 for a nail polish? (International readers – that’s approximately US$58 or GBP£36!) Well, now’s the time to find out as Christian Louboutin’s nail polish line has just launched in Hong Kong.

First things first, these are no average nail polishes. The bottles – with long pointed caps reminiscent of a sharp stiletto heel, and chunky geometric cut-glass bottles – are practically works of art in themselves. The signature polish in the collection is the Rouge Louboutin, which is of course based on those all-iconic red soles and boasts a longer black cap (designed to be the same height as Louboutin’s tallest ever heel, the Ballerina Ultima) with a beautiful ombre tinted glass bottle.

louboutin nail polish hong kong rouge louboutin

Fashion legend has it that Louboutin’s very first red soles were created by him painting red nail polish directly onto the shoes… so it’s kind of cool that things have now come full circle and the brand is actually producing the lacquer itself!

Continue reading

Isono Eatery & Bar restaurant review – casual Mediterranean glamour at PMQ

isono hong kong

Isono – on paper, it looks like the results of a particularly unproductive Countdown round (especially when combined with its location, PMQ). In reality, it’s the latest restaurant from Tony Cheng’s Drawing Room Concepts, the brains behind places as varied as AMMO (Italian), Hainan Shaoye (Singaporean) and Made In HK (do I really have to tell you?). This time round, the cuisine is casual Mediterranean with a slight tapas slant, the chef the esteemed Paolo Casagrande of two Michelin-starred Restaurante Lasarte in Barcelona, and the interiors courtesy of the acclaimed Joyce Wang.

Casagrande has saved most of the culinary fireworks for Isono’s sister restaurant upstairs, Vasco, which is more of a fancy fine-dining kind of joint. Instead, Isono’s menu is full of familiar European classics – charcuterie platters, paella, pasta – the kind that make us start happily reminiscing about that great cod stew in the Basque/those delicious rillettes in South France/the best carbonara ever in Rome that we once enjoyed.

isono hong kong bar

That being said, it’s unlikely that any of those happy foodie memories played out in an environment quite as majestic as Isono’s. Wang’s interiors always bring a sense of cinematic grandeur to proceedings (literally – there’s a black and white film screened on loop on the wall here); with its copper surfaces, intricate metal structures and exposed bulb lighting, it has an almost steampunk vibe. Classy steampunk mind, not any of that Sucker Punch nonsense.

Continue reading

The Peninsula Spa Five Elements LaStone Therapy treatment review – ‘cos you’re hot then you’re cold…

Peninsula Spa Hong Kong

Mention Tsim Sha Tsui to most of us jaded Hong Kongers and we’ll inevitably start to grumble: “Too many crowds… too many shops… too many Mainlanders!” However, if all our visits to TST were to begin with a visit to The Peninsula Spa, I’m pretty sure we’d be feeling much more zen about the neighbourhood.

I was recently invited to try The Peninsula Spa’s new Five Elements LaStone Therapy treatment… and it was the happiest I’ve felt about Tsim Sha Tsui in a long time.

Peninsula Spa Hong Kong Asian Tea Lounge

The Peninsula Hong Kong is something of an icon here and its spa is every bit as luxurious as you’d expect. Spread over the seventh and ninth floors of the hotel, it’s got a contemporary Chinese vibe to it with bamboo, marble and dark wood details – plus plenty of water features to appease those feng shui masters! My favourite area is the Asian Tea Relaxation Lounge (above), which is surrounded by cascades of glowing rushing water. Tranquillity and serenity rather than “Need a new watch, Madam?” are totally the words of the day here.

Continue reading