Tag Archives: Times Square

Kiko Milano Cosmetics opens in Hong Kong

kiko hong kong

UPDATE: Kiko has since opened loads more stores in Hong Kong – full list of locations at the bottom of this post!

OK, think of this news as less “fresh out the oven” and more “room temperature but still absolutely delicious” – Kiko Milano has opened in Hong Kong!

In case you aren’t familiar with the brand, Kiko is a pretty awesome cosmetics company from Italy, which boasts an absolutely gigantic range of makeup and skincare products (over 1600 at last count) at extremely affordable prices. Like everything that’s covetable these days, I became familiar with the brand on Instagram, where it’s beloved by beauty bloggers and “influencers” everywhere, whereupon I would coo and sigh and stroke my screen sadly that I couldn’t get my Kiko kicks in Hong Kong. Well, now I can!

Continue reading

Helena Rubinstein Prodigy Powercell Youth Grafter Facial, Lane Crawford treatment review

As part of Lane Crawford’s Autumn/Winter Beauty Style Campaign, I was lucky enough to be invited to try out Helena Rubinstein’s Prodigy Powercell Youth Grafter Facial pre-launch. Woah, sounds super-intense, right?!

Actually, it was nothing but super-lovely. I was firstly ushered into some rooms in Lane Crawford that I never even knew existed! These special treatment rooms are surprisingly calm, spacious and sealed-off from the hubbub of the department store – you can hear a muted noise from the crowds outside, but it’s not at all distracting and almost enjoyable (in a ‘Ha! I’m enjoying a lovely facial whilst you drag your temper tantrum throwing five year old around’ kind of way).

The facial uses some of Helena Rubinstein’s signature products combined with ultrasound technology and unique massages to ‘maximise cell metabolism and skin regeneration’ leading to more radiant, supple and firm skin. Quite an achievement for a 45 minute facial, right?!

Sadly, my 45 minutes blurred by all too quickly – I’m beginning to think facials operate in a different time zone that’s always over way too soon! The most interesting part of the facial involved using the ‘Prodigious Roller’ to smooth and firm the skin, which felt deliciously cool yet also massaging, then an ultrasonic machine to clean the face and magnify the effectiveness of the Helena Rubinstein Powercell Serum, allowing it to penetrate the skin more deeply.

Previous facials had led me to expect all kinds of generally unpleasant sensations from high-tech machinery – stinging, prickling, bright lights, ultra-sensitivity – yet this was absolutely none of above! Instead, it was a gentle, soothing feeling that just washed pleasurably over me. The serum itself contains stem cells of Oceanic Crista, an active ingredient which revitalises the skin and has been proven to aid cellular regeneration, tissue repair and anti-radical defence!

There was also a wonderful sculpting face massage using pro-collagen cream, supposed to re-activate the skin’s deep tissues, and which did indeed leave my skin feeling rejuvenated, firmer and freshened-up. There was also a refreshing and nourishing ten-minute face mask before finally, the Prodigy Powercell Face Cream was applied (more of that awesome Oceanic Christa stuff and with a creamy rich-but-light texture) and I was sent off on my way.

The results were wonderful. My skin looked brighter and more radiant, with a soft relaxed look to it that lasted for days. It also felt firmer, more supple and generally rejuvenated, both inside and out!

Aside from the stellar results and overall relaxing experience of the facial, I loved its convenience (as if I need a further incentive to go to Lane Crawford, who as you can see from my hauls, are already pocketing half my bank balance already!). It also acted as a nice little introduction to some of Helena Rubinstein’s award-winning Prodigy Powercell products, a brand that thus far I’ve been pretty unfamiliar with. Expect to see plenty of Helena Rubinstein products popping up on my Christmas list this year!

Helena Rubinstein Prodigy Powercell Youth Grafter Facial, $1020, Lane Crawford, September 15-October 2

A version of this review also appears on Sassy Hong Kong.

798 Unit & Co Gastropub restaurant review – rub-a-pub-grub

UPDATE: 798 is now closed.

Whilst Hong Kong seems to be getting the hang of pubs (Dickens, Delaneys and Trafalgar are all worth a punt and I’ve heard good things about The Globe… just don’t head to The Pickle & Pelican if you value your stomach), gastropubs are proving a bit more difficult for HK to get its head round.

I’m not looking for a Heston Blumenthal experience. For me, a gastropub means a bit of a fancier setting, a bit of a fancier menu (featuring regular pub grub but with a few twists) and an elevation in the quality of the food. I don’t think I’m shattering many illusions when I divulge that most standard pubs in the UK are operating an only slightly superior variant on “pinging” supermarket ready-meals, especially as many are now run by cut-and-paste chains. With a gastropub, I’m expecting fresh ingredients, some element of cooking as opposed to just sticking something in an oven and an environment that isn’t coated in sticky beer stains. Of course, with such benefits comes a hike in prices – but within reason!

So whither gastropubs in HK? The Pawn isn’t far off the mark, but it’s a la carte menu is just too pricey. I would classify Jimmy’s Kitchen’s menu as pure gastropub, but its staff and its prices seem to be under the illusion that it’s a Michelin-starred restaurant. Frites (run by Concept Creations, who also own the fabulous Tapeo) has the environment down pat, top-notch food, a quality beer selection and would perhaps rank as a gastropub – in Belgium. Good luck looking for a lasagne there! As such, 798 Unit & Co. Gastropub is probably your best bet.

The environment is perfectly-judged. Looming chandeliers on lofty ceilings, chunky dark-wood furniture and squishy sofas, blackboard menus and other quirky little touches. Food is served in hearty, hefty portion sizes, which should be a given in a gastropub.

As for the food, the lunch menu (available between 12-3pm) is spectacularly good value. $88 for three courses plus a drink is fantastic, especially given that you’re in a Western restaurant in the typically pricey Times Square in Causeway Bay (compare with The Pawn, $150 for three courses sans drink). They also do even cheaper sets if you fancy a salad ($78) or sandwiches/pizza ($68).

All this would be meaningless if the food was rubbish. But it isn’t. For my money, 798 does the best fish and chips in Hong Kong. That’s not a claim to be taken lightly but here’s the evidence. It comes wrapped in faux newspaper. This isn’t just a tacky design thing – it helps soak up the grease! So many restaurants here seem unable to comprehend this simple fact and serve you a fish sliming about in its own oil, a sad but inevitable by-product of deep-frying things. It’s served with a load of side condiments, including vinegar, which you could be forgiven for thinking is a prohibited ingredient out here (alas, not Sarsons Malt but red wine vinegar, still better than nothing).

You get a full fillet of fish, not a few strips, and said fish is moist, creamy but still flakes apart expertly. The batter is golden, crispy and has an actual taste (there may be beer involved), as opposed to the anodyne floury sometimes herby stuff most places do. The chips are steak-cut, golden, fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside. I believe one of the main reasons chips in HK often suck is due to the quality of the spud (have you seen the sad specimens at the local wet market?!) but these ones have a yummy nutty flavour to savour.

[For those interested, I’d rank it alongside The Pawn’s extremely good version in terms of taste but it beats it in terms of presentation and price, even in its a la carte incarnation. And it pisses all over The Chippy from a great height.]

As for the rest of the set, starters are either soup or salad of the day. The rabbit food was underdressed but their soups are lovely. They taste homemade, as if they remembered being a fresh vegetable recently rather than in some dim and distant lifetime. The cauliflower soup was a little watery (a common problem in homemade soups) but the intense flavour came through nicely. It would be nice if you could use some hunks of bread to soak it up but I find 798’s wedges more suitable to propping up wobbly table legs rather than eating.

My auntie went for spaghetti for her main. Here we get a typical ‘gastropub’ twist – the ragu was made with lamb rather than beef. This works better than one of their other twists (for me, the taste and texture of duck just does not work with the taste and texture of lasagne, ok!) and the lamb was sweet, succulent and tender. And there’s lots of it. (I hate when you run out of meat in a pasta, and to keep costs down, it happens quite a lot out here). It’s balanced by a richly appetising ragu, with a heady hit of wine to boot!

No choice for dessert – you get the dessert of the day, although for $20 you can upgrade to an a la carte choice (which are uniformly scrumptious btw). Given the heavy main portions, it’s kept short and sweet. That day, it was a strawberry mousse cake – light and airy mousse, light and airy sponge, topped with a juicy fresh strawberry. Fragrantly sweet rather than overpoweringly so, it’s nothing groundbreaking but goes down a fluffy dreamy treat at the end of the meal.

Any future gastropubs opening in HK would do well to examine 798’s template. No molecular gastronomy, just good honest food at good honest prices. Just try and make it there in time for lunch!

Shop 1203, 12/F Food Forum, Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 2506 0611

Restaurant photo from 798 Unit & Co’s website.

SML restaurant review – does my tum look big in this?

UPDATE: SML is now closed.

Originally, this was going to be a write-up for one of my fave restaurants in HK, Tapeo on Hollywood Road, Central. Alas, once the tapas arrived, I was simply too ravenous and dug in without a second thought to the camera kicking about in my bag (so until I visit again, let me just tell you their Squid a la Plancha is the most tender, flavoursome squid I’ve ever eaten and their platter of Manchego cheese, honey and toast is more divine than words, photos or thoughts can ever do justice to – we polished off two plates, one rather spuriously as ‘dessert’…).

sml baby

Never fear though because the restaurant I am going to write about is pretty much the next best thing to a tapas joint, without actually being one. SML is one of those genius/ridiculous concepts that seems so head-smackingly obvious, you wonder why it hasn’t been done before (and yes, I’m expecting to be inundated with people telling me it has been). All dishes come in the eponymous ‘small, medium or large’ sizes, meaning complaints about portion sizes at least will not be gracing your end-of-meal comment cards. Cute concept, right?

The menu features dishes from nearly every cuisine you can think of; basically, an international tapas! I think you’ll get a fairly good idea of this from our selection (we ordered small everything), which basically reads like we threw a handful of pushpins over a culinary map of the world and ordered accordingly. I would describe the food as solidly good rather than great – true of the truffle prawn toast ($38) and lasagne ($43), with the creamy, meaty lasagne being the better of the two. The Jamaican coconut chicken curry ($48) was an aberration to nearly every element of its description though; there was very little Jamaican, or even coconut-y, about this ‘boil-in-the-bag’ curry and the chicken was distinctly unappetising, two huge hunks still on the bone and when cut open, revealed gristle, fat and disturbingly pink meat.

We tried to correct our mistake by going for the sizzling chicken fajitas ($67), a little pricey given you only got two wraps (although enough filling and dips for more!) but tasty nonetheless. The star of the mains was, in fact, a mere ‘bits n bobs’ player – the chips with sea salt, truffle and some sort of unidentifiable, probably very fattening but obviously therefore delicious dip. These were fresh and hot, soft yet crispy and guess what, the only things we ordered in medium ($26). You can take the girl out of Britain but you can’t take the Brit out of the girl… I swear that you could sprinkle that sea salt on paper and I’d probably lap it up though.

Desserts definitely require further exploration, as we only had room for the pot of chocolate ($27 – unremarkable and with two bricks of fudge on the top that we weren’t fans of) and the to-die-for profiteroles ($20). Well, in the small size, that should read profiterole singular but the pastry and cream was feather-light and it came bathed in a gorgeous butterscotch sauce, like melted Werther’s Originals floating to heaven. I’m not ashamed to say I practically licked the bowl clean. The drinks menu, with an extensive list of lip-licking cocktails, is also worth a look although I’ve heard the sizes for wines is a bit of a joke (one gulp max even at large, apparently).

lights

The quirkiness of the concept is followed all the way through, from the décor to the small design details. So I loved the little messages on the crockery (‘scrumptious’, ‘more please!’, ‘still hungry?’) and the ingenious way the menu was split up – the mains divided into Land and Sea (for where the animal making up your dish roamed when it was alive), Liquids for soups, Bits n Bobs for sides, Raw & Green for salads and Happy Ending (keep those perverted sex jokes to yourself!) for desserts. The ambience was lovely and relaxed, with some interesting little features; pictured are the punked-up Lego ‘SML baby’ outside the restaurant, the cool light fittings and one of the sweet $10 Ikea cacti that are thrown about the place with artful abandon.

It’s the little things that are ultimately what make the big picture great (as is always the case with Press Room Group restaurants, like The Pawn and The Press Room itself), so I can safely say it is those small touches and quirky twists that will have me coming back to SML again. Well, that and the angelic butterscotch sauce of course.

SML, 11/F, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 2577 3444; open 11.30am-11pm.