Where to find the best steak in Hong Kong

Six days later, I’m still thinking of La Vache!
Opened last October 2013 in Hong Kong’s Soho district, La Vache has been consistently named as one of city’s best steakhouses.
After reading about it on The Wanderlister, my steak-obsessed husband had been planning to fly to Hong Kong just to eat here, and finally we did last week.

La Vache! HK

Jeroen had reserved a table weeks in advance for his AFAM group of friends, while Darren McDermott, who lives in Hong Kong had to make a HK$1,000 deposit to secure the reservation.
Lucky for me, I only knew the “mayor” and “vice mayor” of Hong Kong to get a reservation the night before.
The “mayor” is Fed Tan, whom I’ve known since he was a teenager at Xavier School, and the “vice mayor” is James Acuña, one of Hong Kong’s top bloggers, a.k.a The Wanderlister.
The mayor and vice-mayor titles are really just a joke, because between the two of them, they know the whole of Hong Kong—from where to eat, where to shop, what’s cool, and who’s who.

James and Fed at La Vache!
James Acuña (L) and Fed Tan at La Vache!

The name, La Vache! is a French expression for ‘Holy Cow!’ and the only thing on the menu are the steak and frites.
Walk-ins welcome but reservations are a must for parties of five or more.
Tables are covered with white paper. Once seated, tell the server how you want your steak to be cooked and they will scribble an initial on your placemat—like M for medium and R for rare.

La Vache! HK

Prepared by Chef de Cuisine Tony Ferreira, dinner starts with a house-baked baguette and French butter, followed by a mixed green salad with walnuts and a zesty mustard vinaigrette.
The meal is an incredible value for steak-lovers at just HK$258 per head.

La Vache! HK

The frites are something else. At first I thought they looked ordinary but after three bites they were seriously the best fries I’ve ever had (we heard they are cooked in beef fat). And did I mention that Hong Kong serves the best ice-cold bottled Coke? Perfect combination.
Our steaks were brought in large platters and placed on top of a candle-lit food warmer.
Don’t forget the special sauce.

La Vache!

Few steaks ever come close. The best steak I’ve ever had was at an ancient Japanese steak house in Tokyo that my dad took me to many years ago. It cost an arm and a leg.
The La Vache! steak experience is easily in my Top 5 of world’s best steaks (though Filipino in me secretly wished I had a plate of white rice to go with it. Then again you can’t have everything.)

With no more space to spare, James Acuña mentioned they had the best desserts in town.
Out came a dessert cart with traditional French pastries such as Oeufs à la Neige, meringues floating in crème anglaise, and Mille Feuille, layers of puff pastry and cream.
Three deserts were ordered and shared by our group of five, which included Kissa McDermott and Patrice Ramos Diaz. But seriously, I had no more space.

La Vache! HK

As for wines, they have a carefully curated list of approachable Old World wines, including a private La Vache! blend of Cinsault, Syrah, Mouvèdre and Cabernet-Sauvignon made specially to pair with steak.
The bar is stocked with cordials, spirits and aperitifs from which they create classic French cocktails with modern twists like Le Boulevardier with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Dolin Rouge Vermouth, Campari and orange bitters, and a Thé Martini made from vodka, black tea liqueur, lemon juice and bitters.

La Vache! HK

After the meal and the great company, I can honestly say this is one restaurant worth flying for—this coming from a seriously fearful flyer. Don’t miss it while in Hong Kong.

La Vache! HK

La Vache! is at 48 Peel Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong
To reserve, call +852 2880 0248 or email info@lavache.com.hk.
You can also reserve online at http://www.lavache.com.hk/
To know more, like them on Facebook

White House china maker goes to Rustan’s

Since 1889, Lenox has been producing quality tabletop, giftware and collectibles that have graced the homes of discerning families around the world, all the way to the White House, where in 1918, it became the first American china to be used in the presidential residence.
Lenox at the white house
Lenox has produced state series for the Roosevelt, Truman, Reagan, Clinton and Bush administrations, in addition to the vice-presidential official residence, 400 embassies, and more than half the governor mansions.
Moreover, the company has been commissioned to design the inaugural gift of the American people to the incoming president for the past 20 years.
For over a century, the brand has become synonymous with unrivaled artistry and superior craftsmanship, sealing its name as the leading purveyor of fine china, casual dinnerware, crystal stemware and 18/10 stainless flatware.

This year marks the company’s 125th anniversary. In celebration, Lenox showcases their best-sellers including their most popular bridal pattern, Opal Innocence, which has sold over one million place settings since 2002; and Butterfly Meadow, which features an elegant garden motif of butterflies and flowers.

Lenox Butterfly Meadow

Rustan’s recently opened the first Lenox Boutique in the Philippines. The shop-in-shop is located at the home floor of Rustan’s Makati.

Lenox Boutique at Rustan’s Makati

To mark the occasion, Rustan’s and Lenox hosted an event showcasing Filipino bridal traditions, such as The Proposal, featuring Lenox Butterfly Meadow dinnerware

The Proposal Table Set-up, featuring the Lenox Butterfly Meadow dinnerware

Pamamanhikan, featuring Lenox Sapphire Plume dinnerware

Pamamanhikan

Despedida de Soltera, featuring Garden Grove Dinnerware

Despedida de Soltera, featuring Garden Grove Dinnerware

and The Wedding featuring a wedding dress by Marchesa, and Marchesa by Lenox dinnerware

The Wedding Table Set-up featuring a wedding dress by Marchesa, and the Marchesa by Lenox dinnerware

Gracing the event were (L-R) Chief Executive Officer of Lenox Incorporated Peter Cameron, Donnie Tantoco of Rustan’s, Executive Vice President of Rustan’s Home Merchandising Marilen Tantoco, Vice President of Lenox Incorporated Jayson Score, and Sales Director of Lenox Asia Pacific, Peter Greeley.

Untitled

Lenox is exclusively available at Rustan’s Makati and Shangri-la Plaza.
To know more about Lenox, click HERE.

The Face Shop revisited eight years later

Long before Korea emerged as the next big thing in music, television, and fashion, all I knew about Korea was food.
We had a few Korean restaurants in Manila and in New York, many of my Parsons schoolmates were Korean.
My best friend Julia was Korean and she had the softest skin on earth. Every time my arm brushed against hers, hers felt like a cloud.
Koreans have the most amazing skin. Their girls supposedly start their skin care as early as nine years old, which probably accounts for their gorgeous skin.
Thanks to The Face Shop, us Filipinos have easy access to Korean beauty products.

The Face Shop at Shangri-La Plaza

The Face Shop was the first Korean beauty brand to formally enter the Philippine market eight years ago.
Among its best-sellers are the BB and CC Cream lines—BB stands for “blemish balm” and CC stands for “colour control.”

Face Shop BB cream
CC cream, Face Shop

Skin masks are also very popular, which is understandable as Koreans are known for their 10-step skin care, which starts from cleansing the face and ends with a “sleeping pack” or mask at night.
Tip: These are great to use whenever your face feels “tired” before going to a photo shoot or event.

Face Shop mask
Face shop masks

For dry and chapped lips, The Face Shop has a cute gel patch you can wear on your down time in order to smoothen and soften your lips.

modeling gel patch

Here’s some trivia about lip tints: apply it in the centre of your lips for a gradient, pouty look. The Face Shop has a product that’s perfect for this—Stamping on my Lips, which comes with a cute little stamp for the centre of your lips.

stamping on my lips

For makeup, Koreans are famous for their natural approach, which doesn’t exactly translate to less is more. They just know how to use their beauty products properly. The Face Shop has a selection of makeup in fun packaging, such as this eyebrow tinting mascara

Face Shop

Frosted eyeshadow

eyeshadow

and rouge

casette blush

These sweet-smelling perfume sticks will brighten up any girl’s makeup table

perfume sticks

Plus there’s tons of nail polish to choose from

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Knowing me, I chose beige :)

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Some of my favourite things: affordable makeup brushes

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and makeup removing wipes

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The Face Shop is Korea’s number one beauty brand, with over 2,200 stores worldwide, including 49 in the Philippines.
To find the store nearest you, click HERE.
To know more about The Face Shop in the Philippines, like them on Facebook.

Our new kitchen is done!

Dear friends and family,
At long last our 11-year-old kitchen has been renovated!
When we started to build our house 13 years ago, we were on a super tight budget. We couldn’t afford a professional kitchen manufacturer, so we had a carpenter-made kitchen, designed by Ed Calma nonetheless.
Since Jeroen is a chef, we wanted an open kitchen (at right) so he would not be left out while a party was going on.

Big Ass Fan at home

This was our kitchen in 2005

Our kitchen in 2005

and in 2007

Jeroen cooking

From the onset, our kitchen had many problems (mainly due to budget constraints)—like a leak that warped the wooden cabinets when it rained, to a Fisher & Paykel dishwasher that worked maybe 20 times until it conked out (don’t buy this brand!!), and an exhaust fan that didn’t work.
The counter top we chose chipped everywhere and was taped until we could renovate. The Insinkerator broke many times and the Fisher & Paykel refrigerator door just fell off after 13 years.
We’re lucky that we’re able to afford a new kitchen more than ten years later.
After consulting with architects Kellyn See and Rex Gapuz (and advice from Liza Crespo), we decided to go for Siematic, which is one of the best in Manila.
Prior to demolition, I asked Jeroen to have the open kitchen boarded up so that debris wouldn’t spill out onto the rest of the house.

Kitchen renovation

Jeroen, Kellyn and Rex have a kitchen meeting within the barricade

Kitchen renovation

Six months later, it’s done!

New kitchen

The exhaust fan works!!

New kitchen

We have lots of cupboards  and a handsome black Fedders chiller and freezer I found at S&R

New kitchen

The hallway is now boarded up as we change all the flooring from Ondoy vinyl* to tile.
The kids helped us pick out the new tile from five samples. Next we’ll be fixing the dining area.

Living room

Thank you Kellyn & Rex, Mr. Puyat, painter Noel, Siematic, Kuysen, all the workers, our house help who clean, and most especially to God for giving us the resources to fix our house.

*Typhoon Ondoy ruined our laminates so we had a temporary vinyl installed for five years!!

Tried & Tested: Nivea’s in-shower skin conditioner

HONG KONG—Hyatt Regency‘s bathrooms are chuva-approved!
It’s my second time to stay here. Location is at Hanoi Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, right across from Holiday Inn at Mody Road. Lobby isn’t great and you have to change elevators from street level to lobby to reach your room.
Room is clean and normal, but the bathrooms are minimalist and modern, just the way we like it.
One day I’ll have a shower and bath just like this—separate but in one stall.

Shower and bath

Counter sink is a must

Bathroom

Plus clean toilet

Toilet

I ran out of moisturising soap, so I bought myself a big bottle of Nivea’s in-shower skin conditioner at Watsons.

Nivea skin conditioner

Nivea’s in-shower skin conditioner was recently launched in Manila for three skin types: dull, dry, and normal.

Nivea

Skin conditioner works pretty much like hair conditioner.
When I was young we didn’t have hair conditioner at home, so I had many split ends. One of the things I liked to do in high school was to clip the split ends when the teacher wasn’t looking. Now we can’t live without hair conditioner!

One of the things I hate while traveling is what I call the “hotel itch”. That’s when my legs or back suddenly itch due to the aircon or change in weather, so applying lotion is a must.
Unfortunately I am too lazy to apply skin lotion everyday. Sometimes I remember, but most of the time I forget. Nivea’s in-shower skin conditioner works for me because I can shower with it, rinse, and it will leave a non-sticky moisturiser on my skin.
I do not recommend using it on the face though. I would still use a facial cleanser for that.
I tried and the skin conditioner felt a bit too oily for the face. For the rest of the body, it is perfect though.

Nivea

How to use:
Use your regular body soap or shower gel. Then apply Nivea skin conditioner just like lotion on skin while in the shower. Rinse and towel off. I love it.
That said, I didn’t feel the “hotel itch” at all, and will continue to use this at home.
Nivea in-shower skin conditioner is now available in supermarkets and drug stores in the Philippines. Find them on the shelves, along with traditional body moisturisers. And read the label carefully for the words “in-shower”—you might confuse the packaging for Nivea lotions.

Delta + four major airlines move to NAIA 3

Good news for Delta Airlines travelers to and from Manila, Philippines: they’re moving to NAIA Terminal 3 beginning July 31, 2014 for arrivals and August 1st for departures.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Emirates, Singapore Air and Cathay Pacific will also be transferring to Terminal 3 by the middle to end of August. (Source)
NAIA Terminal 3 promises larger departure and immigration halls, a smoother walk between the airport entrance and gates, more seating areas, less congestion at security, and more shopping and dining options.

Airport Reflection
Photo: Dexter Baldon

Take note:
If you need to transfer between Terminal (T1) and Terminal (T3), allow at least 1½ hours to transfer between terminals.
An airport shuttle is available between terminals. The shuttle departs every 30-45 minutes, and the ride to T3 takes approximately 30 minutes.
Taxi service is also available between terminals. Taxis are located curbside at the T1 departure level, and the ride to T3 takes approximately 30-90 minutes.
Proceeding through the security checkpoint at T3 takes approximately 30 minutes.
BusinessElite® travellers may access Pacific Club in Manila,located on the L1 Mezzanine level. (Source)

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