Friday, January 24, 2014

Dinner at Lukshon for Godiva's Lunar New Year Chocolate Collection

In case you didn't know, Godiva makes some of the best chocolate strawberries I've ever had so I'm a huge fan. They're a bit of a pricey treat at $6-$8 each but the strawberries they pick are so juicy and heavenly, and the chocolate is ridiculously rich and creamy. I used to always grab one when I shopped as a little treat to myself (as if you really needed to treat yourself for your compulsive shopping habit but I digress...)

Due to their overwhelming popularity in the Chinese community, Godiva created new ballotins to celebrate Chinese New Year and the year of the horse :). This year Chinese New Year falls on January 31st, which rarely happens as it usually it takes place in February. The dates change every year since they're based on the Lunar Calendar, which is why many Chinese people believe that they actually have two birthdays. My grandma didn't even know her real American birthday, and just estimated the date when she came to the United States.  You may remember my "good luck kits" my mom still sends me as they make an annual appearance on my Instagram. Usually they include:



  • brand new red underwear (haha) but this one was hot pink since that's a compromise I've come to with my mom. It's supposed to make you lucky and get rid of any bad mojo from the past year
  • candy (so that your new year will be sweet)
  • fake gold chocolate coins (supposed to mean you'll have a prosperous new year with lots of money heh heh)

To celebrate the LE Lunar New Year Chocolate ballotin's release the Godiva US team hosted a dinner event in Los Angeles, and I was lucky enough to attend as one of the three lone beauty bloggers along with April and Jen.




Lukshon

3239 Helms Ave.
Culver City, CA
(310) 202-6808

Lukshon is the brainchild of Iron Chef and restauranteur Sang Yoon. Yoon's name should look familiar to LA area foodies as he's also the curator of the Father's Office- a local gastropub that is hailed for having one of the "best burgers in the world". Lukshon is romantically dim with beautiful, modern styling and furnishings with glass accents that are lighted throughout the restaurant. I think for the price point of the food the ambiance is amazing. For the event we were seated outside, by the glass fireplace.

pork belly lettuce cups- cabbage, crispy pig ear, thai chile, lime, mint, aromatic rice powder

So amazingly delicious! But I've always been a big fan of lettuce cups and I love pork (I'm Chinese after all ;]) so I'm probably a bit biased on this one. This appetizer is a staple on their menu.

duck popiah- pickled stem lettuce, dark chocolate hoison with a spicy lettuce puree

Very similar to Taiwanese beef wraps if you've ever tried those. 

crispy whole fishwith charred cucumbers, pecal sauce, slivered almonds

Yummy but I actually prefer Chinese steamed fish a bit more? All the guys at the table loved it though. The fish was surprisingly moist for having been put through a deep fryer.

chinese eggplant- fennel raita, cocao nibs, eggplant "fries"

I don't even like eggplant and this was one of the BEST things I have ever eaten! Vegatable-wise anyway. Perfectly crispy skin and a delicious, savory sauce. Ugh I'm drooling. I've permanently reconsidered my disliked for eggplant after this by the way.

beef and broccoli- hanger steak, gai-lan, black bean butter and puffed tendon

I dare you to find the broccoli in this picture haha! The steak felt like prime rib, and was tasty but didn't have a real Asian flair to it. There's tiny pieces of kai-lan (Chinese broccoli) hiding under the meat. Kai-lan is similar to broccoli but is leafier, has a long stem and is a bit bitter. I personally love the stuff but it's not for everyone. 

brussel sprouts- chile, garlic vinaigrette sprinkled with sesame seed

I think this place should be a vegetarian's dream because they do vegetables right here. Everyone freaked out over how delicious they were! I've actually never been a fan of brussel sprouts but I'm officially a convert :)  The texture was on point, perfectly broiled and so flavorful.


heirloom black rice- lap cheong, onion, roasted garlic topped with a farm fried egg

I don't even like rice. I know, the blasphemy of it all. An Asian that doesn't like rice but it's true, I don't. It's so tasteless for how bad it is for you. However this rice was one of the best rice dishes I've ever had in my life! The flavor is so savory, and I love the texture of the short-grain rice combined with the gooey-ness of the egg. Everyone agreed this was a favorite.




chinese spicy ramen- ma la bamboo, pork belly, crispy ear

The pork belly was amazing and had great marbling, but this was probably my least favorite dish. It was interesting in that it tasted like niu rou mian (Chinese beef noodle soup) but had instant ramen kind of noodles. Still delicious though :) 


chocolate and pear "donut", macademia and black sesame dumpling with a godiva milk chocolate cherry shooter

The dessert fleet.  Need I say more? :) The "donut" on the left was my favorite. It had a gooey chocolate interior with crisped rice on the outside, amazing and so delicious. A fun play with textures as well.





And of course, no Godiva post would be complete without showcasing the limited edition chocolates in the Year of the Horse Ballotin:

  • Dark Chocolate Pear- A crunchy caramel pear ganache made with a blend of Venezuela milk chocolate and Santo Domingo dark chocolate and a touch of vanilla
  • Milk Cherry and Almond- Crunchy almond praline blended with Vanuatu origin chocolate, sour cherry and a hint of honey
  • White Pineapple and Macadamia Nuts- Sweet Dominican Republic white chocolate ganache blended with nutty macadamia cream and fruity pineapple in white chocolate (my favorite :D!) 




To learn more about these limited edition Lunar New Year ballotins, visit Godiva.com. They also come with 8 fancy Godiva hong bao packets for all you slackers! They also offer free shipping on most of the ballotins so you can send your New Year love across the country :)

If you'd like to try Lukshon and are in the LA area, they're participating in Dine LA which runs from now until January 31st. You can check out the Dine LA menu here

As a fair warning, some of these dishes were created specifically for the Godiva event, but all my favorites are permanent features in the menu. :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Shiseido White Lucent Review

Some of you guys may remember an older post I did reviewing Shiseido's Pureness line- Shiseido's line addressing acne-prone and troubled skin. It's been a long time since I've used it and for the past 3-4 years I've been enjoying White Lucent-  Shiseido's whitening (brightening) skincare line. As with any expensive skincare line the big question is, "Does it work?" I think, in order to not be disappointed with skincare you have to have manage your expectations. To clarify: whitening skincare lines that are distributed in the U.S. are not meant to actually lighten the color of the skin. Whitening products that aggressively lighten the color of your skin usually contain illegal substances that are damaging in the long-term, and i'd discourage anyone from buying them here or overseas. Legitimate "whitening" products are meant to improve the skin's clarity by helping to break up melanin and hyper-pigmentation, the things that cause sun spots, acne scarring and discoloration. They also make the skin appear to be more "translucent".

Because a lot of this discoloration is caused by the sun, many people who purchase whitening products are naturally discouraged from extended sun exposure without sunscreen. For anyone who suffers from acne scarring or hyperpigmentation (sun spots, freckles etc.) wearing sunscreen will actually reduce damage to the skin caused by scarring. Sun damage inhibits your skin's ability to heal AND ages/weathers the appearance of skin, so stay out of the sun for nice skin! This is why people who use whitening skincare are usually fairer, not only to reduce sun damage but also to get the maximum benefit from these costly skincare regimens.

Below I break down the White Lucent products I've tried and give each a mini review.

Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Cleansing Foam - $35 USD
A little of the White Lucent Cleansing Foam goes a long way. You really only need a pea-sized amount and it'll lather up in to a rich, dense (think shaving cream) white foam that will cover your entire face and neck easily. It feels very luxurious and leaves the skin feeling squeaky clean- albeit maybe TOO clean. It's almost a little drying and stripping on its own. It has a slight perfume but nothing overpoweringly stinky. Of all the pieces in the line I don't think this is necessary, I think you can really use any cleanser you want. Because cleansers come right off, as long as your skin is left clean is what matters. There is a slight brightening effect but it's temporary.

Shiseido's white lucent brightening moisturizing emulsion

White Lucent Brightening Moisturizing Emulsion - $59.50
Since I have oily skin, I opted for the moisturizing emulsion since it's much lighter than the cream. It doesn't smell particularly good, but not bad either. Slightly sweet but you catch whiffs of something acrid here and there. I only need a tiny bit and it moisturizes my skin well and gives it a dewy finish. During the summers I end up SUPER oily though come morning time. However I do feel that my skin looks duller and "rougher" without it. Out of the whole line, this is my takeaway absolute favorite, closely followed by the intensive targeting serum.  Shiseido does offer a daytime version with spf 18 but I just mix the lotion with some sunscreen and that works just fine for me.

shisedo white lucent spot targeting serum
Add caption
White Lucent Spot Targeting Serum

White Lucent's Spot Targeting Serum gets a lot of mixed reviews. My personal experience is that it's one of the better spot treatments out there- but you can't expect miracles out of it. It will only give moderate improvements to the appearance of skin, and no improvement whatsoever to the texture. So if you have "ice pick" type acne scars, I wouldn't invest in this since it's more than $150 a bottle! I think The Face Shop's whitening treatments are truly comparable in the beginning stages of scarring, and a lot cheaper. I think the trick is, if you're using whitening spot treatments to mitigate acne scarring you NEED to apply this regularly during the initial stages of healing. I like to massage the whitening serum in as I think it helps increase circulation to the area and expedites healing. However if you are past the initial scar development, I find that Shiseido's works better than The Face Shop's. Hands down Shiseido's spot serum works better for sun damage like freckles and sun spots, but I'd use it in conjunction with a physical exfoliator such as microdermabrasion treatments.
One pack of Shiseido white lucent masks with a open mask in front of it
White Lucent Power Brightening Masks - $68 for 6 masks
Hands down these are the best whitening face masks I have ever, ever tried. They're uncomfortably big but the fabric is just SO thick, plush and luxurious. It feels like those pricey napkins you get at fine dining establishments in their restroom (I've definitely stolen a few of those heh heh).  The masks smell slightly sweet in their normal Shiseido fashion. If they weren't $11 a pop I'd use them more often but these are fantastic before a big event or occasion. Also...I suppose its cheaper than a facial? Much better than comparable My Beauty Diary masks. My skin felt incredibly hydrated and plump after.

Because Shiseido skincare is an investment, I suggest purchasing the products from Nordstrom or Sephora.com - both of which offer generous return policies if you're not satisfied. However take note that it usually takes a few months to see any noticeable results. It took me about two months until I saw any kind of measurable difference in my skin, and it wasn't dramatic in any way. For really dramatic immediate results, I think the only realistic and safe option is laser resurfacing.

Hope you guys found that helpful :)!

PS. If this doesn't work for you, you can always take self-gratuitious photos in front of a great lighting source in a fancy hotel. That works too. Example below:






Sunday, January 12, 2014

How To: Volume in Your Hair Without Heat! (How I Do my Hair)

Hi guys :D


Long time no talk. I've been getting asked a lot about how I style my hair, and although this is a really stupid/easy trick it works wonderfully well so I want to share it with you all. My hair isn't colored so I feel like it gives it less texture, and I also try to avoid things like blow drying and teasing that can leave hair damaged. So this is how I get volume at my crown, without any of those things :)!

All you need is:

  • Freshly washed hair, towel dried but still damp to the touch
  • A medium sized claw clip

Steps:
  1. Comb through hair with a comb or your fingers (combs tend to be better than paddle brushes which tend to pull tangles out of your hair)
  2. Grab the crown of your hair and all the pieces in the front from the edge of your eyebrows. 
  3. Clip your hair so that all pieces of hair are pointing up and back, think an extra-poofy Snooki style
  4. If your hair falls flat as it's drying just re-clip it up
  5. Once your hair is done take it out and it's done! Voila. Extra volume, sans teasing and heat :)
I'm currently working on a blog post talking about my recent SF trip, so I can't wait to share that with you guys!!! :) Missed everyone a ton. I hope you guys had a fab holiday season

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: St. Tropez Bronzing Gel With Before and After Photos

Me holding a full size tube of St Tropez Bronzing Gel

So a little history lesson, St. Tropez makes some of the best fake tanners on the market. Their products are loved by celebrities, bloggers and makeup artists alike. Normally I'm not a fake tanner kind of gal, but I got tired of being the awkwardly pale one at all the pool parties I went to. Here's a quick beauty and fitness hack- want to look INSTANTLY more toned and slender without actually losing any weight? Try a fake tan.

Here's the thing that sucks about being pale- you can be ripped with low body fat and you still won't look as tight or lean as someone with a tan. Even if they're in worse shape than you, as long as it's not a significant difference in weight they'll probably look tighter and stronger. That's why bodybuilders drown themselves in the bronze stuff- it really makes your body glow and ooze "fit".

I saw the St. Tropez Bronzing Gel on sale at ROSS for $10.99 (down from $35.00) and couldn't help but purchase it on the spot. I haven't seen it in on sale since so I'm glad I snagged it up when I did. Not going to lie, I was pretty scared to rub it in when I saw how dark it was out of the bottle but this stuff blends effortlessly in to the skin as long as it's prepped correctly.

Here's a quick run down of how to apply fake tanner:

  1. Take a shower! Exfoliate all rough patches like knees, elbows etc.
  2. Moisturize the rough areas so they don't pick up too much product. It'll settle in to the cracks of your skin if you're not careful so you should be sure to apply moisturizer on those areas.
  3. WEAR DISPOSABLE GLOVES. DO IT! It'll stain your hands and and get under your nails if you don't. Spare yourself the trouble and buy a box of spare gloves.
  4. Try to give the fake tanner at least 4 hours to completely dry before showering.
My leg before and after St Tropez bronzing gel
Before and After I applied the Bronzing Gel

Overall I LOVED this product. I'm curious to try the Self Tan Bronzing Mousse now since I know that's the star in their fake tan lineup. The bronzing gel was easy to apply, surprisingly natural and easy to blend in. It seemed to dry pretty quickly although I didn't put a whole lot on- just enough to give me some color. I put a glob this size (photo above) on each leg, so pretty subtle but it is buildable. Hopefully I can also use this on my legs during the winter months so I don't look so sickly and pallid all the time.

I'm happy to say I highly recommend St. Tropez's bronzing and tanning products if you're looking for a sunless tanner. They smell clean and sweet, are easy to apply and surprisingly natural. Only cons I can think of is this is a higher end brand, so expect to pay anywhere from $32 to $44 for their full-size products.  

Monday, November 04, 2013

Nail Polish Review- Essie's Lollipop

Fingers painted with Essie's bright red Lollipop nail polish holding a small apple
I bought a bag of tiny fuji apples at H-Mart...aren't they cute :)

Lately I've had a lot of fun experimenting with bright, vibrant nail polish. I think part of it is my affinity for Instagram (yes, I'm being serious). Having bright fun nails really makes all your photos look so much more fun :)

I love the deep red of Chanel's Lotus Rouge, but wanted something a bit more bright and playful. Enter Essie's Lollipop, a bright candy apple red that leans a bit orange but is definitely a red. I've already received so many compliments wearing it- and I love compliments. Application is almost completely opaque with one coat, and with two it's perfect. I'm starting to reconsider my dislike of Essie but as with most brands, their polishes can be very hit or miss. Lollipop was first released as a part of the Winter 2009 collection but is now part of Essie's permanent collection.

Holding a bottle of Essies Lollipop nail polish, a bright red.
Essie's "Lollipop" in indoor lighting. Sorry for the paint smudges hehe.

Application was easy and neat, and I've had it on for 4 days now with no chips (although I'm starting to see feathering at the tips). Win!


Here's one last photo I snagged while walking to lunch. This is "Lollipop" in the day light! The ivy tendril midi ring is from Urban Outfitters. I believe it was $7.50. It actually fits me as a midi ring. Success! 


You can buy Essie's Lollipop here on Amazon, or find it at your local nail polish supply store.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Midi Rings, Necklaces and Imomoko's LA Event :D

Generally speaking i'm not big in to trends - but I LOVE midi rings. Midi rings sit on the top half of your finger, and are also called above the knuckle rings and little finger rings. I love how cute and dainty they are and how they draw attention to your nails :)  So I wanted to show you guys some up close pics of the midi rings I've acquired recently. Also wanted to note Nordstrom's BP section, Urban Outfitters and Brandy Melville had some as well but none of them fit me as midi rings. I have REALLY small ring fingers (size 3.5 and a 4) so it's a bit difficult to find ones that fit.

It all started with the ring below which I shared with a few of you on Instagram:
The little golden wire midi ring Jen gave me. The start of an addiction!
So then I went on a hunt to find other midi rings...

Bow midi ring (which isn't a midi ring on me) and gold spiral midi ring on my pointer from Daily Look
Gold wire midi ring from Style Nanda (Korea)

Both from Forever 21 $2.50 each

The silver love midi ring trio from Forever 21. I think this was about $3.50?


The "love" script midi ring that was part of the Forever 21 trio. See what I mean now about it looking super "Instagrammy"? It looks good in photos and is fun but I think it's kind of tacky IRL.




 ReFa's U.S. Launch Event in Los Angeles, CA
In other news I got to attend Imomoko's ReFa event. In case you don't know what ReFa is, they're a super luxy face roller that enjoys a lot of popularity in Asia. Think of it as the Bentley of face rollers. Face rollers help to tighten and firm the skin around the face by improving circulation and dispelling bloat caused by water retention. For their U.S. launch ReFa teamed up with Imomoko, a U.S. based retailer of Asian skincare and cosmetics.

 Endless coffee, cookies and butter pound cake! One of my fave parts of hotel events haha.

Lots of dirty jokes for obvious reasons. April was having tons of fun rolling her face LOL.

 I think this was the fragrance tester? I don't know but it was cute so I wanted a pic :)


And my favorite part....goodie bags!

Other things in the goodie bag besides the ReFa Carat. A foaming cleanser, knee and elbow brightener, various bodycare samples, face masks and rose gummies.

Supposedly they're supposed to act as a non-minty breath freshener to, "Instantly freshen breath allowing your breath to smell like roses". I tried to ration myself and eat only one at a time but ended up eating the whole bag in one sitting ._. The gummies are made by Minami Healthy Foods and are called "Rose Fragrance Berry Gummy".

A peek inside the bag! Nommy getting hungry now.


 The gummies are super soft and sweet. Similar to the texture of other asian gummy candies :) I thought the rose would be overpowering since I usually don't like rose flavored anything but these tasted delicious! Definitely kiss-friendly haha ;] .


 3 Lululun Face Mask packs. Review to come! These are gaining a lot of popularity over MBD these days. Each pack has 7 masks inside so they're not individually wrapped.

 Some of the products they had on display, the CO2 masks are really popular I hear.


And my favorite part- photos against the cute pink backdrop! Poor Sam flew out all the way from VA again but it's so good to see her :) especially since she's so busy now with that mommy life.

And that's all :) more posts to come! (I promise or you can troll me, seriously)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How to (Quickly) Become an Elite Yelper

Some how...bloggers share some similarities. Besides having serious shopping problems we seem to share a love of food and a unhealthy love of our pets and animals. Yes, all you people with social media accounts for your dog, cat etc. I'm calling you out LOL! Anyways so although this is random, it's something I get asked about quite often. How do you become an Elite yelper? My first boss ever, cool dude that he was, made a bet that I couldn't become an Elite Yelper faster than his other employee. Ahem, self-entitled foodie that I am set out to prove him wrong. I had to start from scratch because I deleted my old Yelp account and was significantly behind my coworker at the time, but I was still hell bent on winning.

So here are my tips on becoming an Elite Yelper in only a few weeks.

  • Create a Yelp account (der)
  • Use a real name (maybe not yours but it needs to be a name) and a real photo. They want actual people reviewing things since it feels more authentic and trustworthy...so stop posting pics of your cat. Stop it.
  • Add at least 35-45 GOOD solid reviews. What did you like? What did you not like? How was the service? Would you come back? These are thing things that help people decide where to go, what to order and manages their expectations. Make sure your review has value. Add pictures if you can (good ones, mind you)
Now here's the secret sauce: befriend the Yelp ambassador in your area. Literally type in:
Your city + Yelp Ambassador and you'll find them.

Then, you innocently send them a friend request. This gets rid of the wait time for them to discover YOU. The Yelp ambassador is the liaison between the Yelp community and Yelp, and as such decides who gets to be Elite and who doesn't. So by befriending them and having a ROBUST, active Yelp profile that fits what they're already looking for, you get rid of the time it would have taken them to organically find you. Don't even mention that you want to be Elite, just say hi or friend them. If your account looks good, you'll get it. 

Normally they'd have to go and organically find you- but let's be honest, ain't nobody got time for that! This is why it's helpful to be active in the "Talks" section of Yelp where you can see and be seen...but this way is really much faster. I know I know it's kind of like cheating...but all is fair in love and food. 


And there you have it. Elite Yelper status.



What not to do: Now it's important to make sure again, that you genuinely have something to offer the Yelp community. Funny, cute and short reviews don't do it. Here's an example of my friend's review on a clothing store...who is still not an Elite LOL.



Don't do this. 


You're welcome. Don't send all those friend requests at once now :-p