FAQ on the NamChin

FAQ on my boyfriend

NamChin gave me that necklace while we were in Kyoto for our relationship anniversary. Good memories! 🙂  

As my beliefs are challenged by meeting new people or experiencing new things, I update this category once in a while.

What is “NamChin”?

NamChin is an abbreviation for  ‘남자 친구’ (namja chingu), which means boyfriend in Korean. I’m strongly influenced by Korean culture due to the amount and length of time I’ve spent with him.

Basic stuff 

We started dating in 2011. He attended school in Singapore and some parts of Southeast Asia. He spent a significant portion of his formative years in Singapore. We communicate and understand each other perfectly well.

How do you communicate? 

We communicate in English, and he’s practically a native at Singlish. That’s partly why I felt closer to him. Isn’t it nice to have someone understand you intuitively and use your own creole? For instance, “Siala, so expensive, mai la mai la.” Or, “Prata? Okay lor.”

Omg, is he an oppa?

Yes and no.

If I’m with his family, he’s oppa because of hierarchical rules.

Once, Namchin’s mom heard us talking and asked Namchin in Korean, “Why does she keep saying ‘You’? Shouldn’t it be oppa? In English, ‘Brother’?”

Basically, to be polite, we should address an older person by rank/title at all times, like how you don’t drop “Mr.” or “Sir/Madam” or “Your Majesty” when you address a higher ranking person in English.

Namchin started cackling and his mom just looked very confused. So, a conversation should have happened like this instead:

Me: Are you hungry? What do you want to eat? (English)

Becomes: Is Oppa hungry? What does Oppa want to eat? (Korean)

But between us and all friends, since we speak mostly in English, I call him by name. He prefers to be addressed by his name.

How did you meet? 

We met in university in Singapore. This was after he did his national service.

Have you met his parents?

Yes, they reside in Korea.

Can you speak Korean?

Yes, enough to get by in Korea, browse the news, and watch varieties.

What is it like to date a Korean guy?

We communicate in English so much of the hierarchical language and cultural expectations are nonexistent. To me, he’s just a guy who happens to speak Korean. I get more access to Korean media and culture through him, which is a bonus. And I get tasty Korean food and increased convenience if I want to visit Korea. Otherwise, we have very similar views and interact quite well.

There are a lot more sensitive topics regarding dating a Korean guy. Here are the top stereotypes. My experience has been chill and positive, but most of the time, like many Asian countries, choosing a life partner is not about romance.

Like it or not, some Asian parents may inevitably hang onto some outdated beliefs, including my own Chinese parents!

For instance, a Korean daughter-in-law may be expected to wake up early and cook a full breakfast for everyone. If you must have bread, you may have to serve it, toasted, in plates with beverages and fruits. It’s all about the presentation. In Singapore, we don’t think it’s wrong to buy some BreadTalk buns, eat it from the wrapper, and call it a meal!

When there are dishes to be done, it may be expected of the daughter-in-law to step up and “offer” to help while the men go off to watch tv.

I’ve been briefed that after getting married I will no longer sit in the room. I will have to be in the kitchen watching and helping with chores.

But like everything, I’m sure these depends from household to household.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have more questions!

6 reasons why you shouldn’t visit Estetica Singapore (Updated and resolved!)

Questionable selling practices, Mandarin-heavy service, and customer data privacy issues.

Update: This has been resolved with Estetica very pleasantly. The full original review is below the update which spans from March 20 – 25, 2018. Read on! 

March 20, 2018

I’m going to Korea in a week, so I decided to use my package with Estetica to clean up my face.

It’s been 5 months since I bought my package. Overall, I think the package has been fairly pricey to me plus the first encounter with Estetica was not great, but it’s undeniable that the effects have been good. My skin is clearer (I also stopped drinking as often as I did last year).

My scars from the pimple scare are still there, but I don’t feel super bad without concealer or makeup now. And the pimples that my therapists pop never scars.

Verdict? I might continue treatments with Estetica if my wallet allows it.

Estetica’s team read my blog 😱

But before my third treatment, account manager Vivian came up to me and asked to meet in a room. I knew something was up, probably with this blog. Oops.

She was pretty nervous but to her credit, everyone in Estetica Yishun was super nice to me despite the negative review! Plus I was going to have my facial after the meeting with her, so I felt worried.

The main takeaways from Vivian were:

  1. “Sorry, it’s Estetica’s mistake and we’ve reviewed all our mistakes.”
  2. “We read your blog and thought it was actually a balanced review.”
  3. “We’re hoping you can pull the post down, even though it’s your right to air your opinions.” (For this, management actually clarified that this was not what they wanted to communicate.)

Her response was totally reasonable! I was surprised that Estetica thought my review was balanced since I added all the reaction gifs just to make it a more engaging read.

I offered to unpublish the post and get a refund since I was worried it would get awkward. To Vivian’s credit she insisted I keep my package and it would be “very bad” of them to refund me over a bad review.

I was honest about the fact that I wasn’t sure what to do as well.

Truth is, I wrote the review hoping to be totally honest about my experience. But it’s not my intention to damage anyone’s career or reputation or business. Afterall, this blog isn’t monetized or read widely.

A refund would mean at least, my issue has been resolved. Taking down the post would be goodwill and a sign that the case is closed from me.

Deep down inside, I hoped for a resolution which would not require me to unpublish the post since my objective has always been to write the truth.

Vivian then said she’ll call the management to discuss further.

When I was done with my facial, we arranged a meeting with the management on Friday.

Kept thinking about that between Tuesday to Friday! I felt so stupid about posting a bad-ish review. And I thought they might sue me.

My reaction ranged between:

And:

I was a bit scared about the upcoming meeting, but I received a meeting confirmation call from one of their corporate office staff, Karen, who sounded a bit nervous and apologetic.


March 23, 2018

I met with the director of Estetica, Lim Ker Han, at the Yishun outlet. What happened next surprised me greatly!

After admittedly one or two sleepless nights wondering if Estetica would sue me for defamation or something, I turned up for my appointment with the management.

Throughout the meetings with the staff and the management, they’ve been nothing but non-defensive, courteous, and apologetic.

This was a very pleasant surprise especially after I was thinking of all sorts of doomsday scenarios.

Resolutions

I offered Han the chance to do a written line-by-line rebuttal of what I said since that’s only fair, but they declined. So, I’ll go through what Hans said to me here.

Here are the cons which might be misunderstandings or minor inconveniences:

1. The staff I’ve met thus far speak very little English.

Han told me that he wishes Estetica staff could speak all four languages in Singapore complete with Japanese and Korean chops. They do send staff to a four-week English language course, but to be reasonable it’s really hard to expect staff to be able to speak fluently. Some don’t speak English at all. “Please be patient with us,” he told me.

2. Even if you sign up for the trial promotion facial, you might end up being persuaded to buy an SGD7,800 package first without having the trial.

For this, Han apologized. All staff go through sales training and learn sales tactics. He said that my experience might have crossed some boundaries for me, but to another, it might be reasonable. Nonetheless, Estetica will avoid making customers feel uncomfortable, as my first experience with them was.

The manager of the store has been with Estetica for over 20 years, and I was worried she would be awkward with me. But she’s really nice to me thus far in the short time I met her.

3. The staff may try to sell you a semi-permanent makeup treatment without making it clear.

Vivian told me on March 20 that following my review, Estetica researched it and have stopped using the term “micro needling” or “derma rolling” to talk about this treatment. She apologized for the miscommunication.

I checked Estetica’s website and true enough this language was avoided for the BB Dewy Shine Therapy treatment. Kudos to them for rectifying it and clearing things up! 👍

Next up, the scary part.

4. Be prepared for your data like your name, age, date of purchase, and amount purchased to be shared during the consultation. Maybe your picture too.

Han apologized for this mistake and have counseled his staff. It was inexcusable.

I did not realize it when writing my review but this might be the most damaging thing to Estetica.

Moving forward I’m not too sure what will happen since this is a mistake made in the past. But at least I flagged it out and Estetica will never make this mistake again.


What I felt about this

Overall? I think Estetica’s response has been very apologetic and they’ve been working hard on rectifying the issues I raised.

Estetica has been very apologetic and they’ve been working hard on rectifying the issues I raised.

I sincerely appreciate that they reached out and the director came down to speak to me directly, with zero intimidation and a lot of warmth.

I can’t say they will do that for every negative review posted online, but I think the management did their very best. It’s not easy to run a business and have zero errors.

Gifts of goodwill

To be clear, even if Estetica did not gift me anything, I would have written the clarification above.

Han gave me some Estetica products as a sign of goodwill for the negative experience I had. He said that these were gifts and he’s not buying a good review. I appreciated that!

Since it’s a gift and not in exchange for a follow-up review, I accepted it. I’m declaring the gifts here:

Estetica-goodwill
The range of Estetica products Han provided for sensitive skin. In particular, the sunscreen is popular.

Personally, I’m quite excited to try the sunscreen. I’ve been using Kose’s sunscreen for a long time and it’s non-oily and clogging. But as my therapist noted in my third facial, I have some congestion so I think a change might help.

Estetica-cream-serum-sensitive

Note: I reviewed the products above here.

I was curious about how the products looked so I took them out. They’re in a really nice shade of rose gold and I admit that I love rose gold.

That was all about the meeting!


March 25, 2018

Estetica reached out to clarify the data claims. They gave me a missed call.

Here is their message to me in full:

Estetica data response

(On Friday, after the meeting, I got Starbucks cards for involved staff at Yishun’s outlet to show that I have moved on and appreciate their kind gesture of picking out products suitable for my skin.)

I’ve not made any changes to the original post below, which you can read here.


October 25, 2017:

I had an outbreak of pimples recently and decided it was a good time to have some loving self-care for my skin. I decided to pay a visit to Estetica Beauty in Yishun.

But after visiting, I felt that there were more cons than pros. The service I’ve had on my one visit so far has been pleasant, but I’ve been left with more questions than answers.

Firstly, these were good signs in my opinion:

  1. The staff there seem pretty nice and happy to negotiate the prices.
  2. The therapist extracted my pimples successfully and my skin was better after the first treatment.
  3. The therapist plucked my brows and I got a fantastic shoulder massage.
  4. I had no downtime or negative effects from the facial.
  5. The staff genuinely believe in their beauty services. The manager was doing a facial as I did my treatment in the next room.

Overall, I would say Estetica helped improved my appearance after the first facial.

However, there are some aspects of their service that I disliked.

This is my word against Estetica’s, so please take it with a pinch of salt.

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Image credit: Pixabay. My visit to Estetica Singapore in Yishun left me with more questions than answers.

1. Language: a serious obstacle

The staff at Estetica Yishun spoke mostly Mandarin instead of English.  If you’re more comfortable speaking in English and want to understand exactly what is going on, go to Aeon at Orchard Road instead.

The language problem was exacerbated when the manager was selling the package, which I explain below under the semi-permanent makeup procedure section.

2. From SGD68 to SGD7,800 – even before the trial facial (which never happened)

During the consultation, pictures of my skin were taken for analysis. To be honest, when I saw the images, it looked like something any layman could analyze based on the lines and the color of the skin.

The consultation process was more focused on selling than on prescribing services.

I had signed up for this promotion to understand what Estetica’s facial experience is like.

estetica-promotion-2017
Image credit: Estetica. The banner says “1st Trial Promo”. It’s misleading. What I understand from a “trial promo” is that I can try out a business’ service before purchasing more. It isn’t the case for my experience at Estetica.

From many online reviews, most reviewers went through a consultation and then enjoyed different facials recommended for their skin.

The Smart Local, which I thought was reputable, did the OxyGeneo 3-in-1 Therapy in 2016. The Honey Combers did the Derma Calm Facial in 2015. This review featured on Yahoo had a two-hour facial.

However, instead of being escorted to do a recommended facial immediately for the price of the first trial, I had to decide on a package immediately and buy it first.  

That’s not a first trial promo.

What I understood from the trial promotion was that I could do a recommended facial for SGD68, and then decide if I wanted to commit to buying a full package. I know packages can be pricey.

I didn’t get to do the trial facial, but was pressured to purchase a SGD7,800 package immediately. 

When I asked why I wasn’t doing the trial facial, I was told that the “customized facial” advertised was just a basic facial. They told me my skin condition was bad and so I couldn’t do any “basic facials” but the costlier “special ones” instead.

The classic bait and switch!

I said I signed up for the trial promotion in the first place because I wanted to know what Estetica’s facials were like and how my skin reacted to Estetica’s products before committing to a pricey package.

In response, the manager gave me…

… A one thousand dollar discount, from SGD7,800 to SGD6,800.

I should have walked out there and then, but I really wanted to do the facial in the end. While the selling process was unpleasant, I do think Estetica’s treatments may not be inherently lousy.

I can’t help but compare my Estetica experience to Aeon Medical’s half-hour consultation, where I felt the doctor actually knew what he was talking about. Rather than taking just skin samples with a brightly lit camera-pen, Aeon took full-face photos that showed both freckles or UV damaged areas and sensitive skin areas.

The selling was done after the doctor’s medical advice, which means that you get a clearer idea of what you’re paying for.

3. Tried to sell me a semi-permanent makeup procedure without making the procedure clear

I was not looking to do a semi-permanent makeup procedure. All I wanted was a facial near my home.

My interest was piqued when I heard them mention “micro needling”.

To convince me to buy more services, the manager showed me before and after effects of the treatment taken on the phone. True enough, the customers’ complexion had improved significantly.

But the customers’ pictures immediately after the first session of “micro needling” looked too good to be true. There was no blood, no punctures, just smoother, whiter skin.

Redness is a side effect of derma needling procedures. Here’s an example. No pain no gain.

Not believing my eyes, I specifically asked if the treatment was derma/micro needling and whether it would cause redness or bleeding.

“Micro needling (also known as collagen induction therapy) involves using fine needles to create hundreds of tiny, invisible puncture wounds in the top layer of skin.” (Source)

The manager said, yes, it is micro needling, and no, there is no downtime or redness! She held up a bottle and said they’ll inject the “serum” into my skin with tiny needles.

The serum looked like foundation. I didn’t notice it at first and just thought it was the way the “serum” looks.

I left thinking that the customers did micro needling only. It was so miraculous that they had instant results instead of looking like they were bleeding from every pore of their face.

I realized only when I got home that Estetica was trying to sell me the BB Dewy Shine Therapy: a semi-permanent makeup treatment using MTS (Micro Needle Therapy System).

Image credit: Jessie Ting. It finally clicked when I saw the bottles of foundation on Google Image Search.

“A semi-permanent make-up treatment using MTS (Micro Needle Therapy System) with skin colour brightening ampoules infused with healing properties.” (Source)

Injecting color into your skin for a semi-permanent effect is different from inducing collagen with micro needling.

I felt like an idiot. Of course, the customers’ complexions improved. They might just as well be wearing BB cream post-treatment.

During the sale process, it was not clear that they were trying to get me to buy this semi-permanent makeup treatment. If they had referred to the bottles of “serum” as “BB cream” instead or even said the name of the treatment, I would have told them that I wasn’t interested in semi-permanent makeup.

Because the manager spoke mostly Mandarin, omitted mentions of “BB cream”, and did not use any of the names of Estetica’s services, she successfully made me think that I would eventually receive a micro-needling treatment. 

It reminds me of what this lady, also a negative reviewer, went through. For this reviewer, at least she had a trial facial first before paying for her package. I didn’t even get a trial!

Estetica told her: “我们一定会把你的皮肤治好.” (“We will definitely cure your skin.”).

Estetica told me: “You no longer have to wear foundation when you go out.” I thought this meant that my skin would be cured and healed so nicely I won’t need foundation.

Perhaps, Estetica thought customers would have been ok with getting their face semi-permanently tattooed without describing the actual process.

To me, this procedure involves injecting foundation/colors into your skin – even if the colors are mixed with “ampoules”.

Imagine getting a face tattoo and not knowing that it was a face tattoo because they called the ink a “serum”.

Wow. Close shave. Imagine if I had requested this “micro needling” treatment.


You’ve read so far and probably have your own gut response or criticism to what I wrote.

For instance, signing up for a trial promotion facial doesn’t mean I’m necessarily entitled to one. Taken in good faith, maybe the “customized facial” (or “basic facial”) really wasn’t suitable for my skin.

And perhaps I misunderstood them when they were explaining the micro-needling treatment. I’d like to give the specialists the benefit of doubt.

Here is where it gets serious.


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Image credit: Pixabay.

4. Forget customer data privacy

I was undecided at signing such a huge package especially without being able to try out the facial.

Shockingly, the manager whipped out past receipts of other customers to show that some customers bought SGD6,800-7,800 worth of beauty services to last over three to five years.

I know she wanted to help me make my decision, but I could see customers’ information and she made no effort to hide it.

During the skin consultation, I also saw the names and gender of customers before me.

5. Packages and extra comments offered

Estetica offered me packages in this order. I did not include the value of the products given except for the package I bought:

  • SGD7,800, no expiry
  • SGD6,800, to be used in 3 years
  • SGD2,800, for any facials or services
  • SGD1,800, credits for any facials or services, and SGD300 worth of products – I bought this package.
  • SGD 1,200, for only one type of facial

But during the consultation, the manager commented on my personal belongings. They seemed to be actively looking for income indicators, such as handbags and jewelry.

Later when I was paying, they commented that I must have a lot of savings. Such comments are definitely not warranted.

To recap, here are the pros:

  1. The staff there seem pretty nice and happy to negotiate the prices.
  2. The therapist extracted my pimples successfully and my skin was better after the first treatment.
  3. The therapist plucked my brows and I got a fantastic shoulder massage.
  4. I had no downtime or negative effects from the facial.
  5. The staff genuinely believe in their beauty services. In fact, the manager was doing a facial.

Here are the cons which might be misunderstandings or minor inconveniences:

  1. The staff I’ve met thus far speak very little English.
  2. Even if you sign up for the trial promotion facial, you might end up being persuaded to buy an SGD7,800 package first without having the trial.
  3. The staff may try to sell you a semi-permanent makeup treatment without making it clear. If you feel negative about semi-permanent makeup, beware.

Here are the serious cons:

  1. Be prepared for your data like your name, age, date of purchase, and amount purchased to be shared during the consultation. Maybe your picture too, since I do not know if the manager had received the customers’ consent to share their treatment photos with me.
  2. The staff will zoom in on things that indicate your ability to pay.

Verdict: Why I still bought a package

I thought the price was still reasonable enough for specialized care. Also, I didn’t want to head all the way to town to do a facial.

I was simply desperate for a solution to the 10 pimples and scars on my face, but not in town so I won’t have to walk around without makeup. The first facial went well.

Nonetheless, the consultation was a negative experience. I never did my trial facial before I was pressured into buying a package. Estetica staff showing me other customers’ receipts may be an invasion of their privacy.

If you think I’m biased, there are other negative reviews on Yelp about Estetica at Northpoint.

Good food, good prices at Lavender Bistro at Johor Bahru, Malaysia

We had good food for less than USD20 or SGD25 per person.

Recently, I went to Johor Bahru (JB) again for pre-Lunar New Year shopping, eating, and grooming.

For non-Singaporeans/Malaysians, many Singaporeans go to JB for day or weekend trips because of the exchange rate.

Before we went, my friends did some research and found a place that’s well-reviewed online called Lavender Bistro. Here’s how my trip went.

Prices (pre-GST and service charge) will be indicated!

Cozy interior design

The bistro is on the second floor of the building. We went up the stairs and were seated immediately. The staff was really attentive.

The cozy decor here.
In JB, it’s hard to find alcohol. But it’s possible to have alcoholic drinks at Lavender Bistro, which is awesome.
Brunch items available.
As a seafood lover, this selection was great!
There are some pan-Asian dishes here.

Food VS Menu

So here’s how the food measured up against the menu.

To check the price of each item against SGD, divide each price by three. For USD, divide the price by four. The actual conversion at the moment is 1 USD = 3.89 MYR.

First up, we had the baked New Zealand mussels.

The service at Lavender Bistro was top notch. We did not need to ask for additional plates!

Baked New Zealand Mussels: MYR26.42

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Baked New Zealand mussels
Mmmm! The inside of the mussel was juicy.

Soul-warming soups!

The soups were great. I don’t usually have soups, but this was really worth it. If you love truffles and mushroom soups, the bisque is for you.

If there were one thing my friends and I raved about, it would be the baguette they served with the soup. It’s soft in the middle, crispy outside, and absolutely fragrant.

Chicken Chowder: MYR12.26

Truffle Mushroom Bisque: MYR15

Truffle mushroom bisque
Chicken chowder

Main courses: Plates of pasta

The pasta was the main attraction. Overall, the pasta tasted well-made. This was especially obvious with the pappardelle. The seafood tasted fresh.

I had the squid ink pasta. If you’re looking for a serious mouthful of black squid ink, you might be disappointed – it’s just black colored pasta in what tastes like vongole broth.

For me, I’m fine with either, but would have definitely liked to eat squid ink!

Squid Ink Seafood Linguine: MYR33.96

Spicy Aglio Olio Water Scampi: MYR46.23

Squid Ink Seafood Linguine (bottom) and Spicy Aglio Olio Water Scampi (top)
lavender-bistro-johor-bahru-food4.jpg
A closer look at the Spicy Aglio Olio Water Scampi. Look at those huge prawns!

 

The seafood spaghetti is seafood marinara (tomato-based pasta).

Seafood Spaghetti: MYR29.25

Seafood Marinara

 

The duck pasta was a great dish. It tasted sophisticated, like something you could get at a French cafe. For SGD11 or USD8, it’s a real steal!

Pappardelle with Duck Stroganoff: MYR33

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Pappardelle with Duck Stroganoff

 

During my meal, I also indulged in two different drinks.

These two drinks cost about SGD10 in total. In Singapore, you wouldn’t even get a wine at that price!

Cafe Mocha: MYR10.38

White wine: MYR17.92

Two different drinks.

Ending it off with sweets

The best thing is that the bakery is just downstairs. You can get some breads or sweets from the floor below and enjoy them at the bistro upstairs.

The bakery has really pretty cakes going for a reasonable price. If you’re looking for a beautiful budget birthday cake that tastes good, this may be a good place to visit.

Cakes, cakes, cakes!
My favorite cakes. Unicorns are all the rage now!

I had a honey egg roll cake. I do not have a sweet tooth but I thought the cake had a really appealing taste for a Singaporean. It’s not too sweet or oily. I would have bought the roll cake home if this bakery were my last stop!

lavender-bistro-johor-bahru-food12.jpg
Yummy baked goods.

Verdict

10/10 would visit this cafe again!

For MYR366.30 (about USD94 or SGD124), we had:

  • 1 shared appetizer
  • 4 soups
  • 5 main courses
  • 6 drinks

This was good quality food for less than USD20 or SGD25 per person.

The damage for 5 people: MYR366.30. This is about USD94 or SGD124.

Address

Address: 68, Jalan Serampang, Taman Pelangi, 80400 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Hours: 10am – 10pm
Phone: +60 7-335 9966

We left JB only at about 10pm, all feeling great.


Feeling like a million bucks after a day trip to JB.

Mid-year May

Massage and good food, let’s go!
가자!

It’s May already! I’m back with a new post.

Spa and massage at Elements Wellness

One weekend evening when the NamChin (who is “NamChin“?) was not around, I decided to treat myself to a massage.

Elements Wellness is located at Centrepoint Orchard, a floor above Dal.Komm Coffee. I usually do their basic massage at a package of SGD60 an hour. Their massage service is really good and private, so I would recommend that.

Koyamaki Onsen Therapy

This treatment was a little special as I added on the Koyamaki Onsen Therapy. It is basically a good soak in the bath before the massage.

Made of Koyamaki wood, the bath is visually beautiful and apparently comes with a host of effects. For instance, the natural oil in the wood has antibacterial and antifungal properties. The wood feels quite oily when you touch it, so I guess it’s real?

Moreover, the water is “ionized” and there are “microbubbles”. That supposedly gives health benefits like detoxification and anti-aging. I have no idea how that would work scientifically.

One thing is for sure – the heat relaxes my muscles, making the massage later more effective. And the tension relief is very real!

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The bath for the Koyamaki Onsen Therapy!
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A further view of the room through the mirror. It’s not visible but there is a hairdryer.
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Loads of fresh towels! Feels good.
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You get a bag to put your clothes, and a yukata-like bathrobe to protect your modesty as you walk to your massage room after the bath.
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There’s soap, shampoo, and even hair conditioner in the shower stall.
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You’re served tea in the onsen room.
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Free flow water whenever you get thirsty from the hot bath.

If you wanna check them out, I’d recommend looking at their promotions page first to see if you want to try any of their services out at a discount.


Dinner with friends

Recently I had dinner with a couple-friend. NamChin and I could really do with more homecooked Korean food and we had a wonderful night.

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NamChin’s friend is an American who has lived in Korea for a long time but moved to Singapore last year. This year, he married his Korean girlfriend. I started appreciating Yankee candles after he lit a cranberry one during Christmas last year.
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Unni arranged this herself! The flowers were from a florist at Vivocity.
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From left: Mattang (Candied Sweet Potatoes), Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew), and a chicken dish. 진짜 잘 먹었어요.

Fresh flowers, scented candles, and homecooked food. What else could I possibly ask for?

Sumiya at Orchard Central

A Japanese gem in the heart of town.

There’s a gem in town.

Sumiya at Orchard Central (Facebook) has a “happy hour dinner”. The price of a meal that is typically very luxurious costs 50% less. Moreover, I’ve been there twice, once directly after my trip in Japan. The quality of the food here is comparable to that of food served in restaurants in Japan.

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The menu. Do you see something you like?
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The menu. Do you see something you like?

The price is reasonable for the taste of the food. I think this restaurant cares about the aesthetics of the dish as well, which is important to me when assessing the quality of a Japanese restaurant. For example, the plates they use are very beautiful such as this seashell shaped dish.

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This seashell dish is so cute!

Here’s the food!

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Unagi and tempura double don.

The tempura is well done. Not oily, lightly fried, and I can still taste the fragrance of the prawn. I love that they didn’t douse the rice with tons of sauce as some restaurants do. Wet rice is not nice. I was able to eat the entire dish with only chopsticks, Japanese style!

Needless to say, the unagi is very good. The egg is also a winner in my heart. It isn’t heavy at all. That’s the reason I keep going back – to get that taste of Japan back in my mouth.

On to the next don…

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Seared Japanese Wagyu Shabu Don with Crab Meat and Salmon Roe

The crab which I think is the main draw isn’t very flavorful. I clarified with the staff there that it’s snow crab, which I really love for its taste. Altogether, this was a very nice tasting and well-balanced dish. The wagyu is quite tasty, and I could tell it was not the usual shabu meat. I would say nothing really sets this dish apart, but I could be wrong, as I had finished the entire bowl previously. Good to give it a go nonetheless.


Why do I look for high-quality Japanese restaurants in Singapore?

Usually Japanese restaurants are very expensive, but I find that the taste is lacking or incomparable to the food I had in Japan. That’s totally understandable. That is why I am happy with Sumiya.

A couple of months ago, I returned home from Japan. It was my second major trip away from Singapore with my boyfriend. Also, Japan was one of the countries I wanted to visit for a while. So we went there, and even till now, I am craving all the food from Japan. Tamago, dorayaki, tea, and even konbini foods like the latest spicy mentaiko onigiri.

We ate this tamago at Kyubei Sushi in Ginza. We really recommend this place for sushi! The service we received was top notch and the food was beyond words. Again, my boyfriend is Korean and intercountry relations are iffy. We didn’t experience any racism in Japan and not in any of these restaurants. People were very kind to us.

Tamago, one of the dishes served at Kyubei Sushi, Ginza

I really wanted to have eel in Japan, especially after our insane sushi experience. I was especially blown away by the fact that the chef made the distinction between sea water and fresh water eel. The Japanese really care a lot about food and the quality of their work.

Nearing the end of our trip, on our 5th anniversary, we decided to go to this place in Kyoto to have eel. I had mine paired with hot sake.  It was my treat to my boyfriend 🙂 Service in this restaurant was impeccable. Japanese girls are all so cute.

Boyfriend’s food. One way to eat this is to have it like a normal rice bowl. Another way is to pour the “tea” provided into the bowl, mix, and slurp it up.
I chose the set which was slightly more expensive. It was very good.

The trip to Japan was very memorable, especially because we celebrated our fifth anniversary in Kyoto. This is a pendant from J.estina. I’m a fan of ice skater Kim Yuna and she endorses this jewelry.

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Gift from my boyfriend for our fifth anniversary!

Dal.Komm Coffee Singapore

This cafe is a throwback to Descendants Of The Sun – a mix of cute and whimsical

Recently, my boyfriend’s friend’s family opened a new cafe in town. To my surprise, it’s Dal.Komm Coffee. This cafe is very popular because of its appearance in a Korean drama called Descendants of the Sun. Dal Kom, spelt 달콤 in Korean, means to have a sweet taste.

The storefront.
The storefront with the Descendants Of The Sun poster.
Part of the menu and prices. I found it rather affordable for coffee in a central location.
Part of the menu and prices. I found it rather affordable for coffee in a central location.

Coffee culture is pretty strong in Korea and many people go to cafes to have “sogetting” (소개팅). This word is basically an abbreviation for “introductory meeting” (소개-미팅), which is a meeting for people to meet the opposite sex and date.

Decor

The first thing I thought of when I entered the premises was, “After a while, many students would come here to study!”

But hmm, maybe not. Well, the place is not dimly lit, but definitely cozy and bright enough if you’re just looking to do light reading, chat, and have coffee. Plus, it’s large so it’s not very noisy at all.

Cozy and large!
Cozy and large! This is just part of the premises.
Korean cafe decor - a mix of cute and whimsical.
Korean cafe decor and a throwback to Descendants Of The Sun – a mix of cute and whimsical.

I like Song Hye Gyo, but I didn’t really enjoy Descendants Of The Sun. My boyfriend is Korean but both of us prefer to watch Western dramas like House of Cards and Westworld. We really recommend those shows. I think the only Korean drama we watched bits and pieces together was Wang’s Family, with his parents after dinner back in Korea. They were really fascinated by the drama.

We had an interesting conversation once. He’s very critical of Kdramas, grabbing his head and lamenting the state of the Korean scriptwriting industry. This happened more often during Westworld, because frankly, the creators are geniuses. I asked him not to be too critical of his country’s dramas – they are very popular despite their formulaic plots and scenes, and that’s really respectable to me.

Kdramas can be very interesting especially when they are dealing with family and class relations. When I used to watch Kdramas on Channel U, dubbed in Mandarin (he finds it terrible because the voices don’t match and sound shrill to him), sometimes, I can feel quite emotional watching them. I remember following Likeable or not quite closely!

Nowadays, I think China is catching on with catchy dramas though. When I see videos trending on Youtube, there are always good looking actors, some click bait title with a video that delivers like 总裁女朋友穿着太朴素,店员竟然瞧不起将其赶走,最后后悔了 (Company president’s girlfriend wore clothes that were too plain. The sales assistants looked down on her and chased her away, only to regret it!!!). Their copywriting skills are formidable.

Drinks

First, we ordered drinks. My boyfriend is a big fan of goguma latte (sweet potato latte) and always drinks it when he’s back in Korea, so he and his friend had that. I’m not a big fan of the milky taste and needed some caffeine so I went with mocha instead.

Our three drinks.
Our three drinks. These were regular sized but it was a good amount.

Overall, the goguma latte taste was authentic. If you need a Korean fix or you want to try something new, this cafe can deliver it.

Food

We ordered a croque monsieur. It was slightly pricey, but tasty nonetheless! The sandwich came with a nice dose of creamy cheese on top, which added to its fragrance. My boyfriend and I finished it pretty fast. I am personally a big fan of ham and cheese sandwiches and would recommend this dish.

Our Croque-monsieur (baked ham and cheese sandwich).
Our Croque-monsieur (baked ham and cheese sandwich). It was SGD9.

Overall, what makes me like this cafe is its huge space and cozy ambience. A nice place to chill and hang out!


Address: The Centrepoint, 176 Orchard Road #01-01/02, #01-03/04, #01-05/06, #01-103 238843, 102 Nanyang Cres, Nanyang Meadows – Block 102, Singapore 637820
Hours: 10AM–10PM