Sunday, 17 May 2015

Asia 2014: Taiwan - Day 3

Catch up with our first two days in Taiwan! 1, 2.

For our last full day in Taiwan, we decided to try out the Michelin starred Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), before viewing the sights of Taipei, from Taipei 101. The forecast was not looking great, but since Kin had never been, we thought it would be enjoyable if we visited together :)

As we overslept and missed breakfast on this morning, our first stop was at the above bakery; Saison du Soleil, which I think was a higher class version of my beloved Yamazaki bakery. The bread certainly did not disappoint.

We then headed over to Taipei 101, which houses both the Taipei 101 observatory and the famous Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), popular for its steamed dumplings.

The interior of Taipei 101 shopping mall was certainly luxurious and 'upper class'. We didn't have time to see what stores were available - we headed straight to Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) and braced ourselves for the imminent wait typical of Michelin restaurants.

The restaurant was located in the basement of the shopping centre and had a system that worked well - a large sign that let you know how long you could expect to wait, as well as a screen that displayed your ticket number and how many tables were before you.  I see this so much in Hong  Kong as well; sometimes I don't understand why they don't have that in England. It can get frustrating waiting for what feels like hours - it could be the deciding factor between staying for the table or going elsewhere!

We were also handed a menu and a check list when we received our ticket for the wait. This was also really useful because it meant we could spend the half hour seeing what food was available, and Googling what the top 'must-try' dishes were!

Don't worry if you can't read Chinese - the menu has English, and pictures!

How adorable is this statue (and Kin)? :)

Eventually, we were seated and our check list was taken by a member of staff.

I loved how they had an open kitchen so I could have a good snoop!

The chefs had amazing teamwork - I have never seen anyone make dumplings as fast as they did!!

And now, for a couple of the dishes we tried:

Shanghai style soy sprouts (寧式黃芽菜) - NT$90

Traditional pork xiaolongbao (小籠包) - NT$100

Green squash and shrimp xiaolongbao (絲瓜蝦仁小籠包) - NT$160

Noodles with sesame and peanut sauce (麻醬麵) - NT$100

As above - mixed.

House steamed chicken soup (元盅雞湯) - NT$200

Shrimp and pork wonton (乾拌蝦肉餛飩) - NT$160

Black sesame paste filled steamed buns! (芝麻大包) - NT$70

Our lunch came to a total of NT$880, equivalent to roughly £20! Pretty good for a Michelin starred lunch after which we felt quite full!

We then headed for the Taipei 101 observatory. The sales desk had a sign in both English and Chinese informing visitors that due to cloud coverage, it would not be possible to see too far beyond the observatory itself. We decided that it would be unlikely for us to come back any time soon, and it would be worth it since we had already come all the way from England; especially since Kin had never been.

We queued up patiently for the lift to take us to the 89th floor for the indoor observatory, and also stopped to take a photo for a possible souvenir. We didn't intend to both wear green that day - it just happened, but somehow Kin's top morphed into part of the background through their green screen!

Once we boarded the lift, we hurtled to the 89th floor within the space of 37 seconds. That's 382 metres in 37 seconds. We actually felt the pressure in our ears and it was strange in that it never felt like we actually moved at all!

The view was actually still pretty good!

We also took a look at the damper that kept the building still during typhoons!

This giant damper actually swung up to 70 cm on each side, during the July 2013 Soulik typhoon!

After we had explored more about the function of dampers and I'd posed with enough damper babies as I could, we headed towards the exit where an exhibition of jade and coral sculptures, and expensive jewellery awaited.

Luckily, we made it through this area without being approached by any sales assistants. We queued up for the lift and hurtled back down to the shopping centre with a beautiful starry display above our heads.

By this point, it was fast approaching dinner time. With our minds dreaming of the potential foods available, we set off for Shilin Night Market, where we planned to stuff ourselves silly with all the Taiwanese food we could get our hands on!

The first part of our dinner was made up of these delicious barbecued skewers - we chose five different meats and continued on our way whilst munching on our 5-for-NT$100 starters.

The lady was friendly, and quite apologetic when I asked her for the change that she mistakenly thought she had already given me.

In terms of the order of courses, it was a little chaotic. As soon as I set eyes on the 豆腐花 (tofu pudding) store and all the toppings that you could choose, I was set on having it there and then. Who cares when you're supposed to really have dessert!

豆腐花/Doufuhua is essentially a soft tofu jelly in a syrup soup. I chose to have it with a couple of favourites; mochi and jelly! As it was summer, the dofuhua was served chilled with crushed ice. I personally prefer it when served warm in the winter. It's one of my favourite winter dessert soups along with mochi!

The smell of the next stall caught our noses long before it caught our eyes. For NT$50, we purchased grilled squid that was seasoned according to the several choices available.

This stuff was seriously amazing. Not too chewy, and perfectly crispy. The seasoning was also not too salty and really hit the spot. We were so tempted to get another tray, but decided to leave the remaining stomach space for any other yumminess that we might find.

This stall was insanely popular... We did see people buy some, but I'm pretty sure the crowding was due to the gimmick that they were selling, rather than the actual food itself.

We didn't make a purchase since I don't like pineapple cake, and we felt our money would be better spent elsewhere. You can actually buy these boxed up as gifts, if anyone is looking for a crude/funny souvenir to gift their friends/family..!

The next dish is something that we stumbled upon completely by luck. We were wandering around thinking what we should try next, when we saw a massive queue for this extremely tiny stall situated in front of a temple. I'm so glad that we're both so curious in nature - this was easily the best thing I had in Taiwan, hands down!

From the name of the stall, I gathered that it was a small sausage wrapped in a big sausage, and the sausage itself looked just like a standard 'fat' sausage in England. What we didn't know was that the inside was a pork sausage, whilst the outside was a glutinous rice 'sausage'!! We ate it so quickly, we completely forgot to take a photo... and we heavily regretted not having bought a couple more. It was delicious, and only NT$50!

One of the other dishes from that evening was the beef barbecue. This looked pretty amazing, but in reality it was nothing special.

Look how awesome it looks when it's cooking!

There were also several clothing and sports stores which we browsed - there was a bag that I wanted but the store owner refused to discount it, so I had to leave it behind. It wasn't worth the asking price, but I would have been willing to purchase it with a discount.

We headed back to the hotel around 9.30 pm that evening since we still had to pack and get ready for our last day in Taiwan. I highly recommend visiting all the night markets that we visited, but at the top of my list in terms of stalls would definitely be the pepper pork bun and the big sausage in small sausage!

Thank you for reading. Day 4 of our day in Taiwan will be up soon!


Disclaimer: The amazingly beautiful and professional shots featured in this blog post are not my own. They have been used with kind permission from Kin :) A few belonging to myself appear, but the majority do not belong to me.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Monthly Favourites || Mini Reviews: April 2015

We're almost at the halfway mark! Retail will start counting down to Christmas soon, and before we know it, it'll be 2016! In my continuous experimental phase, I have picked out my top items from this month. Read on to discover my exact thoughts.

1. Zoeva Vegan Wing Liner Brush No. 317

The item that I was most excited to share this month is one that I forgot to feature in the overall photo for this blog post; standard Priscilla for you.

Last year, I purchased the Zoeva Vegan Prime brush set, which included their Wing Liner brush no. 317. For the past two months, I have been experimenting with it and have discovered how great it works for filling the eyebrows.  I use this paired with my usual grey-toned MAC shadow, and it produces the most natural results.

Before this brush, my holy grail angled eyebrow brush was the Ruby & Millie i-Define Brush, which has fallen away from its handle... I have been looking for something to replace it for the longest time, but I never found anything good enough until now!

As with the other brushes in this set, the Wing Liner brush is extremely soft and easy to clean. It's also very thin and makes it easy to get those natural, precise strokes.

Despite it being sold as a Wing Liner brush, I much prefer this for the eyebrows. At roughly 6 mm wide (I'm going by eye), I feel that this too big for use with gel liner; I personally prefer to build the eye liner through smaller strokes. However, the size of this brush makes it perfect for mimicking hairs on the eyebrows. The bristles are also at a steeper angle compared to most angled eye brushes, making it easier to work with, in my opinion.

2. 3 Concept Eyes Waterful Concealer

The 3 Concept Eyes Waterful Concealer also made it to the list this month, with its extremely fluid consistency that makes it a dream to work with.

The packaging of the product makes it easy to dispense, as well as keeping things hygienic and clean. Unfortunately I think that the lettering will fade during the course of its life in my make up bag, but the size of the product means its easy to throw into your bag for touch ups or travelling.

This concealer comes with 10 ml of product and the shade #001 is a good match for my NC20 skin tone. Its fluid consistency makes it easy to blend, but I do have to warn that due to this, the coverage is more light to medium, which may make it less enjoyable for those with dark under eye circles and more prominent scarring. I have personally been using this product on fading scars and the more reddened areas on my face, avoiding the under eye area. This works great in conjunction with both powder and liquid foundations, and I would recommend this if you are looking for a lightweight concealer that doesn't get cakey.

3. MAC Captive

The first lipstick favourite for this month is MAC's Captive, in a Satin finish that provides high pigmentation with a conditioning semi-matte finish.

The MAC website describes this as a 'pinkish-plum', and they are not far off. However, I feel this pulls more plum than pink, with the smallest hint of red-brown undertones. The colour in the photo above is a good representation of how this colour looks and swatches; on my naturally pigmented lips, this shade pulls slightly darker and a little more pink.

For me, this shade has been a great go-to for this month because of how easy it is to wear. It seems to go with most looks, doesn't dry out my lips, and when sheered out with some lip balm, it works really well as a 'my lips, but better' lipstick. I just love how versatile it is! I've been wearing it with tight-lined eyes, mascara, and groomed brows, and I plan to keep wearing this until I can bring out the corals and hot pinks for Summer.

4. Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Shine No. 17 Rose In Tension

You know I can never get enough of lipstick. My other favourite this month was YSL's Rouge Volupte Shine in No. 17 Rose In Tension. This is the second addition to my YSL family.

Having received and fallen in love with the YSL Rouge Volupte in No. 12 Corail Incandescent last year, I was interested at looking at other shades in the range. Rose In Tension caught my eye on a random stroll through Boots, and I was lucky enough to receive it for Christmas.

I love how moisturising this range of lipsticks are without being slippery or sheer. The lipstick contains micro-shimmer that can be seen in the bullet but is not visible on the lips.  The colour of the bullet is also darker than in swatches or when worn. As a bullet, Rose In Tension can be described as a brown-red with underlying pink tones, with swatches being a vibrant pink. The photo above is quite a good representation. This lipstick was extremely easy to wear. It goes with anything and is so moisturising, forgetting the lip balm is not an issue.

MAC Captive vs. YSL's RVS in No. 17 Rose In Tension

To clarify the colours, MAC's Captive pulls more pink-plum with the smallest hints of red, brown and even perhaps blue (my teeth look whiter), whilst YSL's Rose In Tension in comparison, is definitely more red and brown, with less pink, looking darker than Captive in the bullet, but the swatch for Rose in Tension is much more vibrant and pink than MAC's Captive. Do not assume the YSL will wear and swatch as seen in the bullet... I highly recommend you swatch these and try them before purchase!

5. Etude House Colour Pop Drawing Show Creamy Pencil in BK801

In 2013, I featured the complete set of these eyeliners on my blog, and promised that I would review them. Unfortunately, I never did get round to a review, but I have been actively using these and have fallen in love with the formula all over again. This product is perfect in the way that it does not drag or tug the eyes during application, and the creaminess makes it extremely easy to apply. BK801 also contains small glitters that are visible on applications. Despite them, I have been tight-lining with it, with no eye irritation - just perfectly framed, un-smudged eyes, every time. I don't think I can ever go back to Western eye liners. Nothing works quite like Asian brands for my monolids!

6. Innisfree Skinny Waterproof Microcara

What was I saying about Asian brands? Innisfree is by far my favourite Korean make up brand. I feel like everything they produce just works exceedingly well for me, and this mascara is no exception.

With a super duper nifty and skinny wand, this mascara does a good job at keeping my lashes curled without clumping. Every mascara I have tried tends to clump no matter what I do. I never apply mascara on my lashes for this very reason, but I can do exactly that with this microcara. The wand is easy to use and I can reach my difficult outer lashes without them sticking together like siamese twins.

The only downfall to this mascara is that it does not do much in terms of lash length and volume, so if that is something you look for in a mascara, I would not recommend this. However, it gives a great natural look for those who love simple 'no make up' looks, and I really adore how I can accentuate my eyes without looking like I put anything on.

This mascara dries quite quickly, but the lack of clumpiness means you can layer it up without looking like you have spider legs attached to your eye lids. Its waterproof abilities are also amazing, which makes it great for everyone who have sensitive eyes that are prone to watering... (It can't just be me, right?)

7. Maybelline Color Tattoo 24HR in On and On Bronze

There is no doubt that you would have heard about this product already - hardly difficult when the entire blogosphere is raving about it!

I initially purchased this to try this out as a base for my powder eye shadows, which works well, but recently I have been using it as advertised (cream eye shadow), and really enjoyed the results! It is so easy to use, blends effortlessly, and once it dries on the lid, it does not move or smear or fade!!

One of my favourite ways to use this is by applying it over the eyelid, applying the other contour shades, and blending it out, before apply a further light wash in the centre of the lid to brighten. It makes the eyes appear wider, and placing it in the centre of the eye helps to brighten up any dark contour colours you might want to choose.

Right: 1x swipe of On and On BronzeLeft: 3x swipes of On and On Bronze
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my favourites for April as much as I have enjoyed putting this together and sharing it with you :)

You may also have noticed that the past two editions of 'Monthly Favourites' have been longer and more in depth than usual. All future monthly favourites will now also contain mini product reviews in order to provide more information for anyone contemplating the purchase of the products I might mention.

I would love to discover more beauty or non-beauty related items. 
What have you been enjoying recently?

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