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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 the 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

You can also reserve online at

To know more, like them on Facebook

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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


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.


Lenox is exclusively available at Rustan’s Makati and Shangri-la Plaza.

To know more about Lenox, click HERE.

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The Face Shop, 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 already 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 products used by Koreans.

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” and you have a photo shoot or event you need to attend.

Face Shop mask

Face shop masks

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

modeling gel patch

Here’s some trivia about how Koreans use lip tints: they apply it in the centre of the 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 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

eyebrow color

Frosted 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




After seeing all the colours, I chose beige :)


Some of my favourite things: affordable makeup brushes


and makeup removing wipes


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.

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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—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, 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 into the rest of the house.

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 from 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, 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!!

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Pepper Lunch offers merienda size promo

Merienda Size, Merienda Price is a new and exciting promo, ongoing at all Pepper Lunch restaurants until August 31, 2014.

Drop by between 2-6 PM daily to enjoy Beef or Chicken Pepper Rice for only Php 160, or Beef or Chicken Aglio Olio pasta dishes for Php 185. What’s more, it comes with free iced tea!

PL Merienda Promo A4 size

Visit Pepper Lunch at these locations:

Powerplant Mall, Greenbelt 5, Shangri-La Plaza, Alabang Town Center, SM Megamall A, Robinsons Ermita, The Peak Davao, Subic Harbor Point, Eastwood Mall, Ayala Cebu, Fishermall, Century City Mall, Ayala Centrio Mall CDO, and Mall of Asia.

Follow Pepper Lunch on Facebook, Twitter @pepperphil, or Instagram @pepperlunchph.

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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


Plus clean 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.


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 hair conditioner is pretty much part of my shower routine.

One of the things I hate while traveling is what I call “hotel itch”. That’s when my legs suddenly itch due to the change in weather, so applying lotion is a must.

Unfortunately I am too lazy to put 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 the face.

I tried and it felt a bit too oily for the face. For the rest of the body is perfect though.


Needless to say, I did not feel the “hotel itch” and will continue to use this in Manila.

Nivea in-shower skin conditioner is now available in supermarkets and drug stores. Find them on the shelves, along with traditional body moisturisers.

To know more about Nivea’s newest products, like them on Facebook.

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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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Who's afraid to fly to Hong Kong?

One of our favourite couples—Darren and Kissa McDermott—recently moved to Hong Kong.


When we found out they were leaving, Jeroen made a plan with his afam friends to visit Darren.

Well, Hong Kong is on final sale, so I told Jeroen I am tagging along—with my friend Patrice.

I was really looking forward to this trip until planes started falling from the sky—starting with Malaysian Airlines (MH 17) on July 17th, followed by Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways on July 24, and Air Algerie on July 25.

To think Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 hasn’t even been found yet since March 8.

My fear of flying hit the roof two days before our trip. The night before I had no sleep.

It’s also my first time to try Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy. I figured 1.5 hours won’t hurt. Only the food did—an adobo roll that looked kawawa. Not that I eat on the plane anyway.


I kept my eyes on the screen watching the minutes count down and the altitude go up.

I prayed five rosaries and watched an afam next to me praying as well. I’m sure half the plane was scared to fly. I tried to play a few games of Maleficent but it made my heart beat faster.

I had deep conversations with God. Forty five minutes later, I started to think we are going to land safely. And we did!


Hong Kong reunion (L-R): Darren McDermott, Joeri Timp, Joris Spanhoff, Jeroen van Straten, Jasper van den Borne

Also on our flight were my Carlo Tanseco and Chunchi Soler


Victor Basa and Divine Lee—I keep seeing this couple in Hong Kong :)


At the airport I kept seeing men in yellow shoes—a sign from God!!

yellow shoes

yellow shoes

At least one of them was chic

yellow shoes

Actor Lee Min Ho is everywhere!!

lee min ho

lee min ho

And McDonald’s isn’t selling any patties due to the recent sanitation scandal



I spotted a T-shirt that looks like Andre Chang

Andre Chang tee Andre Chang

Then ended the day with the best steak and frites at La Vache with Fed Tan of Social/Capital (L) and JJ Acuña (The Wanderlister)


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Look who's on Preview's Best Dressed 2014

In 1999, I was on Mega magazine’s first ever Best Dressed issue. That was 15 years ago. (Photo: Lorraine Belmonte)

Cecile van Straten, Mega 1999

This year, I am one of Preview‘s Best Dressed—achieve! Hehe.

Seriously though my colour scheme hasn’t changed. And I am still difficult to photograph. (Photo: Koji Arboleda)

Comme des Garçons collectionCecile van Straten

When I was a kid we had film cameras and flashbulbs. You only took pictures during special occasions, unlike now where kids take selfies all the time and are used to the camera. That said, I would rather take pictures than be in them.

This month’s Preview (July 2014) features Georgina Wilson and Celine Lopez on the cover.

Preview cover July 2014

This year, Preview wanted to do more than come up with a list of best-dressed girls. So they decided to put two unlikely women together and ask them to converse. This year’s list also includes Jo Ann Bitagcol, Kim Jones, Ria Prieto, Pam Quiñones, Anne Arcenas, Marga Valdes-Trinidad, Tina Ong, Tinay Villiamiel, Zelda Kienle, Jessica Kienle, Dr. Aivee Teo, Jessica Yang, Marite Fe Ganse, Martine Cajucom, and Joane Laygo.

Also in the Best Dressed issue, Daryl Chang puts together a shopping guide for the first-time Manila visitor (or even long-time resident) including shopping haunts, a designer directory, and great finds that champion Philippine talent and craftsmanship.

They’ve also rounded up 30-plus pairs of the hottest footwear out there—and would you believe none of them have heels?

In the beauty pages you’ll find an arsenal of tools—from the right brush to different irons and blow dryers; plus how to get the perfect minimalist face in just 10 minutes.

Ann Jacobe takes you through a gym she’s dubbed “The Playground” and a healthy diet turned food business that’s given her the energy and glow of a woman half her age.

New neighborhood joints to eat in, Max Eigenmann’s photo diary from Art Basel Hong Kong, and a Q&A with Gab Valenciano are all in Preview July 2014.

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My Oishi Sundate with Christian

Because of my work, I get lots of invitations. But for me to actually go to an event, there must be something special or different about it. This invitation from Oishi was difficult to ignore—a giant pack of chips landed at our front door.

OIshi event

Inside the mother sack are tons of Oishi’s newest chips featuring Team O’s Elmo Magalona, Daniel Padilla, and Ramon Bautista.

Oishi chips

The package included an invitation to a Snacktacular meet and greet with Team O at Glorietta.

“Who likes Daniel Padilla?” I asked the maids.

Ma’am, lahat po,” said Mariza.

Sinong pinaka die hard?” I asked.

Si Aiza po.”

I would have liked to take Aiza to the Oishi event, but they decided Yaya Joan would come with me and Christian.

In case you didn’t know, Daniel Padilla—nephew of Robin Padilla and son of Rommel Padilla and Karla Estrada—is equivalent to Justin Bieber in the Philippines. I can’t remember the last teen idol adored at this level by the masses (do you?). Even Mich Dulce likes him.

So one Sunday I packed my son Christian (6) and Yaya Joan to Glorietta 2′s Activity Center.

My heart was weeping for Brazil, so Christian wore this despite his father’s disapproval.

Oishi event

The activity centre was packed. It was difficult to cut through the crowd and enter the venue. Good thing Franco Santos of Bridges spotted us and let us in.

While waiting for celebrities to arrive, I took Christian around the activity booths. First, we hit the soft serve machine made of Oishi milk with oats.

He chose chocolate

Oishi event

Then celebrities arrived and all of a sudden everyone went wild

Oishi event

Good thing Yaya Joan was there. I don’t know these people…it’s Colleen Garcia

Oishi event

She is dating Billy Crawford apparently

Oishi event

Christian and I went to the next booth, where you take an empty sack and fill it up at a mock grocery filled with chips. Christian loved this activity.

Oishi event

He knows his Oishi favourites by heart so he knew exactly what to get, starting with Marty’s Cracklings.

Oishi event

Oishi event

Oishi event

Oishi event

Elmo Magalona did it too

Oishi event

Elmo Magalona

Then Christian hit the trampoline, where he appeared to be jumping out of a pack of chips. It was hard to pull him away, trust me.

Oishi event

Ramon Bautista did it too

Oishi event

My favourite booth was the Make Your Own Snack Mix

Oishi event

You get an empty paper bag and choose the type of chips you like (I chose potato fries)

Oishi event

Then you choose from different flavoured powders

Oishi event

I chose nori, or Japanese seaweed

Oishi event

Shake, shake the bag. OMG this was so good!! I wanted to go back the next day to make some more, but the booth was already gone. Oishi, please make these chips for sale!! You can call them Chuva Chips, hehe :)

Oishi event

Robbie Becroft made some too

Oishi event

We took our seats while waiting for the program to start. Christian was such a good boy.

Oishi event

And then screaming happened. Daniel Padilla had arrived.

Oishi event

My camera doesn’t quite capture the sound of my eardrums breaking

Oh, and Kathryn Bernardo was there.

Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla

They were brought backstage, and the show began with Team O’s Ramon Bautista, Slater Young, and Elmo Magalona

Oishi event

Oishi event

Through the wonders of technology, Elmo sang a duet via music video with his father Francis Magalona

Elmo Magalona

Elmo never fails to make his mom Pia smile

Oishi event

Daniel serenaded the fans

Oishi event

And the show ended with Daniel’s latest TV commercial for Oishi. Watch and see Daniel Padilla in action

I totally get why they love him, Mich Dulce included.

Thank you Oishi for the fun Sundate!!

Oishi event

Love, Christian

Oishi event

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