A cheongsam update 

Over the past few days, I went to Peter Kor’s boutique to check out the sale and to the pop-up store of Laichan.

As mentioned in my previous post, Peter is holding a sale for the previous collections including the CNY cheongsams from 30-70%. Most of the cheongsams are going for 30% off, and there are a number of new designs that I didn’t spot during my visits before CNY. Take a look at them here! The sale will end this Sunday (19 February). So if you are interested in any of them, do make a trip down to the boutique at 222 Queen Street. 

There are quite a few cheongsams with retro prints, such as these below with the ruffled hemline. 


 



Also available are dresses  embellished with lace or intricately-embroidered floral buttons.




Lai Chan’s pop up store opens 2 days ago at Raffles City Mall, on the second level. The exterior wasn’t fully done up when I was there, like the shop name wasn’t put up then. Eddie told me that everything would be completed by next week.

The interior design has a clean line feel about it which makes it looks cool and edgy, though it wasn’t intentional. I was told the shop was previously occupied by Nike, and not much was done to the design since it is temporary. To add to the cool factor, a snake-skin print cheongsam with sequins was on the mannequin. 

I will return when the shop is all done up, ready for pictures.  Hopefully there will be some new designs I can showcase as well.

Cheongsam news snippets 

Some of you might be aware that Laichan‘s boutique at Raffles Hotel has closed because the hotel is undergoing a major refurbishment. But fret not, he has a temporary store at Raffles City mall, #02-29, starting from 16 February till 15 July. He will relocate to a permanent shop at Paragon from 1 August. 

Peter Kor is having a post CNY sale at his boutique at 222 Queen Street, #02-03. If you have been eyeing his collection, you should go check it out since it’s going at 30-70% off. 

If you are still hankering for cheongsams or considering if you should get one, here are more suggestions for you.

Utopia at Parkway Parade

Blum at various locations

The Proposal at Capitol Piazza


 

Tong Tong Friendship Store at Shaw tower

Mandarin Peony at Tang 

Clothier at Tang

Looking good in the Lai Chan cheongsams

There are only 5 days to CNY; not much time left to grab a cheongsam for the celebration. If you’re been following my posts, you will see there are a lot of choices available still. Though if you require alteration service, then tough luck! But it’s ok to get a dress that you can wear after the festivity. 

Some of you may not like the choices offered in the earlier posts, especially if you are looking for something fabulous, that stands out. So, I had made a trip to Lai Chan yesterday to check out what is available (but I cannot guarantee any of them will still be after this post is published.) 

One of things I like about getting a cheongsam at Lai Chan is the after-sale service. The boutique is one of only two I know of which strives to ensure the dress fits the customer nicely. I might have mentioned it before but the boutique once told a customer, who dislikes alternation, that if the dress didn’t fit after it was done, she would get a full refund. That is how much emphasis the boutique places on making the customer looks good. It didn’t matter how many alterations are required, most important is that the dress has to fit. If alteration is not possible, the customer will be asked to have the dress custom made.

There are dresses for those who prefer something bright and cheery, and those who want light colors.




A pleated cheongsam with pockets! A rare desire from Lai Chan. 


How about a loose fit cheongsam for those who want to feel comfortable in it? The collar is also lower than those in the usual dresses. Another good thing about this is that there is a zip instead of multiple buttons which can put off some women.

Enough of dresses? There are cheongsam tops available. Lavender and fuchsia pink stand out!



The dresses go for more than S$750 and the tops are more S$400. But each piece is unique, and workmanship is excellent. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, the important alteration service.

Going for the non-red cheongsams

Many women are not into looking like a red packet during the lunar new year. Some will prefer subtle colors, though bear in mind that it is not easy to carry off pastel/light colors especially on photos. Most times, the person looks washed out in them. So, instead of red, I think blue is a really nice color. If you are adventurous, there is also purple, green, yellow, and of course, an offshoot of red, pink! Even black with splashes of red is acceptable as well. 

There are many options for non-red cheongsams available right now, in various price range. Check out these if you  want to be non-traditional!

Couture by Szan @ Changi Airport T3 (below S$100)

Mazzario @ One Raffles Place (from S$159)

 

Utopia @ Parkway Parade (below S$120)

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Seoul Fashion @ Raffles Xchange (from S$129)

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Nana @ Arcade (below S$200)


Miz Apparels @ One Raffles Place (below S$200)

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Peter Kor @ Studio 55 (from S$250)

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Y by Yann @ Isetan Scott (from S$329)

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Lai Chan @ Raffles Hotel (from S$780)
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Hana @ Arcade (from S$1,000)

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Painting the town red  in the cheongsams

Chinese New Year is all about bold bright colors. And red is always associated with it  because of a folk lore that claims red is an auspicious color that warded off the monster, Nian. So when it comes to the cheongsams, the color abounds. For those who want to make a CNY statement, here are the firecracker red cheongsams you can proudly put on.

Mazzario @ One Raffles Place (from S$159)

Seven @ Raffles Place (below S$200)


Seoul Fashion @ Raffles Xchange (from S$129)

Little Qipao  @ Isetan Scott (below S$180)

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Couture by Szan @ Changi Airport T3 basement (below S$200)

Nana @ Arcade (from S$140)


Peter Kor  @ Studio 55 (from S$250) 

Y by Yann @ Isetan Scott (from S$328)

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Hana @ Arcade (from S$1,000)

 

 

 

The cheongsam collection from Blum

When it comes to the cheongsam, Blum is one brand that is closely associated with it. In fact, I have been featuring its collections all these years, and the dresses are among those pictured in my first post on the qipao “I love cheongsams”. 

Most of my earlier cheongsams are from Blum as I was attracted to their elegant designs and prints. But that was the time when there were few cheongsam retailers around, and I did not know about  other brands like Peter Kor or Mama & Misse then. 

In terms of designs and price range, I will say Peter Kor’s collections can be used to measure against those from Blum. They are in the range of S$200+ to almost S$400, though selected Peter Kor cheongsams have been retailed for more. They both have the modern cheongsam designs albeit in their own styles, and interesting prints. However, when it comes to workmanship and fabrics, I have to say Peter Kor has a big edge. Peter is able to source interesting and good quality fabrics, and the workmanship is also better. A reader wrote to me a couple of months back to lash against Blum cheongsam, saying the fabrics were very lousy. So, for this price range, I rather go for Peter Kor’s cheongsams than Blum’s. 

I find this year’s collection from Blum features similar prints and designs as last year’s. And even the range seems a little thin as well. The brand appears to be struggling to launch standout dresses in the face of increased and intense competition. Even the number of stores has reduced; there is only one at Raffles Place now compared to three stores a few years ago. 

Anyway, here is  the collection spotted so far. 


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The cheongsam offerings for spring 2017

I received a mailer from Isetan department store last week on the lunar new year ensemble available at its Scotts outlet, and went over to check it out. Peter Kor of Studio 55 has a permanent counter there and so does Allute. Clothier has returned for this season but not Sissae. Instead there is a new cheongsam brand, Little Qipao, which also offers  little girl qipao as well as Y by Yann.

In general, the designs are in the classic straight cut, A-line or pleated skirt styles. There are mandarin collar jackets available from Clothier as well, but the main attraction is the Cheongsam. For the Peter Kor’s range, the selection doesn’t seem as comprehensive as what is available at his boutique at Queen Street. So if you like his dresses. It’s best to go to the shop instead, which is what I prefer. In fact, Peter revealed to me today that Isetan Scotts store has the smallest range of his designs compared to other department stores.

There are discounts for the dresses, at 15%. And for Isetan members, you also get to chalk up points for vouchers. But, to be honest, I didn’t see anything that caught my attention. The dresses are the usual designs and prints  that pop up all the time. There was nothing interesting or different. Granted Peter Kor’s designs are available but I have already seen them at his boutique.

Anyway, here are the dresses you can check out. (Bear in mind there will be more stocks added, like the Flamenco-inspired dress by Peter Is now available at the store.)

Allure

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Clothier
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Peter Kor

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Little Qipao

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The classic, the modern, the cheongsam 

Last week, I went over to Studio 55 to check out the latest collection from Peter Kor for the Chinese New Year. As befitting the festive occasion, the Cheongsams are in cheery floral and geometric prints. Though the designs are in the classic cut, they have a modern style about them. Best of all, they have hidden back-zips which make them easy to put on. Granted the collars may be a little high for some women, but that is what make the cheongsams look good.

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Check out  the striking juxtaposition of the stripy print with the floral one! It also comes in blue.


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Look at the beautiful faux fabric buttons on the neck and side slit of this red dress! I really like the intricate details that Peter added to his cheongsams.

A dress that is so appropriate for Chinese New Year! The leafy embroidered piping is hand sewn onto the cheongsam.


Same design but with a whimsy patchwork print.

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If you prefer simpler dresses that can be worn to work, here are some options for you.

Check out the nipped-in feature on the left waist! A combination of the classic and modern styles.

When I spotted the dress pictured below, I went “wow”! Peter told me he was inspired by the flamenco dress, and I found out that the most famous of the outfit is the polka dotted traje de lunares. I think this is such an amazing oriental version of the Spanish outfit. FYI, the fabric is from Italy and the quality is exquisite. I was also struck by the beautiful fabric buttons, like flowers. This is an amazing looking dress!

If you are looking for a lace dress, here is one, sort-of. Rather than using the whole lace fabric to make a dress, Peter went for a different tack by adorning the bottom of the cheongsam with red lace and beads. This dress is a standout for any occasions!



For a dress without frills, here is one with an artsy print. However, I feel that the short sleeves make the dress look a little mumsy.

The dresses are priced between S$199 to S$499, depending on designs, and are available at its main boutique at s22 Queen Street as well as at certain department stores such as Isetan Scotts.

 

Ahhh, it’s the CNY Cheongsam again!

Happy New Year, everyone! I admit this time I’m slow in providing updates on the Chinese New Year Cheongsams. There have been a number of collections launched since November, and I’ve not been keeping track as closely as I should. It’s mostly because work had been crazy during the year end period, which was strange since things were supposed to be quieter. I had taken leave during the lasr 2 weeks of the year, but because of work I had to return to office for a couple of days. Of course, Pokemon Go has also caused some distraction, but at least it does help me to get more active.

Anyway, if you are looking for affordable cheongsams at less than $200 for a dress, you can consider these retailers. Let’s take a look at Joli Pretty, which has had three launches for the festive season thus far. There is a mix of dresses, two-piece culotte set, jumpsuit and top. I’m not sure why the cheongsam jumpsuit is popular among women, since I think going to the toilet will be a pain in the ass. (I’m assuming the retailers continue to provide this design because women asked for it.)

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And of course, there is the mama-daughter cheongsam set, which seems to be ubiquitous for many retailers. JP launched quite a number of such sets this year, and  credit to them for being flexible that you can actually purchase the dresses separately. This is great for women who like the designs but having no daughters do dress up. The bad news is all the sets are sold out.

Our Bitsy Prints has not been as prolific though, with one collection launched for year end, titled “Colour Pop”. Consisting mostly of dresses plus a top in pastel and bold colors as well as showcasing OBP’s love for lace.

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The Happy Cheongsam launched The Noir et Blanc collection sometime in mid December; with only 2 dresses and a top.

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This is one of two mama-daughter cheongsam offerings from THC, but the pieces cannot be bought separately. The entire set is S$249.

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If you are one of those who prefer to try out the clothes before purchase, you can check out Miz Apparels which has two stores located at downtown: Marina Bay Link Mall and One Raffles Place.  You also have the choice of buying online.

I must say that MA’s dresses look rather appealing on the mannequins, however, strangely, they don’t look so good once I put them on. Is it me or what? So, I’m a little reserved about getting any this year, though I may consider a cheongsam top instead.


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MA is known for its mama-daughter cheongsam sets, and the little dresses are some of the most adorable and stylish out there. They are also available separately. Even if you are not planning to get any of the dresses for yourself, do check out the little cheongsams if you have girls. For me, I get them for my nieces. 

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To be honest, in terms of designs and prints, MA has a stylish edge over the others. But somehow I find the look gets a little stale after some time. So I’m searching for something classic and yet modern that can withstand the passing of time. 

 

A divine food tour at Ann Siang Hill

Last week, my husband planned a food tour for both of us, when we finally have some time off  for ourselves while Buddy is ensconced in daycare. He picked two restaurants located at Ann Siang Hill, with very good reviews. Well, actually he found about the first one from a FB post by our Prime Minister, who took the visiting President of the Philippines to a famous Nasi Lemak eatery known as The Coconut Club. To be honest, we didn’t know about this restaurant until the post appeared. It is said to serve one of the best Nasi Lemak (“coconut flavored rice” in literal translation) in town, and also one of the most expensive. 

My husband did some research and found out that the popular eatery generates long lines everyday, and informed me that we have to be there when the restaurant opens at 11.00AM so that we won’t have to wait too long. And so we arrived at 10.50AM, hoping to beat the queue. The restaurant was opened by then, there was no line and  only one occupied table inside.

Ann Siang Hill is known for its pre-war conserved shop houses, and The Coconut Club is housed in one of them. Because of the high ceiling, despite the scorching heat outside, the eatery is rather cool even with the door wide open. (Yes it does have A/C, and yet it keeps its doors open.) The restaurant mostly caters to groups of 2 diners, with a long table in the middle for large groups. There is not a lot of seating capacity, though there are a few tables outside the restaurant. 

When we entered the restaurant, we were told we could have a seat and order our drinks, but the kitchen would not be ready until 11.00AM.

The menu is very simple, there is only Nasi Lemak with side orders of either Otak (fish paste marinated with coconut milk and Chili), fried fish or fried egg. Since we were on a food tour, we couldn’t fill out stomach at TCC, so we only ordered one set of Nasi Lemak, an Otak, and a chendol (coconut milk dessert). Yes, death by coconut milk is a real possibility here!

 

Here we have the famous dish, which comes with fried chicken, a fried egg, fried ikan bilis (anchovies), fried peanuts, cucumber and the all-important sambal Chili. However the first thing I tried was the grilled Otak, wrapped in banana leaf. Sure, I love Otak, but my husband was busy digging into the Nasi Lemak, while saying, “while stock last!” and “this is sooo… good!” 

So let me review the Otak first, which is $8.50 per piece and possibly the most expensive Otak in Singapore. I have to say it is really good! I could see the fish meat in it and  taste its texture. It also has no fishy taste, unlike the mass produced ones and is marinated with the right amount of spices and a hint of smokiness. 

As for the main course itself, I have to say it is the best Nasi Lemak I’ve ever had! Yes, it is quite steep at S$12.80 a plate, but it is truly amazing! The rice is perfectly cooked with a subtle coconut milk flavor, unlike most where it can be overpowering. The fried chicken is so yummy, crispy on outside and moist inside,  and the rest of the condiments are done well. My husband loves the sambal Chili which is vital to a good plate of Nasi Lemak. 

Ending the meal is the chendol, which is lightly sweetened with Gula Melaka in very fine ice, and I have to say it is a sweet conclusion. Though I am a little disappointed that there is no red bean added into the dessert. My husband, however, thinks otherwise as this is how the original chendol is. 

So, what do I think? I will definitely come back for the Nasi Lemak, even at $12.80 a plate because it’s truly the best I have ever had! There is one famous local food blogger who is a little dismissive of the food, saying that he couldn’t taste the difference compared to other prominent Nasi Lemak sellers. Well, he is entitled to his views but I strongly beg to differ. In fact, I would have returned to the restaurant if not for it being closed currently for the year end break. But I do think the Otak at $8.50 is a little steep, even though it is pretty good and I might not order the chendol (S$3.80) again.  

As we were savoring our meals, the restaurant was filling up fast. When we left at 11.45AM, it was full and a line was starting to form. My advice is to come here before 11AM if possible. 

Our next stop is located a stone’s throw away at 22 Ann Siang Road, Lolla. I had not heard of this restaurant until my husband told me he had made a reservation for our food tour, but that’s because I have not been following the food scene here. And it is only until now that I am writing this review post and doing a little research on its background that I found out it was featured in the New York Times, and was one of the  top 10 hottest restaurants in the world in the 2013 Zagat list. Since I have tried the food, I can say it deserves the hype!

As mentioned, I went to Lolla without any idea of what to expect though my husband told me the restaurant offers food in tapas style. (I found out from research that that is not how the owner wants the food to be known.) Well, it is only similar to tapas in the sense that the food comes in small plates. The influence comes from the Mediterranean. 

Lolla is a small eatery with a 13-seater bar counter surrounding an open kitchen, similar to a sushi counter restaurant. I understand that there is more seating available in the basement but we did not venture there. We were the first customers that day, and a whimsy menu lies on the counter in front of each seat. (It’s also available on its website.) 

There is a special menu if you want to order something different, and the dessert menu on the chalk board.

The chefs in the kitchen, where you get to view their culinary skills. 

Looks at all these spices and ingredients! Under the counter top, there are a few fridges that are set to different temperatures. I noticed the Chef taking out a potted basil plant from one of them. It’s like having a mini herb garden right in the kitchen!

First to serve is toasted Maison Kayser bread with Konbu butter. Though I am sensitive to wheat, but I decided to have a small piece of bread so that I could try the butter. What can I say? I went for second helping of bread and more. To hell with bloated tummy! 

Like what my husband said, there is something about the combination of konbu (dried edible kelp used by Japanese in their cooking) and butter that makes a divine spread. Creaminess with an umami taste! 

The simple but delectable tomato salad, marinated with olive oil and chopped basil. 

Another starter: the fabulous bread with duck rillettes. On its own, the latter is not something amazing. But when I followed my husband’s lead in spreading the butter with duck rillettes on the bread and topping with tomatoes to make an open face sandwich, it’s drool-inducing good!

We ordered the grilled avocado for more vege. The avocadoes are topped with pine nuts and pickled cabbage with some sort of creamy sauce on the base. The combination is amazing! The pine nuts and cabbage add crunch to the creamy texture of the avocadoes which are enhanced by the sauce.

The piece de resistance of the meal is the lamb rack, which is amazingly tender and tasty, with none of the smell that put some people off lamb. If not for me wanting to have dessert, I would have had both racks. I gave one to my husband who was eyeing it longingly despite having had most of the Nasi Lemak earlier. 

For dessert, I tried the smoky chocolate ice cream. Upon tasting it, I realized that the ice cream was like gelato, not frozen but with a creamy texture. The smoky taste enhances the chocolate flavor like salt does. But I understand the steamed dark chocolate pudding is a hit with many customers; I will try that at my next visit.

I guess it is obvious from my review that I have fallen in love with Lolla food. It is one of the best meals I’ve ever had, and even now I’m still thinking about it! I’ve suggested to my husband for a return, but he feels that there are other good restaurants we have not tried and we should check them out instead of going back to the tried and tested. That is true, considering that we didn’t know Lolla is so good until we had the food. So, do make a trip to Lolla for the fabulous cuisine, and make reservation for lunch, which is easier to get a seat.