• no. 197 chiswick fire station

    This newly opened hangout in my neck of the woods of West London is what you might call “instagram/pinterest heaven”. You’ll see what I’m talking about as you scroll down – I mean, those copper cups, the lights, the white booths and succulents… I’m in love with it all.

    E and I took advantage of the 50% off soft launch last weekend, and went for a lovely casual brunch on a Saturday. It was already a treat as our work schedules don’t often allow us to have brunch/lunch together on the weekends, but to find ourselves in this place where we instantly felt at home was a bonus!

    No. 197 Chiswick Fire Station is a renovated fire station (hence the name) that is now an independent restaurant, café and bar. 

    / May 9, 2016
  • the happy list :: april 2016

    Read: The Innocents by Francesca Segal. Not a bad read – actually, I quite enjoyed it, though I’m now sinking my teeth into something meatier.

    Watched: Lots of movies on the long haul flights to and from Vietnam! Room, The Suffragettes, Creed, Far from the Madding Crowd, just to name a few. The Suffragettes was my favourite (Carey Mulligan’s number one fan forever).

    Ate: The summer rolls on Phu Quoc Island. The setting didn’t hurt either. Take me back!

    Discovered: This isn’t actually a discovery from the past month – probably a few months ago – but I found a local salon that does good eyebrow threading for £4 a pop, and I’ve been back every few weeks since. I never understood the fuss until now, and I’m completely converted.

    / May 6, 2016
  • eatabout – personal & private dining

    Do you think private dining with your very own chef is only for the rich and famous? Think again. It’s just as readily available for us mere mortals, thanks to Eatabout. I’m truly excited to introduce you to their concept of “eating beyond the restaurant” – and this buzzing startup could not be run by nicer people, which makes it all the more special.

    Their idea is very simple. For so many of us, our favourite memories of eating and dining are entirely due to the company we spend time with. Even better, when gathering in a space that is your own and no one else’s, being able to play the music you like, eat at your own pace, and simply being in the comfort of a home, rather than a restaurant with strangers.

    Now, if you combine that with a highly skilled and friendly chef to do all the hard work for you, does that not sound like heaven?

    / May 4, 2016
  • sunday coffee date :: five.

    I’m sorry to be a cliché, but how on earth is it May already?! 

    I hope you are all making the most out of the long weekend (if you’re in the UK!) – my work isn’t particularly affected by it, and I still have a lot to get through, but the sun is shining and people seem to be in a better mood around the city, which I certainly enjoy! Work itself is something I’m particularly loving lately, and it’s keeping me on my toes. 

    A mini fitness update: I had a couple of introductory personal trainer sessions at the gym recently, and I finally understand their value. E and I both trained with the same lovely lady who really knows her stuff, and is gentle yet knows how to push you just the right amount, and it was intense – I’ve been working out regularly for over 2 years now, and the two sessions I had on upper and lower body completely floored me!

    / May 1, 2016
  • vietnam, cai be :: river cruise on the mekong delta

    The day after we returned from the beautiful Phu Quoc Island, we were off on another exciting adventure – swapping the ocean for the river, we set off nice and early for our Mekong Delta tour in Cai Be.

    We did try to do some research to find a good river tour, but we should have gone straight to BB – of course, she knew exactly the kind we wanted, and recommended one to us that the family had been on before and loved. This particular one is organised by Victoria Hotels, and they can cater for all kinds of groups or private tours. We chose one that was a little pricier than some others we’d come across (it was about 70 USD each), but it was definitely worth it for our amazing guide, the luxury of having a private boat, the great driver who took us to Cai Be, the delicious lunch that was included, and all the other highlights of the trip. 

    / April 27, 2016
  • vietnam, phu quoc island :: bamboo cottages

    I’m going a little off the chronological course here (we went on an exciting tour the night before we left for the island, which I’ll write about later on), but I thought I’d take you on a little beach break as a breather from the Saigon hustle and bustle. Plus, I’m going to introduce you the cutest puppies I have ever laid eyes on, and if that doesn’t perk you up mid-week, I don’t know what will!

    When we were planning our trip, we knew that we wanted to go somewhere by the beach for a couple of days to relax and basically do nothing. After much research, we decided on Phu Quoc Island, which is about a 45 minute flight away from Saigon (the flights are also very cheap), and we found a little gem of a hotel – Bamboo Cottages. Not only did it sound like exactly the kind of hotel we love (family run, non-corporate, small, boutique), it also fit in perfectly with my Year of Mindful Living. Bamboo Cottages is 100% solar powered, an independent business run by an American/Vietnamese family, and through being completely “off the grid”, they minimise costs to help donate some of their proceeds to educational scholarships for local children. I fell in love with their ethos (and the beautiful pictures of their private beach didn’t hurt either!), and we headed there for 2 nights of blissful peace, fresh air and the salty sea.

    / April 20, 2016
  • vietnam, saigon :: cholon, bánh xèo & war remnants museum

    The next day in Saigon, we got up nice and early to go for a quick swim. After all, we needed to work up an appetite for a big day of eating! Also, it was just the nicest thing to wake up to bright sunshine, and take advantage of the already rising temperatures at 7:30am.

    The city is already bustling from the early hours of the morning, so by the time we left the house to head to Cholon (Chinatown) around 9am, the streets were already packed with people. BB took us to a few different pagodas in Cholon, where locals were tending to the temples and paying their respects, snacking and doing some maintenance work. The distinct scent of incense reminded me of my grandmother’s house, and I found it fascinating how different the temples are to those I’m familiar with in Japan. They’re colourful, kitsch, and each one varied from the next. 

    / April 18, 2016
  • vietnam, saigon :: scooters, sights and streetfood

    I can’t even tell you how excited I am to be sharing the highlights of our recent trip to Vietnam. For me, these memories will only live on with more colour and vivacity through documenting the snapshots on this blog, so I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

    Firstly, our holiday was made infinitely better, more comfortable, more fun and memorable by the fact that we spent time with my sister-in-law (who I’ll refer to as BB) and her family. We stayed in their beautiful (BB is an interior/decor/furniture designer, so when I say beautiful, I mean it) house, and BB was such a fantastic guide – we only had to utter a request of something we wanted to see or do, and she would know exactly where to take us. We know that without their help, it would have been a lot more tiring and challenging to navigate our way through the city, so we are forever grateful! Most importantly, it was incredibly special to be able to spend time with the whole family, because as you can imagine, reunions don’t happen all that often.

    / April 13, 2016
  • sambal shiok

    It’s actually been a few months since I ate all of this delicious food you’ll see below (so jealous of past me), I waited to write about it for a reason. 

    I went to Sambal Shiok‘s previous pop up in Salvation in Noodles (which I also love) when it was just about to finish, so I didn’t want to tease you with it until I knew where their next residency was! And now I’m ready, because their new pop up in The Sun & 13 Cantons is up and running – it’s in the centre of town, takes bookings, and will serve the dishes I’m showing you here and more. 

    / April 11, 2016
  • the happy list :: march 2016

    Read: I actually didn’t finish a book this month… a bit of a fail. However, by the time this post goes up, I’m pretty sure I will have from the long travels I will have just done! Hopefully I’ll have a couple to review for next month.

    Watched: The Night Manager. An excellent mini series that everyone has been talking about – some of the episodes have already disappeared from iPlayer, but I think they’re out on DVD. Loved it.

    Ate: I’ve been eating far more than my blog would suggest this past month, and some of the best are yet to be featured, but this decadent French meal was one of the highlights.

    / April 4, 2016