Monday, October 22, 2012


Sorry for not posting for awhile. The past 2 weeks have been like a mad rush - getting to know a new city while being overwhelmed by the many fascinating discoveries, amazing sights, and interesting information I’ve been gathering around me.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the coming winter season and high-quality bath and skin care products have constantly been on my mind. Most women at this time of year focus solely on thick creams and rich lotions for moisturizing dry skin. But good-quality, moisturizing soaps can also make a huge difference by starting your day with silky, soft skin the moment you step out of the shower.

Over the years, I’ve tried many bath soaps and bath gels, but somehow nothing has compared to the luxurious feeling of showering with natural handmade soaps. If you can get your hands on trying a good natural handmade soap, it can be really beneficial for your skin. So you can imagine how happy I was to chance upon KASANRIN Natural Handmade Soaps at Friendship Shopping Mall here in Dalian.

Just some of KASANRIN's natural handmade soaps
at Friendship Shopping Mall, Dalian
KASANRIN soaps are all handmade, and of 100% pure natural ingredients (plants, herbs, flowers and fruits) and effective essential oil formulations. No chemical and synthetic ingredients are found in any of their products. Aside from natural handmade soaps, KASANRIN also sells other personal care products such as body care and skincare products.

Top to bottom: Almond Honey Soap 100g. (US$9.50) and
Classic Supreme Rose Soap 100g. (US$15.50)
Two of their most popular soaps are the Classic Supreme Rose Soap (formulated with deeply hydrating and soothing properties of rose essential oil-one of the most expensive in the world) and the Almond Honey Soap (made with sweet almond oil, honey, bee pulp and natural honeycomb) for deep nourishment and anti-bacterial effects on the skin. Both are great for dry, cold weather. I must admit the prices of the soaps are quite steep with the Classic Rose Soap at 98RMB (US$15.50) for 100grams and the Almond Honey Soap at 60RMB ($9.50) for 100grams. But I can assure you that after trying the Rose Soap, it is well worth it just to lather your skin everyday in its moisturizing, soapy bliss.  

The Classic Supreme Rose Soap
as seen on
So far, KASANRIN soaps are listed as available in certain department stores in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Dalian, Shenzhen, Zhengzhou and Nanjing.

If you are living in any other city in China, you can still purchase the soaps online through at discounted prices: Kasanrin in Taobao

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I had not an inkling of an idea of what Northeastern Chinese cuisine would be like until moving up north. But as it turns out, the food (just like in southern China) is right up my alley…which brings me to my favorite restaurant of the moment at the Hilton Dalian: Dongbei Street (Northeastern street).

The dumpling station
Dongbei Street's dumpling station dining area 

Dongbei Street captures you from the moment you enter the place because of its unique design. The restaurant was inspired by the ancient markets and streets of China where the people would gather in outdoor tables and chairs as they dined on freshly cooked fare. This is evident in the restaurant’s wide open corridors and market-style display of food.

The hotpot station
Wide corridors resembling that of a street in ancient China

Described as an “interactive” restaurant, Dongbei draws you in at first glance with their skilled chefs preparing food in a live kitchen setting. My favorite part is that there is not "one entire menu". Customers are encouraged to pick out and shop for their food. Once you choose from the fresh or frozen fish, array of raw vegetables, various meats, dumplings and fresh & dried noodles available, you can then select whether you want it steamed, boiled in a clay pot, or grilled to perfection. There are also a wide range of sauces (sweet, spicy, salty) to choose from. I decided to have some freshly made noodles with fresh dumplings in a hot soup with some spicy sauce, one of my favorite meals to have in China. It was delicious!

My hearty noodle soup with freshly made dumplings
The noodle station with freshly made and dried noodles
A selection of fish and meats
Raw vegetables to choose from
So what exactly is Northeastern cuisine? Much of the food in this region is based on hearty fare (always a plus!) due to especially cold and harsh winters. Pickled cabbage (suan cai) is very popular and traditionally made by most households. Other common dishes are wheat noodles, steamed buns, pork & chive dumplings, “suan cai” hot pot, cumin lamb skewers and congee. Raw vegetables and raw seafood are also enjoyed in the coastal areas. Here in Liaoning province, the cuisine is described as colorful and strong-tasting with many flavors (especially sweet and salty).

2/F, Hilton Dalian
1 Gangpu Rd. Zhongshan District
Dalian, Liaoning 116001 CHINA
Tel: (86) 411 86770000

Monday, October 1, 2012


Last week, on the way to Dalian and on a quick stopover in Shanghai, I spotted yet another article in a Shanghai magazine about the high-end European cashmere maker, Philippe Le Bac, offering great selections of stylish and luxurious 100 % cashmere clothing ranging from sweaters, cardigans, blouses and scarves both for men and women at crazy wholesale prices. My eyes widened with shock and disbelief. Something like this is almost too good to be true. 

Philippe Le Bac store at Taicang Lu, Shanghai
But after reading numerous comments on the Internet the past months from consumers and extremely satisfied returning clients all around China about the fantastic and affordable cashmere being sold at the six different branches all around Shanghai, I couldn’t resist anymore and hightailed myself all the way to the nearest store. As soon as I stepped in the beautiful boutique in Taicang Lu, I knew I landed in cashmere heaven and I never wanted to leave. 

All the cashmere at the store are sold and calculated by weight at 2.5RMB/gram (US$0.4/gram). Cashmere hats start at 100RMB (US$16), 100 % cashmere scarves range from 250-400RMB (US$40-64), 100% cashmere shawls range from 460-700RMB (US$73-110) and 100% cashmere medium-sized sweaters for ladies are 457RMB (US$73). When a 100% cashmere sweater elsewhere in the world normally retails at US$250 and up, this was an unbeatable bargain for fine quality cashmere. With the amazing range of colors and styles, I went dizzy trying to choose inside the beautiful and chic boutique. Eventually I settled on a baby blue sweater and light green scarf. 

But the question still remains…how on earth does a company like this sell cashmere at these prices? The answer is in their production scale. Since 1932, the company has been manufacturing sweaters for top luxury brands and private labels leading to a huge and vast production scale. Because of their enormous production, the French company Philippe Le Bac can sell clothes to regular customers at wholesale prices in Shanghai where the clothes and designs are manufactured.

My purchases: 100% Cashmere baby blue sweater (US$73)
and 100% Cashmere light green scarf (US$40)
So if you find yourself in Shanghai one day looking for great quality cashmere without draining your wallet, don’t miss this great opportunity.  

Cashmere & Co. 
(all located in Shanghai)

893 Nanjing Xi Lu (near Tai Xin Lu) Tel: (86) 21-52049699
3719 Hongmei Lu (near Yan An Xi Lu) Tel: (86) 21-54177018
319 Huashan Lu (near Jing An Hilton Hotel) Tel: (86) 21-32201608
264 Taicang Lu (near Tian Zi Fang) Tel: (86) 21-62223333
273 Huangpi Bei Lu (near JW Marriott Hotel) Tel: (86) 21-53019279
741 Fuzhou Lu (near Raffles City Shopping Center) Tel: (86) 21-63510108