Earlier last week, my mum-in-law was free to look after my little girl, so I was able to take up an offer of lunch and a beauty treatment from TripleOne Somerset.
Though it is located in Orchard Road (more specifically, adjacent to Somerset MRT Station; opposite 313 Somerset), it is a quiet little establishment, a repose from the noise and bustle of Singapore’s famous shopping strip.
Even my journey from the train station to the mall was a mark of this: As I walked towards its entrance, I was quite taken by the shadows of the leaves and branches of the trees that lined the pavement, the balmy breeze creating a genteel dappled dance. :)
First stop was Daruma Ramen House. Hailing from Hong Kong, this eatery has been voted one of the top 5 ramen places in Hong Kong Tatler. Its name is derived from Japanese daruma dolls (a symbol of good luck in Japan) and the restaurant has images of the dolls dotted around its premises.
Despite having heard that the R8 Ramen Bowl (Japanese braised pork belly, barbequed pork & mentaiko in tonkotsu broth), is the star dish of the place – they only serve a limited number of bowls of R8 each day – I ordered the R6 Ramen Bowl which has the same ingredients, except that the soup has added spiciness. Both are priced at S$15.90.
The noodles are springy and have a nice bite to them, though they aren’t particularly extraordinary. I like the chilli thread and black fungus, though – they not only enliven the dish with their colours but also add texture to it.
The broth isn’t as spicy as I’d expected and has a tangy accent, reminiscent of certain Chinese soups. It isn’t as full-bodied as my favourite spicy ramen from Tampopo but seems like a good alternative for people who want something lighter and healthier. The savoury mentaiko does intensify the flavour and is thoughtfully served separately, so as not to dominate at first taste.
And just for that beauty angle, the soup is rich in collagen and does not contain MSG (the bones are boiled for a good 10 hours). ;)
The eatery offers petite pots of a chilli paste (only with spicy ramen orders) and a garlic paste for customised seasoning. Both are light condiments, so as not to obfuscate the flavour of the broth. Indeed, they lift the soup without overpowering its taste.
The 2 types of pork slices – something I always avoid in ramen (I know; I’m not a true ramen aficionado!) – were deliciously succulent; sweet and chewy. I’ll admit I wasn’t looking forward to the pork slices because of my bias but I was very happy in the end. I reckon it’s because their porky fat taste is well-balanced, unlike those in other ramens I’ve tried, which can be a little strong.
The side dish of Corn Croquette (S$4.90) was melt-in-my-mouth delicious – a happy surprise and something I’d definitely go back to the establishment for. The potato doesn’t have a powdery taste; instead, it’s creamy and sweet, with the corn offering a gentle crunch.
An extra topping for the noodles is the Marinated Bamboo Shoot (S$1.50) which doesn’t have that jarring ammonium tang of the same item served at some ramen joints (Tampopo included). I’m guessing it’s their soy + sesame oil seasoning that removes that edge.
I rounded off the meal with a refreshing grapefruit soda, quite an unusual beverage at a ramen establishment. All in all, it was a nice lunch. The R8 is still on my mind, so I might just make a return trip for that!
It’s been ages since I’ve gone for a manicure, so it was with much happy anticipation that I next made my way to The Nail Spa & Wellness to get my nails dressed. As much as I enjoy looking at my friends’ gel nail designs, I’ve never done it myself so this was my treatment of choice. I’d also requested for a pedicure, as I wanted to take full advantage of my rare mummy’s day out!
The establishment was impressive at first sight, the expansive interior clean and well-lit. They did the Classic Pedicure (S$35) on me first and I liked how clean and almost-sparkling the foot bath was. The service was completed quite quickly but it wasn’t brusque. On the contrary, my feet and nails were meticulously cleaned and firmly massaged with straightforward efficiency. It would’ve been nice if the experience had been a little more pampering but I suppose there’s always the option of the Spa Pedicure (S$40).
No one wants to look at unsightly toes, so no photos here but there’s a pic of the finished pedi later in this post! ;)
The walls of nail lacquer and nail art are quite a visual treat; it is highly unlikely that you cannot find a suitable nail shade here!
They offer some good brands including Gelish, OPI, Deborah Lippmann and Chanel. Do note that there are additional charges for the last two brands which are considered premium here: S$3/mani or pedi or S$5 for tips and toes.
Nevertheless, I usually bring my own polish and it was Chanel Le Vernis in Azure for my toes that afternoon!
Unlike the pedi, the Gel Manicure (S$68/set) took a while, thanks to the nature of the treatment. Given the plethora of creations to choose from, deciding on a design was quite a task but I eventually settled on iridescent tips with soft blue/green/purple flakes.
After the manicurist had performed the usual steps of a mani (cutting, filing/shaping, cleaning) minus the massage, I was moved to the mani table area for stability of application. Unlike the pedi, the mani had a few hiccups:
Firstly, my feet were left hanging in the air to dry as I moved from the pedi sofa to the mani area. Although she replaced my chair with a lower one, I was still uncomfortable with my bare feet barely grazing the floor and had to prop them against the base of the seat. It was rather disconcerting and a stool would’ve helped.
Secondly, the colour that the manicurist had chosen for me was completely different from what I’d picked (a teal with silver gradient vs my holo flakes). Her rationale was that the sample design had faded and that what she had picked would give me a similar effect. I’m not thoroughly convinced but the final result does look pretty, albeit a touch too flashy for my taste.
The process was fascinating to me. As I’d requested for flakes, it turned out that only acrylic had such pieces, so I ended up with an acrylic + gel combination. First, she mixed a transforming liquid with glitter and powders with a nail brush tip. Once they liquefied into little dollops, she would lift them up gingerly and spread the colours carefully onto the nail. The process was repeated until all 10 digits were completed.
I was a little apprehensive at how blockish the design looked at first but she addressed my concern by filing down the initial application to allow a finer gel powder for a more gradated look. I appreciated how deftly she accomplished this and marvelled at the smoothness of the nail surface as she prepped my nails for the new product.
The process was finished with a gel topcoat that had to be cured under a UV lamp (I couldn’t help but wonder if I should’ve prepared sunscreen!). She applied a few coats, no doubt in consideration of the fact that I had to protect my nails from chore infliction. ;) To end the session, she gave me a hand massage. For gel nails, this is only offered after the painting is complete, unlike a regular manicure where this step occurs before polishing of the nails.
Though the coats looked a tad too thick at first, they are starting to look less so, thanks to the passing of time and new nail growth. I was told that gel nails typically last for two weeks; sometimes longer, for designs like mine with a clear base + coloured tips. I was given very good advice by the proprietor, who advised me on my various options post-gel treatment, including how to extend their wear.
Despite their mega-blingtastic appearance, I love how shiny my nails look in the sun. The gel topcoat keeps amazingly well and my nails look fresh one week on, even as I’m typing this.
The prices seem fair for an Orchard Road establishment. I like the generous space and the efficient service too, so this is likely a place I’ll return to of my own accord. I’ll be popping by again to do a soak-off (the professional removal of the acrylic + gel) and hope to write briefly about the process.
Don’t forget to check out The Secret Garden offers at TripleOne Somerset that are valid till 6 October 2013. Among them is a 1-for-1 Spa Pedicure promotion from this nail establishment. :)
I know this has been a lengthy post, so thank you, if you’ve read it all the way through. Onward and forward to a new week! ♥