Review: Shiseido Super Mild Shampoo

I’m not a girly-girl by all means, but I have to rave about the new shampoo I got last week.  Tonight was my second time using it (shows you how often I wash my hair) and I still love it.  I used to use a Burt’s Bees brand shampoo, which was fine when I had short hair, but is too drying now that my hair is longer.  It also doesn’t lather that well, so it’s hard to work into my scalp because I have super thick hair.  Long story short, Burt’s Bees shampoo just wasn’t working and I was glad to buy new shampoo after that bottle ran out.

Best Shampoo EVAR

Last week, I had a brilliant idea: why not try Japanese shampoo? I have stick-straight, thick, dark hair — who knows better about that type of hair than the Japanese, right?  So off I went to Mitsuwa to buy some shampoo.  I remembered a lot of women in Asia rave about the Super Mild line shampoo from Shiseido, so I bought a bottle to try.

It’s a little expensive at $12 a bottle, but it also comes in $7 refill packs which you can use to refill your current bottle.  I bought the ‘green’ sporty scent, which I believe is a little more sporty.  It was the only scent of the regular Super Mild bottle.  It’s hard to describe the scent, but it’s definitely not flowery or girly.  It kind of reminds me of the shampoo my stylist uses, although I dunno which one that is.

The shampoo comes in a pump bottle and usually a pump and half is all I need for my thick shoulder-length hair. It lathers great and washes off without too much noticeable residue.  My favorite part is it makes my hair really soft, which Burt’s Bees never did.  Even though I don’t believe in using conditioner (it’s just a marketing scam!), if I did use conditioner, I definitely wouldn’t need to with this shampoo because it leaves my hair feeling so smooth and luxurious by itself.  There is a matching conditioner with this shampoo, but I didn’t buy it.

There’s also an orange-bottled version of this shampoo, which I think has soybean oil in it. Supposedly that makes your hair even softer.  It’s a couple bucks more, but I guess if I had incredibly damaged hair, it’s nice to have something more conditioning.

Allston Yacht Club

Allston Yacht ClubAllston Yacht Club is one of those hidden restaurants right in my own back yard that I never would have noticed if someone hadn’t pointed it out to me. This someone happened to be an email inviting me to join them on a Thursday night for a tasting menu, drinks and all. Always one to try out a new neighborhood joint, I agreed to go. The free meal helped too.

No, the restaurant isn’t in the marina. It’s tucked away north of Sunset on Echo Park Ave. The owners, Bill and Charlie facetiously named it after a fancy-pants neighborhood in Boston.  Don’t worry, it’s supposed to be ironic. The self-proclaimed hook at Allston Yacht Club is that the dishes are so fairly priced for the economic climate that one could even afford a glass of wine with the meal. Most of the small plates are $9 and under. They also claim they’re unique because they’re a casual place to sit down and grab a drink, but in LA, that type of restaurant is a dime a dozen.

I started off with a cocktail AYC was testing that night. Watermelon, strawberry, ginger ale, and booze makes for a refreshing summer beverage. The drink was so good, I could even drink it without the alcohol.

Allston Yacht ClubOne of the first things to appear on the table was a plate of peanuts and small dried fish. They were salty and had a nice kick to them thanks to the slices of green chili pepper mixed in. One of the owners said it was Thai inspired, which I could see, but as the boyfriend pointed out, it needed something else: kaffir lime leaves. The fragrant leaves would give this tasty beer snack more Thai flavor.

While I was munching on the snacks, Bill stopped by to chat. He talked about how he and his partner Charlie came up with the menu. It contains mostly dishes that they like to eat themselves, which explains why none of the dishes really seem cohesive with each other. It makes AYC a place to stop by for a drink and a few bites to eat, not an entire sit-down dinner.

Allston Yacht Club
One of my favorite dishes of the night was the brandade with roasted tomato. It’s a whipped mixture of pureed potato, salt cod, tomato, cream, and olive oil, put in a bowl, and passed under the broiler. When spread over a crispy crostini, it’s creamy, melt-in-your-mouth lusciousness.

Allston Yacht Club
Next came a sample of three appetizers: shishito peppers, frico, and arancini. The shishito peppers were cooked well and extremely salty, which make them fitting to snack on while drinking a nice cold beer.

The frico, essentially melted and baked parmesan cheese, was tasty, but lacked in presentation. I joked that the frico would be more aesthetic if it were made into a more lace-like pattern and placed sticking up through the arancini.

The arancini, battered and fried risotto balls, were decent but not spectacular. Deep frying anything makes it taste good. What caught my attention was the tomatillo salsa served under the balls. It was a unique but balanced touch because the acidity of the salsa cut down on the rich oiliness of the balls.

Allston Yacht Club
I also sampled the fennel, orange and greens salad, which tasted much like what one would expect. There’s no going wrong with pairing fennel and the sweet acidity of orange. The two make such a strong burst of flavor that the restaurant could even get away with serving a more bitter variety of greens instead of just plain arugula. Don’t get me wrong, the greens this salad was served with were fine, but it could be “kicked up a notch” with a bit of frisée or baby mustard greens.

Allston Yacht Club
The next trio that was brought out was three samples from the main plates. The cedar plank salmon had a decent charred flavor, but was a tad too overdone for my liking. This could be attributed to the sample plate being a smaller portion than usual, thus skewing the cooking time. I’m not a huge fan of the cooked pink-fleshed fish, but I could see people enjoying this. The dish was uninspired, but the restaurant doesn’t claim to break any molds.

The roasted brussel sprouts were a miss for me. They were cooked to the proper done-ness, which was a relief because no one likes undercooked brussel sprouts. What wasn’t good was the flavoring. The menu claimed a balsamic reduction, but as the boyfriend pointed out, it tasted more like sherry wine vinegar. The acidity was too much for this dish and drowned out any sweetness from caramelization. I do have to give AYC props for offering the option of having this with or without bacon, which should please vegetarians.

Barbecue duck confit with beans isn’t a combination I’ve thought of before, but AYC has made me a fan. The duck was flavorful and tender without being too fatty. The barbecue flavor was brought out further by the sweetness of the beans. This is one dish I’d have no qualms recommending to friends. I would be happy with just a big plate of this and a cold beer.

It’s worth noting that AYC has a small but decent wine list which focuses mainly on old world wines. This may seem contrary to its more modern food menu, but the red wine the boyfriend ordered went quite well with what he had.

Speaking of what he had, it was nice of the restaurant to accommodate a vegan diet. While there was some confusion at first about whether or not the dishes could have dairy, it all worked out okay at the end. As the menu is right now, I wouldn’t recommend it to vegetarians with large appetites, but I hope the restaurant adds a couple more filling items for the herbivores among us. It only makes sense considering the restaurant’s location.

I went into Allston Yacht Club with no expectations — a good way to avoid disappoitnment. The sampling of dishes I had was decent, but not amazing. The restaurant is a good choice to have in the neighborhood, but I wouldn’t call it a destination location.

This is supposed to be a restaurant review, but I have to voice my opinion about something related to the restaurant. I appreciated that AYC’s PR contact met us at the door and explained the concept of the restaurant and introduced us to the owners. I appreciated that the owners came by to sit down and chat and I was intrigued with their back-story.

What I didn’t like was being told before each dish came out how amazing it was and how amazing everything that came out of the kitchen was. It sets up high expectations, some of which certainly were not met. While I know it’s up to PR to sell the restaurant, please PR minions, keep your food opinions to yourselves and let the bloggers eat in peace.

Allston Yacht Club
1320 Echo Park Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 481-0454

Let the Right One In (novel)

I started reading Let the Right One In because I was curious about the parts of the story that were left out of the movie. There were issues which were only hinted at in the movie and I wondered if they were more spelled out in the book. They were.

It’s difficult to describe this book. It’s easy to say it’s a vampire book, but the vampire mythos is only part of the story. Isolation and helplessness are main the themes in the story; the author uses the vampire as a way to show a different form of isolation.

In the beginning, the book is hard to follow. Sections jump from one character to another and there isn’t always one consistent, omniscient narrator. As I read more and more of the story and the characters started to develop, it was easier to follow the jump from one character to another. Think of it as looking into a cross-section of a dollhouse; each room has something going on in it distinct from the next room, but they all tie in together in one house. That’s how each character’s story interacts with the others.

One of the quotations in the back of the book has someone calling Let the Right One In a horror story. It might be because I watched the movie first and knew the general plot, but I didn’t read it as a horror story at all. Yes, there is violence, and yes, there were parts that were uncomfortable to read, but I wasn’t ever terrified while I was reading it.

I can see people not liking this book. There are subjects people would rather not think or read about, and the characters all have some negative aspects or depravities to them. It’s hard to relate to any of them but at the same time, I wonder if it’s because we’re scared to relate to any of them.

I don’t really want to spoil the book or the movie for anyone reading this. Let the Right One In was one of my favorite movies this year and the book is also one of my favorites, but I can see it not being for everyone. If you’re in the mood for a different type of vampire book, it’s a good choice. I described the movie as a “coming of age vampire story,” but for some reason, that doesn’t really fit the book. Usually I’m disappointed by movie adaptations of books, but after reading the book, the movie actually followed the story very well, or at least as best it could. The main thing is that the movie had the same mood the book did, if that makes sense.