Ruten Japan offers free shipping to 13 countries

Sixty million Japanese products. Available in 13 countries outside Japan. Free shipping for orders above U$50. This is a no-brainer. If you’ve missed travelling to Japan, it’s time to head to Ruten Japan.

For the uninitiated, Ruten Japan is a leading online shopping platform in Japan. And the e-commerce site has just opened up to the rest of the world — 13 countries to be precise, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia, and New Zealand.

Ruten Japan carries a massive 60 million products, including most of the popular products that we buy from our Japan sojourns. Royce chocolates, Ishiya Confectionary white chocolate, coffee jelly — you name it and it’s likely to be there.

Better yet, a quick check on Royce’s potato chip chocolate showed a price of US$9.04 (S$12.36). This is an 18 percent savings from buying from Royce’s outlet in Singapore where a similar pack costs S$15.

And if you say “Wait, what about shipping cost?” Every order above US$50 comes with free shipping. Delivery is expected to be about seven working days later.

So, if you’ve been missing Japan and things Japanese dearly, you can do the next best thing — hop on to Ruten Japan and relive your memories.

Huawei MatePad T8: An entry level essential

This week has been filled with all the razzmatazz associated with Apple’s new iPads, which incidentally are really good devices for those who need them.

I own an iPad (the 2012 edition) and all that it has to offer. There hasn’t been a need to upgrade that since as I have other devices to play with (oops, I mean use). And this goes to show how good the iPad is.

When Google launched the Nexus 7, I happened to be in the US so I ordered one — just for kicks. OK, seriously, it was because I wanted to see what Android OS is about.

Since then, it has been many years of tablet silence — that is, until this month.

And no, I did not go for them new iPads. Instead, I was drawn to a new low-cost Huawei tablet. Huawei was busy making announcements on smartwatches, headsets and notebook computers this September. What stood out (for me at least) among all these was the Huawei MatePad T8.

More to the point is that I felt that the S$198 price point makes it worthwhile to satiate my desire to try out Huawei’s ecosystem with Google pulling the plug on the China tech giant.

The 9/9 offer sweetened an already good price as the package comes with a cover and Huawei bluetooth speaker worth a combined value of S$86.

Surprisingly, my order from Lazada Singapore (where Huawei’s official store resides) arrived in two days — even though the expected delivery was a week later. Talk about under promising and over delivering.

Setting up was easy. Everything was in English. And at first glance, it looks just like any Android tablet — the device runs on EMUI 10 which is based on Google’s OS.

After using if for a week, let me share my experience:

  1. AppGallery is limited. While it is said to haveย 96,000 apps, many of those I need were not there. Other than Telegram, there weren’t Facebook, WhatsApp and the entire range of Google apps. Credit must be given to Huawei for recognising this and providing a workaround. Under the built-in Petal Search, I could find most of the apps I wanted — Facebook, Messenger and Netflix. If the app is not there, there are alternatives. For instance, while Google Maps is not available, there’s a Tom Tom GPS app, which is pretty good. Also in AppGallery are many Singapore apps such as banking, food delivery, government, and online shopping.
  2. No home button. The on-off and volume buttons are the only ones available. Huawei has kept design simple without a home button. I’ve learnt to get used to just swiping up, down, left, and right to do what I need to do. It’s not difficult — just a bit of learning and getting used to.
  3. Face and password unlock. Where this device scores is that it comes with a decent face unlock for security. In poor lighting condition, it’s accessible using a six-digit password.
  4. Good battery life. This is a good device to bring around for an entire day. The battery seems to go on forever. OK, that’s just an expression. I got around 12 hours of usage before rejuicing.
  5. Enough grunt. The octacore Mediatek MT8768 is nothing to shout about but delivers enough performance for work and watching video. The 2GB of RAM and 32GB of memory are unlikely to be able to handle graphics intensive games but that’s really because this tablet is not built or priced for gaming. And there’s a card slot for bumping up memory using microSDXC.
  6. Connectivity counts. Surprisingly, the MediaPad T8 comes with LTE connection on top of wi-fi and bluetooth. This matters lots to me because I can pair it with our family’s Xiaomi MiJia Youth Projector to cast movies on our 100-inch screen. The resolution’s not that great but it’s watchable for most.
  7. 3.5mm jack delight. While wireless earbuds are the in-thing, nothing beats having a 3.5mm jack to plug in a wired headset or external speaker.

Overall, I enjoyed using the tablet and experiencing the Huawei ecosystem. On a personal note, I love it that the tablet and cover both come in blue — one of my favourite colours.

While iOS and Android may be more established, Huawei can become a strong competitor with its own HarmonyOS and ecosytem of partners. It is certainly working hard at winning customers outside of China. This message in the photo above probably answers questions on privacy — the security issue that the US has been trying so hard to raise.

At its price point, the Huawei MediaPad T8 is great value for money and can handle essential tasks well. But, if you’re into gaming and doing stuff that demands more performance from your tablet, look elsewhere.

Verdict

Price: ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Performance: ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Overall: ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Do you need a new iPad?

By Edward Lim

Apple unveiled two new iPads early this morning — the 8th generation iPad and 4th generation iPad Air. If that has gotten you excited, it’s understandable because the specifications and features are amazing.

Just take the new iPad Air. It has impressive credentials. A secured touch screen with 10.9-inch liquid retina display. A powerful A14ย Bionic chip that can capture and edit 4K video. An array of colours to choose from. And who could not be attracted to the 2nd generation Apple Pencil?

Of course, it packs much more than these but let’s focus on these for now.

Are these good enough reasons to dunk your current device for this newbie? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting down the new offerings.

I’ve owned the first and third generation iPads and am proud of Apple for their innovations. In fact, it’s because of the reliability of Apple’s products that I’m still using the third generation iPad bought in 2012 today. It does everything I need it for. Whatever it cannot do, I will use my notebook or smartphone.

7 reasons not to get

Here are seven reasons why I won’t be getting a new iPad.

  1. My current device is still working fine. It’s a testament of Apple’s quality.
  2. I can still do what I need with my well-used iPad.
  3. I don’t play games that require graphics grunt.
  4. I don’t need a more powerful device — the old chip is fast enough for what I need to do.
  5. I don’t need an iPad in another colour — I can always buy a cover of any other colour. Admittedly, it’s harder to find these today but not impossible.
  6. The display is good and bright enough for me.
  7. I don’t shoot and edit 4K videos on my iPad.

I can think of many more reasons but these seven are good enough to convince me not to part with my cash to get more dash.

And 7 reasons to lay hold of a new one

To be fair, I will also provide seven reasons why you should consider getting one.

  1. If you’ve not owned an iPad, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s the original tablet and leader of the tablet pack.
  2. If you intend to make the iPad your primary device. Gone are the days when the iPad has to play second fiddle to the notebook computer. I know of people who use just the iPad for work and play.
  3. It can handle tons of stuff. ย The new chip is powerful enough for Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoship CC and even games that require graphics grunt.
  4. The Apple Pencil is a game changer. If you’re the creative sort, it’s all you need to bring around with you on your sojourns.
  5. Weighing just 458 grammes for the wi-fi version, it is light and thin — plus points for bringing around anywhere.
  6. If you’re into shooting 4K video, this is it — you can even edit your videos on this device.
  7. If you’re an Apple ecosystem fan, this is a must-have to complete your collection. Everything works seamlessly across the Apple products.

So, whether to buy or not really depends on your needs. I don’t need a new version at the moment but your needs may differ from mine.

Still one of the best ramens out there โ€“ Ichiran Ramen

Fancy a bowl of piping hot soup filled with delicious ramen noodles, slices of chashu (sliced pork), and lots of chili? (Iโ€™m leaving out the green onions because thatโ€™s just pure decoration to me).

When my family and I first tasted a bowl of this delicious goodness, we were obsessed with it. Out of five nights of our stay in Osaka, Japan back in 2017, we saw ourselves heading back to this Japanese chain thrice. Thatโ€™s two more times from our intended โ€˜one ramen mealโ€™.

With it being so special, I’d always try to visit an outlet if it’s available in the city – and they happen to have it in Taipei City!

Letโ€™s break down the contents of this ramen โ€“

  1. The broth is thick and tastes pure โ€“ there is little residue stuck in your mouth after you slurp it. This pork-based soup has clearly been boiled for an extensive amount of time and leaves close to no aftertaste boiled soup usually has. Unlike other ramen shops, Ichiran allows you to customise how much seasoning stock and how rich youโ€™d like the soup to be. They have their โ€˜suggestedโ€™ serving but give customers the option of making the soup richer and thicker. I love how I had the option to leave out garlic from my broth as well.
  2. The noodles were nice and firm. It canโ€™t be seen in my order sheet above, but I selected โ€˜firmโ€™ under my choice of how cooked I wanted my ramen to be. Just think, al dente pastaโ€™s firmness โ€“ firm, yet still soft to chew, and gives a better bite.
  3. The chili in the broth was what sealed the deal for me. The chili was not overly salty, and it added a great โ€˜kickโ€™ to the broth. It neutralised the slightly salted broth and ensured that there was no โ€˜porkyโ€™ taste. For my order, I asked for 4 times the spice level. You can choose up to 10 times the chili level at no additional cost!
  4. The chashu, in my opinion, was just an additional topping which did not add much value to the meal โ€“ thatโ€™s how great the broth and noodles were for me! The chashu had a slight chew and was well-seasoned. I felt that the slices could have been thicker, but I guess you can just order more chashu if you feel like having more protein in your meal!

All in all, this bowl of ramen cost me around SG$13 and in my opinion, was definitely worth the almost two-hour wait I had on a weekend lunch in Taipei.

Taste: ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Value: ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

The light giant

Look at the massive cake

There are pandan cakes. And great pandan cakes. Like everything else, not all pandan cakes taste alike though the ingredients are similar for most.

As someone who has tried baking pandan in my teens, I know that while the recipe seems simple, getting it right is not so easy. After several attempts, I decided that it’s better to buy than bake — eating a good cake makes the calories more worthwhile.

At a recent celebration, I was intrigued by a huge chiffon cake. One bite and I was sold.

So, I had to find out more about it and order it for my family to try.

Turns out it’s called The Giant Chiffon and home-baked by Mama Soh.

According to the website, they “work with local suppliers to source the freshest and most authentic ingredients, and use old-fashioned techniques to ensure the highest quality. The ingredients we use in all our cakes are 100% natural, with no preservatives, no chemical.”

“Our goal is to make your tastebuds happy and your belly dance,” it read.

I like that. I’m no belly dancer but it

We ordered one only — the cake costs S$35 plus $13 for delivery — but couldn’t wait so went to pick it up ourselves.

Here’s what I like about the cake:

  1. Light and fluffy — Getting the cake baked right takes lots of know-how. If not baked properly, pandan cakes can turn out dense or have the bottom denser than the rest of the cake. This cake is just right.
  2. Pinchable — I love it that the cake can be pinched without being squashed.
  3. Rich taste — My tastebuds were certainly happy.
  4. Lovely smell and colour — What’s a pandan chiffon cake without pandan, right? The smell is just nice, without being too overwhelming. And the colour is the right shade of green — neither too light nor dark.
  5. Lasting — Since it doesn’t use preservatives, the cake is best eaten fast. But with its ginormous size, it does require quite an appetitie even for my family of four plus helper to finish it at one or two gos. Even after a few days in the fridge, it still tasted just as good.

At S$35 per cake, it is pricey compared with others in the market. But with all that goodness and the sheer size, this cake is really worth every cent.

Overall, I give this my double thumbs up (top rating). You can order it from The Giant Chiffon to check this out yourself.