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Culture, Lifestyle and Attractions

+ Tokyo, Epicurean Star + Bangkok, Luxe & Posh + NZ Wine Paradise +Culinary Yogyakarta

+ Urban East + Magical Nirvana + Fresh Kinilaw + Style 240

Vol 07 - Issue 07

Vol 07 - Issue 07 www.unearthingasia.com IDR 50,000 SGD 7.50 RM 14 HKD 45 THB 185 AUD 6.50


contents

On the cover – Simply delicious treats of buck-wheat noodles © Visit Japan Center of Tourism

46 THE GUIDE SIMPLY FOOD! 46 » Epicurean Star Gourmet Capital of Tokyo 60 » Luxe Bangkok Fine Dining in the Capital 74 » Wine Paradise New Zealand’s Charms FOOD FOCUS 110 » Raw Fish Transformed Fresh Kinilaw

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60 74 www.unearthingasia.com


contents

90 14-29 BUZZWORTHY! Alila Sothea, Absolut Art, Pullman Bali, Andrea Bocelli, and more! 30-33 SPOTLIGHT Stylish 240, Cambodia, Culinary Yogyakarta

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90-107 STYLE GUIDE Urban East, Magical Nirvana

118 www.unearthingasia.com

116 TRAVEL PERSONALITY


EDITOR’S notes

We must eat to live and live to eat – Henry Fielding

Just as the old saying goes “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, what better ways to capture the hearts of our readers than to evoke their instincts and entice them with food? Bringing you right into the heart of culinary indulgence, we had a chat with five Michelin starred chefs from the land of delicacies, Japan. Find out more about Japanese cuisine through the eyes of these experts as they share about industry trends and how the past Fukushima earthquake has affected the gourmet industry since.

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We follow that up with an overview of Bangkok’s luxurious restaurants and bars on page 60. We also dip our toes into the New World charms of New Zealand’s South Island and highlights for you the various wine and gourmet areas to explore. For fish-lovers, join us on page 110 as we bring to light, a kaleidoscopic world of raw fish in the Philippines. Yes, raw, succulent fish that conjures exotic and tantalising items on the menu. Not quite the typical sashimi we find in restaurants, but nonetheless, just as heavenly.

If you have not yet know already, one of UA’s mantra is to constantly evolve to keep up with the ever-changing trend. To make things more convenient for our readers, we have added maps onto our Spotlight segment, so finding places which we gave our thumbs-up becomes a breeze! ‘Nuff said. Let’s get going!

Nikolas Tjhin Managing Editor

© Visit Japan Tourism Board

www.unearthingasia.com


La Kana / Susan Spa


BEHIND THE SCENES

Commissioners Husein VP Consultant Kicky Alexander Achmad Sobari Editor in Chief Nikolas Tjhin Editors Michelle Lee Carrie Kellenberger Marketing Nadia Veronika Alexander Alvin

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contributors

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06

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01 Carrie Kellenberger Canadian expat Carrie Kellenberger has lived in Asia since 2003. A nomad at heart, Carrie’s deep love for travel, cultures, and photography have led her on frequent travels over the past eight years. She works as a full-time professional writer and editor in Taipei, Taiwan. View her professional portfolio at www.carriekellenberger.com

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02 Nellie Huang Nellie Huang is a freelance travel writer and blogger specializing in offbeat, adventure travel, covering interesting destinations that are off the tourist radar. She is a regular contributor to Singapore’s leading newspapers, Today, as well as CNN Go, Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, Jetstar in-flight magazine and several US and UK publications. She particularly enjoys spending long periods of time slowly uncovering a country and discovering it bit by bit

03 Dr Leping Zha Dr Leping Zha is a passionate photographer with a particular interest on his childhood playground, Huangshan in China. Take a look at his wonderful photographs in our interview with him and also on his personal website at www.lepingzha.com.

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04 Scott Sporleder Since graduating from San Diego State University four years ago, Scott sets aside three months each year to travel and photograph the world’s unique cultures. Scott sells his art and photography at the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach, California each year. Visit his personal photography web site at www.scottsporleder.com to view more of his stunning images from around the world.

05 Megan Eaves Megan Eaves is an avid traveler, writer, musician, explorer, teacher and free spirit. Her extensive background and travel experience over the years led her to begin writing and publishing freelance travel articles, many of them about China. Her first fulllength work, This Is China: A Guidebook for Teachers, Backpackers and Other Lunatics, is available now at www.meganeaveswriting.com.

06 Debbie Reyes-Coloma Singapore-based Debbie Reyes-Coloma is a freelance feature and lifestyle writer for various publications in the region. In this issue, she uncovers her personal paradise in two of New Zealand’s many attractions.

07 Marie Teather Marie Teather is a freelance journalist and editor who has worked on travel and lifestyle publications in London and Tokyo. When not trying to hit deadlines Marie became something of an expert on Japanese food through nights spent in hundreds of izakayas, bars, and restaurants as well as traveling throughout Japan’s islands. Marie has spent considerable time traveling throughout Asia and beyond. Feeding into this love of travel and international living, she specializes in travel, food, women’s travel, culture, and international and local city news.

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© Alila Sothea

buzzworthy!

what’s HAPPENING AROUND THE REGION

RESORT ALILA SOTHEA Luxury boutique resort Alila Sothea has relaunched as the latest addition to Alila’s lifestyle collection. Located in Siem Reap, the stylish resort marks Alila’s entry into Cambodia. Alila Sothea lies nestled in the heart of Siem Reap, the seat of Khmer culture, famed for its UNESCO World Heritage Angkor Temples. Its beautiful landscaping, comprised of intimate gardens, fountains and soothing waterways, form a picturesque background for the resort and its sophisticated interiors.NT.

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© Alila Sothea


© Porcelain Hotel

buzzworthy!

HOTEL ORIENTAL CHARMS Porcelain Hotel in the heart of Singapore’s historic Chinatown precinct is now open. The charming hotel combines a fascinating European 1930’s styled façade with modern contemporary interiors. A special feature at the hotel is its signature spa – Huang Ah Ma, which has Eastern-inspired massage treatments. Ms Ying Na, Manager of the hotel, says “We have been seeing high occupancy levels of over 85% since the hotel’s soft opening earlier this year. Many of the hotel bookings are via the Internet due to Porcelain Hotel’s unique location and facilities.” The hotel is strategically located within a twominute walking distance from the Chinatown MRT (subway), at the heart of one of Singapore’s well-loved preservation areas. ML.

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buzzworthy!

Š Pullman Bali

LUXE PULLMAN BALI Pullman has entered the Indonesian market with its first hotel in popular Legian, Bali. The Pullman Bali Legian Nirwana is the only five-star resort style hotel linking the prime entertainment and shopping areas of Kuta and Legian. The hotel offers guest rooms overlooking both Kuta and Legian beaches, with design and architecture inspired by the frangipani flower which is native to this island paradise. The full service hotel offers 353 well appointed rooms and suites, restaurants and bars, premium conference space as well as full fitness facilities. KA.


buzzworthy!

RESORT COURTYARD BALI © Courtyard by Marriott

Courtyard by Marriott has chosen Bali as its first location in Indonesia for its 900th hotel in the world. Courtyard was recently opened in the Nusa Dua resort area of this world renowned tropical island destination. Courtyard by Marriott Nusa Dua is owned by PT Peninsula Bali Resort, with Nicolas Reschke as its Director of Sales and Marketing.

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“We are very excited about entering the Indonesian market,” said Janis Milham, Vice President and global brand manager for Courtyard by Marriott. Situated minutes away from Bali’s popular 18-hole championship golf course and local attractions, the new hotel is primed to capture the burgeoning market of family and business travelers. NT.


buzzworthy!

FASHION ORIENTAL LUXE Shopping for your parents and parent-in-laws does not have to be a teeth-grinding experience. Shanghai Tang has revealed a new range of exquisite accessories and finely crafted products. For mothers, pick from a mix of modern and contemporary Chinese chic, with statement pieces like the Butterfly necklace and the Miao necklace and bracelet set. For fathers, choose from a variety of finely crafted products that reflect the different aspects of stylish men. Whether he’s the sophisticated city dweller or the laid-back sports fanatic, Shanghai Tang is the ultimate gift destination for that special individual. ML.

Š Shanghai Tang

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buzzworthy!

© Andrea Bocelli

EVENT MESMERIZING TENOR World-famous Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli started off his 2011 Tour with a rousing performance at the Ritz Carlton Ballroom in Jakarta, Indonesia. This was the first time Bocelli held a performance in the country and the fans lapped it all up from the very start, with a mesmerizing opera piece “Intanto, Amici, Qua” (“In the Meantime, Friends”). Bocelli’s next tour dates will see him perform in Taipei and Beijing, followed by Israel before returning to Italy in July. Come September, he will head to Central Park in New York, before performing a series of events throughout the US in December. NT.


buzzworthy!

EVENT ABSOLUT ART For the first time ever, the ABSOLUT Art collection is touring the Asia Pacific Region, showcasing 20 pieces of renowned artwork from the ABSOLUT Art Collection in seven cities across the Asia Pacific region. The collection, which is owned and curated by the Historical Museum of Wines and Spirits in Stockholm, Sweden, will return to its permanent home in Europe after the Asia Pacific tour wraps up on the 31st July. The collection features works by Andy Warhol, Francesco Clemente, Rosemarie Trockel, Beatrice Cussol and Angus Fairhust, to name a few. NT.

Š Absolut Vodka

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buzzworthy!

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS New Delhi ABSOLUT partnered with the India Art Summit, India’s largest annual art exhibit, to feature the ABSOLUT art pieces on 20th to 23rd January. Mumbai ABSOLUT teamed up with Project 88 Gallery to feature its collection on 9th to 14th February. Dubai ABSOLUT challenged the Dubai creative community with the ABSOLUT Articulation competition. Sydney ABSOLUT collaborated with the Ray Hughes Gallery to feature the collection on 18th to 27th March. Seoul ABSOLUT collaborated with Seoul-based artists to host a curator talk at the exhibition kickoff events simply food!

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buzzworthy!

EVENT MEN’S FASHION WEEK The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands played proud host to the recently concluded Men’s Fashion Week 2011 Singapore. The prestigious festival put Singapore on the map as it became the first Asian city, and only the third in the world, after Paris and Milan, to host the most distinguished men’s fashion event on the calendar. The five-day inaugural men’s fashion event showcased the Autumn Winter 2011 collections of over 30 renowned brands from all over the world, several of which can be found exclusively in Singapore at The Shoppes. Marina Bay Sands Interim CEO and Managing Director of Global Development for Las Vegas Sands Corp, Mr. George Tanasijevich, said, “The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands boasts a lifestyle concept like no other. The exciting retail mix with a combination of luxury, new-tomarket labels and popular brands, makes The Shoppes the premier shopping destination. The organizers of Men’s Fashion Week in Singapore recognized how Marina Bay Sands is transforming the lifestyle scene in Singapore and how we are injecting a lot of firsts in the retail scene here. By hosting Asia’s first Men’s Fashion Week we have demonstrated our ability to attract only the best in the industry.” ML.

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© Pullman Lijiang

LUXE PULLMAN LIJIANG An upscale five-star hotel is now open in Lijiang. The Pullman Lijiang Resort & Spa is located in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province. The resort consisted of 79 villas and 51 deluce rooms, and it is Pullman’s fourth resort in the countyr, with two in Sanya and another in Zhangjiajie. The tranquil resort boasts uninterrupted and stunning viws of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. They are located adjacent to Shuhe Ancient Town and just minutes away from downtown Lijiang as well as Dayan Ancient Town, a UNESCO world heritage site. NT.


buzzworthy! © World Gourmet Summit

EVENT GOURMET SUMMIT Singapore’s most esteemed culinary event returned with aplomb in celebration of its 15th anniversary. The annual gastronomic extravaganza, which brings together the finest in the culinary industry, boasted an exciting line-up of renowned celebrity chefs, masterchefs and world-class vintners. This year, the much anticipated event brought to the island state household celebrity chefs such as Rachel Allen, Edward Kwon, Michael Ginor as well as Andrew Turner. On top of that, the festival also showcased a strong Asian presence with the participation of seven high-ly esteemed chefs from China, India, Japan and Korea – the highest ever number of Asian chefs at a World Gourmet Summit event. Other than celebrity chef Edward Kwon, diners were dazzled by masterchef Yim Jung Sik, Tam Kwok Fung, Manish Mehrotra, Keisuke Matsushima, Shinichiro Takagi and Yuji Wakiya. NT.

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buzzworthy!

© World Gourmet Summit

© World Gourmet Summit

simply food!

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SPOTLIGHT CAMBODIA

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184

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Slowly but surely however, the city is gaining various high rise buildings and increased modernity while still retaining the beauty that made it a Paris of the East before 1970. Street 178, just north of the National Museum, is known as Artist Street and has many interesting boutiques. Not far away, funky boutiques and classy eateries adorn the stylish Street 240, the epicenter of the Cambodian capital’s makeover.

eet Str

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Phnom Penh, the capital and largest city of Cambodia, is famed for its historical war remnants and cultural attractions, such as the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

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The Water Lily Creation (No 37 Street 240) is a boutique filled with boxes of colorful beads, nature-inspired necklaces, brooches, earrings and rings.

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Couleurs D’Asie (No 33 Street 240) offers a large selection of Cambodian silk home furnishings, from bedspreads to place mats to pillow cases and more. Funky colors combine with earth-inspired teak decoration making this a funky place to shop and get inspired.

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For lunch, drop by The Shop (No 39 Street 240), where you can tuck into a selection of sandwiches, quiches, salads and freshly baked goods. Prices are very affordable, and the courtyard seating area is cozy and quiet.

The Brown Coffee and Bakery (No 17 Street 214), next to Old Pencil Supermarket, serves great coffee and perfect espresso shots for you all the time. If you’re still hungry, the sandwiches are also worth trying out.

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Just across the street from the National Museum, The Reyum Gallery (No 47 Street 178) showcases a constantly evolving exhibition aimed at addressing a wide variety of topics, not only in the visual arts but within broader realms of culture and society.

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To sample some of Phnom Penh’s best cuisine, head over to The Wine Restaurant (No 219 Street 19) which is famed for its extensive wine list and fine Gallic menu, with highlights such as duck liver poele and beef Rossini. This stylish restaurant is abuzz at night, so come early to avoid disappointment.

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The Meta House (No 6 Street 264), located opposite Wat Botum, is an art-gallery, bar, mini-cinema and production house all rolled into one. High-quality foreign and Cambodian films is shown regularly at night for free, in the bar-lounge on the roof.

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If you are looking to splurge, the Pacharan Bodega (No 389, Sisowath, entrance on Street 184) is an excellent restaurant offering authentic Spanish cuisine. The ambiance is romantic, overlooking the riverfront next to the Royal Palace.

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SPOTLIGHT YOGYAKARTA

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Duta Wacana University

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Yogyakarta, located in Central Java, is a province filled with mysticism and cultural charms. The location makes it an attractive option for tourists heading to visit the Borobudur Temple, while the charming colonial architectures of old give it a unique flavor who keeps those tourist staying for more. Eating in Yogyakarta is notoriously cheap compared to other tourist hotspots such as Bali and Jakarta, and as more and more people move to Yogya, the flavor of this small town has started to evolve.


SPOTLIGHT YOGYAKARTA

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The Lekker Je Cafe (Jl Cik Di Tiro 22) is a nostalgic rock and roll establishment with an excellent atmosphere and ambiance. Hundreds of obsolete Laser Disc adorn the wall, paired with book, magazines and exotic posters from the 70s. This cafe is part of Hotel Mentana, a simple budget hotel suitable for backpackers or touring bikers.

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I Cafe (Jl Cik Di Tiro 18) offers a wide range of food, from traditional Yogyakartans (Nasi Goreng Jawa, Mie Godhog Jawa, and more) to International fares (Spaghetti, various cuts of Steak, Fettucini, and more). The eating area is quite large, and the place is popular for its affordable yet good quality food.

For dessert and chocolate lovers, head to the aptly named Coklat (Jl Cik Di Tiro 17A), a small boutique cafe offering a variety of chocolate cakes and excellent coffee.

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Before you head back out to explore the town, pay a visit to Holland Bakery (Jl Jend Sudirman 48C) where you can stock up on various delicacies. Popular favorites include the Lapis Legit (Baked Layer Cake) and Bika Ambon (Honeycomb Cake).

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For the more adventurous at heart, try out the Sate Kuda Gondolayu (Jl Jend Sudirman No 25), a small humble warung selling satays – grilled meats on a skewer. The only difference however, is that they sell exclusively horse meat satays, which were claimed to lack any fats and help improve blood circulation.

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Full Service Luxury A unique concept was recently sprung on the center of Jimbaran fishing village. Kupu Kupu Jimbaran Suites was opened on the 1st of April 2011. The hotel aims to be a focal point for guests staying at Jimbaran, boasting 28 suites in 4 categories of spacious rooms in modern contemporary design fused with charming Balinese interior of bengkirai wooden floor, marble walls, teakwood furnishings, coconut shell paneling and beautiful local fabrics.

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» A Full Service Suites in Jimbaran Beach STYLE AND LUXURY Kupu Kupu Jimbaran Suites offers the height of luxury and aesthetically pleasing Uluwatu Suite, Muaya Duplex Suite, Balangan Suite, and the Jimbaran Family Suite, complete with the luxurious amenities from À L’OCCITANE. A variety of shopping boutique within its own lobby complements the resort, making Kupu Kupu Jimbaran Suites as a paradise for stylish shopping lovers.

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Top notch dining experiences await at the ground level of the hotel; Topeng Restaurant and Bar is ready to whet your appetite with the finest International cuisines with a touch of French flair by the executive chef, Yehudi. Another dining venue is the fabulous Jimbaran Beach Club that is planned to open on the 1st of July 2011.


ADVERTORIAL

“We are strategically located near to the sandy beach of Jimbaran, which is famed for its fish market and grilled fish restaurants scattered along the beach. Guests will be spoilt for choice, with the Jimbaran Beach Club promising an unforgettable dining experience with Mediterranean and Tapas foods, tropical cocktails, mocktails and a comprehensive wine list,” exclaimed Ketut Darmiyati, the Director of Sales of Kupu Kupu Jimbaran Suites.

THE BAMBOO SPA The Bamboo Spa by À L’OCCITANE en Provence is another excellent service at Kupu Kupu Jimbaran Suites, as À L’OCCITANE’s only second spa venture in Bali. The Bamboo Spa features 14 luxurious treatment rooms for single and double occupancy, a private steam room, as well as À L’OCCITANE’s own retail boutique.

The spa boasts an exceptional concept where body well-being and beautyenhancing rituals are performed in Zen style, bamboo constructed spaces. Unique to The Bamboo Spa, “The Verbana Bamboo Fushion Therapy” is a specialized massage using traditional bamboo sticks associated with À L’OCCITANE’s Verbena formulas to stimulate the flow within the body. You are transported to a peaceful space in which bliss and wellness are integrated to the art of the living. simply food!

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Malang is a city that is often called the loveliest town in South East Asia during the colonial times, surrounded by the beautiful treasures of Java and the remains of temples of the Majapahit and the Singosari kingdoms. This was where Dutch planters and civil servants used to retire to a life of ease and luxury, surrounded by serene hilly apple and tea plantations. It is here in Malang that we have found the heart of East Java – the small, intimate Hotel Tugu Malang is bursting with atmosphere. A rare gem distinguished by its blend of Indonesian art and history, Hotel Tugu Malang is an elegant mansion that tells the stories of Indonesia’s forgotten heritage and houses priceless collection of antiques in every corner of the hotel.

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The Heart and

Soul of Java

Âť A Hotel Filled with Character and Style Together with Hotel Tugu Blitar, the Hotel Tugu Malang is the most authentic, richly cultural accommodation in East Java which also serves as the only interesting departure point for an early morning trip to the magnificent sunrise at Mt. Bromo, as well as to explore the hidden exotic beauty of East Java.

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The masterpiece suite of Hotel Tugu Malang, the Apsara Residence, portrays the romantic legend of prince Jayawarman II, who once upon a time asked for a beautiful wife to cherish. The Gods sent the most beautiful Apsara dancer from heaven to dance for the Prince over three full moons. The dancer fell in love with the prince and remained on earth. Their love inspired many through generations.


ADVERTORIAL The Apsara Spa at Hotel Tugu Malang celebrates the romantic relationship between Indonesia and Cambodia hundreds of years back. The Apsara Spa is an oasis of peace, secluded from the outer world. One of Apsara Spa’s specialized body treatment packages is ‘Day Dream in Angkor’: a thorough 4-hour, romantic couple treatment that uses special recipes that contain various kinds of herbs, traditional spices and local exotic flowers. When the sun sets behind the mountains, sit back and enjoy the 101 dining experiences available at Tugu Malang. At Tugu, every meal transports guests back to different periods of Indonesia. Every dining room features not only different food concepts, but themes, rituals of service and atmospheres which are unique from one another. The Sugar Baron Room, for example, commemorates the memory of the most famous sugar baron of Southeast Asia who lived in Java, and features very rare and exquisite Chinese-Indonesian antiquities. The Silk Road Pavilion, for the romantics, is a feast for the brilliant thoughts of the world’s great artists from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods.

Hotel Tugu Malang is part of the Tugu Group, an exclusive collection of privately-owned hotels and restaurants, all featuring beautiful Indonesian antiques and artworks in telling the history and legends of Indonesia. The other hotels are Hotel Tugu Bali on Canggu Beach; Hotel Tugu Lombok on Sire Beach; Hotel Tugu Blitar-Sri Lestari near the Penataran Temple in Blitar; and the four restaurants in Jakarta: Lara Djonggrang Restaurant and La Bihzad Bar; Dapur Babah Elite and Tao Bar; Shanghai Blue 1920 and Samarra. www.tuguhotels.com

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ADVERTORIAL

Âť A New Wedding Concept Experience a whole new dimension of luxurious wedding venue on the sky. La Kana Chapel offers you a new concept of standing garden party. Challenge your senses with magnificent views from 1,100 meters above sea level. At the same time, indulge your tasted buds with our special live cooking menu of fresh cuisine on your plate. Located in Central Java at Bandungan, Semarang, La Kana is beautiful architecture that stood tall at 1,000 meters above sea level in the hills of Mount Ungaran. The chapel works in tandem with Susan Spa & Resort to provide guests with everything they need for an unforgettable wedding reception.

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Nestling against the shores of Kuta’s famed surf beach, lies a holiday resort that lays testament to the glories of the past fifty years of rock culture. Covering a prime 3-hectare site in the heart of Bali’s entertainment and shopping district, featuring 418 tribute rooms, luxury and deluxe suites, alongside six cutting edge food and beverage outlets. A paradise for couples, families and singles.

ROCKIN’ ROOMS With Hard Rock’s signature of limitless energy, unparalleled creativity and quality service, your rockin’ holiday will never be the same again.

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Rock and Roll » The Leading Entertainment Hotel in Bali IF MUSIC IS THE FOOD OF LOVE.. EAT ON! Centerstage lies at the heart of the hotel and doubles as a lobby, a bar, a live rock venue with performances every night and even a rock museum. Starz Diner, the Hotel’s hip all day dining restaurant serves contemporary Asian flavors. Enjoy the choicest New York style take-outs at HRBC Deli and check your emails, while you’re here.

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LOVE ALL SERVE ALL Dine Al Fresco at the poolside Splash Bistro, enjoys wood fired pizzas, rockin’ pastas and kool cocktails and watch wet happening by the pool. Facing the Indian Ocean is the timehonored catalyst of the resort, the Hard Rock Cafe. With nightly live bands, one is assured of a VIP welcome with the hotel Q jumping backstage pass.


ADVERTORIAL AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCES THAT ROCK Chill out at the Shack bar, half submerged in Bali’s largest free form pool. Relax in a poolside Cabana for the day and enjoy Aqua Rockercise and Beach Party Spanning 252-square-metre, TABU offers a nightclub equipped with multi-purpose DJ Booth, Internet and Gaming Lounge with WII, Xbox Kinetic and PS3 facilities, private cinema area, bar and lounge with chill out area and pool table. The hotel is truly wired for sound with a state-of-the-art recording studio, all housed in the Boom Box Recording Studio. Rock Spa offers a wide range of body therapy and treatments to restore and balance the mind, body and soul. Even the kids are taken care of with their very own Lil’ Rock Kids Club, supervised by experienced staff.

TALKING ABOUT MY GENERATION The walls of the hotel are adorned with images, icons and memorabilia reflecting the revolution that changed the face of music, fashion and the arts, celebrating artistes from the 50’s to the new Millennium.

WHERE ROCKERS MEET & MEETINGS ROCK Discuss business strategies, have that team building session or organize themed events, private functions and dinners, in any of our rock ‘n’ roll themed meeting and conference rooms. Come to the Hard Rock Hotel Bali and feel like a Star!

Jalan Pantai, Banjar Pande Mas Kuta, Bali – Indonesia T : 62 361 761869 F : 62 361 761868 E : bookings@hardrockhotels.net W : www.hardrockhotels.net simply food!

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the guide


The Guide

Marie Teather interviewed five chefs in Tokyo to find out what makes this gourmet capital tick

Since the Michelin Guide to Tokyo launched in 2007 and awarded the city with no less than 191 stars, food lovers and critics knew a culinary capital had been born. In 2011, this number rose to 312 stars, with 14 restaurants receiving the much-coveted three-star award. Yet residents and visitors have always known Japan excels in the quality and diversity of cuisines on offer. And that’s not to mention the country’s outstanding and impeccable level of service!

We asked five leading chefs in Japan what they think makes Japan one of the world’s leading culinary destinations, how food trends have changed in the last five years since the Michelin Guide came out, and how the tsunami that devastated the country in March 2011 has affected Japan’s fine dining culture.


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Nothing gives me more joy than when guests are happy eating the dishes I’ve prepared for them

Š Shunbou, Grand Hyatt Tokyo

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The Guide

Takuya Nezasa Shunbou, Grand Hyatt Tokyo Chef Nezasa, a former Iron Chef winner from the Iron Chef cook-off program produced by Fuji Television, has built his reputation around creating traditional Japanese menus. At the 52nd-floor Shunbou, Nezasa serves intricate kaiseki courses (a set menu of small and beautifully presented dishes). “Every good chef in Japan knows basic cooking methods, but the secret to becoming a successful chef is having ki (life energy). The word ki is used to describe things with ‘will power,’ ‘spark of life,’ and ‘an air of excitement.’ I believe that every chef and even the restaurant staff should have this energy.

Many young Japanese chefs are studying western cuisines instead of traditional Japanese cuisines, and I see this as a real problem. New chefs must learn about Japanese cuisine because it is a part of our culture and it needs to be passed on to the next generation. We should not forget the spirit and beauty of Japanese culture. Everyone was so excited when the Michelin Guide to Tokyo first came out but the excitement has since died down. I think the guide had a bigger impact overall on foreign diners in Tokyo. I personally don’t strive to get a Michelin star, but I can see why some family-owned restaurants may feel it’s important. The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami has affected everyone in Japan. Immediately after the earthquake we felt that we shouldn’t be seen enjoying ourselves out of respect to people living in the north. The power outages have had a direct impact on public transportation and the restaurant industry, as the public sentiment has been to stay at home. Guests are starting to return, though. My favourite aspect of being a chef in Tokyo is cooking with a variety of different seasonal ingredients. Nothing gives me more joy than when guests are happy eating the dishes I’ve prepared for them.”


© Suji’s Restaurant and Bar

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Suji Park, Suji’s Restaurant and Bar, Roppongi, Tokyo Suji Park is a successful restaurateur with New York-inspired restaurants in both Tokyo and Korea. Suji trained at the French Culinary Institute. She runs six restaurants and delis in Seoul and two locations in Tokyo, including one that serves the US Embassy. The Tokyo branch of Suji’s, found in the heart of Roppongi, has been a huge hit with local and western diners since its launch in 2007.


The Guide

“Japanese diners are probably the most sophisticated customers in the world. They are generally very demanding when it comes to high quality ingredients, and impeccable service and atmosphere. They care about etiquette and quality, and as for restaurantdesign, even the bathrooms are important as many restaurants are often judged by the cleanness and decor of their bathrooms.

Things have changed a lot over the past five years, though. People simply aren’t spending as much money on dining out as they once were. As such, the average set menu has come down from 5,000 yen to 3,500 yen. Furthermore, take-out deli restaurants are doing well since many people are now eating at home rather than dining out.

There are very few New York-inspired restaurants in Tokyo because Japan is influenced by European cultures more than American. It’s easier to find French or Italian restaurants.

The earthquake itself didn’t damage our restaurant except for three broken wine glasses. Getting dairy products was difficult for a few days. Since the tsunami, however, fewer people are going out for dinner and the streets are quiet, especially when it rains. We’ve seen many restaurants that have closed down. Things are picking up, though. We just had a record breaking Sunday brunch a few weeks ago.”

Japanese diners prefer kaiseki-style (small) dishes. We had to figure a way around this, as small dishes are not part of American food culture. Recently, however, we have created a selection of appetizers we call, ‘small dishes’, and we still maintain large portions on the menu too. This keeps both our Japanese and Western customers happy.

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Š Visit Japan Tourism Board

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Chefs, consumers, farmers – everyone (in Japan) takes pride in their work ethic

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The Guide

Jeff Ramsey, Tapas Molecular Bar, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo

© Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Tokyo

An expert in combining culinary techniques with elements of physics and chemistry, Chef Ramsey has been awarded a Michelin Star for three consecutive years. His Molecular menus, delivered with a flair of showmanship, are a highlight for international food-loving guests jetting into Tokyo, as well as local diners.

Menus change seasonally in Japan. Our culture has always respected the four seasons. Suppliers and chefs are used to working with what the land has to offer and they don’t tend to grow ingredients out of season. They have a feeling and an understanding about ingredients, and they work with what’s available.

“I am half Japanese, so working with Japanese food has allowed me to connect with my Japanese roots. I think it’s sad that few young Japanese chefs are studying Japanese cuisine. I guess it no longer seems as fancy to these chefs, since Japanese families have been cooking these traditional dishes at home for centuries. Whereas, French food, for example, seems more exotic. However, this is also changing. I expect that we will start seeing more young Japanese chefs who are getting back into traditional arts and crafts, and inevitably this will lend itself to the food, too.

Tokyo has the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, and I think it’s because of a long history of individuals wanting to be the best. Chefs, consumers, farmers; everyone takes such pride in their work ethic. Japan is clearly in the lead because of the effort they’ve put in. I’m sure the high number of Michelin-starred restaurants has had an impact on the confidence of Japanese chefs— especially the family-run businesses that have been in a family for a number of generations. It shows Japan that they are the best and they can be proud of that.”


Seasonally changing menus are important here. Food and ingredients always change naturally

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The Guide

Yasajima Sasajima, Ii Ghiottone, Kyoto Famous for his unique blending of Italian and Japanese cooking styles, celebrity chef Yasajima Sasajima has been incredibly successful in creating his own style of fusion cuisine. Known as the first Japanese–Italian Chef, as well as being friends with Nobu, Yasajima Sasajima’s much-loved dishes can be experienced at his Ii Ghiottone restaurants in both Kyoto and Tokyo. “As a Japanese chef it feels odd to say seasonally changing menus are important because it is expected here. Food and ingredients always change naturally depending on the time of year and eating food that is in season is a fact of life. Japanese–Italian fusion cuisine has been popular in Japan for many years. Like Japanese cuisine, Italian dishes are made predominantly with vegetables, fish, seafood, meat and pasta, which is why so many Japanese love this style of food. Extra virgin olive oil also pairs well with Japanese ingredients. In the last five years I have seen much more information available to diners on the Internet, on Twitter and from food bloggers. This influences how diners choose their restaurants. Growing interest in dining at Michelin-starred restaurants is a good example of this. However I think this interest will change. After all, word-of-mouth is still the best way to discover restaurants in my opinion.

© Il Ghiottone, Kyoto

I find it both positive and gratifying that Japanese food is so popular around the world. I also think it’s important to note, however, that Japanese food in other countries doesn’t taste the same as it does in Japan. This is because our dishes are especially influenced by the water that is used during food preparation. My favourite aspect of being a chef in Japan is the rich gastronomic culture. Not only is there an abundant variety of food and ingredients, but diners also have a profound understanding of cuisine.”


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Each country has their own adaption of Japanese cuisine to suit their taste Fumihiko Sakaguchi, Concept Chef, Gonpachi Said to be the restaurant that the famous fight scene from Kill Bill is based on, and also where Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi took President Bush to dine, Gonpachi is a hugely popular Japanese restaurant that every visitor should have on their must-do list for Tokyo. Chef Sakaguchi is a former winning contestant on Iron Chef America where he was an assistant of Chef Morimoto from the famous Morimoto restaurant.

© Concept Chef, Gonpachi

“Tokyo is a great culinary destination for tourists because of the huge number of restaurants and the competition between them. Competition throughout the entire restaurant industry has really heated up since the Michelin Guide for Tokya was released. Gon Pachi has a large foreign clientele as well as foreign chefs and waiting staff. This influences our menu as we offer traditional dishes which include elements that our foreign customers love.

The tsunami has certainly impacted our business because fewer tourists are coming to Japan. It’s too early to see the long-term impact, though. The popularity of Japanese food worldwide has changed some traditional dishes, and food is now arranged and adjusted to suit each country, but I think this is a good thing. California rolls, for example, were created in California and then adapted again in Japan. We should maintain traditions, but new dishes are necessary and they will also become a tradition if they last for 100 years. This way Japanese food will always be popular. When I was working as a chef at Morimoto in the USA for eight years, I learned that the most important thing is to make your customers enjoy the food and service. We should not be restricted by tradition.”

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Vannara Putra reviewed Bangkok’s poshest and finest establishments


Š Red Sky Bistro

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© Blue Sky Restaurant

Bangkok is an interesting city of contrast and intrigue – full of chaos and traffic jams, with a wide variety of people with differing lifestyles. At the same time, it is also full of charms and hidden gems. Millions of people journey to Thailand every year, and as one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations, it continues to dazzle and impress even the most resolute travelers.

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People come to Thailand for many reasons, but most are in agreement that Thailand’s food culture is second to none with meals that will satisfy every taste and budget. Unearthing Asia takes us on a tour of the city’s finest dining spots for your special night out on the town.


The Guide

Sala Rim Naam Blue Sky Restaurant Beyond the blue horizon of Bangkok lies the Blue Sky restaurant, located on the 24th floor of Sofitel Centara Grand Hotel in Bangkok. The restaurant is an open-air venue that offers delectable treats under the starry night sky, with a great 360-degree view of the bustling metropolitan city. On their menu, you’ll find tantalizing crowd pleasers such as Japanese Spring Rolls, Blue Sky Sibi, and Lemon Tarts.

Located on the opposite bank from The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, this Thai restaurant comes with a great view overlooking the Chao Praya River. The atmosphere is excellent, with the twinkling lights of passing boats setting a romantic tone under the evening night sky. Every night there is a traditional dance show that is worth checking out. But if you are forced to choose between a table with a view or of the performance, we recommend a romantic dinner for two overlooking the city lights and dark waters of Chao Praya River.

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The Guide

© Vertigo and Moon Bar

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Vertigo and Moon Bar

Flava Restaurant & Lounge

Vertigo and Moon Bar is one of the highest alfresco bars in the Asia Pacific, and it’s a mustvisit destination for every Bangkok travel itinerary. At the top of the Banyan Tree Bangkok, located 61 floors above the streets of Bangkok, this open-air rooftop lounge truly lives up to its name, offering views that simply take your breath away. Offering grilled seafood, fancy cocktails, and an unprecedented view of the city, there’s no better place for a romantic rendezvous, lounging after work or a glamorous launch party.

Flava Restaurant & Lounge is a chic and stylish restaurant located in the Dream Hotel Bangkok. Set above the lobby, Flava blends modern design and ancient tradition in appealing fashion. Savor the creative gourmet fusion of Western and Asian fare while taking in the Bangkok street scene in a lush and comfortable surrounding. An evening at Flava is sure to be filled with exotic ambiance and atmosphere.

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Red Sky Bistro Crowning the stylish Centara Grand at CentralWorld, the Red Sky Bistro is a chic urban concept with a modern, delectable approach to old world dining. Set at the top 55th floor, the bistro comes with stunning city views and artfully arranged wind-protection to ensure the dining comfort of guests. The menu is not extensive, but its five-star meals are beautifully presented and taste out of this world. The real star on the menu, however, is the bistro’s extensive Wine List, on which you’ll find the perfect beverage for savoring the beautiful night sky.

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The Guide

Š Red Sky Bistro

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Š Salathip

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The Guide

© The Reflexions

© Salathip

© The Reflexions

Salathip Located at the Shangri-La Hotel by the Chao Praya River, this restaurant’s atmosphere is the perfect place for a romantic evening. Enjoy a sumptuous Thai dinner as you enjoy the passing boats lighting up the river. Live traditional music and dance accompanies your meal, and if you are lucky you may even catch some fireworks over the river.

The Reflexions This award-winning restaurant offers modern French cuisine with intense flavors at Level 3 of The Plaza Athenee Bangkok. The atmosphere is cozy and delightful, with an extensive wine list to complement the innovative and intriguing menu created by Chef Thibault Chiumenti. Old black and white movies are played in the background to add a touch of classic flair into the decor, all in all a complete package! simply food!

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© Red Sky Bistro

© State Tower, Bangkok

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Š Breeze, State Tower, Bangkok


© Breeze, State Tower, Bangkok

MEZZALUNA

Breeze

Opus Wine Bar

One of Bangkok’s top luxury restaurants, the Mezzaluna is now delivering an even more wondrous dining experience with the introduction of its new modern innovative cuisine. The seasonallyinspired menus are redesigned on a daily basis. Visitors can expect a thoughtfully choreographed culinary experience using seasonal ingredients of the highest quality. We promise you’ll be blown away by the panoramic views of Bangkok from its 65 floor setting at the Dome at lebua Bangkok Hotels and Resort.

This ultra-hip spot is one of the newer additions at the State Tower, home to some of Bangkok’s priciest restaurants. The open-air concept on the 52nd floor serves a mix of pan-Asian seafood cuisines that embrace the pinnacle of perfection. Chef Ken and his team of 50 lovingly create every dish with the finest ingredients. At night the restaurant is bathed in a purplish glow from the stunning light and glass sculptures, which you can choose to admire from the alfresco terrace or from the spectacular glass-sky bridge suspended in mid-air.

Located in the heart of Bangkok’s downtown business district between Silom and Sathorn, the ambiance at Opus Wine Bar is classic and moody, but cozy; with tables evenly spread out for guests to enjoy their own space. The menu features a wide range of antipasti and tapas ideal for sharing, as well as homemade pastas, fresh fish and grilled meats. The highlight of Opus Wine Bar is, without a doubt, the extensive walk-in wine cellar, which offers guests a selection of over 400 labels – probably the widest selection of Italian wines in Bangkok.

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© Central World, Bangkok

GETTING AROUND

FAST FACTS » BANGKOK Bangkok, also known as the City of Angels, is the capital city of Thailand. Its high-rise buildings, heavy traffic congestion, intense heat and naughty nighlife do not immediately give you a warm welcome – but don’t let your first impression mislead you. It is one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities with magnificient temples and palaces, authentic canals, busy markets and a vibrant nightlife.

WHAT TO DO Most of Bangkok’s tourist attractions are concentrated on the island of Rattanakesin, often referred to as the Old City. The three most popular temples in Bangkok, The Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun, attract millions of tourists every year.

Lumphini Park in Silom is the largest park in central Bangkok and it’s a great place to retreat to when you want to escape the exhaust and pollution of Bangkok’s busy streets. Outdoor concerts and other forms of entertainment can be enjoyed there during the cooler months of winter.

Bangkok is infamous for its congestion, but there are ways to go around it. Hop on the Skytrain (BTS) and metro to the city center, or use boats to navigate the city’s rivers and canals. The BTS Skytrain covers most of downtown and the MRT runs through Silom, Sukhumvit, Ratchadaphisek and the area around Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Santichaiprakarn Park is also a popular park given it’s close proximity to Khao San Road’s backpacker district. Located on the riverfront closest to Khao San Road, many foreign buskers perform there during the evening.

A ride on the Chao Phraya River should be high on any tourist itinerary. The cheapest and most popular option is the Chao Phraya Express Boat, an aquatic bus that plows up and down the river. You can also hire a long-tail river taxi at any major pier for trips that fall outside of the city’s set travel routes and schedules, but they are fairly expensive.

Bangkok is filled with numerous markets and shopping centres offering cheap Thailand products. If shopping is on your mind, keep your eyes peeled for the city-wide Amazing Thailand Grand Sale at around mid-June.

Finally, don’t forget about options for land travel. Hire a taxi or take a jaunt on Thailand’s infamous tuk-tuks, a threewheeled contraptions blazing around Bangkok. Always agree on a price before entering a tuk-tuk.


The Guide

New Zealand is a country like no other, and its wine is an experience like no other. The special combination of New Zealand soil, climate and water, the pioneering spirit and commitment to quality all come together in every glass of New Zealand wine. These wines are known throughout the world for their purity, vibrancy and intensity. New Zealand is home to what many wine critics consider the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc, and is often called the New World’s utopia for Sauvignon Blanc, marrying old world wine-making traditions with the vibrancy of exotic aromas from the New World.

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The charms of the New World beckon, a paradise for gourmandizing travelers everywhere. Vannara Putra

The country boasts distinct major winegrowing regions spread throughout the country, with the majority located on the East coast of the South Island. Wine lovers will find this land of the Kiwis to be an enchanting destination, with beautiful vineyards and enchanting landscape a natural backdrop to all your activities, paired with excellent food and magical wines.


Your love of wine and food will draw you to Marlborough, where vineyards stretch into the distance Š Ian Trafford

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Š Graham Charles

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The Guide © Ian Trafford

Where to Stay Vintners Retreat is built among its surrounding vineyards and cherry trees. The property has an apartment complex with suites for up to three people, and villa accommodation with a range of options. For luxury, the BEC Spa Resort is a 5 star guest and hosted resort, offering luxurious boutique accommodations in an intimate and relaxed setting. The unique hilltop location features extraordinary views of the ocean, mountains and vineyards below.

New World’s Toast In the 1980s, the Marlborough region was hailed as the producer of arguably the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc. Now the region has strengthened its reputation as New Zealand’s premiere wine-growing region, producing some excellent Chardonnay and Riesling as well as a fast-rising reputation for high quality Pinot Noir. Located in the northeastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east and towering mountain ranges to the north and south, Marlborough boasts a diverse landscape of spectacular natural beauty.

The city of Blenheim is the heart of Marlborough, just a short drive away from the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Most wineries can be reached easily from Blenheim, although the area of land under cultivation is rapidly spreading. Marlborough boasts more than 9000 hectares of vineyards, spreading across the landscape onto the river flats of Rapaura district, west to the Waihopai and lower Wairau and further south into the Awetere Valley.

The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival is an annual showcase for the region’s bounty, drawing people from all over the world to taste and see for themselves the excellent produce. Held on the 2nd Saturday in February, the 2011 Festival sees more than 8000 wine and food lovers converge at one of the oldest vineyards in Marlborough – Brancott Estate.

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Brick Bay Wines is a beautiful place to indulge your love of food, wine and art Š Kieran Scott

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Cycling from vineyard to vineyard lets you enjoy the magnificent scenery as well as the wonderful wines Š Ian Trafford

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A coastal track makes it easy to explore the perfection of Abel Tasman National Park Š Ian Trafford

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Stroll through the vines then retire to the cellar door for a tasting session © Ian Trafford

Scenic Nelson Located at the top of the South Island next to Marlborough, Nelson is one of the fastest growing regions in New Zealand. The region is often overshadowed by its more prestigious neighbor, but Nelson boast one of the best scenic landscape and spectacular scenery in the country. Nelson enjoys a lot of sun, and is a paradise for a relaxing counterculture lifestyle – painters, artists, foodies and wine lovers.

25 boutique family-owned wineries have banded together to form Nelson WineArt, combining the experience of touring arts and crafts studios with sampling the best local produce and wine. It’s thriving cafe culture, with its al fresco dining and brilliant fresh seafood merge together to create the quintessential Nelson experience.

Where to Stay The Monaco Hotel and Resort village is a charming hotel and fully furnished cottage overlooking scenic Tasman Bay. The hotel is located just 15 minutes from Nelson City, with a range of venues for conferences and events. For self catering accommodation, the South City Cottages offer fully equipped rooms combining the cozy charms of the 1860s along with modern amenities of present day.


The Guide

It’s perfectly clear that the waters of the Abel Tasman National Park are perfectly clear Š Graham Charles

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Glide along the river in a punt and enjoy a duck’s eye view of the Christchurch Botanical gardens Š Hiroshi Nameda

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Otahuna Lodge reinvents the gracious living style of the Victorian era Š Kieran Scott

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Balloon safari over the Canterbury Plains Š David Wall

Š Ian Trafford

Canterbury Plains Historically Canterbury was one of the first regions to attempt wine growing in the 1940s. French immigrants planted vineyards in Akaroa Peninsula, taking advantage of the warm dry north westerlies which frequents the Canterbury plains. The vast Canterbury plains sweep from the magnificent Souther Alps of New Zealand to the east coast of the South Island, providing an ideal climate for wine-growing. The heart of Canterbury is the picturesque Christchurch, with most of the wineries located within short driving distance from the city. The major wine areas of Canterbury are the Banks Peninsula, located around the city of Christchurch, and the more recently developed valley area of Waipara, with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir making up the most widely planted grape varieties here.

Where to Stay Located in a working vineyard surrounded by numerous wineries in the stunning Waipara Valley, the Dunnolly Luxury Vineyard Cottage is an obvious choice for luxury and comfort. The Christchurch YMCA offers excellent facilities at extremely affordable rate, while Drifters Inn offers a unique lodge style lounge areas for guests.

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The continental climate of Central Otago produces wines with a subtly different character Š Gilbert van Reenen

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Once a magnet for fortune seekers, Arrowtown promises gold-coated scener © David Wall

Spectacular Otago The region of Central Otago is New Zealand’s highest and the world’s most southerly wine region. It is surrounded by mountains and interlaced with lakes and deep river gorges, with the spectacular Queenstown at the heart of the region. Central Otago boasts stunning scenic landscape which makes it a popular destination for all kinds of tourists. The mountainous location provides a semi-continental climate with stark difference between the hot summers and very cold winters, hot, long summer days and dry autumn. This provides an excellent growing conditions for varieties like Pinot Noir and Riesling. The wines of Central Otago boasts a purity, intensity and vibrancy reflective of the region’s territory and pure mountain air.

Where to Stay Wanaka’s renowned Edgewater Resort is located on the shore of Lake Wanaka and is ideal for rest and relaxation. The lakeside resort features 104 rooms, suites or two-bedroom apartments. The Maple Lodge is another excellent place to relax an unwind, a boutique lodge set in its own private grounds of 7 acres with spectacular scenery and views.

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STYLE guide

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Showcasing the best of oriental chic, from the Autumn/Winter 2011 collection of Shanghai Tang, From China with Love

From China with Love, Shanghai Tang AW 2011


STYLE guide

“Vintage Screen” Silk Jacquard Coat Capsleeved Top with Silk Panel “Croix All Over” Silk Scarf with Fringes Wool Jersey Skinny Pants “Cloud” Waist Belt

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From China with Love, Shanghai Tang AW 2011


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Wool/ Cashmere Coat with Padded Nylon Front “Dragon” Embroidery Denim Pants www.unearthingasia.com


Washed Cord Jacket Washed Cotton Striped Shirt “Dragon” Embroidery Denim Pants “Checker” Cashmere Knitted Scarf


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Lurex Wool Blend Dress “Beavaldes” Necklace


STYLE guide

“Officer” Belted Wool Coat Cashmere Qipao Top Wool Jersey Skinny Pants “Chinese Knot” Ankle Boots

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Brushed Cotton Jacket with Flannel Elbow Patches “Double Happiness” Colour Denim Pants “Stars” Liberty Reversible Scarf


STYLE Guide

Magical Nirvana When God asked the angels where to put nirvana on earth, they pointed their fingers to Bali. Overlooking the Indian Ocean, Nirwana Bali Resort, Bali’s fully integrated resort sets the stage for the season’s latest looks.

Photography by Infocus Bali. Wardrobe by Ali Charisma Jewelry by Just Jen’s by Jenni Censi Location at Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort, Tabanan

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experience

a memorable event like no other. Celebrate your weddings, anniversaries, birthdays - your every stage of life with colors, music and smiles in nirvana.

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take pleasure

in a place where you can enjoy the breathtaking vistas of Tabanan regency as a new emerging popular tourism destination... a place where you can gaze the legendary Tanah Lot temple while the sun sets... and a place where you can feel the breeze of the magnificent Indian Ocean ‌

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exclusivity

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STYLE Guide

has its perks. Exclusivity is being a club member of an award-wining 18 hole golf course, designed by the legendary Greg Norman. Flowing streams, serene ponds and rice terraces, also in nirvana. So much to see and do, only at Nirwana Bali Resort.

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Mike Aquino brings us a treat from the deep sea, absolutely fresh fish transformed and delicately balanced In the beginning, there is raw fish. The fish must be as fresh as you can get it, preferably fish that has just been plucked from the ocean. The right thing when you’re cooking fish, as anybody who’s picked up table utensils will tell you, is to put it on a fire and cook it until it’s done; anything less (sashimi excepted) is asking for trouble. The Filipinos know better. They know that absolutely fresh fish, when bathed in vinegar or calamansi juice, undergoes a cleansing process. The acidic nature of vinegar washes out microorganisms and “cooks” the fish without ridding it of moisture. Combine the lot with salt, chili, and sliced onions, and you have a tart, tender treat with amazingly complementary layers of flavor - salty, fiery, sweet, sour with room for even more. This is what Filipinos call kinilaw, and don’t let the short name fool you: the dish is as varied as the Philippines’ many islands. The fish, souring agent, and condiments unite to form a common thread, but the patchwork of Filipino cultures do their best to create endless variations on that theme.

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FOOD FOCUS

Transformation The souring agent may be introduced early in the preparation process, or served on the side with fresh fish slices. Vinegar can be replaced with calamansi juice, since it is said to be better at removing the stronger odor of certain types of fish. Different types of vinegar can be used, to different effects, with cane vinegar and coconut vinegar conjuring quite different flavors. And the fish! Every province swears by kinilaw made from the fish caught in their home waters. Kinilaw addicts in General Santos City happily chop up bariles, or yellow fin tuna. San Fernando, Pampanga offers visitors a special “jumping salad” or live river shrimp drizzled with calamansi juice. The freshest fish kinilaw yet known is the type called dinagat by Ilonggo fishermen, who take their catch of herring, strip the raw meat off the still-wriggling fish, and salt the meat by dipping it into the sea just before consumption.

“To use a musical analogue, the fishvinegar-condiments recipe is a theme, for which innumerable Mozartian variations are possible, such that the thread of melody can grow to symphonic proportions,” write food critics Edilberto Alegre and Doreen Fernandez in their book Kinilaw: a Philippine Cuisine of Freshness. “The cooks who compose these variations must know their fish, meat and seafood, and their vinegars and condiments, and then create afresh each time.”

Striking a Balance As varied as kinilaw ingredients and techniques may be, careful cooks know that kinilaw suffers easily with excess. The transformation of the fish should be subtle: the bath of vinegar should give the flesh a hint of opacity and firmness to the bite. If the fish is left to marinate too long in the vinegar, the acids burn into the flesh and leave it stiff, its color an opaque white.

The condiments need to be balanced against each other - the salt against the sweet crunch of freshly sliced onions, coconut milk or pork fat to moderate the searing heat of chopped chilies. The different textures of the ingredients complete the layered notes apparent in a dish of kinilaw: fish and the chef’s choice of vegetables both competing and cooperating to deliver a revelation on your palate. There is, as yet, no formula that gets you to the golden mean between flavors and textures. If you’re like Eduardo “Momong” Robillo - a Filipino businessman based in Davao City and a kinilaw artist among his close friends you learn your craft through painstaking trial, error, and the occasional epiphany.

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Trial and Error The beer-drinking culture in the Philippines drives innovation forward, which explains why kinilaw seems to be almost exclusively the preserve of men like Mr. Robillo. Kinilaw pairs especially well with beer; it’s eaten mainly as a side dish to a drinking session, rarely as a meal with rice. And with buddies getting together quite often to drink and eat, it’s inevitable that somebody will find an excuse to tinker with the recipe. That “somebody”, for his Davao drinking buddies, was Mr. Robillo, who used his frequent trips to find new twists on his favorite dish. “Whenever we go to a different place - like Cebu, or Cagayan de Oro - we order kinilaw, and I pick up bits and pieces of information,” he tells us.

don’t let the short name fool you – the Kinilaw is as varied as the Philippines’ many islands

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“I was really looking for a formula that could somehow counter the hot chili, because kinilaw is not worth its salt without the tang and the bite of the pepper,” Robillo tells us. “But you know, some people can’t eat it hot. So I had to find a way to counter the chili. I found that in pork belly and coconut milk. The fat of the pork belly helps in neutralizing the spice.”


Putting Them Together Raw malasugi (swordfish) seems like an unlikely canvas for flavor, but in the hands of dedicated kinilaw artists like Mr. Robillo, raw fish can be spun out into the gastronomical equivalent of all the art in the Louvre. It simmers down to the rest of the palette: vinegar and calamansi juice for souring; sea salt and salted duck egg to balance against the tartness of the acid; black pepper and two types of chili for heat; bell peppers, garlic and onions for taste and texture; and pork belly and coconut milk to take the edge off the chilies and to add roundness to the flavor.

Back in his kitchen, Mr. Robillo uses the vinegar sparingly; after chopping the fish, he pours in the stuff and lets it sit for a few seconds before draining the meat and setting it aside. “Some people use vinegar to ensure that the fish is germfree,” explains Mr. Robillo. “That’s why I wash it with vinegar. But not so much it hardens the fish.” The rest of the ingredients follow in quick succession. Making kinilaw is sweaty work - vegetables require chopping into bite-size pieces, the freshly grated coconut must be squeezed to extract the milk, the calamansi must be juiced, a bit of bird’s-eye chili must be mashed into the juice, and the pork belly must be broiled before being chopped into smaller pieces to join the rest. simply food!

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Personal Vision But there’s no cooking (save for the broiled pork belly), and the ingredients are kept as close to a natural state as possible (chopping aside). Mr. Robillo pours the spicy calamansi juice into the mixture of coarsely chopped vegetables, then reaches into the refrigerator and combines the fish with everything else. The result is kinilaw, or one man’s personal vision of it. I notice it’s relatively dry, unlike the Ilonggo-style kinilaw served at the upscale Sagay restaurant in downtown Davao, which is practically swimming in vinegary coconut milk. Neither is it like the stuff they serve at Luz Kinilaw, a popular working-class restaurant near the docks - Luz Kinilaw serves raw bariles with the vinegar on the side, a topping of onion slices, and nothing else.

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“People have different tastes,” reflects Mr. Robillo. “Some people prefer their kinilaw more salty; some people prefer it more spicy; some people even add sugar to make it more sweet!” Kinilaw enthusiasts like himself listen only to their own personal muse to create the final result. “That’s why it’s difficult to prepare the kinilaw because it’s hard to find the right balance. But you develop your own style, don’t worry about other people’s taste buds.” Personal vision in the kitchen can only go so far. At its core, kinilaw is all about nature and a little bit more: raw fish, vinegar, maybe some chopped onions and other vegetables, together with the idea that, certainly, nature can be improved on.

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FOOD FOCUS

The recipe below is just Eduardo “Momong” Robillo’s vision of the perfect kinilaw, a single composition in an oeuvre that varies from island to Philippine island.

Ingredients 1kg 300mL 1 1/4 kg 15 2 1 1 2 5 to 10 50 gr 10 gr 1 2 gr 1

fresh fish (swordfish or yellowfin tuna) vinegar fresh mature coconut grated, milk extracted pork belly calamansi limes, strained of seeds onions, chopped radish, sliced thinly or diced cucumber, sliced thinly or diced red bell peppers, chopped fine birdseye chilis ginger, crushed or diced spring onions, chopped very small packet of black pepper, crushed fine in the packet table salt salted duck egg

Instructions After dicing fish into cubes, pour all vinegar into it, then place the lot in a strainer (the vinegar is meant to wash the fish, not to marinate it). Set aside to totally drain while preparing the other ingredients.

Broil the pork belly on charcoal. Slice to desired size. The pork fat adds taste to the kinilaw and counters the red hot pepper that you will crush and mix with the calamansi juice. The grated coconut milk, squeezed from the grated coconut using a clean cloth, will also help counter the “heat”. Optionally, you can crumble a salted duck egg into the coconut milk to flavor and thicken it.

Mix all ingredients with the fish in a large bowl after sprinkling with salt and the black pepper. Chill. One preparation should easily serve up to a dozen boozers.

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travel personality

How do you feel Porcelain Hotel or Huang Ah Ma comes in and fill the need or trends in Singapore? Together with Porcelain Hotel, Huang Ah Ma meets the increasing consumer demand for more integrated, onestop beauty and lifestyle solutions in a convenient location near major shopping and financial districts. The new wellness brand caters to an increasing number of travelers who enjoy wellness treatments, as well as address the increasing demand for quick getaways in Singapore by local consumers. A charming new hotel is now open in the heart of Singapore’s historic Chinatown precint. Combining a fascinating European 1930’s styled facade with modern contemporary interiors, the Porcelain Hotel also features a signature spa - Huang Ah Ma, which has Eastern-inspired massage treatments. Unearthing Asia chatted with Ms Wendy Ho, the CEO of Mary Chia Holdings, the company that manages this new establishment.

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What travel, tourism and hospitality trends are you seeing in Singapore at the moment? Well the Integrated Resort has brought about a big change. Visitor arrivals has continued to trend upwards, and increased by almost 20% from 2009 to 2010. This is very noticeable in the boutique hotel industry, especially in ethnic areas like Little India and Chinatown.

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How has the hospitality scene changed in Singapore over the last five years? Singapore has enjoyed a booming tourism industry in recent years. As a results, boutique hotels have enjoyed high occupancy rates. The niche is enjoying a revival in the under-200-rooms boutique hotel industry, with more and more new establishments opening in ethnic areas like Little India and Chinatown, as well as the outskirts of the CBD.


© Porcelain Hotel & Huang Ah Ma

How do you think the travel and tourism scene in Singapore differs from elsewhere in Asia? As Singapore is a leisure and business destination, we see a mixture of travelers at Porcelain Hotel, with 80% being leisure travelers. Most guests come from the Asia Pacific region, while the remaining 20% come from Europe and USA who chose Porcelain Hotel because of its significant Chinatown location. Asian guests, who are both business and leisure travelers, usually chose Porcelain Hotel because of its strategic location – about 5 minutes from the business district and in the heart of Chinatown’s shopping area. What do you think makes Singapore such a great tourist destination? Singapore is a dynamic city rich in contrast and color, where one can find a harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture. From exotic ethnic enclave to efficient business centre, from serene gardens to sleek skyscrapers, Singapore embodies the finest of both East and West. The diversity and variety of food representing different ethnicities can also be touted as one of the main reasons that make Singapore such a great tourist destination.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Singapore? I enjoy walking in lush open spaces with my family and friends, so we can be close to nature. One of my favorite places is The Southern Ridges, which spans the hills of Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Kent Ridge Park. What makes Porcelain Hotel / Huang Ah Ma special? Porcelain Hotel is positioned as a beauty spa hotel with an integrated Oriental spa concept – Huang Ah Ma, located in the heart of Chinatown. Huang Ah Ma features a variety of traditional Chinese spa treatments, including Singapore’s first post-natal spa/hotel package where new mothers can spend their confinement period at the hotel while undergoing treatments.

The boutique hotel combines a fascinating European 1930’s stayed façade with modern contemporary interiors and also features subtle Oriental touches and amenities including complimentary wireless internet access. Located in Singapore’s historic Chinatown precinct, the hotel is five minutes away from the business district. Guests are also able to visit tourist attractions surrounding the area including the Chinatown Heritage Centre and the Chinatown Night Market. Define Porcelain Hotel / Huang Ah Ma in 5 words. Oriental-themed beauty spa hotel Thanks for your time Wendy!

simply food!

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travel personality

Graze at Martin No. 38, the latest addition to the Epicure collection, is now open. Located within the stylish Robertson Quay neighborhood, it is a vibrant informal space sure to be a classic hangout spot for all day dining and relaxation. Unearthing Asia talks to the brain behind the venture, young Singaporean entrepreneur Yenn Wong, who also had a hand behind JIA, Hong Kong’s first boutique hotel and the first hospitality venture in Asia by French design guru, Philippe Starck.

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Hello there, can you share with us about yourself? What do you do for a living? What is your passion? I’m Yenn Wong, a Singapore entrepreneur dabbling in hospitality and tourism. I’m the owner of JIA Boutique Hotels, which is currently located in Hong Kong and Shanghai. I also own and operate a few restaurants such as Kha, a casual chic Thai restaurant, the original Graze in Rochester Park, Singapore, as well as 208 Duecento Otto in Hong Kong and Issimo at JIA Shanghai. Food and travel are two of my passions, as can be obviously deduced from my choice of ventures and business dealings.

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Tell us more about Graze, your newest restaurant in Robertson Quay The trend worldwide is to pair up good food with a cool neighborhood atmosphere, and that is exactly what we try to do with Graze. We provide a casualchic ambiance in a hip neighborhood, not just for lunch, dinner or weekend brunch, but for all-day hangout where you can enjoy artisan coffess or freshly cut charcuterie to nibble over a glass of wine. What makes Graze special? What can customers expect when they dine here? Graze has a great “urban country” atmosphere. It is a cool neighborhood bistro in a hip residential enclave with a dash of bohemian vibe – it’s the perfect place for dining or just hanging out over drinks. Guests can expect fresh fullflavored cuisine, an excellent wine list and freshly-brewed artisan coffess from all around the world. And you can choose as well where to enjoy this – in the casual chic interiors or at one of the al-fresco tables outside.


Š Graze Restaurant

Define Graze in 5 words Casual-chic, fresh, relaxing, delicious, friendly. Tell us more about Singapore, what dining trends are you seeing in Singapore? What makes it different compared to other countries? The Integrated Resorts have helped to attract higher level of celebrity chef and restaurant offerings in Singapore, creating greater awareness and profile for the industry. Italian eateries and ethnic foods like Thai cuisines are gaining more popularity, and there is also a number of chefs dabbling in the modern molecular movement. The dining scene has definitely moved up a couple of notches over the years, with more quality concepts coming up for the customers to choose from. It truly is a Food Paradise now, consisting of various local and international cuisine.

How do diners expectations in Singapore compare to diners in other cities in the world? Singaporeans love to be the first to check out new places, they like variety. The dining public are much more interested and more knowledgeable in food safety, country of origin, status and more. There is also a growing awareness and appreciation for ecomovements such as carbon footprint, organic status and other similar movements.

Singapore is also quite fortunate in the sense that there are plenty amazing spaces for restaurant venues as compared to other cities.

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travel personality

Is has been said before that many young Singapore chefs are preferring to study western cuisines instead in traditional local cuisine. How true do you think this is and is it a problem? Singapore is a melting pot of ethnic cuisines and global populations. It would be such a shame if more local chefs did not show a greater interest in their local cuisine/heritage. Due to the influx/growth of international tourism, the industry finds itself having to offer a greater range of cuisines/foods to its customer base – and it just so happens, that some western cuisines are in greater demand, not only in Singapore but globally. That said, this presents a wonderful opportunity at this country’s doorstep to educate, inform, titillate and excite both local residents and inbound visitors, just how wonderful some of the heritage foods and established dishes of Singapore really are. What do you enjoy most about being in the F&B industry in Singapore? There is a great diversity of food cultures in SIngapore. You can never go hungry and generally it is still very economical to eat out, be it at one of the upmarket restaurants, funky cafes or local hawker stalls. We have fantastic access to some pretty amazing food and materials from all over the world.

What do the best restaurants need to do to stand out or get a solid reputation in Singapore? A good restaurant need to have a clear identity, a well planned concept and defined product/offering. They need a good team of people to consistently deliver on the key values and key selling points of the establishment. It is pertinent that there is always consistency in the food and the service. And last but not least, they need to offer good value to the customer. What’s your favorite local food? What do you like about it so much? I think my favourite would have to be crab bee hoon, soup or fried. It’s so exclusive to Singapore, and the seafood taste works really well with bland noodles like bee hoon. You can really taste the freshness. Thanks for your time Yenn! Good luck with the new restaurant!


Simply Food  

Unearthing Asia Issue 07

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