Page 1

SouTheaST aSia

SepTember 2012

FOOD DR K SpecIiN a l


from pools To cooking schools

Chinese Lessons

A TAiwAnese food educATion Cocktails at Ku Dé Ta overlooking the heart of Singapore, page 90.

tokyo’s hidden restaurants


your after-hours recipe for success

Street food survival guide Singapore S$7.90 ● Hong Kong HK$43 THailand THB175 ● indoneSia idr50,000 MalaySia Myr17 ● VieTnaM Vnd85,000 Macau Mop44 ● pHilippineS pHp240 BurMa MMK35 ● caMBodia KHr22,000 Brunei Bnd7.90 ● laoS laK52,000

Volume 06 / Issue 9


September 2012 Features 90

Shake That money maker Singapore’s nocturnal fare has never been more diverse, whether you’re into discerning settings or simply a fine craft beer. by zul andra . photographed by lauryn ishak . guide



bite-size bali Tour Bali through its cooking schools and, as samantha brown discovers, you’ll uncover a lot about the island itself and its favorite dishes. photographed by johannes p . christo . guide



104 Jewels of rajasthan Shops full of precious stones. Silks in iridescent hues. Over-the-top palaces—each more magnificent than the last. alexandra marshall finds a land fit for royalty.

l auryn Ishak

118 The pow of a Global palate In his attempts to stretch the bounds of his own cooking, jarrett wrisley concludes that, thanks to travel, there’s change afoot in the world’s kitchens. illustration by

122 europe’s New Wine Country In Greece— between the jagged peaks of the Peloponnese, the ancient vineyards of Macedonia and the sun-drenched shores of Crete—bruce schoenfeld finds a resilient and ever welcoming people, seductively simple food and some unforgettable wines. photographed by dagmar schwelle . guide and maps 130

wasinee chantakorn

photographed by jake stangel . guide and map

114 menus that matter So you’ve heard of a hotel restaurant that is nothing short of excellent, but how does it compare with the best in the world—or should it? by christopher


Cocktails at Ku Dé Ta overlooking the heart of Singapore, page 90. t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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Departments 15 c o n t r i b u t o r s 16 … i n b o x 18 p o i n t o f v i e w 71

dest i nat ions

radar 23

plus A happening hood in Auckland; Bobby Chinn’s latest food venture; contemporary jewelry in Hong Kong; New Year’s breaks; and more.

Cocktails With altitude diana hubbell explores a new generation of rooftop bars overlooking Bangkok. Discreet Dining Five Tokyo restaurants tucked away in the city where you can experience hidden treasures. by scot t ha as

Trip Doctor 75

King of the Food Cart Makansutra’s K. F. Seetoh reveals his favorite stalls in Singapore and Malaysia. by melanie lee

Taiwan on the menu In his attempt to uncover the nuances of modern cuisine on the island nation, john k rich concludes the real thing can be difficult to find. photogr aphed by alberto buzzola



Street Food 101: a Global Guide The survivor’s manual to eating well and safely off the beaten path. plus A city-by-city primer on the best street-food enclaves. Smart Traveler How to book a table at the hottest restaurant in town, handle waiters and other secrets from industry insiders. by jennifer chen Q+a What to pack to survive a road trip in


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best Deals Take a city break in Kuala Lumpur or Shanghai, rent a villa in Koh Samui or explore the rainforest in Brunei. Plus: A trip to Koh Chang.

e d i t o r ’s n o t e

on the cover Lounging in the river pool by the Cliff villas at Ayana Resort and Spa in Bali. For more on Bali, see page 98.

Decoder 132 São paulo Brazil’s biggest metropolis is fast-paced, stylish and full of one-off gems, from edgy boutiques and galleries to authentic gastronomic temples. by jennifer flowers . photogr aphed by lalo de almeida

138 Last Look A small and unlikely taste of Italy in Rangoon. photogr aphed by cedric arnold

l a lo de a lmeIda

bold wall fabrics at adriana barra, in São paulo, page 132.

China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

12 …

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september 2012 123

26 tok yo 122 greece 34

104 r ajaSthan


Beijing taIWan, 50

VIetnam, 54

CambodIa, 44 90

Singapore 98


sÃo paulo, 132

auCkl and, 28



WheN To Go

WhaT uS$5 buyS

Who To FoLLoW



now through october—take advantage of these last two months of dry season.

depending upon your bargaining powers, a plate of nasi goreng and a can of bintan beer.




avoid the summer and deep winter, so that leaves october, when the temperature ranges from 6 to 20 degrees Celsius, and april.

a short taxi ride—the tricky part is managing to flag one down!




Visit this month if you can, which is the tail end of the busy season, and avoid december to march, which can be unpredictable.

tasting at nostos Wines that also includes cheese and olives.




the most comfortable months are from october to march, when the sun is less intense and nights can actually get cool.

miniature painting—a great keepsake. search the stalls in the lanes in Jodhpur. and haggle.




think the weather is always the same in singapore? you’d be wrong, both october and February are prime months to visit the city-state.

a few trips around town on the city’s efficient mrt.




april means cherry blossoms, though it’s a busy time of year. Why not travel in late october when the season is turning and crowds are smaller?

a couple of onigiri, or rice balls, at a local supermarket. opt for beni shake (pink salmon).


Long Weekend


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editor’s Note

where to find me @CKucway on Twitter

a new look on the menu


pa u l e h r l I C h

he annual food issue normally brings about mixed reactions from our staff—putting it together is a joy in Asia, but the inevitable office-wide weight gain can be a pain. This year, our waistlines got a reprieve because, as you’ll have noticed by now, we were preoccupied with a head-to-toe redesign of the magazine, starting with this issue. Overall, the aim is for the magazine to offer a cleaner look, one that allows you the reader to navigate pages more easily while still providing our trusted blend of timely travel information. Kicking things off up front is On Our Radar, which offers a range of stories to keep you updated on all the new openings, happenings and trends that have sparked our interest. Point of View is just that, a particular take on a range of travel subjects, this month being a look at packing (page 71). Next up is Trip Doctor, a section to cure what ails your travels. It’s where we try to pre-empt trip trouble with topical advice, answers to your questions, practical tips and our hardearned pearls of experience (“wisdom” might be pushing our luck). We also feature a guide to street food (page 75), an insider’s look at restaurants and how to make the most of them (page 82), as well as the latest on room deals around the region (page 86). Also new is Decoder, in this issue offering an in-depth look at São Paulo (page 132), admittedly a distant locale but one you might consider visiting after reading the colorful account by Jennifer Flowers. Of course, Travel+Leisure wouldn’t be the magazine it is without our detailed stories each issue on a variety of destinations. This month we wait for the big-city lights to dim when searching out Singapore nightlife (“Shake that Money Maker,” page 90), and we’re not talking about overpriced cocktails in a dated hotel lobby lounge. No, this is a behind-the-velvet-rope look at bottle-service culture and, if like me at first, you don’t know what that means, then read on for a well-culled list of the after-hours hotspots in Singapore. If you’re more interested in cuisine than clubbing, there’s our look at Bali cooking schools (“Bite-sized Bali,” page 98), which turn out dishes as delicious as the setting is beautiful. Following the food, Samantha Brown leads you to unexplored corners of the island. Finally, our Last Look (page 138) has been rejigged and this month’s version offers up a tale from fast-changing Burma that none of us thought we’d ever read about. As you’ll notice throughout the issue, the redesign is meant to interact with the growing wave of social media, so let us know what you think about our new look and share your own wealth of travel advice with us, whether it’s by e-mail, a tweet or any other form of instant communication that is handy on your travels.— christopher k ucway

at Nahm, The metropolitan bangkok’s Thai restaurant.

our next stops

The banda islands Trekking in New Zealand macau, for the food Kyoto

The T+L Code Travel + Leisure editors, writers and photographers are the industry’s most reliable sources. While on assignment, they travel incognito whenever possible and do not take press trips or accept free travel of any kind. t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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Alexandra Marshall

Cedric Arnold

Samantha Brown

Lauryn Ishak

Alberto Buzzola

brilliant hues India is already colorful, but Rajasthan’s saris and turbans are extra bright. It’s a center of textile craft—the colors are just nuts. favorite rajasthani city Between Jaipur’s bustle and Jodhpur’s maze-like old city, it’s impossible to pick! With its big lakes, Udaipur had a kind of serenity and calm that the others did not. My stay there was the perfect way to end the trip. striking gold I love tribal stuff and anything old looking. Jaipur’s traditional pieces in gold get my heart racing. meet and greet People approach one another with a small bow, hands together, and say, “Namaste.” It’s not just for yoga class!

burma travel advice? Book hotels well in advance because many are already full. Unfortunately, it’s no longer possible to visit Burma with vague plans. Book online too, which will save money in what is still a cash-based economy. Oh, and go now. in burma, don’t miss… Shwedagon Pagoda, Friday night happy hour at The Strand’s bar and Rangoon’s artist-owned galleries. biggest burma surprise? On my last trip, in July, I saw a Bentley in Rangoon. Things really are changing fast. your ultimate trip That’s top secret at the moment, but I am planning a few things.

best dish in bali Babi gulung, traditional suckling pig, is fingerlicking good. The pork is infused with a heady blend of turmeric, crushed coriander, lemongrass, black pepper and garlic, then spit roasted. is there a chef in your veins No, you have to work too hard. I could be a menu designer though. That would work for me. bali secret It’s not exactly a secret, but a great getaway is Nusa Lembongan, a 45-minute boat ride away. It has a distinct vibe, with little traffic and lots of seafood. if not bali, then… Any island I haven’t heard of. With so many, Indonesia deserves so much more attention than it gets.

in after-hours singapore… Have a meal and a drink with friends. It’s the best way to catch up after a week of work. best thing about the city There is a lot to do now compared with a few years ago. You can pretty much find anything these days in Singapore and at almost all hours. next big move Off to Switzerland for a few years. Will miss Asia and its somewhat chaotic shenanigans and fly-by-the-seat-of-yourpants style, but it will be awesome to explore a new continent. one place you’ll miss in asia You’re forcing me to pick a favorite! It’s hard to choose, but I love Sri Lanka and the familiarity of Indonesia can’t be beat.

best thing about taiwan I’ve been asked this question many times and the answer is still the same: the people. Taiwan has some of the most friendly, helpful and hospitable people in Asia. biggest surprise They are finally managing the bicycle paths in a decent way. Seeing Taiwan from a bicycle is really a different experience. don’t leave taiwan without… Trying the stinky tofu even if it has a nasty name attached to it. next big assignment Shiao Liu Chio and other tiny islands scattered around Taiwan. They are a part of Taiwan but still have their own character and charm.

Writer “Jewels of rajasthan” (page 104).

Photographer “last look” (page 138).

Writer “bite-size bali” (page 98).

Photographer “shake that money maker” (page 90).

Photographer “taiwan on the menu” (page 50).

‘it’s not exactly a secret, but a great getaway is nusa lembongan, a 45-minute boat ride from Bali. little traffic and lots of seafood.’ —Samantha Brown


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F r o m l e F t: d a n e l l e r o n d b e r G ; C o u r t e s y o F C e d r I C a r n o l d ; C o u r t e s y o F s a m a n t h a b r o W n ; C o u r t e s y o F l a u r y n I s h a k ; C o u r t e s y o F a l b e r t o b u z z o l a



Chasing the surf Yeah! The Philippines’ Siargao is in the July 2012 issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia [“8 Ultimate Islands”]. Thanks. More please. @danelleruth

looks like the place I dream about on a Monday morning before my first coffee of the day and before my e-mails download. I don’t know if I should thank you for making my Fridays look more promising or berate you for dragging out my Monday morning! The only solution I can come up with at this point is to book a break in the Maldives and not have to worry about whether it’s Monday morning at all. Susan Asang




Great for Hanging ten

If you’re going to Siargao, you’d best bring a surfboard. Curls of white foam are what lure most visitors to this southeast corner of the Philippines, to an island that defines laid-back. And if you want to fit into that crowd, know that it’s the heavy right-hand barrel reef break called Cloud 9—named after a popular Filipino chocolate bar— that makes the visit worthwhile. Between August and November, the habagat, or southwest monsoon, makes this a surfing paradise. Maybe it’s the type of visitor, or just as likely it’s the teardrop-shaped island itself, but Siargao defines raw charm. Its sweep of quiet beaches and a forested interior aren’t home to much in the way of development, unless you consider palm roofs and dirt floors an intrusion. So don’t be surprised if the most crowded spot is that curling wave lined with surfers. On this lazy island, it might be the only time your heart will race during a visit. T+L TIP If you want to brave the waves, but don't have the skills, check out Surf Camp Siargao ( for lessons on riding barrels and getting in the green room.—Christopher Kucway


14/06/2012 19:13

Wow, how can anyone narrow down Asia’s best beaches to just eight stops? Nice try, now would you like some other suggestions? I’ve got a few here in the Philippines alone. Of course, I wouldn’t give you my favorites for fear of spoiling them, but I could offer some excellent choices—I make a habit of frequenting great beaches. Somebody has to. Jorge Symmons manila

Cover Girl Not to be too rude about it, but I would love to sit in your July 2012 cover. That

contact info

reaDer’S FiND Touring india My family and I recently returned from an abercrombie & Kent ( trip to India. It was an incredible experience, and much of the credit goes to our guide, Vivekanand, who took us on a rickshaw ride through Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk bazaar; to the City Palace, in Jaipur; and, of course, to the Taj Mahal, in Agra— which he described as “a teardrop on the cheek of time.” Vivekanand paid attention to our interests, adjusting our itinerary as needed. We recommend him to anyone visiting India, especially for the first time. Sandra Wagner-Wright hilo , hawaii

Got something to say? Tell us at,, f, or @TravLeisureasia. Comments may be edited for clarity and space.

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Courtesy oF aboVe ele Ven

cocktailS with altitude there’s a new generation of rooftop bars drawing crowds above bangkok these days, and with killer cocktails and the promise of respite from the city’s famously frenetic pace, it’s easy to see why. We surveyed the best newbies joining the ranks of old favorites like nest and red sky. The Speakeasy (; drinks for two Bt700), a loosely 1920’s themed spot atop the trendy hotel muse, offers vintage cocktails and cigars. With its dark wood and wrought-iron furnishings, the ambiance is more Mad Men than moonshine, but we’re not complaining. overlooking nightlife hub sukhumvit soi 11, the quirky, yet classy, above eleven (aboveeleven. com; drinks for two Bt600) features peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine in a setting inspired by manhattan’s Central park, complete with skeletal aluminum “trees” and a faux-hedge maze. Finally, for a more intimate experience, park Society & hi So (; drinks for two Bt580) has private cabanas with a sleekly urbane vibe and a view of nearby lumphini park.—diana hubbell at above 11 in bangkok. t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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radar opening

Big in Macau This month sees the Sheraton Macau Hotel (; rooms starting at HK$1,388) open its doors to its 3,863 rooms, making it the largest hotel in the city of casinos. But just how big is the hotel? Take a look…

If a snooze is in order, there are almost 15 tons of duvets in the hotel, a lot of feathers.

The Sheraton expects its active guests to cover 12,000 kilometers on its fitness center treadmills each month. That’s like running from Macau to Los Angeles!

The hotel spa expects to go through 137 liters of massage oil each month.


a mid-autumn night’S dream If you like pastries, colorful lanterns and dancing dragons, boy do we have good news for you. throughout september the 1 mid-autumn Festival will inspire a host of lively celebrations across southeast asia featuring your favorite frivolities. China, taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, korea— each country brings its own spin to commemorating the event, and here we’re looking at how hong kongers live it up. as tradition dictates, the iconic mooncake is the dessert of choice, but while the classic red bean pastry is the star of the show, there are also modern interpretations appearing, with


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fillings ranging from chocolate to foie gras. For firebugs, the 2 Tai hang Fire Dragon Dance in hong kong is the perfect spectacle—this three-day event involves 300 performers and a 67-meter-long dragon studded with nd if you’re looking to escape 72,000 incense sticks. and the glow of your computer in favor of more ancient luminescence, there will be a lanterns strewn throughout the city all month, with a stand out display at Victoria park on hong kong Island. — mg t r av e l e s e Air-mourn (v) To sob on a plane while watching a film that would be considered sappy or sentimental on land (anything based on a Nicholas Sparks novel).

F r o m t o p : C o u r t e s y o F s h e r at o n m a C a u h o t e l ; C o u r t e s y o F h o n G k o n G t o u r I s m b o a r d

f e s t i va l

If pillow fights are your thing, then you’ll be happy to know the hotel counts a total of 15,652 pillows on its beds.

radar t+l p i c ks

diScreet dining Japan is a nation that sets the standard for privacy. here are five tokyo restaurants—below ground, embedded in office buildings, tucked away in alleyways—where you can experience hidden treasures. by scott haas mus-mus


mus-mus, on the seventh floor of an ordinary office building in marunouchi, offers guests the chance to savor Washoku cuisine. this is the food of Japan before the meiji period began and the nation became smitten with Western culture. It’s characterized by great seasonality and an emphasis on steaming (“mus” means to steam) ingredients. 1-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Shin-Marunouchi Building, 7F; 81-3/5218-5200;; dinner for two ¥8,000.

Izakayas, or Japanese pubs, are often more about the drinking than dining. located in a basement, Wattaribozu is the exception. this spot is all about great food, with a focus on the sheer deliciousness of akita cuisine. on the menu: heirloom hina-dori chicken, rarities from the sea of Japan and cold, pure sake from the north. Nishi-Gotanda 1-7-1, Libio Gotanda Pragma G Tower B1F; 81-3/3491-3808; dinner for two ¥8,000.

osakaya toranomon sunaba

bird land


below the street’s surface, just above a subway platform in on the first floor of the fashionable Ginza, bird toranomon building, an land is a rarity: a one-star office space filled with michelin restaurant that cubicles, is a centuriesold, family-owned noodle serves nothing more than humble yakitori (grilled joint. It serves up chicken). Chef-owner gorgeous soba, hot or cold, topped with flavorful toshihiro Wada elevates this simple dish to fame vegetables. owner with the high quality of ryuichi Inagashi and his the ingredients. 4-2-15 son, the chef, continue Ginza, Tsukamoto Sozan the legacy. 1-10-6, Building, B1F; 81-3/5250Toranomon Building, 1081; ginza-birdland. Minato-ku; 81-3/; dinner for 9661; dinner for two two ¥10,200. ¥4,000.

about 90 years ago, chicken-in-a-pot took on a revolutionary meaning at this now classic spot in tokyo. Is it hot pot? Is it pot au feu? ultimately, the rich, meaty, family style servings are so satisfying that the name doesn’t seem that important. this is quintessential comfort food, Japanese style. the stews are big, filling and definitely meant for sharing. a minimum order is for three and costs ¥15,900. Toritako. Asakusa 2-32-1; 81-3/3844-2756.

Subtle, refined Washoku cuisine at mus-mus.


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Photographed by Alfie Goodrich


on the map

Britomart Blooms

a happening quadrant of downtown auckland is home to high fashion retailers, classy restaurants and stylish bars. by karryn miller

A derelict bus terminal along Auckland’s harbor has become the hippest spot in the city. Yes, Britomart has undergone some serious changes over the years. Thanks to a revitalization project that began in 2004, nine city blocks— consisting of 18 protected heritage buildings from the late 1800’s—are being transformed into a modern enclave for eating, drinking and shopping.

Quay street


2 brItomart plaCe


8 tyler street

6 atrIum on takutaI

te ara tahuhu WalkInG street


Gore street

7 GalWay street



eat For upmarket cuisine, locals flock to 1 District Dining (50 Customs St. E.; 64-9/368-5315;; dinner for two NZ$80), a restaurant with crisp monochrome décor and lofty ceilings. The focus is on shared platters with dishes incorporating a range of flavors. Nearby 2 ebisu (116-118 Quay St.; 64-9/300-5271;; dinner for


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two NZ$70) specializes in fresh sushi and sashimi. Fittingly, it occupies the former Union Fish Company Heritage building. 3 Café hanoi (Excelsior Building, Cnr. Commerce and Galway; 64-9/3023478;; dinner for two NZ$70) uses the core ingredients of Vietnamese cooking—lime, lemongrass,

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chili and coriander—to craft tasty dishes like braised pork shoulder in a spicy tomato, ginger and lemongrass sauce. The place is famous for its attentive service and won Best New Venue and Maître d’ of the Year Lewisham awards (Auckland’s top hospitality awards) last year. ➔

C o u r t e s y o F C o o p e r & C o m pa n y

Customs street east

radar drink

4 Tyler Street Garage (120 Quay

St.; 64-9/300-5279; tylerstreetgarage.; drinks for two NZ$32) has noteworthy cocktails such as Caribbean Grass, a blend of rum, lime, lemongrass, apple juice and ginger beer. The minimalist design pays homage to its industrial past (it was once a parking garage) with exposed steel piping, rough brick walls and a cast aluminum bar. At brewpub 5 Northern Steamship Co. (122 Quay St.; 64-9/374-3952;; drinks for two NZ$26) the décor is anything but simple. Inside are retro floor lamps secured to the ceiling, and

column bookshelves stacked with encyclopedias. The menu features hearty pub fare often incorporating some of the local brand Mac’s signature brews in dishes like beer-battered flounder and fries paired with a Mac’s Gold All Malt Lager. For an afternoon treat, courtyard bar 6 britomart Country Club (31 Galway St.; 64-9/303-2541; britomartcountry; drinks for two NZ$30) serves high tea with scones and fluffy lamingtons presented on a tiered platter. The grassy venue gets livelier at night, with musicians and DJs providing entertainment for the after-dark crowd.




The Curate store (5a Gore St.; 64-9/379-7500; sells more than a dozen leading New Zealand designers’ collections. There’s a mix of high-end brands including Sabatani, known for luxurious fine-knit women’s clothing; and Stolen Girlfriends Club, which caters to an edgier crowd. Top New


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Zealand shoe creator 8 Kathryn Wilson’s (90 Wellesley St. W.; 64-9/446-1004; designs range from zebra print ankle boots to wine colored loafers. Her store on Britomart’s central tree-lined walking street is as unique as her creations. It’s a standalone giant shoebox. 9 Zambesi (56 Tyler St.; 64-9/303-1701;

t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m opted for a more traditional abode—the 1970’s Seafarers building— when they shifted their flagship store to Britomart earlier this year. The label sells distinct men and women’s clothing, with seasonal collections that are usually heavy on darker tones and incorporate unexpected fabrics and designs. You might

find a stylish tailored cropped jacket made from sweatshirt material. Many of the independent designers scattered throughout the precinct will showcase their clothing at New Zealand Fashion Week at the Viaduct Events Centre happening this month (September 3-7; Viaduct Events Centre, 161 Halsey St.; ✚

C o u r t e s y o F C o o p e r & C o m pa n y




king of the food cart

K.F. Seetoh claims that his initials stand for “King of Food,” and in some ways, it’s a worthy title. The former photojournalist began his foray into food back in 1997 with The Makansutra, a guidebook on hawker, or street cart, food in Singapore. Multiple editions later (including Malaysia, Jakarta and Beijing versions), Seetoh has extended his culinary business to eateries, television shows and food tours. Right now, he is the host of The Food Surprise! on TLC channel, where he arrives unannounced at famous hawker stalls and restaurants in Singapore and Malaysia for a surprise review of their dishes.


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Hawker food has a special place in Seetoh’s heart because he feels it’s an authentic reflection of the culture in Singapore and Malaysia. “This region has a rich migrant history. You’ll find the food here is an expression of how people in the past led their lives as they reconstructed dishes from their homeland,” he explains. For Seetoh, having a hawker meal is a necessity when in Singapore or Malaysia. “It’s the greatest culinary souvenir you can take back from your trip. You’re not just digesting the food, but also partaking of that country’s heritage.”

da rren soh

Guidebook author k.F. seetoh muses upon his passion for hawker food and reveals his favorite stalls in singapore and malaysia. by melanie lee

Seetoh’S hawker favoriteS

Kuala Lumpur loves its hawker centers. inset, from top: Carrot cake in Singapore; a dish of nasi kandar; opposite: a family affair in Singapore.

Singapore “authentic street food is found deep in the heartlands (local suburbs) and not in travel guidebooks. you’ll have to look hard for it. this is because many singaporean hawker or food court stalls now get their food supplies from central factories.” 1. Selera Kita (Blk. 58, New Upper Changi Rd., #01-217). “this humble mee rebus stall is well visited by people from all walks of life. the lady owner still keeps her prices affordable—just s$1.20 per plate. It’s a simple noodle dish with an egg and a splash of dark soy sauce, but the gravy is beautiful and there’s just this good old days taste to it.” 2. Chey Sua Carrot Cake (Blk. 127, Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, #02-30; S$2-$4). “It’s their special family recipe, and they adapted this southern Chinese radish dish by making it like a pancake. they have this special frying technique where they tilt the pan so the oil collects at the side and the carrot cake becomes crispy instead of soaking up the oil. absolutely brilliant.”

I n s e t F r o m t h e t o p : d a r r e n s o h ; d aV I d h a G e r m a n ; r I G h t: d aV I d h a G e r m a n

malaySia “penang is malaysia’s alaysia’s street food capital. I love how the place evokes a 1960’s nostalgia feel and the food here is cheap, good and hygienic.” 1. Beratur nasi kandar (98 Jln. Masjid Kapitan Keling; open hours vary daily; RM10-30 per person). “Nasi Kandar is a mixed rice dish created by the Indian immigrants in penang. this particular stall has been around since 1943 and has a long-standing reputation— be prepared for a long queue. they use an aromatic spice paste for their curries and I love their fried chicken, beef slices and black squid ink sotong (calamari).” 2. Sin kheng aun restaurant (2 Lorong Chulia; 61-4/261-6786; opens 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m., except Mondays; RM16-32 per person). “hainanese cuisine is a bit of an anomaly compared to other Chinese cuisines in this region because it includes peranakan and Western dishes as well. this is because many early hainanese immigrants in the 19th century were cooks for british troops and wealthy straits Chinese. In this restaurant, they do a ainanese wonderful assam pomfret and hainanese chicken chop.”✚ t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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radar event

Beijing by design

The audience seated outside at the China millennium monument during the opening ceremony of beijing Design Week.


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Courtesy oF beIJInG desIGn Week

as unesco’s latest design capital gears up for beijing design Week, creative director aric Chen offers an insider’s tour. by lim sio hui

Courtesy oF beIJInG desIGn Week

Designated as a design capital by unesco in May, Beijing is returning to the fore as a creative destination once again. “I think most people are by now aware of all the iconic architecture that’s been popping up in Beijing: the Bird’s Nest, CCTV headquarters and so on,” says Aric Chen, Beijing Design Week’s creative director. “But more important is what’s happening on the ground, percolating throughout the city’s small pockets and hidden corners. What’s most interesting about Beijing is often that which you can’t see at first. Part of our aim with Beijing Design Week is to, at least for 10 days, bring it all out in the open.” The US-born design critic and curator relocated from New York to Beijing four years ago, and has watched the design landscape evolve rapidly ever since. There has been a revolution revitalizing many previously marginalized spaces: the shops in Wudaoying—one of the city’s oldest hutongs (alleys), studios in the former factory zones of 751 and 798, and the art gallery district of Caochangdi. “The scene is still new, but you see

more young designers doing work under the umbrella of their own independent studios.” Watch out for rising stars such as Naihan Li, nominated for this year’s Designs of the Year Award from the Design Museum in London for her Crates series of self-packing furniture, and architect Zhang Ke of Standardarchitecture. Both will be creating installations found in Caochangdi, one of the main venues of Beijing Design Week, taking place between September 28 and October 6. Chen says another name to watch is conceptual duo Shan Design Studio, who will participate in How to Make, an exhibition by Chinese and Israeli designers who will create objects following the lead of instructional videos found on Youtube—a reversal of the conventional dynamic between amateur and professional. With hundreds of events spread across the city, you’ll need to pick and choose what interests you. “If you’re visiting, I would start with Dashilar because that part of the program is really

integrated with the fascinating historic neighborhood so you really get a sense of both the old and new Beijing.” One exciting development is the launch of Yangmeizhu Hutong, adds Chen. Restored with new landscaping, lighting, paving and refurbished storefronts, the street will be home to pop-up stores and cafés by independent designers and niche labels such as Jellymon, Nuandao and Tang’Roulou. Of the other main venues, Chen recommends 751 D-Park, a former powerplant that’s now a hub of art, interior design and fashion, for those who are interested in the design business and lifestyle. And those more inclined towards experimentations in art and academic research will enjoy the events at Caochangdi. Most importantly, take your time to wander around and explore, and save some energy for the evening events. “751 is the only venue that opens in the morning and there’s lots of stuff at night taking place in various locations around the city—tons of parties, talks and even music festivals.”✚

radar Tian hai “a cute restaurant that serves local beijing dishes alongside more adventurous ones such as offal. the owner is a photographer; his work hangs on the wall in this artsy space.” No. 37 Dazhalan Xijie, Xichengqu; 86-10/6304-4065; dinner for two RMB130. Capital m “a lovely upscale restaurant with exquisite design interior, mediterranean menu and a terrace overlooking tiananmen square.” 3/F, No.2 Qianmen Pedestrian St., Dongcheng; 86-10/67022727;; dinner for two RMB600. Jam “a cocktail bar where beijing’s young art and music crowd goes to hang out. thursday nights are the best time to go.” Second floor, Tower C, 206

Gulou Dong Dajie, Dongcheng; 86-10/6404-8218; drinks for two RMB100. Wuhao “this concept shop, in the former home of China’s last empress, really is a must, for its fashion, jewelry and home objects by Chinese and european designers.” 35 Mao’er Hutong, Dongcheng District; 86/189-1135-5035;

The Village, Building 1, No.11 Sanlitun Rd., Chaoyang; 86-10/6417-8888; museum of ethnic Costumes “the beijing Institute of Fashion technology has a very good textile and fashion museum that few people know about.” 2 Yinghua Dongjie, Chaoyang; 86-10/6428-8261.

aric Chen, art critic and curator.

Lost and Found “this shop reissues vintage furniture and objects like thermoses and leather bags from China’s more recent past.” 42 Guozijian Jie, Dongcheng; 86-10/64011855; The opposite house “this kengo kuma-designed boutique hotel doesn’t sacrifice service in the name of design. Its mesh bar is a good place for happy hour.”

The historic street of Dashilar draws crowds during the week-long event.

Courtesy oF beIJInG desIGn Week

aric chen’s address Book

Landscape of the Spirit on display at last year’s beijing Design Week.

plan your viSit around Some of theSe highlightS: The historic commercial street of Dashilar will see the launch of the restored Yangmeizhu Hutong street, an installation by Brazilian designers Fernando and Humberto Campana, and the reinvention of the classic street food cart with gourmet guan bing pancakes created by design duo Jellymon in collaboration with chef Max Levy. ● The former gas plant of 751 D-park (No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Rd., Chaoyang) will house the trade show Beijing Design Fair, outdoor events including forums, a concert and a design night on October 5 (TBC)

Courtesy oF beIJInG desIGn Week

featuring a Pecha Kucha event. ● Tucked on the northeast edge of the 5th Ring Road, the village of Caochangdi will showcase experimental exhibitions and live performances spanning online and offline design, art, music and interactive events. Italian design magazine Interni will present large-scale outdoor installations by Italian architect Alessandro Mendini and Chinese architect Zhang Ke. ● At the China millennium monument (No. 9A, Fu Xing Rd., Haidian), the GeoCity Smart City exhibition at the Museum of Digital Art

will feature works from 50 designers and artists, including the interactive Shadowgram by Austrian firm Ars Electronica Futurelab, which prints stickers in the shape of your shadow to be used for social brainstorming.

a fashion show at China millennium monument.

London designer paul Cocksedge’s installation Manuscript—giant pages of poetry made from rolled steel sheets.

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Rites of Springs

the original

the pastoral

the seaside

the village

According to lore, a Buddhist monk discovered the hot springs of Yamanaka, on the western coast of Honshu island, some 1,300 years ago. Take a dip in the privacy of the secluded Kayotei (, then stay for an organic kaiseki meal with locally foraged bamboo shoots and soba noodles with grated daikon.

Located at the foot of Mount Amagi, Yugashima has jaw-dropping scenery and rustic baths. The yumotokan onsen ( sits in a gorge along the Kano River. Post-dip, walk through the primeval cedar forest to Jōren no taki, a 25-meter-high waterfall.

The Shirahama coastline is lined with unusual rock formations, but the real showstopper is the Sakinoyu onsen (81-739/42-3016), where open-air baths are carved into boulders fronting the Pacific. Once a retreat for the imperial family, it’s open to all for a nominal fee.

Kurokawa, in Kumamoto Prefecture, is one of Japan’s iconic hot-springs towns—there are more than 30 ryokan clustered in one sleepy hamlet; people wander the streets in robes. Don’t miss the private pools at okyakuya ( and Shinmeikan (, which has baths located in caves. —jennifer chen The mineral-rich baths of okyakuya, in Kurokawa, Japan.


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dy l a n + J e n I

Japan’s thousands of onsen, or hot springs, have been used to treat everything from skin conditions to sleep disorders since the days of the samurai. here, four worth the trip from tokyo.

radar trend


Mad about Macarons

t+l hunts down top spots for southeast asia’s latest craving. by diana hubbell It’s no coincidence that macarons are often presented in boxes better suited to jewelry than sweets. Whether brilliantly hued or more modestly decked out in shades of mocha and hazelnut, these gorgeous confections are a fashionable gourmand’s ultimate accessory. As the global onslaught of chi-chi cupcakes subsides, macarons are taking their place as the latest dessert craze. In Bangkok, we’re smitten with the ones at patisserie masatomi (66-2/652-1977; Bt35 to Bt45 each) infused with flavors like yuzu and lavender. Jewels artisan Chocolate (; S$2 each) in Singapore offers slightly more exotic varieties that include butterfly pea flowers, kaya, pandan and even a sprinkling of black palm island salt. And the oolong, jasmine and maccha macarons at paul Lafayet (; HK$15 each) have a cult-like following in Hong Kong.

c u lt u r e

art Beat

this fall is packed with exhibitions, dance and music performances across the region. here are a few worth catching.

+dance the beloved ballet Swan Lake is coming to bangkok in october, performed by Staatsballet berlin, a top class 120-member German dance troupe, at the thailand Cultural Centre Oct. 2-3; Bangkokfestivals. com. +art Inspired by Cirque du soleil, master sculptor richard macdonald


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will have works from his new collection magical energies displayed at opera Gallery and along the iconic orchard road. Sept. 21-Oct. 21; Operagallery. com. +opera the costumes alone make it worth checking out the colorful empress dowager Cixi and princess deling Chinese opera—a highlight of the

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hong Kong arts Festival line up early next year. March 9-10, 2013; hk. +theater slated to debut shortly after Christmas and run through January 2013, Onotoni Inai Sekaide brings together elements of music, dance and theater for quite a dramatic show. nntt.jac.—merritt gurley

two venerable French institutions are pulling back the curtains to reveal the craftsmanship behind their stylish goods. l’ecole Van Cleef & arpels ( offers four-hour classes on jewelry history and design in a gilded 18th-century atelier on paris’s place Vendôme. students can try on a few sparklers, too. stateside, hermès (hermes. com) is hosting the Festival des metiers, a traveling exhibition making stops in new york, san Francisco and houston this fall. Visitors can interact with artisans sewing supple leather into kelly bags using techniques first developed in the 1930’s. sadly, you don’t get any extra credit for shopping. —kathryn o’shea-evans

C l o C k W I s e F r o m t o p l e F t: C o u r t e s y o F pa u l l a Fay e t; C o u r t e s y o F l’ e C o l e Va n C l e e F & a r p e l s ; r u p e r t s t e I n e r C o u r t e s y o F h e r m è s ; C o u r t e s y o F b a n G k o k ’ s I n t e r n at I o n a l F e s t I Va l o F d a n C e & m u s I C ; C o u r t e s y o F h o n G k o n G a r t s F e s t I Va l ; C o u r t e s y o F o p e r a G a l l e r y s I n G a p o r e

opulence 101



Craving Cambodian

Chef Joannès rivière brings his farm-totable philosophy to modern Cambodian cooking. by robyn eckhardt

Given its proximity to one of the world’s greatest man-made wonders, Siem Reap is probably the last place in Asia you’d expect to find a destination restaurant. But since it opened 15 months ago, Cuisine Wat Damnak (between Psa Dey Hoy market and Angkor High School, Wat Damnak village, Siem Reap; 855-63/965-491;; degustation US$17 and US$24) is just that. It has presented as compelling a reason to journey to this city as Angkor’s famed temples, in the form of modern Cambodian cuisine served in a sophisticated setting. Chef-owner Joannès Rivière, former executive chef at Siem Reap’s luxe Hôtel de la Paix and a true farm-to-table believer, uses mostly Cambodian ingredients that he sources directly from local farmers and foragers, and vendors at the city’s old Psar Chas market. Although his restaurant tends to fly under the radar of regional foodies, its revolving degustation menus—featuring dishes such as grilled chicken and garlic sour soup with elephant ear taro stem, amaranth and straw mushroom, coconut pancake with Mekong langoustine, and minced pork with eggplant sauce—have drawn the attention of culinary luminaries like David Thompson, of Bangkok’s Nahm, and Shanghai-based Singaporean chef Justin Quek. ➔


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Photographed by David Hagerman


Chef Joannès rivière in the kitchen. below: meringue and kaffir lime curd, dragon fruit and lime sorbet.

The Roanne-born Rivière arrived in Siem Reap in 2004, after two years as a pastry chef in the United States, to teach cooking and hospitality skills to underprivileged youth at Sala Bai Hotel School. While working there he researched and wrote the school’s cookbook, titled Cambodian Cooking— one of the first Cambodian cookbooks to be published in English—despite his initial ambivalence about the cuisine of his adopted home. “As a tourist you see the same five or 10 dishes all the time, but in fact Cambodian food changes with the seasons. It took me some time to realize that,” explains Rivière, whose appreciation grew with each invitation to dine at the homes of Cambodian friends. The Cambodian approach to cooking, using fresh local ingredients, struck a chord with the chef, who grew up helping his vegetable-grower father make deliveries to the three Michelin-starred restaurant La Maison Troisgrois. Rivière pushes the farm-to-table concept as far as pragmatism allows. For instance, some of the memorable desserts at Cuisine Wat Damnak, like the perennial favorite black rice crème brûlée, highlight Cambodian ingredients, while others, such as the dark chocolate pot de crème, make judicious use of imported products. But when it comes to meat,


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fish, fruits and vegetables, non-local is out of the question. Beyond simply supporting Cambodian agriculture, the policy also has a practical rationale. “It’s ultimately a matter of quality. If I’m not one hundred percent sure of where it’s from, I won’t use it,” says Rivière. As a result, diners are treated to dishes incorporating often unusual, sometimes foraged ingredients like banana stems and coconut sprouts, rice paddy krill and prahok (Cambodia’s pungent answer to fish sauce). Rivière’s food isn’t his own invention, he insists, but an organic extension of using what the earth and seasons provide. It is “definitely Cambodian. I just take a traditional dish, break it apart and put it back together on the plate,” he says. Occupying a small two-story bungalow on a quiet stretch of dirt road away from Siem Reap’s notorious Pub Street, Cuisine Wat Damnak is stylish, yet as unpretentious as its chef. Downstairs, wooden chairs, splashes of saffron and royal blue and a scored concrete floor lend an urban vibe, while glass walls frame a garden. The second floor, constructed entirely of timber and open to the elements, has a more traditional feel. Rivière’s wife Carole offers a warm welcome while cocktails with a twist—margueritas made with turmeric-infused Triple Sec and pineapple whiskey sours—set the stage for a leisurely meal. At the end of each evening Rivière emerges from the kitchen to chat with diners and gauge reactions to the menu. It’s almost always smiles all around. ✚

radar st yle

Going Brogue


the classic oxford is the women’s shoe of the moment—chic, timeless and sturdy enough for the long haul. 1 tricolor wing tip, robert Clergerie. 2 patent-leather brogue with rubber sole, aGl. 3 leather and calf-hair wing tip, Fratelli rossetti. 4 two-tone goat-leather oxford, strenesse Gabriele strehle. 5 polished-leather shoe, derek lam. 6 monochrome leather oxford, longchamp.



fashion director: mimi lombardo



Fa s h I o n m a r k e t e d I t o r : J e s s I e b a n dy



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Photographed by Levi Brown


a sampling of Taiwanese specialities at James Kitchen big Secret.


Taiwan on the Menu

In an attempt to uncover the nuances of modern cuisine on the island nation, John krich concludes the real thing can be difficult to find. I try to live by the adage “when in any land, eat like the natives.” But when you’re in Taiwan, that can be a tall order. Whether marketed by migrants overseas, or celebrated as a source of rural pride, Taiwanese cuisine, like the country itself, is still in the midst of defining its distinct identity—which can make the real thing pretty hard to come by. While most restaurants in Taipei will tout their Sichuan


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or Shanghainese lineage, there is nothing on the door to tell travelers that the secret identity of James Kitchen big Secret (65 Yongkang St., Da’an District; 886-2/2343-2275; dinner for two NT$2,000) is decidedly local. Although “local” in Taiwan means a hodgepodge of different cuisines. Owner-chef James Tseng proudly declares, “Fujianese, Hakkanese, Japanese, Aboriginal—they’re

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all mixed in my stews.” This humble joint with an open kitchen, supplemented by a second “Small Secret” down the same street, is where one Taiwanese food writer encourages me to sample quintessentially Taiwanese delicacies like pig tail soup with black beans, oysters rolled in an egg pancake, whole squash baked with dried scallops, smoked pig’s ears accompanied by sour kumquat dip. It doesn’t

matter that James spent much of his life in California. Everything this homestyle cook puts on the table is slow-cooked, devoid of thick sauces, strongly flavored and filled with local produce and seafood freshly plucked from the ocean. When pressed to describe their island’s cuisine, other famed local chefs resort to vague terms like “basic,” “unsophisticated” and “rustic.” Clearly, it reflects ➔

Photographed by Alberto Buzzola


pig’s ears, possibly the best-selling dish at James Kitchen big Secret.

ah Tsai’s famous dish, Three Cup Chicken.

Vintage artwork adds to the vibe at ah Tsai’s.

Victor Lee at Shin yeh restaurant displays chilled baby abalone.

its history as a poor backwater, long isolated from Imperial China, peopled largely by farmers and fishermen. The starting points, according to Liu Jian-Hua, the long-haired chef of the picturesque ah Tsai’s restaurant (17, Lane 41, Jenai Rd., Sec. 2; 886-2/23513326; dinner for two NT$1,400) housed in an antique-filled two-story colonial

everything is slow-cooked, strongly flavored and filled with local produce 52

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home, are “large portions meant mainly for sustenance.” To that end, his pan-Chinese menu always maintains Taiwanese favorites—hearty fare like turnip omelet, cinnamon-tinged slices of grilled pork neck and a hot pot with free-range chicken and island pineapple. Shin yeh (No. 112 Zhongxiao E Road, Sec. 4, second floor, Da’an District; 886-2/27529299;; dinner for two NT$2,500), the deluxe chain founded by a housewife in a back alley some 35 years ago, is now refining local farmers’ fare at nine outlets, including the popular location atop Taipei 101 (886-2/8101-0185), the country’s iconic skyscraper. Says head chef Cheng Kun-Yin: “Everything stems from our street food. But our dishes are less oily here than in China, with less use of medicinal herbs or spice.”

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But that doesn’t quite do justice to the subtle skill involved in nuanced offerings such as clams with basil, winter melon with egg, or pig knuckles saturated with anise. And it certainly doesn’t account for the finesse shown by more innovative Taiwanese chefs, like Lin Ping-Hui, whose Shi-yang Culture restaurant (No. 7, Ln. 350, Sec.3, Xi Wan Rd., Xi Zhi City, Taipei County; 8862/2636-2266;; dinner for two NT$4,000), a serene lair set amid roaring streams on the far side of a mountain park above Taipei, is one of the most original eateries in all of Asia. First-time visitors might be fooled into labeling the place, as some reviewers have, as “contemporary Japanese.” Yet despite the liberal use of ingredients like mochi, miso and wasabi, the elegantly minimalist presentations and low tables with tatami mats capture the “real meditative spirit of Chinese culture that has been lost,” says creator Lin. An ex-architect turned back-to-nature guru—he has encouraged spiritual enlightenment among his staff as well as a number of imitators since he went into the food business 16 years ago—Lin insists his Zen style stems from the Tang dynasty, not Taiwan’s century as a colony of Japan. “That experience helps makes our presentation more beautiful,” he admits. A dried lotus flower set atop a warm soup opens its petals slowly, lured to bloom by the heat of the broth. There are artfully arranged concoctions like peanut tofu topped with olive tapenade, rice cake with mullet roe, and palate-cleansing homemade vinegars, always finished by a killer chicken soup featuring plenty of bamboo shoots. But the flavors are resolutely earthy, including bits of raw corncob and giant shrimp. There’s the strong influence of neighboring Fujian, where it’s said, “you can always hear the soup sloshing in people’s bellies,” but beneath it all, this is pure Taiwanese comfort food. Once accepted, it’s the sort of bold stuff—unapologetically fishy, salty or meaty—that makes a traveler want to return for second helpings. Meanwhile, back at James Kitchen Big Secret, the meal ends with a plastic jar of housepickled green mango slices—one perfect dessert served in juice that, much like this culturally complex island, has a distinctly satisfying flavor. ✚

radar debut

A Bite with Bobby Celebrity chef Bobby Chinn’s new Saigon spot is home to a happening bar, but was conceived foremost as a sustainable, upscale eatery. New TLC reality series Restaurant Bobby Chinn chronicles the opening of the eatery, from the perils of sourcing local food and speaking a different language than the staff to disobeying a feng shui master. What weird discoveries did you uncover while scouring Vietnam for ingredients? Down in the Mekong Delta, you’d hear chirping birds coming out of buildings everywhere. Turns out they grow birds’ nests for export to Hong Kong and China [for the traditional soup], in these rinky-dink buildings. But they have the highest tech security systems—because each of those nests is worth US$50, a fortune. Why did you start cooking in the first place? In 1997 I lost my job, so I went to Koh Samui and stayed in a hut and hung out with this lady who had set up her wok down the hill from Le Royal Meridien to catch guests fleeing the

eating Saigon, BoBBy-Style hoang yen: bobby praises the consistency at his favorite restaurant. try the chai flowers with clams, stir-fried pumpkin flowers, and fish and caramel in a clay pot. 7 Ngo Duc Ke, District 1. 84-8/3823-1101; dinner for two VND300,000.


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restaurant 13: down the same road, and a smidge down-market, order the curried eel that’s not on the menu but served on request by those in the know. 15 Ngo Duc Ke, District 1. 84-8/ 3823-9314; dinner for two VND180,000.

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banh Xeo: the pork-, shrimp- and sprout-stuffed crepe “exemplifies what I love about Vietnamese food: humble yet complex, with contrasting textures and flavors, hot and cold, gooey and crispy.” Any vendor on Dinh Cong Trang, District 1.

hotel-restaurant prices. She made this amazing dish with chili paste, condensed milk, squid, celery…seriously good. And she was willing to teach me. Did anyone ever try to teach you Vietnamese? you’ve lived here for 15 years! I tried, but there are six tones! Luckily, when it comes to food, I understand what I need to. how is the new restaurant bobby Chinn doing? I’m starting to think these feng shui guys are right. We had a master in to advise during construction and he said, “You’re going to struggle for eight months and then everything will turn around.” in what way? Weighting it more on the Vietnamese side, which is something I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t because people wanted my fusion stuff. I want comfort food increasingly now, and for me that’s Vietnamese. Why do we have to keep inventing new stuff if there’s already so much great food out there? ✚ Restaurant Bobby Chinn airs every Monday night on TLC Asia.

From top: Cou rt esy oF bobby C hIn n; © l a nC e l ee / dre a mstIm e.Com

star chef bobby Chinn talks to Jeninne lee-st. John about his latest restaurant, tV show and favorite places to eat in saigon.

radar design

Bold Baubles a few innovative artists in hong kong are taking a shine to creating unique pieces of modern jewelry. by Catharine nicol

brooches by belinda Chang.

Most tourists exploring Hong Kong will pass by the city’s jewelry store chains. That means checking out all the gleaming gold dragons and Chinese symbols of happiness and longevity depicted in astounding detail. Many will also make the journey to Yau Ma Tei to pore over the fascinating antique (and shamtique) pieces at the more rustic Jade Market. However, despite the abundance of jewelry on display, until recently it was difficult to find truly unique pieces with a contemporary aesthetic. All that is changing now with a small but vibrant assortment of cutting-edge designers that are slowly transforming the local scene. Sheung Wan, an area once known only for its printing


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bangle by hugo yeung.

shops and dried fish stores, has gradually evolved into one of the city’s trendiest districts. Here, among the many boutiques and galleries, is where you’ll find Hammer Gallery and a dynamic local jewelry market beginning to make its presence felt. Founded by Sirkka Hammer, a jewelry designer originally from Germany, hammer Gallery is Hong Kong’s only jewelry-dedicated gallery, featuring a rolling calendar of mostly European designers. Last July though, Hammer and her gallery manager belinda Chang chose to spotlight local artists with their Hong Kong Calling night. The exhibition revealed an eclectic range of creativity and talent in the works of 13 of the city’s jewelry designers.

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“Most Hong Kong jewelers are part-time,” explains Chang, who studied her higher diploma at the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI), following up with a degree at the Birmingham School of Jewelry. “If you want to earn money you need to mass produce, so if you make one-off pieces it’s very difficult. That’s why we put this exhibition together, as designers rarely have an opportunity to showcase their work other than during their graduation show.” Chang’s work takes inspiration from the aging process and how Mother Nature makes her mark. In her current collection, delicate oxidized silver and enamel pieces recreate the whisper-thin curls of peeling

paper necklace by Tricia Tang.

paint or rust, which she has fashioned into stylish brooches. “It’s really hard to create something that looks natural,” she says. In contrast to Chang’s delicate, organic pieces, award-winning designer hugo yeung’s recent jewelry explores the beauty of linear form through satisfyingly balanced and mathematically precise geometric creations. A part-time tutor at HKDI, he says he enjoys seeing his students graduate from the detail-heavy, decorative pieces they often begin with to a simpler, more innovative and modern style. “The culture of Hong Kong is based on the economy, so most of the jewelry being produced is still fine gold, elegant and traditional,” he says.

C l o C k W I s e F r o m t o p : C o u r t e s y o F b o b o t s a n G ; C o u r t e s y o F t r I C I a ta n G ; C o u r t e s y o F h u G o y e u n G ; C o u r t e s y o F b e l I n d a C h a n G

Necklace by bobo Tsang.


Tang uses carved stone seals in her work.

a ring by bobo Tsang.

While some collections, like Yeung’s and Chang’s, are less obviously influenced by Hong Kong’s culture, others like Tricia Tang’s paper necklaces stamped with traditional chops, and her jade rings transformed with seal-red acrylic, use traditional elements to create something new. Whatever their influences and materials, each piece becomes an original and wearable work of art. “We are all influenced by the same surroundings and the way we grew up here in Hong Kong so there are definitely some thoughts, impressions and even shapes we all share,” says Chang. “We do not deny our Chinese background and heritage because it influences our work. The outcome is still totally different though, which is what makes the process so interesting.” One of the most colorful collections comes from bobo Tsang, who, like Chang, is inspired by nature. Her three-finger, green glass


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hugo yeung in his studio.

and metal ring must be turned upside-down to be slipped on. Gravity then allows the glass stalks to fall back down, taking the shape of the wearer’s fingers, unique to each customer. “My ideas come from the growth of plants,” she says. “I love to use glass to make my jewelry, although it can be fragile.” Unfortunately, the emerging Hong Kong market for contemporary jewelry is also fragile. Chang says that most local customers are only concerned with the material worth of their jewelry. But despite tough times she and her colleagues are devoted to elevating the design aesthetic in Hong Kong. “We see a growing trend for bespoke and unique hand-made jewelry our customers can identify with and I believe this is the right way to go,” says Chang. “Human beings need to start thinking and living in alternative ways, away from the mass production that leads to exploitation and destruction of our natural resources.”

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Lighting the way are a few success stories showing that it is possible to make a living as a jewelry designer, people such as Cecile Tu Ching-na. After studying in London, she graduated in 1996 at a time when there was no market at all for her work in Hong Kong. “I asked, ‘What comes first, the need [for contemporary jewelry] or the contemporary jewelry?’” Rather than staying in London where the market was already robust and burgeoning, she decided to take the road less traveled and pioneer a niche market in her hometown. She has since built up a stable of clients who span every demographic. She says she believes, “This intricate culture will continue to spread and can influence other Asian regions too.” Taking the successes and failures of Hong Kong’s boutique jewelry designers in stride, Hammer is keen to continue promoting homegrown talent, with more local exhibitions at Hammer Gallery in the works. ✚

where to find contemporary jewelery

hammer Gallery Shop A, 8 Tai On Terrace, Sheung Wan; 852/3481-8213;

KimLai Fine Jeweller 49-51 Gough St., Noho, Central; 852/25456388;

Cecile Tu Ching-na 254 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan; by appointment; 852/2817-1533; Sin Sin 52, 53 and 54 Sai St., Central; 852/2858-5072; Jockey Club Creative arts Centre (JCCaC) is a multidisciplinary artists’ village with regular open days where jewelry collections are showcased. 30 Pak Tin St., Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon; 852/23531311;

C l o C k W I s e F r o m t o p l e F t: C o u r t e s y o F b e l I n d a C h a n G ; C o u r t e s y o F t r I C I a ta n G ; C o u r t e s y o F h u G o y e u n G ; C o u r t e s y o F b o b o t s a n G . I n s e t, F r o m t o p : C o u r t e s y o F h a m m e r G a l l e r y; C o u r t e s y o F k I m l a I F I n e J e W e l l e r ; C o u r t e s y o F C e C I l e t u C h I n G - n a

a necklace by belinda Chang.

radar a view of New year’s eve fireworks from The ritzCarlton, millenia Singapore.

Countdowns that count

ah, new year’s eve. a night to revel in your vices, swim in champagne and dance your favorite shoes down to a sliver of sole, safe in the knowledge that the pressures and restraints of next year’s resolutions are all still a day away. of course creating a celebration worthy of the yearlong anticipation can be a challenge. the most memorable experiences have a finite admission list and fill up fast—the big night’s only four months away so the time to start planning is now. here we narrow down the best of the best new year’s eve options to suit your travel style. ➔


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C o u r t e s y o F t h e r I t z- C a r lt o n , m I l l e n I a s I n G a p o r e


radar the claSS act

You have a deep appreciation of the finer things in life, like private planes and limitededition sports cars. So when it comes to New Year’s Eve, you set the bar high. For a party with panache, Singapore’s our go-to city. This itinerary sticks to the classics for a night sure to appeal to your discerning sense of refinement. ✚ 6 p.m. Sunset drinks on your own private catamaran. Let the crew freshen up your champagne flutes while you and a few dozen of your

the megaadventurer

The only way you are wearing a tux is if it moisture wicking. And you can do without the fireworks—what are a few sprays of light in the night sky when you’ve repelled into the mouth of a volcano, fought through white water rapids

closest friends watch night fall on a cruise around the city-state.; starting at S$2,000 per day. ✚ 8 p.m. Dinner at JAAN, a contemporary French restaurant with an eyepopping, 70-story view. For New Year’s, Chef Julien Royer has pulled out all the stops with a special menu featuring ultra-luxe dishes such as foie gras with black truffle, prawns with osetra caviar, and venison loin with blood orange.; tasting menu for two S$1,076.

and scrambled up sheer cliff faces. We’re impressed, but we’re not daunted. We still have a New Year’s Eve we think you’ll like. For a deathdefying daredevil like you, we pick Nepal. Take 2013 to towering new heights in the Himalayas and spend the day summiting Kala Patthar, or

✚ 10 p.m. Cocktails at 1-Altitude, 282 meters above the ground for birds-eye perspective of the city.; champagne cocktails for two S$56. ✚ 12 a.m. Head back to your room at the Ritz-Carlton Millennia Singapore for an intimate champagne toast and a front row seat to the firework display over Esplanade Bridge. singapore; New Year’s packages starting at S$1,400 per night. ✚ 1 a.m. Take a spin on the dance floors that have

propelled Singapore’s burgeoning nightlife to international fame. Not sure where to start? Flip to “Shake That Money Maker” on page 90 for tips on how to nail a swanky after-hours night out on the town. ✚ 9 a.m. After a long evening of being classy, you’ll probably need to refuel. If you make it past daybreak, Wild Honey in Scotts Square has a curative frittata packed with rosemary, white truffle oil, mascarpone and caviar.; breakfast for two S$50.

“black rock” in Nepali and Hindi. From this vantage point you’ll be looking down at the clouds, encircled in the jagged white peaks of the famed mountain range, with Everest’s elusive apex almost within reach. What better landscape to set the scene for the year ahead?

where to stay

the ascent begins at Gorak shep, at 5,164 meters. It isn’t so much a town as it is a collection of small lodges, but it will provide a welcome place to rest after a long day’s trek. Snow Land highest inn (snowlandhighestinn. com) provides simple and cozy accommodations, along with hot meals and climbing gear, if you need it.

on top of the world


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the simplest way to hammer down an itinerary is to enlist the help of a tour operator. Snowy horizon (, buddha Nepal Trek (buddhanepaltrek. com) and iTrekNepal ( all offer new year’s eve packages for treks through the himalayas. ➔

© b a r t o s z h a dy n I a k / I s t o C k p h o t o . C o m

how to do it

radar es; packages starting at S$5,355 per person) cruise liner is tricked out with two stately restaurants, spa facilities, butler service, cafés and sunning verandas, so while you are in the middle of the ocean, you’re still afloat in the luxuries of home (for those of you with a butler at home). The big eve will find you in Sihanoukville, Cambodia and as the clock strikes midnight all aboard will gather for a wild poolside party on the main deck, complete with a live band that’s sure the get the boat rocking. ➔

Drinks, dining and dancing at an azamara Club Cruises poolside deck party.


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Courtesy oF the a z amar a CruIse

the Seafarer

For you there’s no smell more intoxicating than salt air; no sound more alluring than crashing waves; no sight more bewitching than the rolling expanse of open sea. You are a salt dog and you belong out on the briny deep. So what better way for you to navigate into the new year than on the deck of a 180-meter-long ship. If you’ve got the time, embark on a 14-day New Year’s Eve highsea voyage through the waters of Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The azamara (azamaraclubcruis-

the rail-rider

You long for that rhythmic clickety-clack of a locomotive on its tracks. Sure there are faster ways to get around, but none capture your imagination like the anachronistic overnight passenger train. Accommodation, transportation and experience all rolled into one speeding mammoth

Travel into the new year full steam ahead.

metal bullet. Of course on a night like New Year’s Eve you’ll want something a little more upscale than your standard choo choo, and for that there’s the orient express (; US$10,500 per cabin, double). The private cabins, with interior walls made of cherry wood and elm burr panels, with fine attention paid to the inlay details and haute décor, make for a ritzy ride. Watch the scenery roll by as you pass from country to country and year to year on the four-day journey from Singapore to Bangkok. The night of December 31 is celebrated in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, Thailand, with a special dinner followed by a beach party, with music, champagne, fireworks and all manner of revelry. ➔

Courtesy oF orIent e xpress


the Sun-worShipper

© m rdoomIts / dre a mstIm e.Com

If you have a tan year-round and everything you own is marked with that tell-tale gristle of sand, this is a no-brainer. Beach party! In Southeast Asia the beach party is like the firecracker of New Year’s Eve bashes—it seems so simple and yet inspires such joy (until somebody loses a finger). Beers, bikinis, beats and beach. You just can’t argue with that kind of alliteration. But there are so many beautiful coasts, the tricky part of the equation is narrowing it down to one. So what if you take a step back and attack it

again from another angle? Instead of watching the sun go down at after-dark danceathons like those in Koh Pha Ngan in Thailand, Sentosa in Singapore and Kuta in Bali, follow the sunrise instead. The Homigot Sunrise Festival on Pohang Beach in South Korea is a celebration of the dawn— how rife with symbolism is that? Perfect for all the sentimental pondering required as you bid farewell to 2012. If that isn’t enough to get you drafting haikus, there are also two giant stone sculptures shaped like human hands, one stretching out from the sea and one on land, known as the

Hands of Harmony, to inspire your poetic streak. Don’t worry—it isn’t just about tranquility and the first blush of new light; there’s booze and debauchery too. In fact, the party goes all night long with dancing, cultural performances and fireworks at midnight. But the grand finale is the sun peaking out from under the blanket of ocean, marking the dawn of a new year. This beach, on the far eastern coast of Korea, will be the first in the country to ring in 2013, and each year the celebration draws around 10,000 visitors eager for the head start. (eng.; Free.) ✚

From dusk till dawn.

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point of View

Confessions of a packing maximalist © a nIk asa lser a / dre a mstIm e.Com

Fashion eccentric and vintage clothing aficionado lynn yaeger reveals the tricks and travails of high-maintenance travel.

hen Mrs. Charlotte Drake Martinez Cardeza of Philadelphia settled into suite B 51-55 on

the Titanic, she had with her 14 trunks, four suitcases and three crates of baggage containing, among other items, 70 dresses, 38 feather boas, 10 fur coats and 91 pairs of gloves. We know this because Mrs. Cardeza, who survived on Lifeboat 3, filed a staggering 18-page, singlespaced insurance claim against the White Star Line, seeking recompense for that lost ermine-trimmed coat and those vanished veils and parasols.

There’s a reason Mrs. Cardeza needed all that stuff: fashionable women of her day were forever changing outfits— putting on and taking off different ensembles for dining, dancing and shopping, even donning elaborate tea gowns, which never actually saw sunlight but were worn just for sitting around the parlor. As fate would have it, I too have complicated wardrobe requirements when I hit the road. And it’s not only because I frequently travel to Europe to cover the biannual fashion shows, where my colleagues appear to switch garments as often as an Edwardian matron (How do they manage it? Do they FedEx Goyard steamer trunks to the Hôtel de Crillon? Sneak off to Le Bon Marché to replenish hotel armoires daily?) but also because my personal style could hardly be called minimalist— and, in fact, depends heavily on puffy frocks and layered petticoats. My taste is fiercely nonconformist (well, as fierce as you can possibly be when you are prancing around in a pink sequined dirndl and a scarlet velvet cloak). I am sure that Mrs. Cardeza had a packing system, and I also have a carefully plotted routine, honed over decades of trial and error. First, rest assured that I do not have anything in common with those braggarts who spend six months in 12 capitals with two pairs of black pants and one T-shirt, insisting that they can do magic tricks with scarves. In fact, my situation is quite the opposite: I frequently don’t have the right things with me no matter how much clothing I bring along, whether I’m going to the flea market in Tangiers or a nightclub in Moscow. My predicament is exacerbated by the fact that whenever I check a bag, I am convinced it will not appear unmolested on the other side of the world, so am reluctant to fill it with anything more valuable than shampoo and skivvies. ➔

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point of View Let me be clear: I consider my wardrobe more a collection of irreplaceable artworks than a bunch of things to wear. That my luggage has never failed to arrive in no way allays this fear—in fact, it only reinforces my conviction that the odds are against me, that the next trip will be the one with the baggage disaster. Since my carry-on must do the heavy lifting, I have been forced to employ strategies that can be more than a little embarrassing. Summer or winter, you will see me in my heaviest clothes, waddling up to the security gate in something like, say, a Dries Van Noten smock over two skirts and a vintage petticoat, in an attempt to smuggle a few more garments onto the plane. This explosion of fabric inevitably results in my being forced to submit to a series of humiliating and invasive security-related procedures, since, let’s face it, there could easily be an entire arsenal stashed under my ensemble. Can there be a less elegant way to begin a journey than planting your Fogal-clad feet on two filthy yellow rubber footprints, waiting for a total stranger to stick her hands up your dress and dust you down with a powdery substance? No matter! I just smile when the words “Female alert!” ring out from the TSA agent at the X-ray machine as I approach. To forestall this body search, I have been known to visit the ladies’ room, peel off a few layers of clothing, stuff them into the largest conveyance that could possibly pass as a piece of “hand luggage,” and hope that this nowdiminished costume will get me waved through. Alas, this only works half the time. “Thank you for keeping us safe!” I cry when the guard realizes there is nothing under my dress—except maybe another dress. At least now I am rushing to the ladies’ pain-free. For years I insisted on toting a battered Louis Vuitton duffel, convinced that this bag made me look like Sara Murphy circa 1920, heading off to the Riviera, even when I nearly dislocated my shoulder carrying it. So I moved on to what seems in retrospect to be an insane solution, though it made


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perfect sense to me at the time—I bought the duffel its own collapsible metal cart, secured it under a crosshatch of bungee cords, and dragged the whole monstrosity through the airport. Of course, I had to collapse the contraption at the door of the plane and tug both it and the 45-kilogram duffel down the aisle, rolling over people’s toes as I fought my way to the depths of coach. “Get wheels!” my mom pleaded for years. “Look how cute the flight attendants look with their little rolling suitcases!” But every time I considered this solution, I heard the words of a stylish photographer friend echoing in my brain. “You can’t have wheels,” he said in a low, disgusted whisper. “It’s a terrible gesture when you are pulling it!” Terrible gesture or not, I did eventually

of cases on board, making you look like you just stepped out of a Fred Astaire movie as you fidget on the buffet line. In fact, Cunard offers a White Star shipping service that will fly your luggage from home to the ship—as many pieces as you like!—so long as they will fit in your stateroom. Appealing as this notion may be, it is alas of limited usefulness: I usually have to be somewhere in eight hours, not eight days. And anyway, wouldn’t I be consumed with worry that my cases, torn from my hands and flying on their own to some distant dock, would lose their way? Annoyed friends and colleagues, stuck waiting for me on the other side of security, have gently suggested I modify my personal style just a little. But despite the inconvenience, I stick to my guns

Summer or winter, you will see me in my heaviest clothes, waddling up to the gate in a Dries Van Noten smock over two skirts and a vintage petticoat concede, and the result has been life-changing. I am now the poster child for the rabid cult of Rimowa, an ingenious brand that relies on some kind of advanced technology (or maybe just four wheels?) that enables me to glide through the airport as if I am walking a shiny, cherry-red greyhound. And it’s not just the ease of motion—these things also have flat tops where you can stack expandable Longchamp totes (another remarkable baggage innovation) that allow you to transport all those fashion items you found so irresistible when you tried them on in foreign fitting rooms and now will never wear again. But that’s another story. If I had more time, I could travel by boat, which would solve my problem. Yes, I might have to pack an extra trunk of maritime-appropriate apparel for the journey by sea, but here’s the advantage— you can bring an almost endless number

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(perhaps not the most felicitous turn of phrase when it comes to air travel). And just when I think I am the only lonely pilgrim dolled up in layers of tulle while my fellow travelers cavort onto the plane happily in Juicy Couture, another underappreciated, overdressed stalwart will sail into view. En route to the Life Ball, in Vienna, one year, I spied the fabulously louche New York nightlife legend Amanda Lepore, poured into a curvaceous satin frock and teetering on vertiginous stilettos while twirling an enormous hatbox. And what a delightful sight she was! Though she was channeling Jayne Mansfield and my costume was closer to Minnie Mouse, we shared a complicit glance—sisters under the skin. If you listened closely over the din of the loudspeakers, you could almost hear the spirit of Mrs. Cardeza, resplendent in a lace-trimmed tea gown, cheering us on. ✚

your travel dilemmas solved ➔

s m a r t t r av e l e r

82 … Q +a 84 …

de a ls


Trip Doctor semi-permanent stalls, and carts that are clustered together, indicate shared access to clean water and utilities.

kitchens should have separate areas for cooked and raw foods to avoid contamination.

Ingredients are stored in closed containers; cooked food isn’t piled into one big heap.

Safety check T+L points out what to look for in a street-food stall before you place that order.

Vendors should be neatly dressed and handle food and money separately.

a long line signals quality and cleanliness, but arrive before the crowds for the freshest fare.

Street food 101: a gloBal guide The survivor’s manual to eating well (and more safely) off the beaten path. plus: a city-by-city primer on the world’s best street-food enclaves. reported by Jennifer Chen, robyn eckhardt, bruno Fiuza, Nikki Goldstein, Stirling Kelso and roshni bajaj Sanghvi.


hat’s a trip to Saigon without a steaming bowl of pho eaten curbside, while perched on a tiny plastic stool? Or a stroll through Mexico City without a stop for tacos al pastor, dished up from a wheeled cart? For connoisseurs of local cuisine, streetside dining is a way to explore delicious

Illustrated by Holly Wales

foods, many of which are unavailable in restaurants, prepared by dedicated specialists. But it has its risks: approximately 46 percent of American travelers abroad report varying degrees of food- or water-borne illness. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in fact, advises against consuming street food in developing countries. That’s why it’s as important as ever to be armed with some street-food savvy. t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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t+l tip Sheet


Follow the locals. In a busy marketplace, you can often tell if a stall is reputable based on the line. But pay attention: Mexico City street-food guide Lesley Téllez avoids stalls that draw a primarily young—and less cautious—clientele. Instead, she looks for “a mix of workers, policemen and older customers.” And knowing local mealtimes means you can beat the crowds to get the freshest foods. Cleanliness counts. “Keep an eye out for signs of cross-contamination,” says Douglas Powell, professor of food safety at Kansas State University. Check that prep surfaces look clean, cold foods are kept on ice and raw foods are stored separately from cooked. Téllez prefers stands where vendors who handle food don’t touch money. bring your own utensils. There’s no way to tell if chopsticks or forks have been given more than a quick rinse. if possible, watch your food being cooked. And avoid precooked seafood in particular, advises Jeff Koehler, author of the forthcoming cookbook Morocco (Chronicle Books). Dishes containing raw meat, and ice-based drinks that may have been made with unfiltered water, are off-limits. Look for cooking methods that reduce microbes. Pickling vegetables and using citrus juices can reduce the levels of dangerous microorganisms, Powell points out, but they won’t remove your risk entirely. Some spices, such as chilies, turmeric and epazote, a Mexican herb, also have antibacterial properties.

singapore ➞ The Scene strictly enforced regulations and centralized hawker areas make singapore one of the safest places to eat in asia. Grades based on

riSk factor

cleanliness and hygiene (“a” to “d”) are posted prominently at every stall. Inspections take place annually, and stalls with lower grades are checked even more frequently.

➞ Where to Go Chinatown has some of the best hawker centers, including maxwell market. old airport road also has a high concentration of popular stalls.

➞ What to order hainanese chicken rice; chai tow kway (radish cake); hokkien mee (stir-fried noodles); roti prata (flaky bread with curry); min chiang kueh (peanut pancake).


3 4

local take

Spotlight: hainaneSe chicken rice Street-food guide tony tan ( explains the secret to this deceptively simple-looking classic. “the chicken in this dish, a staple of China’s hainan Island, has a jelly-like layer of clear fat underneath the skin. this surprising texture is achieved by boiling the entire chicken in a stock and then plunging it into ice-cold water—a sharp change in temperature that turns the fat clear and gives the skin the right level of firmness. the aromatic rice is cooked with chicken fat, sesame oil and the fragrant herb pandan. dip the chicken into the accompanying dark soy and chili sauces, and you’ll be eating just like a local.”




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➞ The Scene this malaysian island is a street-food paradise: authorities require the 7,000 licensed hawkers to attend a food-safety seminar and random health inspections are conducted daily. there’s even a municipal hotline for complaints about dodgy stalls.

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➞ Where to Go head for the ethnic enclaves of historic George town, such as little India (centered around lebuh pasar and the kapitan keling mosque) and Chulia and kimberley streets, in Chinatown. ➞ What to order Assam laksa (sour fish curry); muar chee

(sticky rice cakes with ground peanuts); cendol (rice noodles in coconut milk); mee rebus (egg noodles in thick gravy); murtarbak (crêpes with chicken or lamb); char kway teow (stir-fried wide rice noodles). ➞ What to avoid some stalls serve char kway teow made with cockles, whose freshness can be questionable. ➞ Guide helen ong (helenong. com) organizes street-food tours—on foot, rickshaw or car.


bangkok ➞ The Scene an estimated 12,000 vendors operate in the thai capital. of those, only 8,400 are licensed with the city, which does twice-a-year spot checks for e. coli and salmonella, banned pesticides and additives. look for

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stalls with a sticker of a smiling plate with the words clean food good taste!—a stamp of approval from health officials. ➞ Where to Go yaowarat, bangkok’s Chinatown; the soi 38 night market off sukhumvit road; and

near the hua lamphong mrt stop. ➞ What to order Som tam gai yang (green papaya salad with chicken); khao mok gai (thai-style chicken biryani); bamee ped (egg noodles with roast duck); khanom bueang (crispy sweet pancakes).

➞ What to avoid Som tam made with small black crabs, often taken from filthy canals. only eat hoy tod (mussel omelettes) if they’re from a reputable, busy stall. If you order laarb (minced pork or chicken salad), make sure it’s fully cooked.

local take

Six essential phrases for intrepid foodies, courtesy of Chinawut Chinaprayoon of Bangkok food tours (

I like it a little bit spicy. Taahn ped dai neet-noi.

no ice, please. Mai-ao naamkeng ka/krup*. * Women say “ka”; men, “krup.”

I’d like to order...

may I see the menu, please?

Saang ahaan noi...

may I have bottled water, please? Kaw naam-plao ka/krup*?

➞ The Scene though streetside eating is a way of life here, enforcement is rather lax and outbreaks of food poisoning occur from time to time. be extra vigilant: choose popular, crowded stalls with high turnover. ➞ Where to Go ben thanh market, in the central district 1, or less touristy binh tay market, in Chinatown. ➞ What to order Pho (beef-and–rice noodle soup); bánh mì (pâté-and-meat sandwiches); bánh bao (meat-stuffed buns); bun thit nuong (grilled pork with rice vermicelli); bo la lot (grilled beef in betel leaves). ➞ What to avoid Nem chua, or fermented, pickled pork sausage, often served raw. also be wary of foods made with ice. ➞ Guide back of the bike tours ( arranges street-food tours by scooter. head to Nguyen Thi Thanh, a.k.a. the Lunch Lady (near 23 hoang Sa St., District 1), for hu tieu, noodles with sliced pork, prawns and quail eggs.

T+L pick

hong kong

thai phraSe Book

Kaw menu noi ka/krup*.

Check, please. Gep-thang duay ka/krup*.

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➞ The Scene hong kong’s classic dai pai dongs, or outdoor food stalls, are a dying breed: only 27 remain after regulators clamped down in the 1980’s. the tradition lives on at food centers, markets, noodle joints and barbecue shops. While strict hygiene rules are enforced, food poisoning does occur, particularly in the sultry summer months. ➞ Where to Go Jardine’s Crescent market, in Causeway bay, and yiu tung street, in kowloon, which has the highest concentration of dai pai dongs. ➞ What to order Wonton noodles; roast goose; barbecued pork; gai dan jai (eggshaped waffles); beef-brisket noodles. ➞ What to avoid steer clear of shellfish dishes if you want to play it safe. ➞ Guide Jason Wordie ( leads market tours in kowloon’s sham shui po neighborhood.

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marrakesh ➞ The Scene Food safety is a point of pride at the djemaa el-Fna, marrakesh’s iconic central square, where there are frequent inspections and leftover food is routinely disposed of nightly. In the surrounding streets of the mazelike medina, the rules are more difficult to enforce. ➞ Where to Go djemaa el-Fna, in the medina; rue el kassabin, off the djemaa, known for


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➞ The Scene by and large, it’s safe to eat street food in eu countries: vendors must comply with rigorous health regulations. In non-eu states, vendors tend to be less scrutinized, but they maintain similar standards. below, t+l’s favorite street foods across europe.

mechoui (slow-roasted lamb or mutton). ➞ What to order brochettes (kebabs of lamb, beef or offal); harira (a hearty bean soup); stewed escargot; merguez (sausage) sandwiches; thin, moroccan-style macarons filled with vanilla or coconut. ➞ What to avoid Fish and seafood, which must be transported across the desert into land-locked marrakesh.

reykjavík, iceland look for lamb hot dogs smothered in rémoulade, crunchy fried onions and sweet mustard at bæjarins beztu pylsur (corner of Tryggvagata and Póstustræti), a popular cart in the city center. london borough market (8 Southwark St.; 44-20/7407-1002) has plenty of great street fare, but we favor the roast duck sandwiches with spicy greens and whole-grain mustard sold at the southwark street entrance.

local take

Spotlight: rue el kaSSaBin Fabrizio Ruspoli, owner of the culinary institute hotel la maison arabe (, offers his insider tips on a hidden street food haven.

madrid look for marinated octopus bruschetta at lhardy, one of the basque-style tapas bars that line the mercado de San miguel (Plaza San Miguel; 34-91/542-4936).

this tiny street, right off djemaa el-Fna, has some of the best vendors. there’s plenty of offal for sale here, but the draw is mechoui (the street is also known as mechoui alley). mutton is baked underground for five hours and served from a tandoor-like pit. order by weight: one serving is about 500 grams and comes with bread for sopping up the goods. the best stalls? numbers 26 and 28.

mumbaI ➞ The Scene street food is an institution in mumbai, although a largely unregulated one, and food-borne illness poses a big risk for travelers here. you’re a lot less likely to get sick by sampling similar dishes at the city’s many fast-food joints. ➞ Where to Go Soam (Sadguru Sadan, ground fl.,


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naples, italy expect lines for potato croquettes and deep-fried neapolitan pizza fritta at pizzeria Di matteo (94 Via dei Tribunali; 39-081/455-262).

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Chowpatty; 91-22/2369-8080); Swati (248 Karai Estate, Tardeo Rd.; 91-22/6580-8405); elco restaurant & Catering Services (46 Hill Rd.; 91-22/ 2645-7677). ➞ What to order Bhel puri (puffed rice with vegetables and tamarind); sev puri (fried crackers with potatoes and onions); vada

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pav (a spicy potato-veggie patty on a toasted bun). ➞ What to avoid skip yogurt-based lassi drinks—you can’t always trust the milk—and avoid uncooked chutneys. ➞ Guide rashida anees ( leads eating tours in the city. bademiya, a kebab stand behind the Taj mahal palace, in Colaba (nights only).

T+L pick

Budapest on the second floor of the Great market hall (1-3 Vamhaz Korut; 36-1/366-3300) you’ll find the city’s best lángos, fried flatbread topped with sour cream, cheese and garlic. istanbul Dürüm, turkey’s warm flatbread sandwiches filled with grilled lamb, parsley and chopped tomatoes, are at their best at aynen Dürüm (Sok No. 33, Muhafazacilar), a stall in the city’s Grand bazaar.



mexico ciTy

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➞ The Scene In the early 1990’s, the city pioneered regulations for mobile vendors, and still maintains an impressive ratio of inspectors to carts. locals are skeptical about the enforcement of the rules, though outbreaks of illness are indeed rare. ➞ Where to Go the downtown neighborhood of la Candelaria; avenida Chile, in the commercial center; la séptima, on sundays during the Ciclovía street festival. ➞ What to order empanadas; arepas (savory stuffed corn cakes); obleas (wafers layered with dulce de leche); raspados (shaved ice with condensed milk and tropical fruits). ➞ What to avoid limp-looking chorizo or morcilla (blood sausage). ➞ The Guide bogotá bike tours offers a food-focused bike tour (

➞ The Scene street-vendor permits do exist, but regulations are generally ignored and rarely enforced, so be advised: go with a guide or look for clean carts with long lines

around lunchtime (2 p.m.–4:30 p.m.) ➞ Where to Go Carts in the Centro histórico’s zócalo (the city’s main square), and those in the central Colonia roma neighborhood.

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➞ What to order Tlacoyos (corn patties filled with fava or bayo beans and topped with queso blanco); quesadillas with squash flowers; rajas (charred poblano peppers and onions); quelites (wild

greens); tacos al pastor with spit-roasted pork. ➞ What to avoid Carne apache, ground beef “cooked” in lime juice; sliced, raw fruit or vegetables; shaved ice (where the water source is unknown).

local take

Spotlight: one day, three mealS Must-try dishes from guide Lesley Téllez of eat mexico (

uNIteD states

breakFast begin your day with esquites, a hearty dish of corn kernels stewed in a spicy, herb-filled broth, at the tianguis, an outdoor market held tuesdays in Condesa. Intersection of Carretera Pachuca and Avda. Veracruz.

lunCh head to the cart on the corner of delicias and aranda streets in the historic center for blue-corn tlacoyos: grilled corn-dough. patties filled with beans and cheese and topped with cactus, cilantro and a drizzle of salsa.

➞ The Scene street food is booming across the country, and local officials generally enforce rigorous health and safety regulations. We asked John t. edge, author of the Truck Food Cookbook (Workman Publishing Group), to share five standout food trucks.

San francisco Liba Falafel (@libafalafel) “Gail lillian fries greaseless orbs of crushed chickpeas into falafel. her olive, orange and thyme relish tastes like it was airmailed from a mediterranean clime.”

portland, oregon Swamp Shack (@swampshack) “‘Crawfish’ trey Corkern traffics in authenticity. his

tucson, arizona Taqueria Sammy el Sinaloense “the pérez family candy-cane-wraps their hot


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crawfish pies, goosed with Creole cream cheese, are better than 90 percent of those I’ve eaten in louisiana. seriously.”

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dInner el Vilsito—an auto shop by day and food stand by night—serves tacos al pastor, small corn tortillas with sliced and caramelized pork topped with cilantro, onion and pineapple. Corner of Avda. Universidad and Calle Petén.

dogs with bacon so that they fuse while frying. they also have a generous salsa bar: pickled onions, pico de gallo and guacamole.” minneapolis Chef Shack (@chefshack) “lisa Carlson and Carrie summer’s cardamomcinnamon doughnuts astound. Imagine a cinnamon bun that took a detour through the Indian

subcontinent on the way to the deep fryer.” new york city big Gay ice Cream Truck (@biggayicecream) “try the cool, white soft serve, flavored with vanilla, and topped with wasabispiked green peas, cracked into vegetable shrapnel. dissonance never tasted so good.”

Smart Traveler

By Jennifer Chen

dining like a pro how to book a table at the hottest restaurant in town, handle waiters and other secrets from industry insiders. Ever wonder if there’s a grand conspiracy between restaurateurs and beverage companies to push pricey bottled water onto diners? In her last collection of essays, I Remember Nothing, the late American author Nora Ephron captures a scene familiar to anyone who’s been inside a restaurant with certain pretensions. A waiter pours a large bottle of San Pellegrino for her, her husband and another couple until there’s only a tiny drop left. When her husband takes a sip, the waiter immediately tops up his glass and asks if they want to order another bottle. “We’ve been at the table for exactly three minutes and somehow we’ve managed to empty an entire bottle of Pellegrino,” Ephron gripes.


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Rest assured—chances are the server is acting more out of ignorance and poor training than malice, and any restaurant that has to resort to such tricks won’t last long, says Michelle Garnaut, the founder of the M Restaurant Group. I recently spoke to Garnaut and several other prominent chefs and restaurateurs in Asia about the issues mere mortals have to face at restaurants. Here, they share their tips on how to snag hard-toget reservations, deal with surly service and more. First appearances. You’ve just arrived in a strange city, you don’t speak the lingo and you’re ravenous. How do you pick out a promising restaurant?

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An empty dining room is one obvious bad sign. When traveling, Alan Lo, the co-founder and director of Hong Kong’s The Press Group, steers clear of restaurants with English translations on their menus: “It’s the best way to filter out touristy places.” Ian Kittichai, the Thai cookbook author and celebrity chef behind Issaya Siamese Club and Smith in Bangkok, checks out the restrooms. “Cleanliness and attention to small details such as soaps and hand towels and the overall bathroom design are telling,” he says. Scoring an in-Demand Table. Our insiders were unanimous: nothing beats getting someone who knows the owner,

Illustration by Wasinee Chantakorn

chef or manager of the restaurant to call for you. This doesn’t have to involve an actual acquaintance. “If I am traveling, the concierge or front office manager of the hotel is often a great resource as they typically know everyone in the hospitality and restaurant industries in their city,” says Kittichai. If you can’t get an inside track, go during the week, either before or after the dinner rush. “Avoid weekends; try Monday or Tuesday lunch which tends to be a bit less crazy,” Lo adds. Otherwise, plan well in advance. “Going to Noma [in Copenhagen]? Book a year ahead,” advises Garnaut. Dealing with Waiters. Want the waiter on your side? Apply the golden rule. “Always be friendly and kind to your waiter and, if his name is on his uniform, call him by his name,” advises Willy Trullàs Moreno of El Willy in Shanghai.

In Asia, it also helps to manage your own expectations. Remember that it’s not a given that you’ll be lucky enough to get a clean pair of chopsticks if you’re at an eight-yuan noodle joint in Beijing. Even at Asia’s more upscale restaurants— unless you’re at Jean-Georges, Robuchon or a well-established luxury hotel like the Peninsula Hong Kong—servers aren’t of the same professional caliber as they are in Europe and the United States. “You can’t expect a waiter one year out of the countryside to be able to gauge what customers want,” says Garnaut. And if you do have a problem, don’t make an issue out of it with the server, advises Kittichai. “Giving restaurant staff a hard time is obnoxious and petty. If there is a problem or something you are unhappy with that is not being resolved by your server, simply ask to speak with a supervisor or manager in a polite manner.”

When to order Specials. Specials fall into three categories, says Garnaut: dishes featuring ingredients in season, trial dishes and things that the kitchen needs to get rid of. “You have to be able to decide what category a special is in,” she says. It also helps to judge your surroundings. In a tiny restaurant where the chef–owner is actually behind the stove? Then that blackboard menu with market specials might be worth inspecting. In a 100-seat restaurant? Give it a pass. Speak up. Don’t be shy about dictating what you want. Lo points out that Asian seafood restaurants often list items at “market price”—ask about the exact price or risk sticker shock. “There are things that you can control if you speak up,” Garnaut points out. So tell your server you want to pour your own wine…or, for that matter, your San Pellegrino. ✚


by Mimi Lombardo


Q: i’m going on a three-week cruise to southern China, Cambodia and Vietnam, with a side trip to Thailand. unfortunately, it’s rainy season. What should i bring? —scott koufax, northridge, california

a: Three weeks is a substantial chunk of time—luckily, there are few luggage limitations on cruises. Keep mobility to the max by bringing dual-use items: wrinkle-resistant clothes for city sojourns and waterproof options for offshore adventures. These nine items will make for especially smooth sailing.


hyBrid Board ShortS removable compression briefs wick moisture and prevent chafing (Dry Dudz).

packing poucheS Clothes go in the extra-large and large, toiletries in the medium (Tumi).


BomBer jacket made of drizzle-repellent nylon, with a hidden hood and pockets (Nautica).

pack-flat ShadeS swiveling arms allow these to slip easily into your bag or top pocket (Götti Switzerland).

Quick-dry Shirt rinse in the sink, and you’ll be good to go by morning. another perk? It’s wrinkle-free (ExOfficio).

SportS watch Water-resistant to 50 meters, with two time zones and a pedometer to track your steps (Gucci).

lightweight carry-on Just under three kilograms, with padded grip handles and a foldaway shoe bag (Crumpler). Straight-leg pantS not your father’s baggy chinos; creases fall out easily after hanging (Bonobos).


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ruBBer-and-leather BrogueS a pair of these will hold up to sudden rains and are dressy enough for dinner (Swims).

p h o t o G r a p h e d b y J o h n l aW t o n . s t y l I s t: r I C h I e o W I n G s / h a l l e y r e s o u r C e s . pa n t s , s u n G l a s s e s a n d J a C k e t: d aV I d a l e x a n d e r a r n o l d ; Wat C h : C o u r t e s y o F G u C C I


best Deals macau ullate provit, aut ut of the dolor eheni ditiam ut pra cum nimus daerum susant. per night Lorem ipsum quunt que.

The exterior of The Venetian macao resort hotel.


Borum Autem Am De Si Ipsam T+L uncovered the most stylish properties across the Atlantic—from London to Rome, from Dubai to Cape Town. Ore nonest pra conseq uidunt untotate verem. Oloris nobitem utem laut aute nonsequibus antotam, od que sedi omnim doluptat et hilias magnimp orporae veri, veniendant. (50) the Summer



What City retreat at mandarin oriental kuala lumpur ( kualalumpur). Details two nights in a deluxe City View room. highlight daily breakfast for two at mosaic restaurant and dinner for two at Casbah. Cost From rm1,439 (rm720 per night), double, through september 16. Savings 40 percent.

What summer Getaway at the Venetian macao resort hotel ( Details a stay in a royal suite. highlight two complimentary tickets to Ice World until september 15, after mop200 food and beverage credit. Cost hk$1,698 per night, two-night minimum, double, through september 28. Savings 30 percent.



What JIa experience at JIa shanghai ( Details eight vouchers for a one-night stay in a studio plus, two vouchers for a one-night stay in a suite. highlight lunch and sunday brunch at Issimo restaurant. Cost rmb13,000, double, through september 30, valid for stays up to 12 months after date of purchase. Savings 36 percent.


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What summer special package at the Fullerton hotel singapore ( Details a stay in a Courtyard room. highlights american breakfast buffet for two at town restaurant, dining credit of s$38 and late check-out at 3 p.m. Cost From s$358 per night, two-night minimum, double, through september 30. Savings 20 percent.

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the coast china

What opening experience at the royal begonia, sanya ( Details a stay in an ocean View room. highlight a daily food and beverage allowance of rmb888. Cost rmb2,288 per night, double, through december 30. Savings 30 percent.


What Villa experience from le mĂŠridien koh samui resort & spa ( Details a stay in a pavilion pool villa. highlights one use of hotel chauffeur service, daily breakfast buffet at latest recipe restaurant or private in-villa breakfast and one standard cocktail per person daily at latitude 9 bar. Cost bt11,999 per night, double, through december 20. Savings 50 percent.

the escape thailand

What myspa at Centara Villas samui (centarahotelsresorts. com). Details a four-night stay in a spa villa. highlights a choice of two 45-minute head and shoulder massages or foot massages per person, two 45-minute aromatic baths per person, two complimentary bottles of sparkling wine. Cost From bt20,345 (bt5,086 per night), double, through october 31. Savings 62 percent.


What trailblazer at Capri by Fraser ( Details a stay in a studio deluxe room. highlights one complimentary tapas platter at the lobby bar per day and one powershake beverage at the deli per day. Cost s$306 per night, double, through december 9. Savings 10 percent.

Courtesy oF the Vene tIan maCao resort hotel

the city




What rainforest explorer at the empire hotel & Country Club ( Details a stay in a deluxe room. highlights a full-day tour of Ilu temburong national park and complimentary daily breakfast for two. Cost b$460 per night, double, two-night minimum, through march 31, 2013. Savings 26 percent.


What love is in the air at singapore marriott hotel ( Details a stay in a premier deluxe room. highlights a complimentary bottle of champagne and a four-course dinner with wine pairing at the pool Grill. Cost s$795 per night, through december 30. Savings between 15 and 20 percent.


Bt4,100 per night

The pool at ramayana Koh Chang.

thailand trip of the month

C o u r t e s y o F r a m aya n a k o h C h a n G

the hotel ramayana koh Chang (, one of the island’s premier luxury hotels, offers organized packages for relaxation and exploration. possible experiences ➔ two nights in a hanuman deluxe room ➔ daily breakfast for two ➔ Welcome barbeque seafood dinner ➔ thai set dinner ➔ Full-day snorkeling excursion with packed picnic lunch ➔ pick up service to klong plu waterfall and White sand beach ➔ two-hour kayaking trip

➔ sauna and whirlpool service ➔ one 60-minute aromatherapy massage or thai massage course ➔ 15 percent discount on sita spa services cost the three-day, two-night ramayana Indulgence package costs bt8,200 for two adults and is valid through october 31. It includes hotel stay, some meals and various activities. details Call 66-22/616-364 for more information from ramayana koh Chang and visit for more exclusive offers.

J o h a n n e s p. C h r I s t o

September 2012

Lifting the lid on hotel Tugu’s cooking class.

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revelers at Zouk. opposite: a b28 bartender at work.

Shake Money



Singapore’s nocturnal fare has never been more diverse, whether you’re into discerning settings, a bit of debauchery or simply a fine craft beer. By Zul Andra. Photographed by Lauryn Ishak

Maybe it’s indicative of how far Singapore’s after-hours scene has come, but I wasn’t surprised to find myself interviewing “The International King of Clubs” in the opulent, yet somewhat staid surroundings of the Post Bar at the Fullerton Hotel. Surrounded by artichoke lamps and original wall motifs from its century-old architecture, serenaded by a laidback jazz soundtrack, American nightclub entrepreneur Michael Ault and I chatted about his latest ultra-luxe lounge. We sat in what once was a post office talking about his latest venture, a bottle-service hangout for the wealthy and really a new era for Singapore. “Everything you can find at a house party for the rich and famous,” he told me. When I visited last year, Pangaea was still a few months away from opening so Ault, who owns and operates more than 25 clubs in 10 cities, tried to create the scene for me. Enter to a colorful array of 20,000 glass bulbs in the ceiling and cozy up to the ostrich- and crocodile-skin sofas, while a personal concierge makes sure your drinks resting on the 1,000-year-old Saur treetop are always filled (Urban legend has it that Ault described this turn-around time as “three minutes tops or we’ll fire the server”). He’s not new to the ultra-lounge business. As far back as mid-90’s New York, his SpyBar lounge attracted everyone from actor Leonardo DiCaprio to Kate Moss to Madonna—does Hugh Hefner still count?—with dedicated service staff almost the same size as their entourages. He made sure these name guests partied their hearts out at private tables, or at least tables where everyone could see them. On to a good thing, Ault then introduced the concept to Miami, London, Aspen, São Paolo, Marbella and, late last year, to Singapore. With a capacity of 450 people, Pangaea exists to pamper Asia’s wealthy and famous. In a city where numbers count, the tourism board reports that Singapore took in S$23 billion


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Clockwise from top: Dinner and drinks with a view at Level 33; Gardens by the bay as seen from the Skypark at marina bay Sands; on the dance floor; mat Zo spins at Zouk.

in 2011, up 18 percent from the previous year, with a third of that drawn from both the food-and-beverage, and entertainment sectors. Singapore nightlife is big business. Architect Moshe Safdie’s glass pyramid-shaped Crystal Pavilion is home to two mega-clubs, drawing different crowds through separate entrances—Avalon from the ground floor and Pangaea through an underwater tunnel—which helps keep the Jimmy Choos and Nikes in their rightful places. “Every aspect of the lounge, from the door host to the bartender and even the music in the air, acts in concert to give our clients a personalized and rewarding experience,” he said with a smile that never seems to rest. The S$2,000 minimum price tag for a table (don’t bat an eye since the most expensive is the S$15,000 Dragon Den table which is covered in golden python skin and slightly elevated to discern between the other mere big spenders) has never been a deterrent for the wealthy. As a matter a fact, the high price has been a huge draw since the rich get to rub shoulders with the filthy rich. As reported by New York Post, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin notched a S$62,000 bar tab on his birthday while a local businessman reportedly spent a whopping S$80,000 in one sitting. Is it any surprise then that the crowd consists of bankers, socialites and celebrities?


ust 10 years ago, the best bars in Singapore were the ones that didn’t forget your orders and hotel bars (think along the lines of Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar or the Highland Bar at Goodwood Park) were the only few that kept the standards high. Now a venue like Ku Dé Ta, perched 57 stories high with a commanding view of the city, lures a wealthy breed that includes everyone from Johor royalty to Singapore’s top five percent. Newer establishments like The Vault—a minimalist bar housed in a 80-year-old former bank—delve into exclusivity. Opened in July, the bar is a modern enclave where creativity meets champagne. Set up by Godwin Pereira, who had been the music director at the now-defunct Ministry of Sound Singapore and at Ku Dé Ta, who labels the venue as an “inclusively exclusive joint” where the artistically rich mingle with the financially wealthy. Exclusivity is the current hot venture, a game-changer when it comes to nightlife in Singapore. Although the throne for the king of the country’s lounge scene is up for grabs, there is reigning royalty in the country’s clubbing circuit, and he is none other than Zouk’s founder, Lincoln Cheng. Since Zouk opened 21 years ago, its success has been credited to how it

a venue like Ku Dé ta, percheD 57 stories high with a commanDing view, lures a wealthy breed that includes royalty and singapore’s top five percent t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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continuously reinvents itself. Being named one of the top five clubs in the world, and the only one in Asia, by none other than nightlife bible DJ Mag is not something to simply brush off. The bottle-service culture came to prominence about two years ago when members-only club Filter opened— Pangaea simply added more glitz to the game. Cheng wasted no time converting Velvet Underground (one of Zouk’s four complexes that includes a 1,500-capacity main room, and the smaller sized Phuture and Wine Bar) under the drill. He spent S$3 million to inject Velvet with a bold new look, including two distinctive areas: Velvet Lounge and Dance. While the latter is where the hip and trendy converge under a sprawling interactive LED ceiling while dancing to emerging acts and cutting-edge music (Maya Jane Coles, Mount Kimbie and Aeroplane were the first few guests), Velvet Lounge caters to a more VIP-esque temperament. Artwork by Warhol, Stella, Haring and Romero Britto adorns the walls in this intimate 12-table (each for S$1,500 a pop if you really must ask) lounge complete with a dedicated server for each table. The club’s dominance in the Asian clubbing circuit has also produced Singapore’s most successful DJ, Aldrin. Though he has since left Zouk, the former resident DJ and artist booker left an indelible mark on the place. He was instrumental in shaping the musically progressive attitude the club has held on to till today. Currently an independent DJ and label owner of Onewithmusic, his curriculum vitae matches that of the world’s finest. Having taken the spotlight at Renaissance in London and Ibiza’s Pacha, Space and DC10, he was the first Southeast Asian to headline a two-hour guest mix on Pete Tong’s world-renowned BBC Radio 1 show, Essential Mix. Even now, Aldrin continues to be a figure of inspiration for upcoming DJs in Singapore. Zouk also keeps up to date with its events. Mambo Jambo, a popular retro night held every Wednesday for the last two decades, has now moved its quirky mass-synchronized dancing from the main room to the 200-person-capacity Phuture. A new night called TGIW—Thank God It’s Wednesday—features

although clubs like avalon and Zouk are the biggest spenDers on Dj booKings, smaller clubs are garnering a fair attendance for their parties 94

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current dance hits that are all the rage. While Zouk is still considered a rite of passage for local revelers, gone are the days when it was the perennial go-to club in Singapore. On average, a handful of international and more than 20 homegrown acts perform during any given week. Although clubs like Avalon and Zouk are the biggest spenders on DJ bookings, smaller clubs are garnering a fair share of attendance for their parties. From testosterone-driven college kids hell-bent on getting completely inebriated at The Butter Factory and Zirca to the youthful artsy crowd at Home Club in tune to more alternative music styles such as dubstep, drum and bass, and indie, there really is something for everyone.

Clockwise from left: Ku Dé Ta at dusk; beer on tap at Level 33; Syaheed manages many of Singapore’s indie music talents; fans gather at Timbre@Substation for local band 53a.


side from venues promoting the best that electronic dance music has to offer, live music is also a mainstay in Singapore’s nightlife circuit. With three outlets across the island—The Arts House, The Substation and Old School— Timbre not only serves the most tantalizing pizzas around but has also turned artists into household names. Pop-rock outfit 53A and jazz-singing sensation Michaela Therese have been lauded for their musicality and powerful performances—something they might not have been known for without Timbre’s platform. Bands like the nine-piece rock and hip-hop group SIXX, and the country’s best indie export, Inch Chua, have all played through Timbre and went on to feature at Midem, a music trade show in France, and South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival at Austin, Texas respectively this year. However, music is not the quintessential element for a good night out. For some, it’s not even important. As more nocturnal consumers develop an affluent palate from their travels and a surging trend to be aware of what goes into their mouths, more specialty bars are sprouting up to serve these specific needs. I met up with Indra Kantono, one of the founders of Jigger & Pony, at his studiously chic, 65-seat bar that has already been making waves for its classic cocktails when it opened in July this year. “Just look at this punch,” he pointed to a glass bowl that could serve more than 15 people. “It’s a communal cocktail paying homage to the past, and the flavors are consistent; not like bottle services where the potency, flavors and quality of the drinks can vary into the night,” Kantono insists while we sip the citrusy classic rum punch—ingredients which originated from traders working along the Dutch East Indies spice routes in the 17th century. Raveen Misra on the other hand, believes that the last say will inevitably go to the drinker. The bar chef from Nektar—a cozy and intimate venue with an L-shaped wooden top bar as its centerpiece—speculates that the next trend will be cocktail master-classes. “Customers are getting more knowledgeable and will soon want to create their own cocktails exactly to their liking,” he figures. Mixologists and founders of BarKode, Karen Heng and Caryn Cheah are noticing the same trend at their minimalist watering hole located in the heart of Little India. “These days, drinkers come in with a specific liquor base, a t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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particular fruity flavor and even their own concoctions in mind,” Heng says. Classic and tailor-made cocktails aside, experimental concoctions (or “molecular cocktails”) are piquing the interest of cocktail aficionados. Places like the greenhouse-looking Tippling Club offer 10- to 15-course degustation menus that pair progressive dining with molecular cocktails. It’s a pilgrimage worth experiencing if you’re into flavorful theatrics—think cocktails in a setting full of dry ice. Not to be outdone are the good old suds. The sprawling Level 33 has a selection of craft beers made in five-meter high cauldrons. Smaller bars catering to Singapore’s growing thirst for international craft beers have also cropped up. Located behind a shopping mall, the timid frame of JiBiru, founded by Charlie Guerrier, who is also the director of the Japanese Craft Beers Association, is a treasure trove of rare Japanese brews counting the range of Shiga Kogen and Hitachino as must-tries. From cocktails to beers, what’s a drinking culture without whiskey? B28, located along the lively Ann Siang Road, is the definitive haven for whiskey lovers. Set in an intimate and opulently decorated bar, pick from 100 premium Scottish, Irish, American and Canadian single malts. With jazz music and videos from the 50’s and 60’s acting as a soundtrack through your whiskey journey, the 35-seater room rubs off as a club from another era. ✚

Singapore Nights avalon 2 Bayfront Ave., Crystal Pavilion South, Marina Bay Sands; 65/6688-7448;; cover charge from S$30, including one drink. b28 28 Ann Siang Rd., basement The Club Hotel; 65/9026-3466;; drinks for two S$30. barKode 66 Dunlop St.; 65/ 6396-4463; drinks for two S$36. The butter Factory 1 Fullerton Rd., #02-02/03/04 One Fullerton; 65/6333-8243; thebutterfactory. com; cover charge from S$23 inclusive of two drinks. The Foundry 18 Mohamed Sultan Rd.; 65/6235-4624; drinks for two S$20. home Club 20 Upper Circular Rd., #B1-01/06 The Riverwalk; 65/6538-2928;; cover charge from S$15, including one drink. Jibiru 313 Orchard Rd., #01-26 313@Somerset; 65/6732-6884;; drinks for two S$20.

From top: aldrin Quek started as a DJ at Zouk, but now spins around the world; 53a on stage at Timbre@Substation.


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cover charge S$38, including one drink.

Level 33 8 Marina Blvd., #33-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1; 65/6834-3133;; drinks for two S$36. Nektar 31 Scotts Rd.; 65/68369185;; drinks for two S$40. pangaea 2 Bayfront Ave., #B2-05, Marina Bay Sands; 65/8611-7013;; cover charge S$40. post bar 1 Fullerton Sq., G/F Fullerton Hotel; 65/6877-8135;; drinks for two S$32. Timbre Tippling Club 8D Dempsy Rd.; 65/6475-2217;; degustation menus from S$145 per person. The Vault 237 South Bridge Rd.; 65/6222-5001;; drinks for two S$32.

Jigger & pony 101 Amoy St.; 65/6223-9101; jiggerandpony. com; drinks for two S$40.

Zirca Block C The Cannery, River Valley Rd., #01-02 to 05 / #02-01 to 08 Clarke Quay; 65/6333-4168;; cover charge from S$16, including two drinks.

Ku Dé Ta 1 Bayfront Ave., Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, North Tower; 65/6688-7688;;

Zouk 17 Jiak Kim St.; 65/67382988;; cover charge from S$15, including two drinks.

A night out above Singapore at Ku DĂŠ Ta.



a cooking class at hotel Tugu. opposite: Lining up the local ingredients at bali asli.

Tour Bali through its cooking schools and, as Samantha Brown discovers, you’ll uncover a lot about the island and its favorite dishes. Photographed by Johannes P. Christo t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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hear the man in the tree before I see him. He’s perched so high that the foliage initially hides him. He uses a stick to whack the fruits that will be used to brew tuak, a slightly fizzy sweet wine popular with Balinese farmers. As far as missions go, so far this one is successful. I’m determined to explore Bali one cooking school at a time, and I’m far away from any kitchen, getting sun-kissed and, occasionally, startled by a lowing cow. With my guide Ketut and another student, I’m rambling through the surrounds of Bali Asli, a restaurant and school set up by British chef Penelope Williams outside Amlapura on the east coast. Though we started our walk on the asphalt road outside the school, in a few minutes we’re encircled in farmland. We roam through a field of cassava trees, past gleaming caged fighting cocks, until the view opens to the ocean. Lombok sits in the distance. Sarong-clad women wash in the canals of the Balinese subak system, which irrigates the emerald paddies crisscrossing toward the horizon. It’s a small, no, make that bite-size, slice of Bali. Then it’s off to the kitchen. Our class takes place in full view of soaring Gunung Agung, Bali’s highest and most revered volcano, and begins with a crash course in all the key ingredients of Balinese cooking. As with many other Asian cuisines, it’s about getting four flavors—sweet, salty, sour and hot—just so. One of the spices I’m most intrigued with is kencur, or lesser galangal, a gnarled turmeric-like root. Bite down on a slice and it leaves your tongue gently anaesthetized, almost like chili without the heat. The “Balinese truffle,” or pangi, is also new to me. It’s the nut of a fruit, which when broken open reveals a deep brown flesh reminiscent of fine dark chocolate. Williams says she’s added flecks to a chocolate pudding with success. The key to Balinese dishes is nearly always a version of a bumbu, or spice paste. It’s a dish I’ll repeat at all the schools, one that contains a combination of at least some of the following: chilies, garlic, Asian shallots, candlenuts, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, kencur, torch ginger, tamarind, palm sugar, shrimp paste, lemongrass and salam leaves. In this class we use a bumbu that includes coriander seeds, common in Balinese cuisine, mixed with minced chicken to form satay on lemongrass skewers. Our pesan be pasih, a spiced fish fillet steamed in banana leaf, plus a tofu version, uses the key bumbu, as does our urap paku kacang merah, a fern-tip salad that is heavy on coconut and red beans.


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After those delicious dishes, it’s off to class number two. Hotel Tugu in Canggu on Bali’s west coast offers classes in a replica of an old-style Indonesian warung, or streetside restaurant. Before we start cooking though, we’re up at 7 a.m., heading to Pasar Badung in the island’s capital Denpasar. A stream of black pickup trucks belch fumes, engines idling, as they offload produce from the island’s cooler northern hills. The more we walk, the more we buy. A porter balances our groceries in a basket on her head as we wend our way past benches curving under the weight of produce: limes; mangoes; fresh coconut oil; torch ginger; cauliflower; cabbage; eggs from ducks, geese and chickens; banana stems and leaves; papayas; bananas; soursop; avocados; turmeric—one type for cooking, another to make jamu, or traditional medicine—broccoli; coconut oil; and chilies. Ayu from the hotel and I buy ingredients for the five dishes I’ve selected out of the 10 on the hotel menu. There’s no lecture—it would be foolish to stop to chat amid this mayhem—but Ayu answers all my queries. On our menu: lodeh tewel tahu tempeh, a Javanese soup of young jackfruit with tempeh and tofu; another version of pesan be pasih; lawar kacang panjang, or long bean and chicken salad; the bananastem soup known as jukut ares; and ayam pelalah, or Balinese shredded chicken. Back at the hotel, Ayu stays in the kitchen to help chef Ibu (a term of respect meaning “mother”) Soelastri and I prepare our feast. Nothing is prechopped or ready, so the two of us become kitchen hands, chopping, bruising, slicing, crushing, grating and sniffing ingredients laid out for us in neat banana-leaf pockets. And I can, therefore, announce the real time it takes to produce five authentic Indonesian dishes, right from the start: an hour and 40 minutes, which is not that much longer than it takes me to produce a slightly complex meal in my own Western kitchen. Ibu Soelastri, from Malang in East Java, speaks Bahasa Indonesian and Javanese, but barely a smattering of English. It’s not a problem though, because in her humming kitchen, where two woks and a steamer hiss or sigh without pause, words don’t matter too much. This is a demonstration I feel privileged to be able to participate in; it’s not a technical account of ingredients or a lecture in the subtle differences between a Balinese and Javanese curry (though the answer, I’ve learned elsewhere, involves cardamom and cumin). And forget recipes— though I’ll be given a booklet at the end—as Ibu Soelastri tosses and tastes without consulting anything at all. When we run out of banana leaves, she dashes to the adjacent garden for more.

A prayer before cooking at Bali Asli. Clockwise from left: A colorful mix of local flowers; the results of a day at Bumbu Bali Cooking School; steamed fish in banana leaf at Hotel Tugu.

Garden ingredients are also on the menu at classes developed by Australian Janet de Neefe in the hill town of Ubud in central Bali. Today Balinese chef Inengah Oleg Sudira plucks the stamens from three ruby-red hibiscus flowers and pops them into a glass. He pours in boiling water, stirring as the water turns a purple-black. With a squeeze of lime, the magician watches our reaction as the liquid lightens dramatically to lollipop pink. A little white sugar and we have ourselves sweet hibiscus tea. It’s a reviving drink after a morning spent at Ubud’s traditional market in the heart of the tourist quarter. It’s easy to see the market building as a palimpsest; during the early hours, it’s filled with Balinese buying ingredients for their daily cooking, then later in the day it’s crammed with tourists snaring souvenir fare while trudging the grimeslicked aisles. Sudira explains along the way the nuts and bolts of Balinese food. Black and white pepper come from the same plant, but the white is soaked and dried in the sun twice. Nutmeg is a natural hallucinogen—have a little in milk with ginger to sleep well. The “saffron” you see everywhere in Bali is “cheap saffron,” likely safflower seeds. We talk fruits, vegetables, rice, tofu, even quotidian knives and coconut graters.

Back at school, we have breakfast then start cooking our dishes for the day: chicken curry, anchovy sambal, wok-fried eggplant, tofu fritters, bean coconut salad and sago pudding. We take turns grinding, chopping, frying and tasting in an open-air pavilion at one of de Neefe’s guesthouses. “It’s like aromatherapy,” Sudira sighs, standing over the wok as steam dances away from a bumbu frying there. Little details again surprise. Did you know the direction you cut purple Asian shallots in Balinese cooking depends on whether they’re going into a sambal or are being fried as a garnish? We wash down our feast with a glass of tuak.



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t’s almost a two-hour drive from Ubud down south to Jimbaran Bay, once home to a fishing village and now fringed by some of Bali’s top resorts and seafood restaurants. Classes held by Swiss chef Heinz von Holzen begin at the market behind the beach at 6:30 a.m. Though top-flight hotels line the same road as the market, duck just a few meters down a side street and this large market shows you the real Bali alive and well, he says. While von Holzen takes us through a riveting explanation of chicken hypnosis—really—spices and

Chef heinz von holzen leads a market tour. opposite: an array of ingredients for balinese spice paste.

fruits, a kul kul, or traditional Balinese village drum, sounds, a high-pitched rat-tat-tat. The men of the village forget about work and immediately head to a community meeting, he explains. Our next stop is Jimbaran’s seaside fish market. The beach here is gorgeous in the filtered morning light; red, yellow and blue Balinese jukung bob offshore, a scene that most who visit the island yearn to see. At the same time von Holzen, who has been bringing travelers to the markets since 1997, despairs of dwindling catches. A few years ago massive hauls were being pulled in daily, but now most fish are trucked in from Java under questionable conditions. The boats that bring in the fish now are often merely acting as nothing more than taxis from other craft that are fishing to Bali’s east. Back at the school, set in guesthouse grounds in Tandjung Benoa adjacent to Bali’s luxury enclave of Nusa Dua, we have a quick tour of the on-site pig pen where von Holzen is raising his own very happy pigs. The chef is an acolyte of Harold McGee and Heston Blumenthal, meaning our recipes tell us how much garlic to use right down to the nearest gram, and definitely not by the clove. Nevertheless, get a few of the key recipes—yes, the bumbus—truly correct,

and we can then let our imaginations at home go a bit more wild and crazy, he says. The dishes we make here—with the assistance of Ida Bagus Wisnawa, von Holzen’s assistant, and an entire behind-the-scenes kitchen—are simply too numerous to list. It’s a jampacked, high-energy, exhausting day. At one point von Holzen becomes distracted. “It’s our latest problem,” he says. “We have a pig that’s too big for the oven.” He’s clearly amused at this development. “Ah, I love it.” He means all of it, this, Bali. And after four days in some of Bali’s best kitchens, I have to say I share his feelings. ✚

Cooking in bali bali asli Jln. Raya Gelumpang, Gelumpang village Amlapura; 62-828/ 9703-0098;; classes Rp800,000. hotel Tugu Jln. Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu Beach; 62-361/4721-701; tugu; classes with market visit Rp1,040,000. Casa Luna bali Cooking School Honeymoon

Guesthouse; Jln. Bisma, Ubud; 62-361/973-282; cooking-school; classes Rp300,000. bumbu bali Cooking School Jln. Pratama, Tanjung Benoa; 62-361/ 771-256;; classes with market tour Rp1,035,000.

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jeweLS of RAjASThAn Shops full of precious stones. Silks in iridescent hues. Overthe-top palaces—each more magnificent than the last. On a journey through India’s largest state, Alexandra Marshall discovers a land fit for royalty. Photographed by Jake Stangel

replicas of old tribal jewelry sold at Tholia’s Kuber, in Jaipur. opposite: on the terrace at udaipur’s Taj Lake palace, overlooking Lake pichola.

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Clockwise from right: at the raas Jodhpur; a bird’s-eye view of Jodhpur; colorful tops on display at hot pink, a boutique in Jaipur; a street scene in Jodhpur; tapestry designs at Ganesh handicraft emporium, in udaipur; the pearl palace, at Jodhpur’s mehrangarh Fort; a staff member at Leela palace udaipur.

never expected to find myself in a jewelry store in Jaipur, cupping a plum-size sapphire in my palm. Cool to the touch and the color of a swimming pool, the gem was unadorned, the better to show off its clarity. This was just one of many trinkets I got to play with that afternoon. There were enameled turban-pieces studded with diamonds, curved scabbards adorned with vibrantly colored precious stones, and a gold chess set. “Go ahead, pick it up!” I was urged toward whatever was in front of me. No gloves, no problem. Welcome to Rajasthan. India’s largest state, in the arid northwest, is the locus of the country’s most glamorous past, and today it’s a major draw for anyone seeking an immersion in courtly history (as well as in textiles, jewelry, antiques and spices). The center of Rajput power since the sixth century A.D., Rajasthan is thick with imposing forts and carved marble temples that look like towering pinecones. The most concentrated way to get to know the region is through its three main cities—Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur, each with its own flavor—but between and among them, the scrubby Thar Desert and Aravalli Range are rich with pilgrimage sites and glimpses of village and rural life almost unchanged since the feudal era. The bug first bit me thanks to Waris Ahluwalia, the designer of House of Waris, which produces handmade scarves and gold-and-gem jewelry with heraldic motifs and a dash of punk. I was previewing one of his collections at Colette in Paris, and he started to explain how the artisans in his Jaipur network would undertake his enamel work using centuries-old techniques. Waris was born in India but grew up in New York; his connection to Rajasthan came while visiting there with his parents as a kid and deepened as an adult in search of


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craftspeople to execute his designs. “The skill there is extraordinary,” he said, his eyes getting wider. He hunched his shoulders, imitating the way they sit over small charcoal fires in their tiny workrooms to melt the gold and then hammer and channel-cut it to hold rivers of powdered glass. Rajasthan may find itself at a crossroads, with a growing number of visitors, ambitious infrastructure initiatives and a brand-new hotel boom creating pockets of real slickness. But as I learned when I visited, Waris was right: it’s not just a monument to the past. There may now be supermarkets and good highways and IT jobs, with a Jaipur metro on the way, but the area is in no danger of losing what makes it most special.


As the capital of the state and its largest city, Jaipur is usually the first stop on a Rajasthan itinerary. It’s a strong shot of color and noise and activity, especially impactful after the relative order of Delhi, where most overseas travelers first touch down. Founded, as the Mughal Empire was falling in the early 18th century, by a Hindu soldier-king obsessed with architecture and astronomy, the city is one of India’s first examples of urban planning, built along a grid system with the massive City Palace and an extraordinary 18th-century observatory at its heart. To celebrate a visit in 1876 by Queen Victoria’s son Prince Albert (who later became Edward VII), the city’s storefronts and town houses were painted salmon pink, and they’ve remained so ever since. That consistency and spatial order is today undermined by urban life at every turn. Shopkeepers’ wares extend past their doors and out into the streets. Clusters of egg-size pani puri (chili-and-potato-stuffed fried bread) bob


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furiously in boiling oil, beckoning locals and visitors more daring than I to burn their tongues while taking a bite. Traffic surpasses the usual cacophonous mix of scooters and cars, horns blaring, to include camel-drawn carts, packhorses, painted elephants, goats, monkeys, pigs and, of course, cows. Businesspeople rush to their next appointments, passing long lines at lassi (kefir) stands, hurrying past women in the brightest possible saris and men in dhotis and loosely knotted turbans whose brilliant colors change according to the message of the moment: mourning, betrothal, celebration, welcome. This street-level mix of country and city, so foreign to Western eyes, can seem deceptively humble compared with what’s behind the doors of all those pink-washed shops. Because let’s not be too noble: people may come to Jaipur to see the 16th-century Amber Fort or the lacy Palace of the Winds, but the most dedicated activity for most, undertaken with Formula One levels of intensity, is shopping. (Perhaps it’s only natural to get to it while your wallet is still heavy and the selection is the best; Jodhpur and Udaipur are not light on goods, but there is less variety.) In most of the better-known jewelers—the famous Gem Palace, on M.I. Road; Tholia’s Kuber, just down the block; the stunning Royal Gems & Arts, inside a mansion covered in 17th-century frescoes—historically significant bling is there to be fondled, along with less aristocratic pieces at prices that make springing for your first emerald (as I did at Tholia’s Kuber) well worth it. Among the scores of Jaipur’s pashmina peddlers, Andraab sits at the poshest end of the spectrum, in a tranquil, air-conditioned shop in the old city where neatly organized drawers are stacked

From top left: with spiderweb-light shawls in delicately The entrance to hand-embroidered paisleys and flowers. an espa spa tent Those bearing five-figure price tags (yes, at Leela palace; even in US dollars) would have taken years antique bangles, to complete. silver earrings, a silver necklace Jaipur is a hub of contemporary creativity, too. You see it in the mix of Indian with miniatures fashion designers such as Manish Arora and and a necklace with shaded Zubair Kirmani (of Bounipun) on sale at Hot carnelian and Pink, the chic shop owned by Munnu garnet beads from Kasliwal in the Narain Niwas Hotel where Tholia’s Kuber. opposite: The French jeweler Marie-Hélène de Taillac is private salon artistic director. And in the same way that she and House of Waris use age-old methods at hot pink. to push beyond traditional aesthetics, Alexander Gorlizki is revamping Rajasthan’s other most famous craft, miniature painting. Gorlizki, an English artist, sells at galleries like Greenberg Van Doren, in Manhattan, and Galerie Martin Kudlek, in Cologne. His paintings are surreal and graphic, though the brushstrokes and motifs remain as they were during the art’s 16th- and 17th-century golden age. They’re executed by his partner Riyaz Uddin, a master painter, and his staff of seven, based full-time in an apartment-style atelier in Jaipur’s crumbling, ancient Muslim quarter. Applying hand-ground pigment to paper with brushes ending in a single squirrel hair, up to five painters may work in a mini-assembly-line fashion, reserving the faces for the master. There is still a trade in conventional miniature painting, but as tastes change, the economy modernizes and labor laws make years of adolescent apprenticeships a thing of the past, the number of adept hands has dwindled. Though aesthetics were one reason that Gorlizki took up with Uddin, the fact that he’s helping to bring a traditional skill to a new audience is a bonus. t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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Unlike the garment districts of L.A. and New York, in Jaipur industry goes on in unexpected corners. No, it goes on in every corner. It’s part of what makes the city feel so unceasingly alive. Looking out from Uddin’s second floor onto the neighborhood around us revealed a Rear Window of cottage industries: a vat for tie-dyeing sat on one roof, surrounded by kids flying kites. Across the street inside a shady room, stonecutting and polishing went on at full tilt. In another were tailors bent over sewing machines. And a few blocks behind Uddin’s building came a faint plonk-plonk sound. As we walked over to check it out, the noise grew to a chirpy din, emerging from inside every house on the street like a flock of birds. Uddin explained that the men inside, sitting cross-legged on their floors, hammered away at books on the ground in front of them, making pages of silver leaf. Each would have started out with about 150 pieces of silver (they also work with gold) the size of a piece of Wrigley’s spearmint gum, separated by thin sheets of paper. Proceeding by feel more than sight, they take three months of hammering with a small wooden mallet to flatten it all. We approached one house where, after a quick hello, a smith handed me a piece so thin it floated, and evaporated on my tongue. I understood what Waris meant back in Paris when he said, “Anything I can dream up, they can make.”


If Jaipur is about ground-level immersion in craft and industry, Jodhpur, set on the eastern edge of the tough Thar Desert, is more vertical: the small, squat, indigo-washed buildings inside the 15th-century city are dwarfed by the extraordinary Mehrangarh Fort, hovering directly above on a high cliff like a space invader, encircled by eagles diving for prey, its massive red sandstone walls set on fire by the sun. The largest of its kind in India, Mehrangarh Fort is still under the control of the Rathore family, who laid the


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foundation in 1459 and added to the compound for 17 generations. They still use it today: in 2010, a massive processional mural at Jaipol Gate was restored to celebrate the wedding of the crown prince, who will one day be the 37th Marwar king. King? In the largest democracy in the world? Well, kind of. Even after India achieved independence in 1947, the maharajah families (about 600 strong in Rajasthan alone) retained most of their local authority and wealth, and received sizable allowances from the state. It was only in 1970 that Indira Gandhi took all that away, compelling many royals to repurpose or give up their estates. As so often happens when aristocracies fade, power rests among those canny enough to adapt their fortunes. Kings became businessmen, and palaces became hotels and museums, with tax breaks if the family remained in residence. Jodhpur’s Oxford-educated Gaj Singh II, the current maharajah, became a diplomat and an MP, and transitioned his holdings into the highly successful Mehrangarh Museum Trust. But he celebrated his golden jubilee in 2002. So: no more investiture, officially, but a whole lot of power and ceremony. In village homes today it’s still common to see portraits of and even shrines to the (former) local king. The trust—a many-tentacled foundation with an ambitious network of fort-restoration projects, a publishing arm, numerous scholarships and a nature park—created an unmissable castle museum out of Mehrangarh Fort, with room after room of weapons, palanquins, miniature paintings and a pleasure palace that’s covered in gold on almost every surface.

city, I heard the fireworks and saw the searchlights shooting out from palaces and mega-hotels rented out by wealthy families. Approaching halls hired for the week in all the cities, traffic would come to a halt as men in their finest Nehru-style tailoring and women in explosively glittering saris would emerge from Lexuses and MercedesBenzes. But it was in Jodhpur that I saw a real cross section, from elephant-glutted mega-bashes in the hills outside of town to a simple procession through the maze of the old city. The groom, in a red silk jacket and a gold sash and turban, rode atop a donkey while his bride, ablaze in a crimson sari and her mother-in-law’s gold, followed along, serenaded by friends and family with trumpets and kazoos. I passed by this happy party while winding my way back to Raas Jodhpur, a two-year-old design hotel flush at the foot of the fort, and one of a handful of the modern boutique genre in Rajasthan that really gets it right. With red sandstone screens that blend in with the skeleton of the 300-year-old mansion the hotel occupies, it’s understated and serene. (Ranvas, set inside the Ahhichatragarh Fort, 136 kilometers northeast of Jodhpur in the Sufi center of Nagaur, is another sophisticated beauty. Mihir Garh, about an hour’s drive southwest into the desert from Jodhpur, is yet another.) It’s an easy walk from the Raas to one of Jodhpur’s other great attractions, the Sardar Market, probably the easiest to navigate of Rajasthan bazaars. (Just watch out for scooters zipping around every corner; there are no sidewalks to speak of.) I was on the hunt for curries, which I found in abundance, along with tea and coffee and hair tinctures, at M.V. Spices. I also found that if I needed a filling checked, and let hygiene go for a minute, I could visit the market’s open-air dentist, who plies his trade on a dusty blanket on the ground, false teeth scattered all around him.

From far left: The “royal rajasthani” thali at Taj Lake palace’s Neel Kamal restaurant; inside mehrangarh Fort; a fireplace in a guest room at mihir Garh, in Jodhpur.

Cleverness and creativity are everywhere, from the springloaded double daggers in the armory rooms to a collection of elaborately carved gilt cradles. Everyone comes to the fort: tourists foreign and domestic, wealthy and humble. Most of the afternoon I spent there, I was following the same route as an extended family who looked to have come from deep in the countryside, their one-year-old baby’s eyes blackened with kohl to keep evil spirits away. Many people visiting Rajasthan come during wedding season, traditionally from September to January. “The wedding business has completely changed the way people see monuments and land here,” said Raghavendra Rathore, a fashion and product designer, member of the royal family of Jodhpur and the proprietor of two Jodhpur-area heritage hotels. “As India opens up, there’s a fear that we’re losing our indigenous identity,” he continued. So the drive to play maharani for the week (Indian weddings are traditionally six-day affairs) is a welcome celebration of cultural history, no matter how kitsch it can get. Events are as grand as their venues will allow. When I was in Rajasthan, every evening, in every

TRAffIC CAMe To A hALT AS Men In nehRuSTyLe TAILoRInG And woMen In expLoSIveLy GLITTeRInG SARIS eMeRGed fRoM LexuSeS


A whitewashed city of palaces, parks and temples, draped with bougainvillea and nestled inside the green Aravalli Range, central Udaipur is hilly but small enough to take on by foot. The city is built around four man-made lakes, but its moniker “the Venice of the East” is a bit overblown. (For one thing, there are no canals.) But Udaipur doesn’t need the comparison. It’s evocative in its own way, especially in the bustling market that winds around the City Palace Museum and encircles the elaborate Jagdish Temple. Three stories of heavily carved, lingam-shaped pillars dedicated in the 17th century to the preserver god Vishnu, the temple is very much in use among the local community today. It’s a pilgrimage site, too, but don’t be fooled: the most elaborately outfitted sadhus hanging around are less ascetic holy men, more models of a sort, ready to pose for pictures in exchange for tips. Udaipur is a major draw for Indian tourists, too, especially prosperous neighboring Gujaratis eager to escape their state’s t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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City palace museum, in udaipur.

strict ban on alcohol. Rajasthani saris, like the ones at the sari shop inside the City Palace Museum, are dyed exceptionally bright, and the antique textiles at Ganesha Handicrafts Emporium, just outside the palace gate, will wind up on sale in New York galleries. The luxury hotel market here is booming, too. Udaipur’s maharajahs are among India’s longest-ruling, in an unbroken line since the eighth century A.D., and the family jumped into professional hospitality ahead of the national curve, transforming its 18th-century summer palace on an island in Lake Pichola into the Jag Niwas hotel in the 1960’s. That raised the Asian luxury bar awfully high, but in the hands of Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, which has managed it since 1971, the Lake Palace has more recently inspired a game of waterside one-upsmanship that has the townspeople shaking their heads in amazement. First came the behemoth Oberoi Udaivilas, in Udaipur, in 2002, which takes up more than 12 hectares on the northwestern shore of Lake Pichola. Four years later the Lake Palace underwent a stem-to-stern restoration. Then, in 2009, up came the Leela Palace Udaipur on an eastern bank. The hotel is dotted with crystal chandeliers and covered in black-and-white marble; its tented Espa spa is as expansive as its massive network of outdoor pools. Everything from the foot massage at check-in and the hammered silver thrones to the armies of butlers and bellhops is fabulously over-the-top. But one doesn’t always have to play the “big, better, best” game that Rajasthan so often puts on. The most delicious food I ate on my trip came from family cooking demonstrations, not in formal banquet halls. As culinary immersion becomes a bigger part of tourism worldwide, cooking classes are now common in smaller heritage hotels and homestays. Drawing on family recipes guarded by palace kitchens for generations, this cuisine is becoming a proper subgenre, dubbed “maharajah


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cooking” by the local press. One of the more active proponents is Udaipur’s Vijay Singh Bedla. From a family of close advisers to the crown for 300 years, the Bedlas became de facto caterers to traveling VIP’s and have now preserved thousands of recipes. In 2006, after a decade leading seminars and throwing food fairs across India, Bedla and his wife, Sugan Kumari Bedla, have turned their family home into a low-key bed-andbreakfast with an extremely active kitchen manned by Sugan and their 24-year-old son, Karan. “Thankfully, everyone in my house is a foodie,” Bedla said on the afternoon of my visit. After a dip into a family history rich in tales of palaces and feasts, we set up over a camp stove on a patio upstairs. Since Udaipur is one of the few parts of Rajasthan with local seafood, the menu focused on freshwater whitefish, one marinated in coriander chutney and lightly fried, as a starter, the other served with tangy pickled gravy. I thought the buffet of 12 dishes was a little much at first, but with their relatives from overseas popping by and staying for lunch, we needed the extra. Rajasthani food tends to be hearty and spicy, heavy on grains and legumes, with rich meat curries for those whose caste status (or modern practices) allows for meat. But our fish, smoked chicken, sweet potatoes with fresh fenugreek, and slow-cooked eggplant were complex and subtle. “Each noble family here has fought so many battles, and each keeps their own history books,” Bedla explained, as he told stories of his ancestor’s gallantry in protecting Europeans during the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857. “We’ve maintained that tradition,” he said, referring simultaneously to the food set before us and the facts of the family’s long-ago past. This reverence for what came before is one of the most striking facets of life in Rajasthan, but it’s on afternoons like this one that it comes most deliciously alive. ✚

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Getting around there’s a lot to see in rajasthan, and to take in even half of the major towns and sights, you need up to two weeks. For those with less time, Jaipur, Jodhpur and udaipur take a good eight or nine days. Consider hiring a driver through india beat ( to get around each city, and to travel from one to the next.

Travel agents and Tour operators an experienced travel agent or tour operator can help organize your visit. below, three outfitters we recommend. Greaves india Carole ann Cambata Chicago; 1-224/765-4545; india beat Victoria dyer Jaipur; 91-141/651-9797; our personal Guest pallavi shah New York; 1-646/284-2454;



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guide to jaipur Stay hotel Diggi palace Diggi House, Shivaji Marg, C-Scheme;; doubles from Rs5,000. oberoi rajvilas Goner Rd.;; doubles from Rs15,000. Samode haveli Gangapole;; doubles from Rs7,250. eat anokhi Café KK Square, second floor, C-11 Prithviraj Rd.; dinner for two Rs1,100. Niro’s restaurant Mirza Ismail Rd.; dinner for two Rs1,400. peshawri restaurant ITC Rajputana, Palace Rd.; dinner for two Rs1,400. Shop andraab 38 Gupta Garden, Govind Nagar W., Amer Rd.; Gem palace M.I. Rd.; hot pink Narain Niwas Palace, Kanotha Baghm Narain, Singh Rd.; ridhi Sidhi 3 Kha 4B Jawahar Nagar;

160 km

royal Gems & arts Saras Sadan, Gangori Bazaar; Tholia’s Kuber Tholia Bldg., M.I. Rd.; 91-141/237-7416. do amber Fort North of Jaipur; 91-141/253-0293. City palace museum Old City; Jantar mantar Old City; 91-141/261-0494. guide to jodhpur Stay mihir Garh Khandi; mihirgarh. com; doubles from Rs14,500. raas Tunvarji ka-Jhalra, Makrana Mohalla;; doubles from Rs8,990. ranvas Nagaur; ranvasnagaur. com; doubles from Rs11,000. umaid bhawan palace Circuit House Rd.;; doubles from Rs17,000. eat hanwant mahal Circuit House Rd.; dinner for two Rs1,100. Shop Lalji handicrafts Umaid Bhawan Palace Rd.

m.V. Spices Sardar Market; do mehrangarh Fort Umaid Bhawan Palace; Sardar market Around the Clock Tower; no phone. guide to udaipur Stay Leela palace udaipur Lake Pichola;; doubles from Rs14,850. oberoi udaivilas Haridasji Ki Magri;; doubles from Rs15,000. Taj Lake palace Lake Pichola; doubles from Rs18,000. eat house of bedla Address by appointment; dinner for two Rs3,000. Shop Ganesh handicraft emporium City Palace Rd.; 91-982/904-1255. do City palace museum City Palace Rd.; Jagdish Temple City Palace Rd.

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menuS that matter

So you’ve heard that a resort restaurant is nothing short of excellent, but is hotel dining held to a different standard than other world-class eateries? by christopher kucway

The dining room at amber.


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ChrIstopher WIse. opposIte: phIlIpp enGelhorn


hen Richard Ekkebus is not in the kitchen at Amber, it’s a good bet you’ll find him mingling with diners explaining a new dish or asking for their impressions of the food. That explains why he spends up to 17 hours a day at the restaurant in the Landmark Oriental in Hong Kong. It also explains, partially at least, why Amber has done so well in the seven years it’s been open, garnering two Michelin stars among its accolades. One thing it does not do, according to the French-trained Dutch chef, is place Amber among the globe’s cutting-edge restaurants. “Oh, no, no,” he says, deflecting any possible link to the world’s very best menus. Instead, he says he prefers to be seen as simply keeping a fresh edge at the restaurant. Yet, given all the recognition, the star-quality chefs and— should we say?—often the prices, are Asia’s hotel restaurants setting the pace when it comes to high-end innovative cuisine? As it turns out, that’s like asking for a definitive answer on the best dish in Asia—not so much ridiculous as impossible to nail down. Any foodie worth their salt and pepper knows which restaurant has been labeled the best in the world each year. Every menu-obsessed gourmand in Asia is familiar with the globe’s top chefs as if they were top-flight footballers. Still, ask anyone in the business—chefs, restaurateurs and reliable critics—about game-changing menus and you’ll end up with different answer across the board. The genial Ekkebus, for one, offers a great take on such an enigmatic question. Hotel restaurants do not exist to outdo what are considered the best restaurants in the world. While many are very good, the cream of the global crop are normally stand-alone establishments. But that’s not a deterrent to strive for excellence; there’s still a food-mad local crowd to please. “As long as we have that feeling that we’re moving forward,” Ekkebus says, “then that’s what drives me.” In a hotel, groundbreaking cuisine is not always appreciated. What comes out of the kitchen at good hotel restaurants, he says, is often misunderstood—his menu has been referred to as molecular, when it’s clearly not. “I always aim to maintain tradition with a certain level of modernity to it.” That said, long gone are the days when a hotel restaurant was simply an afterthought. Today, a chef or a menu can actually put a hotel on the map, particularly in food-conscious Asia. Singapore foodie Aun Koh says that it’s worth remembering some hotel restaurants are owned and operated by the property, others are merely tenants. Koh wears several hats, including food blogger, part owner of The Miele Guide in Singapore, not to mention unapologetic food lover. Let’s just say he’s not shy when tweeting his weekend dining whereabouts. For decades, Koh also reminds me, hotel restaurants in Asia were the best place for Western food. Now, in Singapore or Hong Kong or Bangkok, Western cuisine is being elbowed off the menu in favor of global flavors. “If a hotel can turn one of its restaurants into a true local star—something critically acclaimed and really exciting—then guests will want to book a table,” says Koh. “Travelers always want to check out what is popular with locals.”

David Thompson at Nahm.

Part of the reason hotel offerings have improved comes down to being able to afford the costs of running a restaurant. At the Metropolitan in Bangkok, Nahm’s David Thompson says he agrees that hoteliers bring a lot to the table—think along the lines of the initial investment, for starters—but much of a restaurant’s success depends on the creativity of the chef. An inventive and winning menu can change the whole perception of the dining experience. “If you’re successful, you can run it more as a restaurant than a hotel outlet.” Both he and Amber’s Ekkebus estimate that up to 90 percent of their diners are not hotel guests. Think about it: if you’re booked into the hotel, visiting Hong Kong for the first time, you’ll most likely want to venture out for Chinese food.


ut before you think the best hotel menus are all upper-crust glitz, remember that they aren’t always formal affairs where a Michelin star or a mention from San Pellegrino is de rigeur. Hotel dining experiences run the gamut of formality, price point and fare. You don’t have to break the bank to pay for a decent meal and often you’ll discover a menu full of dishes that would otherwise be hard to find under one roof. That’s where a place like Talung Thai at Phuket’s Paresa enters the equation. “When we started the resort, we wanted an authentic Thai menu,” explains Paresa general manager Scot Toon. At first, that was easier said than done. Toon had to convince his staff that a watered down version of Thai food—as exists all too often around the country—was not what the resort was after. “What we want,” Toon told his unconvinced staff from the start, “is your favorite dish that your mom used to make.” After exploratory meals with several staff members at each of their homes, the t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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Talung Thai at the paresa in phuket.


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has to pay attention to the quality of any award to know if it is credible. In Asia, far too many restaurant guides and awards are, quite simply, for sale.” At Nahm, Thompson is blunt when talk turns to awards. “Any cook worth his salt—or, in my case—his sauce, doesn’t put too much in them.” And in this day and age of social media, he’s wary of diners who have become instant critics. The recognition isn’t a bad thing, he says, but the expectations that come with an award can overwhelm. Echoing that sentiment, Ekkebus insists any award can be positive as long as a restaurant doesn’t make too much of it. If it does, it runs the risk of setting up diners for disappointment. On the positive side, he says, an award injects a restaurant with more vigor, helps in hiring good staff and introduces new diners to its menu. A full list of reservations and returning patrons are what any restaurant aims for, after all, whether it’s in Europe or Asia, on a beach or in a big city. For his part, Ekkebus is glad to be working in Asia. “Everyone wants to come here, so there must be something good going on.” ✚

hotel menus worth checking out

amber The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong; 852/2132-0066. iggy’s The Hilton Singapore; 65/732-2234. Nahm The Metropolitan Bangkok; 66-2/625-3388. Talung Thai Paresa Phuket; 66-76/302-000. Waku Ghin Marina Bay Sands Singapore; 65/6688-8507.

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resort began accumulating items for its menu. Today, that menu includes dishes such as pad mee Thai (vermicelli with a coconutsoy sauce, bean sprouts and peanuts) and bue tord (deep-fried shrimp in a curry batter). Paresa takes things a step further for its guests: if they’ve enjoyed a particular order, they can book a place at Paresa’s cooking school to learn how to make that dish. Location also enters the equation. A tropical island simply won’t have the variety of restaurants found in a big Asian city, which is why Toon gives credit to good resort restaurants like Talung Thai. “Hotels are going to have a higher standard than many stand-alone restaurants,” he insists. Of course, different palates require different menus and each country has its own distinct characteristics. Even Ekkebus admits that he had to tone down his original plans for Amber to suit the local appetite. “Hong Kong is still a city where there needs to be a level of comfort in the food you serve,” he explains. So that degree of compromise becomes part of an ongoing process, a matter of the menu maturing while staying as true as possible to its own integrity. Someone from outside of the kitchen is more likely to give hotel restaurants their due. Koh says travel plays its inevitable part in our global knowledge of excellent menus. “With ultrahigh-end dining, there is a greater awareness of what the food is and what some of the flavors, textures and techniques are,” he points out. “The world has become smaller and the chefs helping the top tables in Asia become more international.” That brings up the question of awards. How relevant are they? Koh jumps right to the point. “I think the dining public


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Illustration by Wasinee Chantakorn

The pow of a Global palaTe

in his attempts to stretch the bounds of his own cooking, Jarrett Wrisley concludes that, thanks to our continuous travels, there’s change afoot in the world’s kitchens.


n Bangkok, I run a Thai restaurant. The food we serve, in my mind, is resolutely Thai, though there are aspects to the cooking process, and a few ingredients, that are not. I have always cringed when people told me, or when I read in a review, that my restaurant serves “fusion” Thai—partly because of the detractive nature of the term, and partly because I don’t believe this to be true. Gently, I’ve tried to bend the boundaries of Thai cooking—smoking something here, curing something there, putting Thai fried chicken on a Thai coconut waffle—without breaking them. Because I, like many other chefs, have lived in fear of the word fusion. But I’m not sure this word means much anymore. Or if we, as chefs and consumers, should give it any weight.

Just like the word authentic, which is said more about food than most descriptors and means less, fusion itself is a deeply misleading term. Great cooking cultures— Thai for one, but also more recent cuisines in Australia, the Americas, Goa, South Africa—have evolved because of a tendency to absorb the ideas, ingredients and techniques of migrating cooks. So when do we stop, erm, fusing? If one wants to cook traditional recipes, that’s just fine with me. And I firmly believe the world’s great cooking cultures should be guarded for posterity. But it doesn’t mean we all ought to cook what we grew up with. Imagine a world where cooking didn’t cross-pollinate—a tomato-less Italy, a China without chilies, a Bangkok without woks. It’s depressing. A recent trip to Spain reinforced the notion that the fine dining world has moved beyond a fear of fusion. My journey began in Girona, at a restaurant called El Cellar de Can Roca. “The first course, the amuse,” my waiter explained, “represents the chef’s most recent travels around the world,” as he presented me with spheres of food, perched on a steel structure, like gumballs roosting on a leafless tree. I wondered if there was a tinge of irony, or even jealousy, in his monotone, as he introduced this work of edible experience. My first bite, a taste of Korea which I plucked from the top branch, rudely awoke a palate that had been lazing for days on sheep cheese and buttery ham and subtle, olive oil-soaked seafood. Suddenly, I struggled with a mouthful of pungent miso. Pow! The next bite took me to Beirut, I believe, then Mexico, then Morocco. But it wasn’t until the chef—who was raised in his family’s Girona restaurant, studying classic Catalan food—was on more familiar ground that his cooking began to resonate. I remembered most the meal’s small, informative turns on flavor, like a delicately smoked sliver of anchovy swimming in a soup of gingered cherry and amaretto, and crispy lamb breast with forest mushrooms poking through a pillow of creamed morels. I’d quickly forgotten the miso ball, until I returned to Asia, and began to unpack my own experiences. I would like to think that mainstream cooking—not the dreamy three-star stuff

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above but everyday restaurant cooking—is on the cusp of real change. A time when people will stop uttering that tired, “fusion, confusion” analogy under their breath and accept that food is essentially formless; it is an interchangeable medium that does not necessarily lose its unique character if it borrows another ingredient or technique from a place far away. Because now, we often venture far away. Most people didn’t used to —and most especially working-class cooks. We talk of a global economy, of global food shortages and international migrations, but rarely do people talk about this apparition that is global cuisine. Unless it’s negative. Some of that is well-deserved, especially during the salad days of fusion, where a squirt of Sriracha or the sting of wasabi was used clumsily by uninformed cooks and promulgated by restaurant chains. But good chefs have figured out how to use each others’ arsenal of ingredients, and well. And so, quietly, many are cooking whatever they feel like, unannounced. Because they know more about what they’re doing than we do, we don’t notice as much. There are, as far as I can tell, two opposing schools of thought when it comes to cooking. Those who think that our culinary order hangs in the balance as soon as the simplest traditions are tweaked, and those who put miso paste in butter because it tastes really good. And on my last trip through Spain, most of the memorable meals I ate were cooked by chefs that fell into the latter category. There was a crisp, tiny cone filled with the silky insides of a ripe tomato at Tickets, in Barcelona, that slowly rose above the ordinary with the quiet heat of grated wasabi. It was there, but you had to seek it out in your head, as Albert Adria must have when he created the dish. And a rabbit taco, an elegant little tapa stuffed with tender rabbit in a gentle cumin and chili braise, like Mexico viewed in a soft, Mediterranean twilight. These geographical leaps felt nothing but natural. There are many reasons Spain has emerged as a world leader in gastronomy— it’s a combination of great product, innovation, climate, history and a strong traditional food culture. But, in my mind, it’s the lack of dogma in their modern


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cooking that has allowed Spain to move so far forward, so fast. While France eased into the idea of adoption, Spain had already thrown open their doors to spices, sensations, molecular techniques and whatever else might push their food forward. Labels be damned. Delicious was the measuring stick. Which brings me back to my original point—travel is changing the way we cook, the depth of our understanding and the ingredients chefs choose to use in restaurants. Nowhere in Europe was this more apparent to me than in San Sebastian —a place steeped in Basque traditions, that remains open to most anything. As I wound through the old town I passed cooking stores with hand-forged Japanese sushi knives in the windows, and Asian basket steamers. There was that old-school mishmash of Gallic and Spanish, too—the chocolatiers and cheese shops and baguettes and olive oils and hams. And then I went to Arzak for lunch. Elena Arzak, the proprietor of this legendary Basque restaurant, led me through her 100,000-bottle wine cellar. But what fascinated me most was their spice room—1,200 different flavors, neatly catalogued, at the disposal of chefs who work exclusively on recipe development.

we talk of a global economy and international migrations, but rarely do people talk about this apparition that is global cuisine

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The meal was one of the best I’ve ever had, and often surprised me—a chunk of goat cheese was offset by the astringent glow of turmeric, silky foie gras was encased in crisp seaweed, like a lighter, umami-laced tempura. But the local products opened my eyes. There was a sardine speared atop a ripe strawberry, and a delicious dish of beef tongue and Dover sole. After the meal I told Juan-Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena what I loved best, and she smiled. “We have 10, sometimes 15 visiting chefs in our kitchen. They come to cook, on their vacation. And they notice simple things like you, things we think are normal they think are fantastic, and this excites me.” That night, I wound through the pintxos bars of the old town. There were so many little sidesteps on tradition that I lost track of them. A scoop of mole-flavored ice cream atop a pig’s ear terrine; a pork rib braised in sweet fruit and cumin like a tagine; a grilled prawn with the subtle scent of lemongrass. My last meal in Basque country was at Azurmendi, in Bilbao. It’s a stunning place,

but what sets it apart is Chef Eneko Axta’s precise yet playful approach to Basque classics. As we slurped an oyster, for instance, a waft of sea mist drifted across the table, as water scooped from the Bay of Biscay was poured over dry ice and purple seaweed. Does that sound pretentious? Because it’s not. It’s surreal, like eating an oyster in a secreted cave. After the meal, Axta took me upstairs to his greenhouse to show me his peas, which are picked at night, and cooked in a jelly made from the fat of the world’s best hams. “I’m going to Bangkok,” he said, “would you show me around, and can we cook?” I certainly will. And if all goes right, sometime next year, as diners overlook the vineyards outside of Bilbao, a waft of kaffir lime rind might slither across a white tablecloth like a jungle vine. Here in Bangkok, a slice of raw fish might find itself perched upon a strawberry. And if we both do it right, people won’t call it fusion. They’ll nod their heads, as if it always was. ✚

europe’s new wine country In Greece—between the jagged peaks of the Peloponnese, the ancient vineyards of Macedonia and the sun-drenched shores of Crete—Bruce Schoenfeld finds a resilient and ever welcoming people, seductively simple food and some unforgettable wines. Photographed by Dagmar Schwelle

Stewed snails prepared by maria Konstantaki at the boutari Wineries, on Crete. opposite: The village of myrtia, also on Crete, overlooks a hillside of vineyards.

Clockwise from top left: octopus, dolmas and fava-bean spread at Crete’s blue palace; a pedestrian street in Nauplia; server Georgios Likakis with a scorpion fish at Savouras, also in Nauplia; the Chapel of Saint Trifonas (patron saint of vineyards), at Domaine Tselepos, in the peloponnese.


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From left: Glasses of Nostos wine at Crete’s manousakis Winery; George Skouras in his vineyards at Domaine Skouras, in the peloponnese.


might have fallen as hard for Plyto in a tasting room or over dinner at home, but the setting of our first encounter made it inevitable. I was on a sloop, sailing past the stone bastions of Spinalonga, the mysterious Venetian fortress off Crete’s northern coast. Friends I’d met just that afternoon had laid out meats and cheeses beside canapés that looked like miniature sculptures. The sea was shimmering, the sky a shade of El Greco blue. Then came wine, from a grape variety I hadn’t encountered in two decades of seeking out the stuff around the world. Not only did Plyto have historic importance—found only on Crete, it was rescued from near extinction by a determined vine grower in the 1980’s—but its thirstquenching, green-apple bite also made it the perfect beverage for a perfect moment. But that’s Greece. You can visit more famous wineries elsewhere, and drink bottles far more renowned (and certainly more expensive) while eating elaborate meals in your fanciest clothes, yet I’ve found few places where exploring wine regions is more fun. Almost everywhere

I went during my two-week journey, I found panoramic vistas, intriguing wines and hospitality on an Olympian scale. (Driving in Macedonia, I stopped for gas, walked inside to pay and found a family of five eating homemade lentil soup that they insisted I sample.) It isn’t all rustic tavernas and glorified pensiones, either. That sloop belonged to Elounda’s Blue Palace, a sumptuous, 251-room hotel on a hillside overlooking Spinalonga that ranks for sheer magnificence with anyplace I’ve ever stayed. You’ve heard that wine tastes better where it’s produced, but that truism is especially valid in Greece. Greek food is famously simple: no elaborate postmodern constructions or complex sauces here. That leaves space for the wines to show themselves. And a palate needs steady exposure to get accustomed to the singular flavors of the country’s grapes. At home, compared with Pinot Noirs and Cabernets, Greek wines can seem rustic, unsubtle, even strange. But calibrate your taste to their sturdy architecture and you’ll start daydreaming about which to have with dinner. America’s boom in fine Greek restaurants has helped lift the profile of Greek wine. “We’ve been making it for four thousand years, but still hardly anyone knows it,” lamented Yiannis Paraskevopoulos of Gaia Wines, which has wineries in the Peloponnese and on Santorini. But nobody needs to be t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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sold on the charms of traveling in Greece. Though the financial crisis has cast a shroud over the tourism industry— and credit card machines, which create a record of a meal or hotel stay for tax purposes, seem to be “broken” at every turn—Greeks couldn’t treat a visitor badly if they tried. Here are three regions that combine delicious food and surpassing natural beauty with memorable hotels, and wines that might even make you fall in love.

The Peloponnese

Renaissance painters perceived Arcadia as a pastoral utopia. But as I gazed at jagged peaks and steep-walled valleys from the doorway of the tiny chapel in the Domaine Tselepos vineyard, or climbed a mountain road toward the Semeli winery’s eight-room inn past yellow and purple wildflowers and imposing rock escarpments, this fabled region of the Peloponnese had a distinctly primordial cast. Though much of modern civilization evolved here, it seemed only a thin veneer. The Peloponnese, a peninsula of more than 20,000 square kilometers that fills the southern third of mainland Greece, has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. Pan, the god of nature, is said to have sprung from the Arcadian forests. Sparta clashed with Athens on its plains and Greek independence was fomented in its villages in the 1820’s. So it’s no accident that most of the grapes planted in the region are wholly and unabashedly Greek. “There are two approaches in Greece, international or indigenous varieties,” Paraskevopoulos said. “Here in the Peloponnese, we chose the second one. The hard one.” In Mantineia, in the Arcadian hills near Tripoli, Moschofilero (mos-koe-fee-le-row) makes gorgeously transparent white wines. The best of them taste of the chilly summer nights that make the slow-ripening grapes among the last to be picked in all of Europe. Domaine Spiropoulos shares a plateau there with ancient ruins. An Athenian dentist started the winery on ancestral farmland in the 1980’s, working weekends to inculcate his son, Apostolos, in the culture of growing grapes and making wine. At 39, Apostolos Spiropoulos now runs the estate. He throws dinner parties in the flower-filled courtyard, guides tours of the organically certified vineyards, and serves a bracing, unoaked version of Moschofilero that has the spine of a great Riesling. Taste it at the winery, then drink it by the bottle in the garden of the Taverna Klimataria Piteros, in Tripoli, alongside baked rooster, hand-cut pasta with a wisp of cinnamon, and bitter greens that coax sweet fruit out of the steel and flint. In the valley below Mantineia sits Nemea, a red-grape region that extends almost to the port of Nauplia (often spelled Nafplio or Nafplion). The dominant grape there, Agiorgitiko (ah-your-yee-ti-ko), can make a friendly but almost characterless wine that, in the wrong hands, is soft to the point of flabbiness. But the winemaker George Skouras does for that variety what The Simpsons did for cartoons, adding complexity without losing the spark that provides the fun. He started in 1986, applying lessons learned in enology school to the varieties of the region. Without realizing it, he’d joined a rising generation of winemakers around Greece who were attempting the same. “It became a movement,” he said. “Almost a revolution.”


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Now Domaine Skouras makes some 700,000 bottles a year, while welcoming the waves of visitors who stop in at its showpiece facility, a 90-minute drive from Athens. What they find is a range of wines that use precision rather than power to seduce. “We’re a European winery, unabashedly,” Skouras said. What he meant became clear when he poured me his Grande Cuvée, made from Agiorgitiko grown in volcanic soil. I was startled to learn that this wine—so composed, so well bred—can be found outside the country for less than €24 a bottle. Later, at one of the many restaurants that ring the Nauplia harbor, I drank a Skouras rosé that looked pink and fruity like bubble gum, but smelled like fresh-cut flowers. Nauplia resembles a less tidy version of St. Tropez, without the glitter. It has a latticework of cobblestoned streets, a few hotels with aspirations and many more pensiones with colored shutters and earnest breakfasts, and enough good eating for a week’s stay. I had my best meal there at Savouras, where customers are led to a vast wooden filing cabinet, the drawers of which are pulled open to reveal the day’s catch on ice. Prices are far from cheap—my grilled snapper weighed in at €45—but the only fresher fish you’ll find, I’m convinced, is on the boat that caught it.


Greek Macedonia isn’t a country; that’s the cumbersomely named (by UN decree) FYROM—former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia—that borders it to the north. But geopolitics aside, perhaps it ought to be: this oblong region has the diversity of nations ten times its size. Fishing villages and beaches speckle the coastline; spits of land protrude into the Aegean like spiny fingers. Hilltop villages look out over forests roamed by chocolate-colored bears. Thessaloníki, Greece’s second-largest city, climbs the hills that rise from its harbor like a denser, even stronger-flavored Genoa or Trieste, while the understated beach resorts around it cater to an international crowd. The food, architecture and language of the region reflect centuries of influence by Turks, Serbs and Bulgars. “Our goal is to get the city to understand and be proud of its past,” Yiannis Boutaris, Thessaloníki’s mayor, told me when we met over coffee and whiskey at a local café. A newcomer to politics after a life in wine, Boutaris can be understood best as Greece’s Robert Mondavi. Like Mondavi, he quarreled with his family, then left its industrial winery to compete against worldwide producers on quality, not volume. That’s where the parallel ends. Ever the iconoclast, Boutaris ceded control of his wine business to his son in order to serve as the only big-city mayor I know of who has a tattoo of a lizard crawling up his hand. Thessaloníki’s forgotten past includes its connection to wine, which has been made nearby for centuries. Strolling its streets, reveling in the splendor of Greek and Roman ruins, Ottoman temples and remnants of a once thriving Jewish presence, I encountered a jam of outdoor cafés, one pushed against the next, overflowing with men (and occasionally women) talking, playing cards or backgammon and drinking coffee or ouzo, but rarely wine. As the hub of a wheel that leads to viticultural areas to the west, northwest, northeast and south, the city is the ideal base for a tasting tour. Yet you’ll find more accomplished Greek wine on tables in midtown Manhattan.

Dusk falls on the Peloponnesian port town of Nauplia.

The harborfront of Canea, on Crete’s northwestern coast.

Outside Thessaloníki, that heritage becomes evident. An hour to the west is Naoussa, where Boutaris started his Kir-Yianni winery. Here the clay soils and mountain breezes, along with water so pure that nobody bothers to buy it bottled, create ideal growing conditions for Xinomavro (zeeno-mav-ro), by far Greece’s most intriguing red grape. It’s an antisocial variety that greets you with a rush of fruit, then turns its back and bares its fangs. Still, as made by Kir-Yianni or the tiny Karydas Estate, a winery in a house near where Aristotle purportedly once tutored Alexander, Xinomavro shows a crystalline depth that recalls Italy’s Nebbiolo. From there, I drove farther west and up to Amyndeo, the coolest wine region in Greece. In his zealously tended vineyards, Alpha Estate’s Angelos Iatridis grows a painter’s palette of varieties, from the indigenous Malagousia and Mavrodafne to Syrah, Pinot Noir, even Barbera. It’s an intriguing blend of the local and the international, and so was the dinner we shared at Kontosoros, in the neighboring town of Xino Nero. Many Greek meals are basic affairs, which made Kontosoros a particular find. Meatballs with saffron; pork tenderloin beside frumenty pasta of wheat and yogurt; and a salad of wax beans, capers, pistachios and scallions were composed with the artfulness—not to mention imagination— that elsewhere might earn chef Nikolaos Kontosoros a cooking show. It was the best meal I had in Greece.


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The counterpoint to that ambitious food, and to the Alpine feel of Amyndeo and surrounding towns such as the delightful fairyland village of Nymfeo, was the fried mullet, grilled octopus and other marine delights I devoured during my alfresco lunch at Agnandi. It overlooks the Aegean in Epanomi, south of Thessaloníki, in a setting of palm trees and striped awnings and rhythmic tides that could seem Caribbean. But the snap of fresh vegetables and the tang of feta is unmistakably Greek, and when it’s clear, you can see Mount Olympus. Nearby, down a rock-strewn dirt road that looks like the direct route to Nowhere, are the ivy-covered stucco walls of Domaine Gerovassiliou, the region’s most attractive winery. The gardens are awash in color, the museum features an epic corkscrew collection and the wines are nothing if not polished. On the veranda, sipping a glass of white Malagousia that tasted of lemons and rosewater, I found it easy to forget that bottled wine in Greece (as opposed to wine poured for customers into flasks or jugs) is just a few decades old. Yet viticulture in Macedonia is also an ancient endeavor, and the same characteristics in the land and climate that enticed the original Greeks to cultivate grapes beside the olive trees are at work today. “We’re starting to rebuild a tradition,” Boutaris told me. “We’re finding the special places that give special characteristics to the wines.” Little by little, the world is noticing.


If you visit only one destination in Greece, make it Crete. Sure, the trashy beach resorts and general decrepitude in and around Iráklion, the island’s biggest city, have a decidedly Third World air. Driving is perilous, meals can be overpriced, weather frustratingly erratic. Even its barren mountains can seem inhospitable and menacing to most casual observers. But persevere. Crete is a special place, where the distilled essence of Greece is augmented by African, Turkish and other influences. For wine drinkers, the island is like Darwin’s Galápagos. The catalogue of grape varieties found mostly, or only, on Crete is more varied than that of anywhere I’ve been. If you have even a vague interest in wine, a few days on the island are sure to bring out your inner geek. If you’re into it to begin with, well, it’s like finding buried treasure. That’s how I felt when I tracked down Lyrarakis, the producer of that marvelous Plyto. I found the winery in the rural hills south of Iráklion, after my GPS had led me through what was nothing more than a tangle of rutted roads. The winemaker met me bearing an armful of bottles, then went back for more, for Lyrarakis produces 17 different wines, none priced above €31. Soon I was immersed in a crash course in ampelography, the study and classification of grapevines. I tasted Vilana and Dafni, Vidiano and Kotsifali, Mandilari and Thrapsathiri—not one of which, as far as I’m aware, has ever been commercially planted in the United States. Some, such as the massively structured Mandilari and the Plyto, were good enough that I schemed to ship a case home. Nearby, past the famous Knossos ruins (which, sadly, have been “restored” to the extent that you can’t tell whether a fresco is a 3,500-year-old original or a recent fabrication), is Boutari Wineries. The company owned by Yiannis Boutaris’s family makes 2 million bottles a year of Moschofilero alone, yet its glass-walled Cretan facility (one of several in Greece) feels surprisingly intimate. The featured players on the day I visited were an evanescent white blend called Fantaxometocho, colloquially referred to as “ghost wine,” and an impish middle-aged woman, Maria Konstantaki, who arrived from the kitchen bearing warm zucchini pie, bread with tomato and feta, and yogurt with sweet grapes. “Cuisine of the grandmother,” she called it, then gave me a hug to show she meant it. After two nights at the Blue Palace, I moved to Earino, a three-cottage hilltop inn renowned for its farm-fresh food. A chapel the size of a magazine kiosk sits on the property, and one morning of my visit coincided with the only religious service held there each year, on the anniversary of the death of the proprietor’s mother. When I heard bells, I stepped outside my room to see villagers seated in metal chairs positioned around the courtyard. They were dressed in hand-sewn clothes of bright blue and white, the same hues as the sky above and the cottages around us. It might have been a hundred years ago, or a thousand. A day later, in Canea, or Chania—a small coastal city of warrens and passages, blind alleys, souvenir shops, and restaurants serving provocatively traditional dishes such as spiced rabbit with escargot—I walked along a seawall to a lighthouse that had been built by the Egyptians. I checked in to Casa Delfino, a 17th-century Venetian mansion with a spa, an authentic Turkish hammam, 500-year-old stones and a roof terrace. Then I drove into the hills to see the Manousakis Winery.

Crete is a special place, where the distilled essence of Greece is augmented by African, Turkish and other influences. And for wine drinkers, the island is like Darwin’s Galápagos

The scene was almost comically rustic. Picture an unsteady table in a backyard, flies buzzing, roosters crowing, apricots and lemons swaying drowsily from trees. Except that pouring me a glass of their Nostos wine was Alexandra Manousakis, a pretty 28-year-old from Washington, D.C., whose father, Ted, owns the Bread and Chocolate chain there. Nostos, it turns out, means nostalgia, which is what Ted, who left Crete for America at 11, felt keenly whenever he returned to visit. So he started a winery, and Alex, an NYU grad who had previously worked for a New York marketing firm, agreed to tend it. Instead of local varieties, Ted planted the grapes of the Rhône. “My father wasn’t living here, so he had no loyalties to Greek grapes,” Alex told me. Nostos’s blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache, typically found in Châteauneuf-duPape, rumbled with dark earthiness, and the varietal Syrah showed all the requisite blue and black fruit. Each time I took a sip, a rooster crowed. A few years before, newly relocated from Manhattan, Alex might have been startled. Now she just smiled and lifted an eyebrow, as if such a thing happened all the time on this magical island. Maybe it does. I wouldn’t be surprised. ✚ t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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repuBlic of macedonia


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aegean Sea

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t+l guide

S e Sea of crete

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the peloponnese nemea mal andreni mantineia tripoli



Getting There Fly in to athens (ath). the peloponnese is an hour’s drive away, while nonstop flights serve thessaloníki (skG) and the Cretan cities of Canea (ChQ) and Iráklion (her).

Getting around driving in Greece is easy and pleasurable. rental cars are a relative bargain, and companies seldom impose one-way drop-off charges.

ionian Sea

the peloponneSe


Stay Semeli Koutsi, Nemea;; rates on request.

32 km

eat Savouras 79 Bouboulinas St., Nauplia; 30-2752/027-704; dinner for two €60. Taverna Klimataria piteros 11 Kalavriton St., Tripoli; 30-271/022-2058; dinner for two €55.

macedonia amyndeo xino nero




mount olympuS

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Sea of crete canea irÁklion Sk al ani al agni



taSte Domaine Skouras Malandreni; Domaine Spiropoulos Mantineia; domainspiropoulos. com. Domaine Tselepos Rizes; Gaia Wines Nemea;


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32 km

Stay palea poli a boutique pensione

and restaurant perfectly situated in the center of naoussa; the house-made yogurt at breakfast alone is worth the stay. Naoussa;; doubles from €80. eat agnandi Epanomi Beach, Thessaloníki; 30-2392/041-209; dinner for two €60. Kontosoros Xino Nero;; dinner for two €50. taSte alpha estate Amyndeo; Domaine Gerovassiliou Epanomi, Thessaloníki; Domaine Karydas Naoussa; Kir-yianni Naoussa; crete Stay blue palace Elounda;; doubles from €335. Casa Delfino Canea; casadelfino. com; doubles from €186. earino Kato Asites, Iráklion;; doubles from €53. eat 7 Seas Cretan seafood, plucked straight from the water and served in a lush outdoor park. Iraklitou and Irodoutou Sts., Iráklion; 30-281/034-2945; dinner for two €55. taSte boutari Wineries make a reservation well in advance to sample maria konstantaki’s excellent cooking. Skalani;; tastings €18. Lyrarakis Alagni; manousakis Winery Canea;

our definitive guide to

brazil’s biggest metropolis is fast-paced, stylish and full of one-off gems, from edgy boutiques and galleries to authentic gastronomic temples. Jennifer Flowers surveys the scene. photographed by Lalo de almeida 132

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boldly patterned wall fabrics at adriana barra, a home-furnishings and clothing boutique in São paulo’s Jardins neighborhood. t r av e l a n d l e i S u r e a S i a . c o m

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outside footwear boutique Galeria melissa, in Jardins. right: Galeria melissa’s shoe displays.

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Lay of the Land centro the once-gritty city center has been reborn, thanks to an influx of nightclubs and restaurants.


higienópoliS art lovers won’t want to miss this up-and-coming neighborhood, known for its modernist architecture and galleries.

São paulo is full of avant-garde fashion, accessories, furniture and more.


Colorful, bohochic dresses and tunics are displayed on luggage trolleys at brazilian designer adriana barra’s new flagship store, in Jardins. barra also creates the vivid prints for the homefurnishings collection on the second floor. 1243 Alameda Franca, Jardins; adrianabarra.


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Galeria melissa is a mecca for plastic and rubber footwear. expect stylish sandals, sneakers and kitten heels by Vivienne Westwood, karim rashid and Jason Wu, among others; the rotating installations by local artists at the massive entranceway draw even the non-shoe obsessed. 827 Rua Oscar Freire, Jardins;


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the woven baskets, wooden bracelets and carved objets d’art at projeto Terra have all been made by regional artisans using sustainable materials. and the shopping is guilt-free; a portion of the profits is reinvested in local communities. 150 Rua Harmonia, Vila Madalena; projectoterra.


at the rusticchic oficina de agosto, sibling owners antÔnio Carlos bech and sonia bech Vitaliano work with craftsmen from the state of minas Gerais, in the southeast, who produce roughhewn trunks, whitewashed-framed mirrors and brightly hued wooden sculptures. 243 Rua Harmonia, Vila Madalena; oficinade

jardinS the top hotels are located here, and the tree-lined rua oscar Freire has the city’s most exclusive shopping. pinheiroS sandwiched between Vila madalena and Jardins, pinheiros has a rich, multicultural feel, with a wide range of ethnic shops and cafés. vila madalena são paulo’s answer to new york City’s West Village is filled with pint-size shops and lounges. getting around taxis are the best and safest way to navigate the city (roughly us$15 for a 10-minute ride). luckily, they’re ubiquitous—just try to avoid rush hour (7:30–10 a.m. and 5–8 p.m.).



See do 6


.d a

4 S


5 ÇÕ




aS av

bot tom: Courtesy oF desIGn hotels

and eames. relax in the renovated spa or in your bathroom’s claw-foot tub. BeSt for stylish travelers seeking access to the city’s top boutiques.




1.6 km

Clockwise from right: The Sunburst exhibition at Galeria Vermelho; the auditório ibirapuera, a music venue in ibirapuera park; a mural along beco do batman.


this glass-and-marble tower has 57 white-onwhite rooms accented with furniture designed by the Compana brothers



here, four hotels to meet your taste and style.

384 Rua Oscar Freire, Jardins;; doubles from US$760.






inside a junior suite at hotel unique.




In the Vila Madalena district, 1 beco do batman (Rua Gonçalo Afonso) is a long, graffiti-lined alley that continually evolves as street artists add new works. For a more traditional experience, swing by 2 museu de arte de São paulo (1578 Avda. Paulista, Bela Vista;; the 1968 Modernist building houses one of the most comprehensive Western art collections (ranging from Botticelli to Diego Rivera) in the Southern Hemisphere. São Paulo is a hotbed for contemporary art galleries: there’s newcomer 3 raquel arnaud (125 Rua Fidalga;, which represents more than 20 Brazilian artists, including sculptor Frida Baranek; 4 Galeria Vermelho (350 Rua Minas Gerais;, showcasing experimental works by international talent such as provocative Danish art collective Superflex; and 5 Galeria Fortes Vilaca (1500 Rua Fradique Coutinho;, one of the city’s largest gallery spaces. Leave time to see Oscar Niemeyer’s 6 auditório ibirapuera (Avda. Pedro Álvares Cabral; auditorioibirapuera. and the impressive collection of Brazilian paintings, sculptures and artifacts from the 1960’s at 7 museu de arte Contemporânea (160 Rua da Praça do Relógio;



Seven ways to get your culture fix.

design of this sexy retreat includes clubby leather armchairs and brazilian modern art. downstairs, there’s the see-and-beseen Italian restaurant, where são paulo’s creative set gathers. BeSt for sophisticates and fashion gurus. Rua Vitório Fasano, Jardins;; doubles from US$910.

grand hyatt

you’ll find one of the top wine lists in town at the Grand hyatt’s 2,000-plus bottle library lounge. If it’s views of the city you’re after, all 466 spacious rooms have floor-toceiling windows that look out onto the pastelcolored rooftops. BeSt for pleasure-seeking business travelers. 301 Avda. das NaçÕes Unidas, Pinheiros;; doubles from US$430.

hotel uniQue shaped like a slice of watermelon, this 95-room property created by renowned brazilian architect ruy ohtake is a design junkie’s dream; the interiors have features including curved hallways, sloped walls and oversize round windows. BeSt for architecture geeks. 4700 Avda. Brigadeiro Luís Antônio, Jardins;; doubles from US$460.

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SÃo paulo

epice, in Jardim paulista.

Five to Savor Don’t leave town without trying these local staples. brigadeiro these cocoa-filled bonbons are made in dozens of flavors (pistachio and cachaça are two) at maria brigadeiro (68 Rua Capote Valente, Pinheiros; 55-11/3085-3687).


a required stop for foodies (and big-name chefs from alain ducasse to Ferran adrià), d.o.m. serves a tasting menu by pioneering chef alex atala that showcases brazilian flavors. try the shrimp infused with cashew juice and tamarind and the banana-lime dessert scented with floral priprioca root, normally used only for perfume. 549 Rua Barao de Capanema, Jardins; 55-11/3088-0761; dinner for two US$160.


a massive wooden door marks the entrance to


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Five spots to try in São paulo’s white-hot culinary scene. this French-inspired restaurant run by 32-year-old alberto landgraf, whose previous experience includes stints at pierre Gagnaire, in paris, and Gordon ramsay, in london. his whimsical menu plays with textures: a deceptively simple entrée presents squash three ways— raw, as a cream and in gnocchi. 1002 Rua Haddock Lobo, Jardim Paulista; 55-11/3062-0866; dinner for two US$150.


Classic dishes such as feijoada, a hearty bean, beef and pork stew, get a modern

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spin here; brazilian ex-model chef helena rizzo and her Catalan husband, daniel redondo, both worked at el Celler de Can roca, one of spain’s temples to molecular gastronomy. 210 Rua Joaquim Atunes, Jardim Paulistano; 55-11/3085-4148; dinner for two US$110.


It’s a 45-minute drive to mocoto, in Vila medeiros, but the trek is worth it. sophisticated paulistas come to sample chef rodrigo oliverira’s northern brazilian specialties, including mouthwatering torresmos

(fried pig skin) and rich mocofava (cow-hoof soup with sausage). 1100 Avda. Nossa Senhora do Loreto, Vila Medeiros; 55-11/29513056; dinner for two US$100.


Chef mara salles still uses the recipes she learned from her mother while growing up in the countryside at this low-key spot in Consolação. order the tender duck braised in tucupi, a spicy cassava broth, followed by house-made tapioca ice cream. 465 Rua Bela Cintra, Consolação; 55-11/3107-7444; dinner for two US$115.

pizza thanks to its sizable Italian community, são paulo is famous for its pizza; don’t miss the classic neapolitan margherita at Speranza (1004 Rua 13 Maio, Bela Vista; 55-11/3288-8502; lunch for two US$50). pão de Queijo Fresh batches of this irresistibly chewy, buttery bread made with cassava flour are baked daily at pão de Queijo haddock Lobo (1408 Rua Haddock Lobo, Jardins; 55-11/ 3088-3087; US$20). pastel the light and crisp codfish turnover, a street-food favorite, can be found at the saturday market in praça benedito Calixto. or, try the spicy version filled with african bobotie shrimp stew and yuca cream at Casa das ostras (3 Rua Joaquim de Brito, Jardim Imbé; 55-11/5897-2969; meal for two US$50).

t h I s s p r e a d, I l l u s t r at I o n b y l a u r e n n a s s e F


Coffee the trailblazer of artisanal coffee in são paulo is Isabela raposeiras of Coffee Lab (1340 Rua Fradique Coutinho, Pinheiros; 55-11/3375-7400), who roasts beans from small brazilian farms. order a steaming cup of bourbon Vermelho.

From left: home décor at amoreira; glassware at Jacqueline Terpins; Jun Sakamoto’s sushi counter.

Local Take Three insiders share their top picks in the city they call home.

clariSSa Schneider

iSay weinfeld

architect Where i go...

Where i go...

to decorate my houSe

for weekend exerciSe

“For one-of-a-kind porcelain vases and bowls, go to amoreira (510 Rua dos Macunis, Alto de Pinheiros;” for cocktailS

Rua Purpurina, Vila Madalena) serves delicious caipirinhas.” for a Quick Bite

“Don’t miss the Beirute sandwich— pita bread filled with roast beef, mozzarella and tomatoes—at Frevo (603 Rua Oscar Freire, Jardins; 55-11/3082-3434; US$20).”

after Dark Come sunset, São paulo transforms into a late-night playground.

for SuShi

On Sundays, I ride my bike on CicloFaixa, a 64-kilometer lane that passes through vibrant streets like Jardins’ tree-lined Alameda Lorena.

for a light Brunch

“Choque Cultural (997 Rua João Moura, Pinheiros; br) has innovative street art curated by owner Baixo Ribeiro.” for a low-key dinner

“The vibe at Las Chicas restaurant (1607 Rua Oscar Freire;; brunch for two US$45) is lovely; order cappuccino with doce de leite.”

midnight sip classic cocktails such as the amaretto-infused Corleone at Suite Savalas (398 Rua Mato Grosso, Consolação; 55-11/3259-4355).

“The sushi in São Paulo is top-notch. One of my favorite spots is Jun Sakamoto (55 Rua Lisboa; 55-11/30886019; dinner for two US$60).” to expand my art collection

“There’s a great collection of sleek glass tables at Jacqueline Terpins (374 Rua Gustavo Teixeira, Higienópolis;”

10 p.m. the night is just heating up. head to emporio Sagarana (883 Rua Marco Aurélio, Lapa; 55-11/3539-6560) for a refreshing glass of cachaça.

Chef at D.o.m.

Where i go...

for StyliSh furniShingS

“In Vila Madalena, Sabiá (370

alex atala

editor of brazilian magazine Bamboo

“I love Tenda do Nilo (638 Rua Coronel Oscar Porto, Paraíso; dinner for two US$40), a Lebanese joint with incredible fried kibbe.”

2 a.m. hit the dance floor at Casa 92 (92 Rua Cristovão Gonçalves, Pinheiros), an exclusive club (though there’s no velvet rope) that feels like a private home.

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last look

Photographed by Cedric Arnold

rangoon, Burma Both food and art are on the menu

sharky at his restaurant After working in Geneva, Sharky, or Ye Htut Win, returned to Burma 18 years ago to start a slow-food business growing his own produce. Eventually, his passion for food evolved into an eponymous restaurant (117 Dhamazedi Rd.; 95-1/524-677).

The restaurant draws a steady crowd for its farm-to-table foods: dry-aged steaks, wild fish and gelato made by Burma’s only certified gelato maker. The upstairs dining room, while simple, features monthly exhibits by local artists.

Two worlds colliding at the dinner table Made in Burma: Sharky’s beef tenderloin, with microgreens and fleur de sel, paired with a thin slice of threeyear-old ParmigianoReggiano cheese.


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parma in Burma A member of the charcuterie team poses with 30-month matured “Barma” hams—Sharky’s take on Parma ham. The downstairs deli features locally made breads; cheeses ranging from Camembert to Brie with black truffle; and a very addictive chili sauce.

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September 2012  

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia Sepember 2012