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july 2016

Southeast asia

Seoul's diverse, distinct menus On tap in Vietnam: craft beers

Asian food on Instagram

New Zealand, Where anything grows

Singapore S$7.90 / Hong Kong HK$43 Thailand THB175 / Indonesia IDR50,000 Malaysia MYR18 / Vietnam VND85,000 Macau MOP44 / Philippines PHP240 Burma MMK35 / Cambodia KHR22,000 Brunei BND7.90 / Laos LAK52,000



ON THE COVER Kioku, at the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul. Photographed by Yousun Moon.



A Savory Character On the South Island of New Zealand, just about anything grows—and inspired chefs and winemakers are turning the fruit of the land into a distinctive national cuisine. Kevin West digs in. Photographed by Sean Fennessy


c l o c k w i s e F R O M t o p LE F T: s e a n f e n n e s s y; y o u s u n m o o n ; m a r c u s n i l s s o n . i l l u s t r at i o n b y r i e t y

74 84 96 104

South Korean Comfort Eating her way from grandma’s kitchen to next-wave top tables, Jeninne Lee-St. John finds that the best Seoul food spans regions, seasons and generations. Photographed by Yousun Moon


Eat the World Adam H. Graham embarks on a few unlikely food quests that will add lesserknown troves to your epicurean treasure map. Illustrated by Riety


A Place at the Table With meals that feel like magic shows and mysterious alchemical wines, Slovenia is one of Europe’s most intriguing places to eat and drink. Alex Halberstadt reports. Photographed by Marcus Nilsson

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j u l y 2 0 1 6


In Every Issue  T+L Digital 8 Contributors 10 Editor’s Note 12 The Conversation 14 Deals 70 Wish You Were Here 118


Plus The new low-cost-carrier alliance spanning Asia Pacific; an old newspaper exhibit in Singapore; document your travels with a new video tool; and channel your inner David Thompson with new cookbooks and a cooking-school app.

19 The Kaiseki Kid A KL-based

Michelin-starred chef reveals how sushi changed his life.

that have influenced award-

22 Timeline The memorable trips winning pastry chef Cheryl Koh.

distinguish among natural,

26 In Vintage Form How to

organic and biodynamic wines.

hottest Aegean islands. 30 One Suit, Two Ways A stunner of a swimsuit for day or night. 32 #foodporn Instagram stars share their top food picks and 29 Going Greek This summer’s

how best to photograph them.

cruises let you interact with the

35 Disappearing Acts All-access world’s most fascinating and endangered places.


63 Remote Control The gadgets,

apps and co-working spaces you need to kick-start a new life on the road.

The Place

challenging years, a flourishing

114 Bangkok After a few

creative class and a spate of openings put the Thai capital back in the spotlight. Christopher Kucway explains what to eat, drink and do. Photographed by Christopher Wise

37 Foreign Relations Australia-

born and -trained chefs take over the Hong Kong dining scene.

of Saigon’s newer breweries

42 Blood, Sweat and Beers A tour shows a boom in next-level craft beer with local flavor.

adventure from Kyrgyzstan to

50 Iron on Silk A self-drive

Uzbekistan on the Silk Road.

poised to become the next hot

56 Kicking the Blues Memphis is American city.




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T+L t b e s s Keep an eye out in this e t i b issue for some of our favorite drool-inducing dishes in Asia, each worthy of its own food pilgrimage.



F R O M LE F T: c o u r t e s y o f b a b e ; P h i l i p p e n g e l h o r n ; c o u r t e s y o f J o a n h . ; m i c h a e l t u r e k

Here & Now

t+l digital



4 Plush Suites You Won’t Want to Leave These ultra-luxe hotels and resorts excel in pampering guests.

5 Nightlife Hot spots in Jak arta  Indonesia’s capital is heating up after dark, as these stylish speakeasies prove.

100 Places to go in Asia Cruises to cafés, Oman to Tahiti, our ultimate travel bucket list across the region.

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j u ly 2 0 1 6 / t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m


fr o m l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f Am a n e m u ; c o u r t e s y o f fa i rm o n t; c o u r t e s y o f b u rm a b o at i n g

this month on tr

An idyllic wellness resort in Bali; a riverside bistro in Borneo; cool crowdfunded gear for your next trip; the latest travel deals and more.



Philipp Engelhorn

Alessandra Gesuelli

Foreign Relations Page 37 — Engelhorn is a big fan of the indie, Aussie vibe at Hong Kong’s Mansons Lot café, “in a nice side street in Wanchai, perfect to sit outside and work while watching the city walk by.” Of the bursting food scene, he says, “as the MTR expands, old neighborhoods are being ‘discovered’ for new restaurants. That is a great excuse to break out of the old Central and Sheung Wan circuit.” His advice for taking perfect food photos? “Sit close to the window. Use available daylight. Shots straight from above are my favorites—they show the presentation and chef’s skills best in a single image.” Instagram: @philipp_ engelhorn

Timeline: Cheryl Koh Page 22 — In Singapore, Italian writer Gesuelli’s sweet tooth steers her to Pantler: “The cakes and chocolate tarts are creamy delicious, especially if served with a well done espresso. Their techniques are inspired by the West but the style is authentically Asian.” What other countries in Asia stand out for their pastry prowess? “I’m fascinated by Japan’s techniques and ingredients,” she says. “India has the perfect mix of modern and traditional. Their richness in sweet flavors and recipes is unique, and comes from all the different cultural influences. When I go I just can’t stop trying everything!” Instagram: @alegesuelli



Yousun Moon

Diana Hubbell

South Korean Comfort Page 84 — “Mingle” is the word the Seoul-based shutterbug says best defines her native fare: “All the fresh ingredients mix together and make good harmony, on the table and in your mouth.” A tasty example is bibimbap, which she says to mix “with chopsticks instead of your spoon to prevent the rice from getting smashed.” But it’s kimchi stew that she calls “addictive, my soul food.” Her favorite is found at Eunjujung restaurant—“a sacred place for kimchi-jjigae aficionados.” Why? “They hit the optimum ratio of sweet to sour in their broth, in which they steep a thick slab of the meat. It’s fantastic.” Instagram: @hellomygrape

#foodporn and Remote Control Pages 32 and 63 — The globe-trotting writer says the best innovation in remote working is “spaces that foster communities, that help likeminded people brainstorm, commiserate and encourage one another.” After polling popular Instagrammers, she reports that great food photographers act fast and know how to cheat: “Gussy up your pics with apps that give more postproduction control than a cookie-cutter filter.” Her photogenic fave? L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Bangkok, where “chefs use tweezers to make sure every speck of caviar on the smoked salmon with poached egg is just so.” Instagram: @diana.hubbell

P h o to gr a p h er




W r i t er

W r i t er

fr o m t o p : COU R TESY O F p h i l i p p e n g e l h o r n ; c o u r t e s y o f a l e s s a n d r a g e s u e l l i ; COU R TESY O F y o u s u n m o o n ; COU R TESY O F d i a n a h u b b e l l


j u ly 2 0 1 6


P h o to gr a p h er




editor’s note


j u ly 2 0 1 6

As we all know, one of the best things about Asia is the food.



j u ly 2 0 1 6 / t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m

From My Travels

Shanghai is one of those cities I love to visit and hate to leave. There’s always another historical pocket or modern addition to check out. Yet on my last night, a kind soul booked me into a corner suite at the Peninsula Shanghai (above) and, with a room overlooking the Bund, I was hard-pressed to find a reason to venture out. I had just returned from a sneak peek at the reworked Peninsula Beijing, which opens later this summer. We’ll have more on it next month, but let me just leave you with the above palate teaser from that hotel’s Jing restaurant.

f r o m l e f t: t h a n a k o r n c h o m n awa n g ; C h r i s t o p h e r k u c way ( 2 )

In this month’s food special is everything from the storied histories of dishes such as Burma’s tea-leaf salad to the Aussie-chef invasion of Hong Kong. Elsewhere are mouthwatering tales of Asian-inflected pastries in Singapore; some of the region’s Instagram food stars; my all-time favorite beef sandwich, only found in Kyoto; and a fond farewell to a market like no other. For a delicious look at local and leisurely eating habits, turn to page 74 and “A Savory Character,” a glimpse of food-mad New Zealand. Fresh ingredients dominate where, until recently, there wasn’t much of a food culture at all. Things have changed, thanks in part to oenophiles, locavores and even a whiff of Asian influence, with Tokyo and Seoul coming to mind. For a closer look at the Korean capital, deputy editor Jeninne Lee-St. John left no bowl unturned on her visit there (“South Korean Comfort,” page 84). Think Korean sake bombs. Black-pork barbecue. Dried silk worms. Korean sundaes (they’re not what you think). Oh, and if you needed any more incentive to book your flight to Seoul, “steamed-rice power” will get you there. Uncovering what’s coming up on Asia’s travel horizon was what brought me to Shanghai for ILTM Asia recently. But first on the menu was a massive bowl of chili-chicken. The ratio of dried chilies to chicken is otherworldly, and so is the dish.

the conversation If you’ve seen a jump in hotel prices in your favorite cities, blame business travelers, whose growing ranks are putting rooms at a premium. HRS Global Hotel Solutions compared 10 Asian business hot spots from the first quarter of this year with last, and found rates rising in seven.

Average hotel price increase in Bangalore, India, the region’s highest.

Average cost of a hotel room in Tokyo, the region’s most expensive.


Drop in Kuala Lumpur’s average room rate.

cities (Tokyo, Sydney and Singapore) where rooms are likely to cost more than S$200.

percent change in hotel rates in Sydney.

our readers train their lenses on lip-smacking sweets and savories

Green papaya salad with shrimp balls, in Vietnam. By @aurora_traveling

Sticky rice mango coconut ice cream, in Chiang Rai. By @beryl_carson

Carnitas with crunch at Twinkeyz Tacos, in Taipei. By @hungryintaipei

Lechon kawali deep-fried pork belly, in the Philippines. By @theluxeaffair

Share an Instagram photo by using the #TLAsia hashtag, and it may be featured in an upcoming issue. Follow @travelandleisureasia

editor-in-chief art director Deput y editor senior editor AS SISTANT EDITOR senior DEsigner DEsigner

Christopher Kucway Wannapha Nawayon Jeninne Lee-St. John Merritt Gurley Monsicha Hoonsuwan Chotika Sopitarchasak Autchara Panphai

Regular contributors / photographers Cedric Arnold, Jeff Chu, Helen Dalley, Philipp Engelhorn, Duncan Forgan, Diana Hubbell, Lauryn Ishak, Mark Lean, Melanie Lee, Brent T. Madison, Ian Lloyd Neubauer, Morgan Ommer, Aaron Joel Santos, Darren Soh, Stephanie Zubiri chairman president publishing director publishER digital media manager TRAFFIC MANAGER /deput y DIGITAL media manager sales director business development manager chief financial officer production manager production group circul ation MANAGER circul ation assistant

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TR AVEL+LEISURE (USA) Editor-in-Chief Senior Vice President / Publishing Director Publisher

Nathan Lump Steven DeLuca Joseph Messer

TIME INC. INTERNATIONAL LICENSING & DEVELOPMENT ( Vice President E xecutive Editor / International Senior Director, Business Development Senior Director, Ad Sales & Marketing

Jim Jacovides Mark Orwoll Jennifer Savage Joelle Quinn

TIME INC. Chief E xecutive Officer Chief Content Officer

Joseph Ripp Norman Pearlstine

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News + trends + discoveries

The Dish

The Kaiseki Kid

courtesy of babe

Kuala Lumpur-based Michelin-starred chef Jeff Ramsey on the inspiration behind his Japanese tapas—or “japas”—and how sushi changed his life. By Mark Le an

Jeff Ramsey finesses fish.

t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m  /  j u ly 2 0 1 6


/ here&now / from left: Sea bream with rice

puffs is a home run; Ramsey’s comic book-style Manga Crab.

KL Kitchens

From izakaya to modernist Malay, these are Ramsey’s top dining picks in the Malaysian capital.


With its stories of passion and appreciation of nature, The French Laundry Cookbook, written by Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller, motivated Ramsey to learn how to cook at a high level. His understanding of cuisine had extended only to sushi and Japanese food. The book, he says, brought about an awakening. While Kudo taught Ramsey restraint and subtlety, Morou Ouattara, former The Next Iron Chef contestant, taught him to run with it at Signatures in Washington, D.C. “He helped me express my creativity in not just sushi, but by using the stove as well,” Ramsey says. “We developed wild combinations of flavors together, even African sushi, inspired by his home continent.” Ramsey’s own roots in Japan are still his biggest source of inspiration. “I spent some time in 2014 at Miyamasou, run by chef Hisato Nakahigashi, which has a restaurant and an inn that sits at the top of a mountain an hour outside Kyoto,”

+ Chef Darren Teoh at Dewakan (; set menus from RM90) takes fine-dining training and applies it to traditional Malaysian flavors and local produce. “The results are amazing,” Ramsey says.

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Ramsey says. “The experience was both formative and inspiring.” A mountain spring runs just 100 meters away from the restaurant, and that fresh water is diverted into a small pond where carp are kept for sashimi. “This is most intimate connection between a restaurant and its surroundings that one can imagine,” Ramsey says, “and my dream is to create my own version of this place one day.” At Babe, Ramsey is beginning to fulfill this vision, with a creative menu that is largely locally sourced. The Manga Crab, a tasty and surprising dish, is styled to look like a page ripped out of a Japanese comic book, depicting a crispy soft shell crab sliced by a samurai sword, made with a coriander sauce and turmeric aioli, all market fresh. Ramsey says that Kuala Lumpur’s restaurant scene is finally finding its edge: “It’s like being in at least three different countries at the same time.” No wonder he feels perfectly at home.

+ Fuego, Troika Sky Dining (; dinner for two RM250) is all about bold flavors. The Latino-type cuisine takes Ramsey back to his years growing up in a D.C. neighborhood known as “Little El Salvador.”

+ Hamasho ( my; dinner for two RM200), an authentic izakaya in Desa Sri Hartamas reminds Ramsey of a typical Japanese salaryman go-to spot. “It’s a busy, congested and compact space,” he says.

courtesy of babe (2)

an American air force officer and a Hiroshima bomb survivor, chef Jeff Ramsey knows the many nuances of delicately navigating cultures. The finesse extends to Ramsey’s innovative multicultural cuisine, which earned a Michelin star in 2008 at Tapas Molecular Bar in Tokyo’s Mandarin Oriental. In Kuala Lumpur, he currently runs Babe (, which opened last November, and creates riffs on tapas-style dishes with Japanese accents. After spending his childhood in Washington, D.C., at the age of 19 Ramsey became an apprentice to Masataka Kudo at Tako Grill in Kudo’s hometown of Kuroishi, Japan. “He was my Mr. Miyagi and I was his Daniel-san,” Ramsey recalls. In addition to teaching Ramsey the basics of Japanese cuisine, Kudo also gave him lessons in discipline, assigning tasks like building and painting a bamboo fence and Japanese water garden using five tonnes of bricks to adorn his house. The son of

/ here&now / T+L t bes s e t i b


Chinese Character

A newspaper exhibit proves print isn’t dead—yet.


c o u r t e s y o f c o l l e c t i o n o f mr . l o o . i n s e t: J e n i n n e l e e - s t. j o h n

smalls, bangkok

Far from hot off the presses, many of the Chinese newspapers currently on display at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall in Singapore have had more than 130 years to cool. Titled “Early Chinese Newspapers in Singapore (1881-1942),” this exhibition offers a rare glimpse at the Chinese printing industry in the Lion City, as it developed from the 1880s to the 1942 Japanese occupation, recounting the rise and fall of various newspapers, the shifting journalistic trends and styles, and the evolving needs of the Chinese community, through the years. The collection of more than 100 artifacts, historical documents and images—including 19th-century wooden

printing blocks, a Hakka-Malay dictionary published by a Singapore printing press in 1929, and old issues of Lat Pau, Singapore’s first Chinese daily— tells the story of an industry that helped shape the Chinese community in the nation in ways still evident today. The exhibition will also include a series of public talks by historians, analyzing the role of these publications. It is a nuanced narrative of preserving one distinct culture while assimilating with another, during a period of political uncertainty. After all, not everything is black and white. Now through October 9; sg; free admission for Singaporeans, S$2-$4 for tourists. —Merritt gurley

When I moved to Bangkok from Saigon, I didn’t expect to be missing pho bo; surely someone would have brought this hearty, cure-all beef noodle soup over the border. But after so many Goldilocks-like pho fails (this one’s noodles were too thin, that one’s beef was tough or sparse, no one’s broth was quite right), I gave up, resigned to living a pho-free life and set about finding another spicy, soothing hangover remedy. And then Phuong Tran brought her perfect pho to Smalls, already one of the best hangouts in Bangkok. The Saigon native simmers her broth for 12 hours, making it full-bodied and flavorful. The rice noodles are al dente, the bean sprouts are crisp, and you get a mound of scallions and greens, plus Sriracha and hoisin sauces and chopped red chilies and limes on the side, just like tradition dictates. There’s a chicken version (pho ga) but for me it’s beef or bust. Phuong plunks generous helpings of the right two cuts—shank and rare sukiyaki-style slices that cook in the bowl—into every steaming brew she sends out of her kitchen. These are in high demand since she only hosts this authentic Vietnamese slurp-fest the last Thursday of every month. Get there early: Phuong’s pho always sells out and you don’t want to be left with empty chopsticks.; pho Bt200 . — Jeninne Lee-St.John

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j u l y 2 0 1 6


/ here&now / Timeline

Cheryl Koh

Italy, 2008 | “My work experience in Italy still inspires me. At Don Alfonso 1890 on the Amalfi Coast, I learned how to choose the best and freshest ingredients. I always think about the simple and perfect taste of pasta with tomato when I choose the flavors for my tarts: Indian Alphonso mangoes, coconuts and passion fruits are among my favorite local fruits.”

Paris, 2003 | “I wanted to learn

how to cook, so I packed and left for France. When I first visited Paris I fell in love. I had my first job in the kitchen at Lasserre (above), a Michelinstarred institution where I spent three years learning the basics. I still remember the taste of the crème brûlée.”


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Dubai, 2005 | “I never had any difficulties being a pastry chef, even if it’s mainly a man’s world. But you need to be disciplined and well organized. This is what I learned in Dubai when I worked with Austrian pastry chef Felix Schmid at Burj Al Arab. He taught me to manage a team of 50 pastry cooks, which prepared me for my position at Les Amis where I have 10 people working with me.”

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 ta r t e ; © A l f i o f e r / D r e a m s t i m e . c o m ; ©Dphiman/Dre amst; court esy of wik ipedia ; ©Anjel agr /Dre amst; c o u r t e s y o f l a s s e r r e ; c o u r t e s y o f ta r t e

Singaporean pastry chef Cheryl Koh’s cozy French patisserie shop Tarte (tarte. offers a dozen different tarts baked fresh daily, in a seasonal roster of traditional and Asian-fusion flavors. The self-taught chef got her start at Raffles, and channeled that experience into a baking odyssey that took her around the globe until an offer to head up Les Amis and Tarte brought her back home. Here she shares a few memorable journeys, trips that have sweetened her life and honeyed her dishes.

E A S T E R N & O R I E N TA L E X P R E S S , S O U T H E A S T A S I A

New York, 2008 | “From the fine dining

restaurants and traditional legendary steak houses to the street snacks and food trucks, New York is so vibrant. The chefs are openminded, enthusiastic, motivated and willing to learn. During my trip, I really appreciated the street-food scene, which reminded me of the hawker food culture in Singapore”


f r o m t o p : © T u p u n g at o / D r e a m s t i m e . c o m ; R o b e r t I n g e l h a r t/ g e t t y i m a g e s ; c o u r t e s y o f S e b a s t i e n L e p i n o y; c o u r t e s y o f r o b u c h o n h o n g k o n g ; S t e fa n o P o l i t i M a r k o v i n a / g e t t y i m a g e s

Hong Kong, 2010 | “I don’t


want to do something new; I just want to do the best version of it. Simplicity showcases the techniques. So when I decided to move back to Asia, I chose Hong Kong for its variety of great produce and products. It was here that I had the opportunity to work with chef Sebastien Lepinoy (right), a protégé of legendary Joël Robuchon. He was my biggest influence.”


Tokyo, 2014 | “This was an amazing food trip. I really enjoyed the freshness and quality of the food that you can only find in Japan, be it the fruits or the seafood or the meats. I spent a week eating through Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo and also visited the markets, like Tsukiji, and food halls.” — As told to


Alessandr a Gesuelli


/ here&now / Tech

Studio Magic

This production tool helps travelers share their stories through video.

Of course you want to

upload a video of your last trip on Facebook or Instagram or your blog, to share the joys of your journeys and taunt your friends back home. But what do you do when you realize you had the lens cap on for the 25 minutes you spent filming that waterfall in Cambodia? How can you craft your opus without the right resources? These things happen to the best of us,

and a new digital storytelling software is here to save the day. Binumi lets you fill in the gaps by mixing your own video footage with an online library of millions of royalty-free videos, images and audio clips to create personalized stories. It’s an intuitive drag-and-drop production tool that you can use on their website or by downloading the app on a tablet or smartphone. You

can pull together a little montage of your last trip, send a video message or postcard to a pal, or go full-tilt Werner Herzog and make a lengthy documentary chronicling your travels. Perhaps loftily, founder Anthony Copping hopes Binumi will change not only the way users remember their adventures, but also how they “discover and experience the wonders of our planet and the cultures

that reside in it,” he says. “I see every traveler as a storyteller, and no one tells their story better than them.”; basic editing is free, US$100 per year for 2GB of storage and advanced editing.—M.g.


Team Work

You have an excuse to plan even more trips across the region in the coming year, with eight airlines buddying up to increase flight options and drop airfare rates. Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air, Nok Air, NokScoot, Scoot, Tigerair Singapore, Tigerair Australia and Vanilla Air recently formed the Value Alliance, the world’s largest low-cost-carrier alliance. For travelers this means better deals and connectivity throughout Asia Pacific as they bundle their networks together, making it easier to visit both marquee destinations like Tokyo and Singapore and farther flung sites, like Thai islands and Aussie outposts. Customers will be able to view, select and book the best-available airfares on flights from any of the airlines in one transaction, directly on any of the partner websites, with the help of cool new tech developed by Air Black Box ( “By working together we can offer our guests a wider choice of destinations and flights, at the most competitive airfares,” says Scoot CEO Campbell Wilson, “all in one go.” Proof that sharing is caring, and in some cases, saving. — david ngo


j u l y 2 0 1 6   /  t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m

courtesy of binumi (3)

A new airline alliance is making it easier for travelers to hop around Asia.

T+L bes b i t et s

Tea-leaf Salad

house of memories, rangoon

Learn Vietnamese home cooking at Citronella Café in Hoi An. Noticed

Class Act

Want to learn how to cook like a pro? Cookly is here to help. By Diana Hubbell

c o u r t e s y o f c o o k ly ( 2 ) . i n s e t: m o n s i c h a h o o n s u wa n

“I’m really a foodie and this all started

when I wanted to book a class for myself while I was traveling,” says Benjamin Ozsanay, cofounder and CEO of Cookly (, a start-up hoping to change the way travelers seek out cooking classes. Although culinary schools are littered throughout Southeast Asia, booking usually requires a phone call, an email and a wait—hardly an efficient use of precious vacation time. He sat down with fellow traveler Etienne Marleau-Rancourt, now cofounder and COO, and the two began to hatch a plan. “We contacted five of the top schools with our idea. Within 24 hours, all of them wrote back with a positive reply,” Ozsanay says. “We realized there was a gap to fill.” The resulting streamlined platform, launched late last year, makes it a breeze to find, compare and book cooking classes from more than 60 partner schools in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. So far, participants from 30 different countries and six continents have pounded up spice pastes at Bumbu Bali Cooking School, simmered pho at Hanoi Cooking Centre, and whipped up vegetarian Thai curries at

May Kaidee. In the future, the team hopes to offer more varied experiences such as wine tastings and food tours everywhere from Japan to Australia. “By digitalizing the whole process, we’re hoping to make these kinds of activities more accessible for everyone,” Ozsanay says. So you can spend a little less time mincing words and more time mincing herbs. Grain by Luke Nguyen Cooking Studio, Saigon.

The first time I went to Burma, there was only one thing on my checklist: lahpet thoke, or fermented tea-leaf salad. I wasn’t just curious to try this worldfamous national delicacy that has garnered much love from San Francisco to Shanghai; I was yearning for it. More than a year had passed since I tried the savory snack in Shanghai, where I singlehandedly finished two shared plates of it. Its sweet-sour lightness pleased my Thai palate, while the deep-fried nuts kept me voraciously chomping. It was a delightful teaser, but the trip to Burma promised a more authentic introduction, and the House of Memories in Rangoon didn’t disappoint. Here, soft whole tea leaves (as opposed to chopped cabbage in Shanghai) soaked up the zingy dressing and married beautifully with sweet fried shallots. Each bite was a juicy feast. An assortment of crispy broad beans, peanuts and split peas provided an addictive crunch and soon my plate was empty. But it is salad after all, so I had no qualms ordering up another plate, just for myself. houseof​ memories​; lahpet thoke K2,500. — Monsicha Hoonsuwan

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insider intel

In Vintage Form

Asia’s love of wine is more robust than ever, so guidance from an outspoken master includes the advice to simply enjoy the tipple. By Christopher Kucway

Wine critic Jancis Robinson

is the first to admit that she’s often—how to put this?—acidic in her comments about the latest labels. Yet, it’s that commentary that has propelled her to the pinnacle of the world’s wine commentators ( “My tasting notes are often unquotable,” she tells oenophiles at a tasting in the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. “I hate that people think scores are the beginning and the end of a wine. A description is much more useful.” Now that Asian palettes are an integral stop on the global wine map—“Asia has become a driving force behind everything that happens with wine,” the British master of wine tells me—those


CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: A tipple with wine

commentator Jancis Robinson; Felton Road Vineyard on the South Island, New Zealand; the 2013 Felton Road Pinot Noir, Robinson’s pick of the day of a good biodynamic wine.

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descriptions are ever more apt. This is no longer simply a world of red, white or rosé. We’ve all heard of organic vintages, but what of biodynamic bottles or natural wines? In actual fact, biodynamic wines predate their organic cousins, though the distinctions are pretty fine. Organic wines are made from certified organically grown grapes, without synthetic pesticides, additives or added sulfites. Biodynamic labels also avoid synthetic chemicals while taking into account lunar cycles. A vineyard is treated as an entire ecosystem. “The whole thing sounds completely crazy but it does look different,” Robinson says. “The vines look healthier.” She points to a 2013 Felton Road Pinot Noir from New Zealand, with its red berry, cinnamon and vanilla accents, as a solid biodynamic bottle. As for natural wines, she admits they’re a work in progress. Strictly, speaking, nothing is added or subtracted to a natural wine: no sulphites, no synthetic chemicals. “It can result in some pretty weird wines, but the proportion of good natural wines is increasing.” She cites the rich textured 2014 William Downie Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir as one example. “I’m not prepared to drink a wine just because it’s natural,” Robinson says. Yet, she insists that the gap between the worst and the best wines is narrow. “You no longer have to spend a fortune to get a great wine.” Remember, Robinson stresses, “wine’s first duty is to refresh rather than knock you over the head.”

f r o m t o p r i g h t: D a n i ta D e l i m o n t/ g e t t y i m a g e s ; c o u r t e s y o f J a n c i s R o b i n s o n ; J o h n H ay/ g e t t y i m a g e s

/ here&now /

RCS Accor 602 036 444

Enjoy the Pullman experience in Thailand

Pullman Bangkok King Power

Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach

Pullman Khon Kaen Raja Orchid


/ here&now / Find the recipe for this colorful salad in COMO’s new cookbook.


What’s Cooking

A string of new cookbooks by high-profile chefs promises to help you explore the region’s culinary offerings without leaving your kitchen. By Diana Hubbell

Octaphilosophy: The Eight Elements of Restaurant André Whether he’s presiding over his eponymous eatery in Singapore or Raw, his more casual outlet in Taipei, it seems that chef André Chiang can do no wrong. So it’s no surprise that foodies were atwitter as soon as the critic’s darling

announced he was releasing a cookbook. The resulting tome contains plenty of glossy shots of the interior workings of Restaurant André, as well as 150 recipes for everything from fermented juices to show-stopping main courses. US$60. An: To Eat: Recipes and Stories From a Vietnamese Family Kitchen Part memoir, part cookbook, this volume by mother-daughter team Helene and Jacqueline An discusses the founding of a culinary dynasty. Readers can follow Helene’s journey from growing up in an aristocratic family in Vietnam to fleeing the country as a war refugee to launching Crustacean, an acclaimed contemporary Vietnamese restaurant in Beverly Hills. Though the lush photos of rising steam and coiling noodles make this worthy of coffee table status, this is a pragmatic chef’s cookbook designed to be more than eye-candy. If “secret” family recipes like fiery drunken crab or richly spiced pho don’t inspire you to scurry to the kitchen, nothing will. US$35.

courtesy of como

The Pleasures of Eating Well: Nourishing Favourites from the COMO Shambhala Kitchen Banish all lingering preconceptions of health food you might harbor—this gorgeously photographed book inspired by Amanda Gale, COMO’s group executive chef for 15 years, has nothing to do with the drab, punitive salads of yesteryear. The 147 recipes accumulated over the course of a decade span the globe, encompassing everything from Indonesian tempeh curry to Thai pomelo-and-crayfish salad. Much like the spas and wellness retreats that inspired them, all of the dishes manage to feel indulgent despite being good for you. US$60.

/ here&now / getaway

Going Greek

The Aegean island of the moment seems to change every summer. We’ve uncovered this year’s must-know isles—along with how to get there, where to stay and, of course, what to Instagram.


The bohemian and fashion sets (Leonard Cohen, Chloë Sevigny) have alighted here, joining forces to create a happening art scene. Take a two-hour hydrofoil from Piraeus, which is only a 20-minute drive from Athens. Hydra is either about simple, charming guesthouses like Orloff (; doubles from €153) and Cotommatae Hydra 1810 (; doubles from €170) or villa rentals. Five Star Greece (fivestar can help.

C o u r t e s y o f A n e m o m i l o s A pa r t m e n t s . i c o n s : A i r p l a n e b y fr e e p i c k ; H o u s e a n d c a m a e r a b y f l at i c o n

The Deste Foundation (, a cuttingedge gallery in a former slaughterhouse, is a must-visit.

Getting There

Home Base




Take a 40-minute flight from Athens or a leisurely three- to four-hour boat ride from Piraeus.

Fly to Santorini, then take a 90-minute ferry (between May and October); or take a four-hour ferry (year-round) from Piraeus.

Fly in to Rhodes (there are nonstop flights available from multiple European cities), then take a one-hour express ferry.

The simple but lovely Anemomilos apartments (pictured; anemomilos​; doubles from €250) have sensational views thanks to their cliffclinging setting.

The atmospheric Old Markets hotel (theold; doubles from €190) is a registered national monument with 10 antiquefilled suites.

Despite its great beaches, easy access, and a variety of water sports, Páros remains off the radar—which is why families head here to avoid the crowds.

Páros has plenty of hotels, but big broods are better off spreading out in a villa. White Key Villas offers all types of vacation rentals, including the brand-new, five-bedroom Villa Iro (; groups of 10 from €8,000 per week). Look out for the weathered blue furniture spilling from low-key tavernas to the water’s edge in the harbor. 

Photo Op

Thanks to an increase in nonstop flights to neighboring Santorini, this unsung Cycladic island is on the verge of wider discovery.

Local fashion designer Christina Economou suggests hiking up to the church of Panagia. It’s the island’s biggest religious building, and it looks out across the archipelago.

The ongoing search for quiet hangouts has led history buffs and intellectuals to Sími, where there’s been an uptick in colorful hotels.

Travel specialist Elena Papanicolaou of Fly Me to the Moon (flymetothemoont recommends hiking up to the top of the old town of Horio to see the crumbling remnants of a castle built by the Knights of St. John. — EMILY MATHIESON

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/ here&now / st yle

One Suit, Two Ways …or for lazy days island-hopping across Indonesia on your liveaboard phinisi.

1. Stella McCartney one-piece; $245. 2. Sophie Buhai Wilke earrings; $650. 3. Piamita Pandora trousers; $390. 4. The Row Ascot bag; $990. 5. Oscar de la Renta Mia slides; $590. 6. Trademark Capra sandals; $228. 7. La Ligne Au Naturel tote; $195. 8. Hermès towel; $465. 9. La Mer After Sun Enhancer; $125. 10. Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses; $300.


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Prices are in U.S. dollars and may vary by country and retailer.

S T I L L- L I F E P H O T O G R A P H S : V I C T O R P R A D O . t R AV E L P H O T O G R A P H S , top left: fra n cisco g u errero . top right: C hris C aldicott/ gett y i m ages . st y list: j ill ed wards for halle y reso u rces

You’ll need only one swimsuit this season. This one works for both dinner in the Philippines...

/ here&now / insider scoop


Ever wondered who’s behind those drool-worthy shots of quivering slabs of uni or steaming bowls of ramen on your feed? Diana Hubbell asks the foodies running six popular Instagram accounts for their unfiltered tips on where to eat and how to capture the cuisine.


Yota Sampasneethumrong and Jirayu Koo-armornpatana, @wearekinkin 47.2k followers

Of-the-moment food trend?

The new generation of Thai local chefs are fearless enough to push boundaries and approach traditional recipes with a whole new perspective.

are foodstalls serving everything from soup with fish balls to boat noodles with pig’s blood. Every time we’re in the ’hood, we go to a shop called Nai Ouan where you just point and order. There are plenty of Thai curries, stir-fries and soups. Our go-to dish is kanom jeen gaeng kiew wan neua (rice noodles with green curry). Pricey-but-worth-it meal? Sushi Masato (sushimasato.

Boat noodles on Bang Khun Non Road, Bangkok.


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com; 20-course omakase Bt4,000) recently relocated from New York to Bangkok. They serve omakase in the Edo-mae style. Every ingredient is fresh and at its prime. We really enjoy his mellow and aromatic shari (rice) as well as watching the chef’s skillful performance throughout the meal. The wide selection of sake here is great too.

c o u rt esy o f Yota Sa m pas n e e t h u mr o n g a n d J i r ay u Ko o -a rm o r n pata n a ( 2 )

Name a local foodie gem. Along Bang Khun Non Road

Where do you go to live large? Pizzeria Mozza’s (singapore.


Crystal Wee, @crystal _wee 44.3k followers

Old-school fave?

c lo c k w i s e fr o m to p l e f t : c o u rt esy o f Crysta l W e e ; c o u rt esy o f Erwa n H eu ssa ff ( 2 ) ; c o u rt esy o f da n i e l h a d da d ( 2 ) ; c o u rt esy o f c rysta l w e e

The no-frills dim sum at Swee Choon (; dim sum from S$1) is the best. My favorites include the custard bun and mee sua kueh, a savoury noodle cake.; pizzas from S$24) super-hot wood oven results in a crust that is crisp on the outside and chewy inside. It’s also one of the more casual restaurants in Marina Bay Sands and has a relaxed atmosphere.

Acai bowl at Shaka Siargao, on Shaka Island.

Tips for aspiring food photographers?

Natural light is essential, and a shallow depth of field will help to achieve a beautiful bokeh effect. I also try to incorporate some human element, such as hands, for that personal touch.

What do you crave most when you’re out of town?


Erwan Heussaff, @erwanheussaff 831k followers

Where do you go for a special occasion? I really enjoy both Vask

Brunch at Luxe Singapore.

(; tasting menus from P1,495) and Mecha Uma (; dinner for two P1,200), whether in a large group or a more intimate gathering.

I love my kare-kare, an umami bomb of a stew with a peanut flavor and fatty oxtail, hock and other cuts of offal. It’s served on rice with shrimp paste and limes. Best new trend in Manila?

Pork sisig, in everything from tacos to baos to pastas is fried up with brains, soy sauce, lime, chili, vinegar, onions, garlic and other ingredients. Sarsa Kitchen+Bar ( sarsakitchen; sisig dishes from P350) and Locavore (; sisig dishes from P350) have rolled out their own interesting versions of it.

set HK$37) does one of the best pork chops in HK. Special occassion pick? I love Amber (amberhongkong.


Daniel Haddad, @danielhungryhk 63.8k followers

Favorite hole-in-the-wall?

A spot in Sheung Wan called For Kee (200 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan; pork chop bun

com; set menus from HK$598) at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental hotel. The food is always outstanding. Tips for snap-happy foodies?

I use the Nikon D3100 with a 35-millimeter lens. When lighting is dim I use my iPhone as a torch and use the Snapseed app to edit.

Tokusen nigiri sushi at Zuma Restaurant.

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/ here&now /


Joan H., (full name withheld) @hungryintaipei 29.5k followers

Local secret?

Even though I had been to Tonghua Night Market

(Linjiang Street, Da’an District) dozens of times, I just found a shaved-ice shop that’s tucked into an alley off the main path. Order the peanut and sesame tangyuan (rice balls) over shaved ice with Osmanthus syrup. Top break-the-bank meal? Senju ( is a

members-only sushi bar run by chef Adachi and the only place I’d pay NT$4,500 for omakase lunch. Pro Instagram tip?

Rest your elbows or camera (or iPhone) on the table, or get an overhead shot. I try to get at least three different angles so I have more to choose from later. Most importantly, work quickly so your friends don’t get mad and the food doesn’t get cold. Yes, I want a great photo, but I still want to enjoy the meal!


L auren Kenrick, @foodiemelbourne 35.6k followers

dining, The Noble Experiment (; omakase from A$65) serves modern experimental dishes, and Morris Jones Restaurant & Bar (; set menus from A$95) also has a very sophisticated and theatrical menu. Neither will cost you the Earth either! Favorite new discovery?

Bath Tub Gin at the Noble Experiment.


Where do you go for a splurge-y meal?

You don’t have to splurge too much in Melbourne to get a splurge-y meal. For fancier

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I only recently discovered Kirks Wine Bar (kirkswinebar. com; dinner for two A$70), a Parisian-style bar that serves French-style share food

matched with gorgeous wines. It is reasonably priced, the service is fantastic, the ambience beautiful, and the best part is the underground cellar dining room. Craziest food trend?

Syringe donuts have been trendy for a while and continue to excite. My local suburban café Second Home (; pastries from A$4.90) has just started stocking Bistro Morgan donuts, which are made by a 15-year-old boy.

fr o m to p : c o u rt esy o f j oa n h . ; c o u rt esy o f l au r e n k e n r i c k ( 2 )

Ice cream burrito at Tonghua Night Market.

/ here&now / cruising

Disappearing Acts

An all-access cruise is the best way to see—and interact with—the world’s most fascinating and endangered places and traditions. By Jane Wooldridge why go

The Asmat

c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f z e g r a h m ; j o h n b o r t h w i c k / g e t t y i m a g e s ; © Er e c t u s / Dr e a m s t i m e . c o m ; © J a n M a r t i n W i l l / Dr e a m s t i m e . c o m ; M at t i a s K l u m / g e t t y i m a e s ; R a l o n s o P h o t o g r a p h e r / g e t t y i m a g e s ; s t e fa n r u i z ; © Lr u e t/ Dr e a m s t i m e . c o m ; © R e m c o r u t t e n / Dr e a m s t i m e . c o m

The traditional ways of this historically isolated tribe in coastal West Papua, Indonesia, are changing quickly.

Polar Bears

Their Arctic habitat is affected by melting sea ice.


The ancient trading center in Jordan, which is carved into cliffs of rose-colored sandstone, is forever on the World Monuments Fund watch list because of regular earthquakes and flash floods.


The wildlife here, including penguin, whale and seal species, is threatened by warming seas and changing ice depth on the continent’s western reaches.

Orangutans Their Borneo rain-forest habitat has been diminished by illegal logging and commercial agriculture.

THE experience Zegrahm’s 100-passenger Caledonian Sky sails from Manado, Indonesia, to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Over 2½ days, guests meet Asmat tribespeople and can buy their coveted, intricate wood carvings. Blue Planet Expeditions’ 12-passenger, 34-meter Polaris 1 can tuck into coves in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago that are inaccessible to larger ships. You may actually get to trek onto sea ice in search of polar bears and walrus. Trips are led by polar naturalist Rupert Pilkington.

The sailing on the 224-suite Seabourn Sojourn features a tour led by a Petra expert and visits to the most important of its 800 monuments, including a monastery and the famous hewn-rock treasury where the ending of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed.

Lindblad’s 102-passenger, icehardened National Geographic Orion goes to Antarctica and South Georgia Island, and is tailored to take the advantage of ice and weather conditions—as well as killer-whale sightings.

With this new route, Pandaw is the only major company to offer sailings into Borneo’s rain forests. On this 500-plus-kilometer voyage, guests visit tribal villages, historic palaces, shrines and the Sintang orangutan refuge. Go between January and September to avoid heavy rains.

go deeper

the details

Anthropologist Shirley Campbell leads visits, which might include ceremonies in traditional longhouses.

With Blue Planet, the emphasis is on the wildlife, not shipboard amenities. Zodiacs whisk guests ashore to see puffin rookeries, Svalbard reindeer, arctic foxes and many other species.

The 15-day sailing begins on November 6. Cost includes air service from Singapore to Manado and from Papua New Guinea to Brisbane, Australia.; from US$15,705 per person, all excursions included.

The seven-night itinerary in August and September 2017 sails round-trip from Longyearbyen, in Svalbard, stopping in Prins Karls Forland. blue​ planet​; from US$10,560 per person, all excursions included.

The trip includes transit through the Suez Canal, Oman and Israel, and hits every must-see in this area. In Jerusalem, a unesco expert accompanies guests to the Garden of Gethsemane, the Wailing Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The South Georgia Island pit stop includes a visit to emperor penguin colonies. And the ship is staffed by naturalists with long experience in the region, who lead in-depth seminars and outings. Experts such as the doctor who worked on the 2013 Chasing Shackleton expedition have accompanied past sailings.

Aside from the Borneo rain forest, the ship also goes to Lake Sentarum, where passengers can see proboscis monkeys and orangutans in the wild, both from the ship and on shore.

The Seabourn Sojourn sails from Athens to Dubai for 17 days starting November 17. A valet service transports luggage from your home to the ship, and all dining, wine and tips are included in the fare.; from US$3,999 per person. The National Geographic Orion sails from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Antarctica, stopping in the Falkland Islands, for 24 nights starting November 6.; from US$21,300 per person, all excursions included. The 56-passenger Tonle Pandaw sails deep into Indonesian Borneo for seven nights, starting on February 14, 2017.; from US$2,115 per person, all excursions included.

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Near-Away! by American Express

THE SULTAN 101 Jalan Sultan #01-01 Singapore 199002 Call 6723 7101 or email to make your bookings now The Sultan is a historical shophouse hotel located in the hip and eclectic Kampong Glam district in Singapore. The hotel is just minutes away from the cool boutiques and bars on Haji Lane, the traditional carpet sellers on Arab Street and some of the hottest restaurant tables at Kandahar Street. Boasting 64 individually designed guest rooms, the hotel is a gleaming testament to both the preservation of Singapore’s historical architecture and also the country’s warm hospitality. Whether you like generous hand carved King size boat beds, Japanese-inspired platform beds, or skylights that allow you to wake up to the Singapore

sunrise, the rooms have a little something special for each and every traveller. No stay at The Sultan would be complete without experiencing our unique F&B and entertainment offerings. Swing to the best live music in town at the SingJazz Club, check out the tastiest locally-inspired bespoke cocktails at FRESH and feast on sumptuous and hearty halal European fare at Classified Cafe.

Enjoy one night stay in The Puteri Room at American Express subsidised rate of S$150 nett.

To enjoy your benefit, please find your staycation vouchers in the voucher pocket of the Membership summary guide.

THE SULTAN NEAR-AWAY! BY AMERICAN EXPRESS IS OPEN TO BASIC PLATINUM RESERVE CREDIT CARD MEMBERS. • Card Member must make advance reservation with The Sultan, Singapore at +65 6723 7101. Any use of vouchers must be stated at time of reservation. • All reservations are subject to availability and not applicable during blackout dates (i.e. eves of Holidays and Public Holiday) or days of high occupancy. Please contact The Sultan, Singapore for more information. A room reservation confirmation letter or email (in soft or hardcopy) must be presented, along with the physical voucher and your Platinum Reserve Credit Card upon check-in. • Offer may not be combined with other hotel programmes or special offers and is not available on pre-existing reservations. • Card Member is responsible for their parking charges during the whole period of stay at The Sultan, Singapore and no complimentary parking will be provided. • No show or cancellation policies apply in accordance to the hotels’ policies. Please check with hotel for details.  • Accommodation is for a maximum of two (2) adults and is inclusive of all applicable tax and service charges for such accommodation. Breakfast is not included. Cost of meals and all other incidentals (including applicable tax and service charges), will be charged to the Card Member’s Platinum Reserve Credit Card.  • Merchant’s Terms and Conditions apply – please check with respective merchants for details. American Express acts solely as a payment provider and is not responsible or liable in the event that such services, activities or benefits are not provided or fulfilled by the merchant. Merchants are solely responsible for the fulfilment of all benefits and offers. • American Express does not assume liability and American Express Card Member(s) shall not make any claim whatsoever for (i) injury or bodily harm or (ii) loss of damage to property, howsoever caused, arising from, or in connection with these benefits and privileges.  • Programme benefits, participating merchants and Terms and Conditions may be amended or withdrawn without prior notice at the sole discretion of the American Express International Inc. Should there be any disputes, the decision of American Express will be final and no correspondence may be entertained. American Express International Inc., (UEN S68FC1878J) 20 (West) Pasir Panjang Road #08-00, Mapletree Business City, Singapore 117439. Incorporated with Limited Liability in the State of Delaware, U.S.A.® Registered Trademark of American Express Company. © Copyright 2016 American Express Company.

hong kong | v i e t na m | k y r gy z s ta n + mor e

pl ace settings

Foreign Relations

Australian-born and -trained chefs are making themselves at home in Hong Kong, and the resulting menus are as diverse as they are delectable. By Jeff Chu. Photographed by Philipp Engelhorn

Twists on the Levantine canon at Maison Libanaise.

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/ beyond /pl a c e s e tt i n g s

Sparkling, turquoise inlets.

A magnificent natural harbor. Architectural and cartographic homages to Queen and country. Wonky English. A population that comes largely from other places. Put this way, Hong Kong and Australia have much in common. Both have obvious British links, ever since the British colonial overlords began shipping convicts and tea from Hong Kong to Australia 150 years ago. Today, the trade winds have reversed, sending a generation of Australian-born and -trained culinary professionals to Hong Kong. They’ve sought opportunity and inspiration in the city, and they’re now transforming the foodand-drink scene. The trend began about five years ago, with third-wave coffee joints like Manson’s Lot, in Wan Chai, which uses Di Gabriel beans roasted in Sydney and is owned by two Aussies and a Singaporean. “People came in and said, ‘How can you charge HK$40 for a cup of coffee?’ They were going across the road to a cha chaan teng and getting a cup for HK$8,” says co-owner Davyd Wong. When Wong opened, his shop was the only one of its kind in Wan Chai. Its clientele consisted mostly of expats and Hong Kongers who had been educated in


Australia. As interest in coffee has grown, so has the competition: “Now, there are four cafés on Swatow Street alone.” In recent years, Australians have been opening some of Hong Kong’s most exciting restaurants. The funny thing about Australian cuisine, though, is that if you ask the typical Down Under chef, they’ll tell you it doesn’t exist. Of course, there has been Australian cooking as long as the outpost has been populated, not that it garnered much respect. In the 1880s, the Franco-Australian geographer Edmond Marin la Meslee wrote that nowhere in the world was the cooking “more elementary, not to say abominable.” But times change. What was once elementary is now diverse, dazzling

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and profoundly good. “Ask anyone: What’s Australian cuisine? You don’t really know,” says Australian chef Bao La, who cooks his version of modern Vietnamese at Hong Kong’s Le Garcon Saigon. Sure, Australia has its Lamingtons, Anzac biscuits and the ever-famous barbie, but a cake, a cookie and a cooking technique, however fine, don’t make a cuisine. What Australia does have is seasonal produce, an experimental edge, and “diversity and multiculturalism,” La says. In food terms, that translates into freedom, eclecticism and creativity. “Because we don’t have our own cuisine, we’re born into openness,” says Brian Moore, who, as executive chef for Western restaurants in the Epicurean Group, oversees nearly two dozen restaurants in Hong Kong. “There are no real boundaries.” Which suits Hong Kong, that freest of free ports, perfectly.


Only an extraordinarily bold chef would take on Cantonese cuisine in its capital. His name is Jowett Yu. Taiwan-born, Canadian-educated and Australian-trained, Yu telegraphs daring before you even set foot in his restaurant, in a slightly odd basement space just off

Hollywood Road. Start with its name: Ho Lee Fook. The Chinese characters translate literally to “mouth,” “tongue” and “luck.” The English—well, sound it out. The dish that had me exclaiming something akin to that was Yu’s roast goose. “Cantonese barbecue is perfect. It’s at the apex of its development,” Yu says. “So I don’t mess with it.” He just makes the goose the best possible version of itself—and perhaps the best I’ve eaten anywhere: skin crispy, fat rendered, meat juicy. Other dishes are deliciously Cantonese-adjacent. His beef short rib, for instance, partners jalapeño puree and kimchi vegetables; “the short rib is slow-cooked overnight, deep-fried and glazed with a soy glaze,” he explains. “It’s a nonChinese dish inspired by teriyaki beef,” with the kimchi and jalapeño tag-teaming for a necessary, spicy counterpoint to the glaze’s sweetness. Yu also compensates for traditional Cantonese cuisine’s

CLOCKWISE from top right: Chef Jowett Yu

of Ho Lee Fook; switching things up at Cobo House; Japanese fruit tomato salad at Arcane; Aussie-style coffee shop Mansons Lot. OPPOSITE,

CLOCKWISE from left:

Chef James Harrison of Maison Libanaise; inside Le Garcon Saigon; drunken clams at Ho Lee Fook.

weakness in the dessert department by drawing inspiration from Hong Kong’s cultural cross-currents: Horlicks ice cream with oatmeal porridge, dried longan and walnut; milk-tea ice cream with green-tea Kit-Kat brownies. Such eclecticism is emblematic of both Yu’s cooking and prevalent Australian tastes. “We’ve incorporated a lot of Asian influences—Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Lebanese—and that’s a common language of food that all Australians speak,” he says. Ho Lee Fook’s slightly louche, upbeat energy is also an Aussie import. In Hong Kong, Yu says, there are “few places that occupy the middle of the spectrum—affordable, decent meals [at a] funky, Chinese restaurant where people can come, eat and get messed up.” If there’s anything typically Hong Kong about Ho Lee Fook, it’s the service—spotty, mercurial and intermittently absent.; meal for two HK$700.


A little ways up the Mid-Levels escalator in Central, you’ll spot to your left a six-meter-tall, blackhaired woman in a dazzling caftan, her face mysterious but not unwelcoming. She’s painted on the side of Maison Libanaise, chef James Harrison’s modern Lebanese-ish restaurant, and she’s the ideal avatar for his cooking: alluring, not altogether traditional. Harrison, who grew up in a small town in Victoria, isn’t Lebanese. Hasn’t even been to Lebanon. He did cook under famed LebaneseAustralian restaurateur Greg Malouf, though, and if you sit on the roof terrace of Maison Libanaise, dragging his freshly baked pita through warm hummus, questions of authenticity fall away—it took me right back to my last trip to Beirut. Harrison’s cooking really shines when he gets playful with his dishes—for him, as for Hong Kong’s other Australian chefs, tradition is inspiration, not dogma. “We’re aiming for classic Lebanese flavors and dishes, but putting my little twist on it,” he says. His labneh, that magical Levantine yogurt-cheese, comes in numerous variations, from sumac to mint—and his is the best I’ve had outside the Middle East.

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j u l y 2 0 1 6


/ beyond /pl a c e s e tt i n g s from left: Cassis Plum, the signature dessert at Cobo House, mixes plum liquor and elderflower yogurt foam; playful paintings at Maison Libanaise; chef Bao La at Le Garcon Saigon.

One dish alone justifies Harrison’s decision to stray from the Levantine canon: his fried chicken. Brined for 24 hours in the whey left over from making labneh, the chicken is deep-fried and then showered in za’atar mixed spice. With its succulent meat and crispy skin, the fragrant spice balancing the fresh punch of an accompanying pickle salad and the cool, rich creaminess of labneh, this is chicken given rich honors in the afterlife. It’s deceptively simple and transporting.; meal for two HK$500.


Perhaps the most refined of the Australian-run restaurants in Hong Kong is Arcane, chef Shane Osborn’s understated eatery tucked away on the third floor of a charmless office block on a Central side street. Sit at the bar where you’ll have full view of Osborn and witness the culinary equivalent of the Flash: near-silent yet whirring and whirling with balletic precision, serving up dish after dish of gorgeously plated food to a soundtrack that ranges from The Cure to Jamiroquai. Osborn was the first Australian chef in the world to win a Michelin


Sweet Stuff pastry chef janice wong is bringing aussie influence to her savory side. Singaporean chef Janice Wong trained in gastronomic temples including Chicago’s Alinea and Arzak in San Sebastián, Spain. But she credits her stint as a student in Melbourne with her passion for produce. Wong crisscrossed the country, tasting cheese in Victoria, sampling veggies in Tasmania, and learning how to make wine at a family-owned organic winery in New South Wales. Her resulting passion for seasonal ingredients is evident at Cobo House by 2am:dessertbar, the Shek Tong Tsui restaurant she opened this spring. Wong is best-known in Singapore as a daring pastry chef who has created edible art installations for brands including Prada, Tiffany and Louis Vuitton, and the “2am:dessertbar” in the restaurant’s name refers to her famed Singapore sweets spot. But Cobo House—her first eatery outside her hometown—represents her biggest move into savory. And it’s on that side of the kitchen that you’ll find the fullest representation of her Australian memories, with dishes like an Australian grade 8 Wagyu, sous vided, seared and served with slow-cooked miso potatoes, beet oil and mushroom.; set menus from HK$428.

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star—at the celebrated Pied à Terre in London. But he laments the false pressure that such ratings systems create—you’re cooking for the artificially small audience of professional critics, not for the eating public—and at Arcane, he cooks to a different standard: What he wants to eat. That means an ever-changing, menu of super-fresh ingredients with an emphasis on produce from Japan. Don’t mistake that to mean his cooking is Japanese—his influences range far and wide. You might start with some Japanese fruit tomatoes with housemade ricotta. Next, raw yellowtail with jicama, fennel confit and soy-ginger dressing. Then, perhaps sautéed gnocchi with black truffle and mushrooms—one of the few dishes that stays on the menu; “I’m not a noodle person, but Hong Kong people like noodles, and this is our version,” Osborn explains. And you could end with a slice of chocolate tart served with Guinness ice cream. “I don’t think Arcane is a finedining restaurant—I call it refined. We don’t do tasting menus, amusegueules, canapés, petit fours,” Osborn says. Whatever he wants to call it, he does good food that draws on rich traditions to create something fresh and daring, a through line that connects all of the best Australian cooking in Hong Kong. As he puts it: “Australians have this philosophy: Why not?”; meal for two HK$1,300.

Raja Ampat • Indonesia

Visitors from enlisted 169 countries and territories, which include the United States and Australia, are required to have their passports with minimum validity of six months and a return ticket upon entry. Meanwhile, nationals of Afghanistan, Cameroon, Guinea, Israel, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan and Somalia, still need a visa approval from the Immigration Office in Indonesia prior to their travel. The visa-free facility, which is granted for the purpose of leisure or tourism, family, social, art and cultural, governmental, educational, business meetings and transit visits, is valid for up to 30 days. It is non-extendable and non-convertible.

The policy to grant visa-free facility to a much larger number of countries and territories was made as part of the government’s efforts to boost the country’s economy through tourism. The government has announced it aims to reach 20 million visitors by 2019. Presidential decree no. 21 of 2016, which was signed by President Joko Widodo on March 2 this year, details the policy’s terms and conditions and encloses the list of countries.

Aside from the beautiful and exciting destinations, nothing lifts the mood of an avid traveler better than a free visa. After all, a visa-free facility eliminates one more barrier standing between a traveler and his destination. Indonesia, the largest archipelago in the world known for its pristine beaches, lush tropical forests and diverse culture, has recently extended its visa-free facilities to no fewer than 169 countries and territories.

a visa-free facility to 169 countries and territories.

The government of Indonesia has extended

Wonderful Indonesia without a Visa

Indonesia has come a long way in granting free visa for short visits. The government had previously granted visa-free status to neighboring Asean countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as territories and countries, such as Hong Kong, Chile, Morocco, Peru and Ecuador, through presidential decree no. 69 of 2015. Later last year, it amended the policy with presidential decree no. 104 of 2015, which added 75 other countries eligible for the visa-free facility.

There are designated points of entry and departure as well. But visitors need not worry, as, according to the Indonesian Directorate General of Immigration, there are up to 124 immigration checkpoints composing of 29 airports (including Soekarno Hatta and Halim Perdanakusuma, Jakarta; I Gusti Ngurah Rai, Bali; Juanda, Surabaya; Hang Nadim, Batam; and Kuala Namu and Polonia, Medan among others), 88 harbors and seven land borders. Visitors may enter and depart through all of the listed checkpoints. The full list, along with the list of countries, is available on the Directorate General of Immigration’s website.

Entry and Departure Point

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Blood, Sweat and Beers The cobr a’s bones crunched

from top: BiaCraft’s 13 taps pour exclusively Vietnamese-made beers, with a style and flavor for everyone; Pasteur Street Brewing Company’s Jasmine IPA has the floral touch of local jasmine.


between my teeth in an aria of pops and crackles, like a mouthful of Rice Krispies. The snake was cooked up tableside at Tram Chim restaurant in Saigon and every part was used: bones fried into crispy bits, the sinew stewed, and even the fluids, like blood and bile, were downed with cheap Vietnamese vodka. Master brewer Mark Gustafson had brought me here for an unorthodox taste of Saigon and a sink-or-swim rite of initiation: me a novice brewer, Gustafson a seasoned pro, this snake my spirit quest. When the meal ended and we’d sucked down the entire serpent, teeth to tail (tastes like chicken), a small glass bottle of cobra blood remained on the table. When the waiter went to clear

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the bottle, Gustafson stopped him, and asked if he could take the dark red syrup home. He was going to brew a cobra-blood ale. Gustafson was one of the pioneers in the craft beer scene in Vietnam, a country—with a cornucopia of delicious and exotic ingredients not to mention an economy that facilitates experimental brewing— that’s on the verge of becoming one of the best spots in the world to drink beer. Pasteur Street Brewing Company ( was the city’s first popular microbrewery; its 2014 opening kicked down the door for a flurry of domestic brews to enter the market, paving the way for Gustafson. “The demand came from the hyper-niche community first,” >>

b ot to m : c o u rt esy o f Past eu r St r e e t Br e w i n g c o m pa n y

Taste-making entrepreneurs are using Vietnamese flavors to power Saigon’s craft-beer boom. A tour of local breweries reveals some of the inspiration behind these special small-batch suds. Story and photogr aphs by Cole Pennington

Water World


Diving in? The new Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is the perfect camera to capture all your aquatic memories. Whether scuba diving in the great blue beyond or snorkeling near shore, Canon’s PowerShot G7 X Mark II, the latest addition to its premium range of G-series compact cameras, is for you. The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is distinguished by superb image quality, with a small, compact body for easy use under the seas. With the Underwater Macro Mode, users can take close-ups of sea life making full use of the 4.2x optical zoom, and the Underwater Shooting mode setting brings out the true, vibrant colours of every underwater shot. Powered by Canon’s new DIGIC 7 image processor, the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is equipped to detect and track subjects quicker and more accurately, providing users with better image quality and performance. Essential for underwater photography where bright scenes are at a premium, its large aperture f/1.8-f/2.8 zoom lens and the 20.1 megapixel 1.0-inch type back illuminated CMOS sensor helps deliver beautiful DSLRlike photographs. Also essential is the camera’s improved image stabilisation (IS) that allows for steadier shooting and sharp pictures every time. The dedicated underwater case (WP-DC55) allows photographers to use the camera at depths of up to 40 metres beneath the waves.

PowerShot G7 X Mark II, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO 125.

p h o t o s b y u n d e r wat e r 3 6 0

Canon WP-DC55 Underwater Housing

PowerShot G7 X Mark II, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 125.

Gustafson says, “then finally the scales tipped and enthusiasts crawled out of the woodwork.” When he and his partners opened Quan Ut Ut ( the same year, an American barbecue specializing in heaping plates of succulent meat from pigs, chickens and cows, cooked to perfection on a smoker roughly the size of a locomotive, Gustafson was brewing beer in the venue’s small office. Last year they opened BiaCraft (, a low-key bar with a snacks stand and 13 taps,

from top: Brewer Mark Gustafson

measures grain for his Lun Ma Lao Blonde; nipa palm coconuts only grow in Vietnamese mangrove forests; beer and bar snacks at BiaCraft; drinking ales alfresco on BiaCraft’s driveway.


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focused specifically on craft beer, in order to quench the explosive thirst. Now, that thirst keeps Quan Ut Ut’s two locations and BiaCraft packed to the brim with imbibers capitalizing on the Southeast Asia’s friendliest prices for craft beer. How can a pint of craft beer cost only US$2? “Well, labor is very cheap in Vietnam” Gustafson says. It’s not just the prices powering this party, though; the government has looser restrictions than neighboring countries like Thailand where smallbatch brewing is illegal. And the frenzy of attention on new, locally made beer is palpable, pulling people in for a taste of something that came from the West, but is distinctly Vietnamese, incorporating regional delicacies like the brown-sugary sapodilla fruit that brings out the strong malt backbone in Pasteur Street’s Sapodilla Strong Ale; or the vanilla beans from Mui Ne and locally made Marou chocolate that lend body to the Pasteur Street Imperial Chocolate Cyclo Stout; or the tropical medley of grapefruit, passion fruit and melon that make BiaCraft’s Xau Ma Chanh (Ugly But Vain) IPA so refreshing. The snake’s blood, however, won’t appear on any menus. Gustafson has earmarked that special vitality-boosting elixir for a small batch of ruby-tinted ironrich blonde ale he’s saving for himself. That’s fine by me—I’ve had enough cobra juice to last me a lifetime. And I suspect my own hoppy panacea is awaiting on tap at one of the many bars in Saigon serving craft ales, which two years ago could be counted on one hand, but according to Gustafson number more than 100 these days. While the massive brewers like Saigon Beer still own the lion’s share of the market, the grassroots efforts are gaining serious traction. To truly understand this brave new world of brewing in Vietnam, I set out with Gustafson to sip as many next-level suds as possible and visit some of the breweries in Saigon churning out the most interesting flavors. >>

fo o d : c o u rt esy o f B i aCr a f t Art i sa n A l es

/ beyond /f i e l d t r i p

/ beyond /f i e l d t r i p T+L t bes s e bit

de fa chang, xi’an

Travelers may head to Xi’an to gawk at the scowling terra-cotta warriors, but it’s the food that often causes them to stay. Most find themselves drawn to the Muslim Quarter, where vendors hawk cumindusted lamb skewers, sticky-sweet persimmon fritters, and rou jia mo, a wonderfully messy flatbread laden with braised beef or lamb. Justly famous as these street delicacies are, when visiting politicians are in town, they head for a more refined, although no less unique, kind of eatery. De Fa Chang Restaurant takes the humble dumpling and elevates it to an art form. Yes, the usual pork-stuffed jiaozi are here, but they’re accompanied by more whimsical variations often resembling their filling. Miniature ducks bulge with kaoya, while wrinkly walnuts are stuffed with a sweetsavory spiced nut mixture. Some of the offerings—Lilliputian frogs that stare up at diners with their beady yellow eyes—are so detailed that you have to marvel at the patience of the army of chefs in the back. For the full experience, order the tasting menu, which comes with more than a dozen varieties. Kitsch has never tasted so good. 3 West St., Lianhu; 86-29/8721-4060; dumpling menu RMB120. — Diana Hubbell


from left: Pasteur

Street’s Imperial Chocolate Cyclo Stout uses local Marou chocolate; Lac Brewing’s Lucas Jans samples a beer.

“My house looks like the lab in Breaking Bad,” Lucas Jans laughs. “Blue Sky: ninety-nine point one percent purity.” Scoping out his backyard in the quaint suburban District 7, I see his point. The series of vats, siphons, air locks and buckets could have been designed by Heisenberg himself. This is Lac Brewing Company, what might be Saigon’s smallest brewing operation, and it churns out beers that are much-loved and lauded by local connoisseurs. Today, Jans is making an Oatmeal Session IPA designed to complement Vietnam’s hot climate. A “session ale” is a beer made with a light body and lower alcohol content. “The sessionable beers do very well here,” Jans says. “It’s not the right climate for a heavy beer. Mostly people just want to feel refreshed and enjoy the taste of an ale.” After taking a small sip, I can vouch for that. When it’s finished it will likely make its way to the menu of Quan Ut Ut, where Jans’s beers are regularly served. “My current recipe calls for six different hops added at 11 different times,” he says. “The best way I can describe the flavor is drinking Jolly Rancher orange juice.” I’d like to stay and sample more, but I’ve got a date to check out the brewery in Can Giuoc where Gustafson’s BiaCraft beers are made. We straddle two 1990s motor scooters and he leads the way on a

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two-hour ride to a remote district of Saigon, where shrimp farms dot a landscape of mangrove wetlands inhabited by rare species of wildlife. I’m quickly beset by the jarring soundtrack of phantom swiftlets incessantly chirping. I complain about the ear-splitting shrieks and Gustafson explains that this highway is lined with structures broadcasting the chirping out of loudspeakers to attract the birds to build nests that the ranchers collect and sell—what is dubbed the “caviar of the east,” used in traditional medicine. The noise is enough to drive someone insane, but Gustafson remains unfazed. “Anything in the name of beer,” he says. That quote might well end up his epitaph. Gustafson says it has been a harrowing journey to perfect beer production, balance supply and demand, navigate baffling government regulations, cut through import logistics and overcome tropical acts of nature (“We carried a giant metal fermenter three blocks in a thunder storm. It was most important that the beer arrive safely”), but now BiaCraft Artisan Ales are finely polished and flowing faster than a monsoon tide through Saigon’s coolest bars. The Lun Ma Lao Blonde ale is my favorite of their offerings, light and easy-drinking, perfectly suited for the often cruel Vietnamese heat. This brew goes >>

C e n t e r : c o u rt esy o f Past eu r St r e e t Br e w i n g c o m pa n y. i n s e t: L i k es to t r av e l a n d g e t n e w ex p e r i e n c es / g e t t y i m ag es


/ beyond /f i e l d t r i p easy on the hops, and instead finishes with a light-bodied malty sweetness that feels fresh. Resin-ey IPAs work with the full-flavored notes of Vietnamese food, but when beer is consumed on it’s own there’s nothing better than light and easy—or rather, short but arrogant, the English translation of BiaCraft’s Lun Ma Lao Blonde. After a long and hot motorbike ride through the mangroves, Gustafson and I pull into the birthplace of the Lun Ma Lao Blonde. This small brewery tucked under bamboo scaffolding and a thatched roof is where Gustafson contracts his BiaCraft brewing duties, but it’s also home to another label: Phat Rooster ( phatroosterales). “The rooster is the symbol of luck in Vietnam, and phat means lucky,” says the brewery-owner Mike Sakkers, from hop-crazed California. Sakkers is a purist, and despite the abundance of flavors in the region he focuses on perfecting tried and true styles rather than experimenting. “You’ll never find any fruit in my beer,” Sakkers says. “Our flavors come from hops.” Naively, I ask him what hops he uses in his IPA. “Giving away your hop recipe is like letting someone see your wife naked,” he tells me. Fair enough. Whatever he’s using has propelled his range of amber, blonde, pale ale, IPA, and English porter to great popularity among the backpacker crowd. He’s installed a “keezer”, a freezer-kegerator at the Tres Ninos Mexican Restaurant & Bar ( in the Pham Ngu Lao area, known for its steady stream of travelers. As I poke around the property, Sakkers and his brewing partner, Joshua Puckett, are just beginning a brew. Stray light glistens off the stainless steel equipment as the two men weigh out grain. There are no ready-made brewing systems available in Vietnam, so Sakkers designed and built the system from

the ground up, importing parts from China, Europe and the U.S. Once the mash, a combination of hot water and grain, reaches a steady 67-degrees Celsius, they close the kettle and the wait begins. It will take about two weeks for the yeast to pitch and the beer to ferment to sublime drinkability. The byproduct of brewing, known as “spent grain,” will be used as pigs’ feed that Sakkers jokes will provide bacon in the future, sustainably creating a combination breweryfarm that specializes in two of my favorite things in life. When Sakkers finishes loading up his 1970s SUV with Phat Rooster and BiaCraft beer, he heads off to the city to deliver kegs to dozens of locations. Gustafson and I follow suit, peeling off on our motor scooters and, as we cruise towards Saigon, the tide moves in and murky brown water fills the mangroves to the brim. Gustafson insists we take a break from the drive to try a water coconut, a variety of coconut found only in this biosphere. The nipa palm yields a small, translucent mass of succulent, sweet coconut meat nestled in a tough shell. “How about a session ale brewed with these guys?” I ask Gustafson. He raises the fruit to eye level, scrunches his brow and offers the most non-committal of shrugs. I guess he’s more of a cobra blood kind of guy.

Cruising to Phat Rooster brewery.

In celebration of HM Queen Sirikit’s 7th cycle Birthday Considered by Critics and other major ballet companies in the world as Outstanding Performance and the best Swan Lake anyone would have ever seen.

Swan Lake The Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet Conductor: Felix Korobov

Supported by Embassy of Russia and

Thursday 8 and Friday 9 September (7.30 pm) Baht 4,000 / 3,000 / 2,500 / 1,800 / 1,200

acclaimed as number one classical ballet companies in Russia with 90 artists consisting of high-class professionals, winners of national and international contests.


The Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet Conductor:Anton Grishanin

Supported by Embassy of Russia

Sunday 11 September (2.30 pm) Hotline 02 262 3191 (24 hrs)

Baht 4,000 / 3,000 / 2,500 / 1,800 / 1,200

Venue: Thailand Cultural Centre. Free shuttle from MRT station Thailand Cultural Centre, exit 1, during 5.30-7.00pm

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k l i S n o n o r I

the rugged ve transformed -driving ha s al nt re r s-border ca cessible self hotels and cros and Uzbekistan into an ac it Ye n g Ch an n New boutique ta by K in Kyrgyzs og r ap he d Silk Road trails By M ar co Fe rr ar es e. Ph ot adventure. Marco Polo and I have a lot in

from top: A windy section of the Pamir Highway between Osh and the Tajik border; the Kalyan Minaret in Bukhara, Central Asia’s tallest.


common. We share a name, country of birth and route, but he never experienced cruising along the Silk Road in a comfy Renault 4x4. Thanks to American-owned Iron Horse Nomads (; car rental from US$45 per day), the first company to allow multicountry self-driving tours in the region, I crossed a dream trip off my bucket list in style. From the rigid boulevards of Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic’s Soviet-smart capital, my girlfriend and I drove south following the westward route of Genghis Khan’s marauding Mongols along a stretch of the Pamir Highway, weaving through Uzbekistan’s fruit basin Fergana Valley to visit Samarkand and Bukhara, two names that still evoke mystical images of camel caravans and turban-topped traders. Today, sealed roads of varying quality have substituted the barren paths and mountain passes that defined the Silk Road’s trade trails traversing 6,400 kilometers from

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Xi’an to Istanbul, as one of the world’s longest and most arduous journeys. Yes, I realize driving a 1,600-kilometer section of the route in a 4x4 and in five days is a far cry from spending months trawling these badlands on horseback like Marco Polo and other explorers did centuries ago, but trust me: despite the asphalt and the arrival of modernity, a trip on any part of the Silk Road remains one of the world’s grandest overland journeys. Bishkek to Osh Day 1 Drive Time: 8 hours | It’s an early rise at Supara (chunkurchak.; doubles from KGS6,900), a delightful, ethnic Kyrgyz resort 40 kilometers south of Bishkek, where we trade Soviet ghosts for boutique yurts set in an alpine valley. A dearth of comforts along the way forces us to cruise a 600-kilometer section of the Pamir Highway in a single day to reach Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s oldest city. This famous stop along the Silk Road was prized for its silk production and giant outdoor >>

CheCk out IndonesIa’s best getaways in the august Issue with our free 24-page guide

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market, which is still drawing travelers from across the world. The slog turns out to be a boon in disguise, for the slow ascent to ashgray, jagged peaks is the country’s most scenic and diverse drive. Indeed, after crossing the tunnel underneath the 3,130-meter-high Töö Ashuu pass, the windy road descends through grassy hills all the way to Toktogul Reservoir. This turquoise mirror dotted by white yurts is the best spot for a pit stop. A bottle of kumis, Kyrgyz fermented mare’s milk, frothy and sour, sold fresh by nomadic herders on the lakeside, gives us an authentic taste of life in the grasslands before we drive off to reach Osh before sunset. Exploring Osh Day 2 | The large, spotless rooms of Osh’s boutique hotel Silk Way (; doubles from US$47) reenergize us before we set out to explore this charming, reputedly 3,000-year-old town. The ancient bazaar remains Osh’s vibrant heart: cobbled streets snake through arched gateways filled with street vendors and chaikhanas, the Central Asian version of alfresco bistros. Grapefruit vines hang from the ceiling, while men in traditional felt hats sip their cups of dark tea

around colorful arabesque tablecloths covered with plates of buuz, the Silk Road’s quintessential meat-filled steamed buns. From an open kitchen, industrious women dish up bowls of succulent lagman, the region’s staple noodle and mutton soup. Simple but garnished with freshly diced tomatoes and herbs, the brew is a delicious must. A walk to the Sulaiman-Too, one of Central Asia’s most sacred mountains and the only unesco World Heritage site in Kyrgyzstan, is also a must. Towering above the city, this boulder marked the midpoint on the Silk Road between Europe and Asia, and hides dozens of hollows and rock formations that date back one and a half millennia and are still used today as sites of worship. A five-minute walk brings us to a three-story yurt (entry KGS50), filled with colorful folksy memorabilia. Osh, kyrgyzstan to Kokand, uzbekistan Day 3 Drive Time: 2 hours | It’s a short drive to Kokand, gateway to Uzbekistan’s Fergana Valley, the nation’s grape and melon-producing basin. Its cities date back about 2,100 years, when the valley was an intersection for the Chinese, Greek, Bactrian and Parthian civilizations.

it e from opp os clockw ise h Os at ns t bu bottom: Mea le in Bukhara;

r sa bazaar; hats fo akh-I-Zinda Sh Samarkand’s ; Toktogul burial complex Mosque, lon Ka r; oi rv se Re selling kumis. Bukhara; boys

We cross the border in high spirits, undaunted by the unsmiling, rigid Uzbek officers, and keep rolling along scenery that looks imported from the 1960s; think box-like Lada Niva cars zooming past one-story houses inhabited by people dressed in retro, quasi-socialist clothes. Khan Hotel (; doubles from US$56) mixes traditional Silk Roaddécor with modern fittings, and is close by the town’s most impressive sights, like the Khan’s Palace, built in 1873, with its seven courtyards and 114 rooms, and the Jami Mosque, built in 1812 by Umar Khan, with its

22-meter-high minaret and a relaxing park for close-up views of its elaborately ornamented walls. For lunch head to Capriz (1 Imom Ismoil Bukhori; meal for two from UZS20,000) for a mix of Russian, Uzbek and Western fare. Kokand to Samarkand Day 4 Drive Time: 6 hours and 30 minutes | It’s another early morning call as mystical Samarkand beckons. We pass the dusty towns of Almalyk, Gulistan and Jizzakh, and wearily pull into the Silk Road’s most evocative namesake celebrated by

historians, poet John Keats and popular imagination as an oasis of civilization in the midst of barren deserts. The Hotel Bibikhanum (; doubles from US$65) warms these weary spirits: intimate, cozy, set on Samarkand’s ancient central boulevard Tashkent Street, next door to the iconic Registan, the heart of ancient Timurid’s Samarkand. Though the many historic sites beckon, and there are three magnificent madrassas to visit, we leave the sightseeing for the next day, because right from the dining area on the

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/ beyond /D r i v e T+L t bes s e t i b

beef sandwich of af ternoon view a; ar kh Bu e, qu os the Kalyan M the rgyz huts dot . traditional Ky ay w gh hi e ong th grasslands al

From top: An

hotel’s rooftop we have the most stunning view of the Bibia-Khanym Mosque’s dome… a perfect spell to freeze us exactly where we are. Samarkand to Bukhara Day 5 Drive Time: 4 hours | After spending the morning traipsing around Samarkand’s beautiful and compact historical center, we drive across arid Uzbek plains to Bukhara, the finishing line of our Silk Road jaunt. Kavsar Boutique Hotel (112 B. Nakshband St.; doubles from US$54), a renovated traditional Uzbek home in

the Old Town, welcomes us before sundown. The inner courtyard and rooms are decorated with curled arabesque motifs and bas reliefs that give the place a timeless feel of Silk Road’s caravanserai, and it is set beside the ancient pool and open-air restaurants of Lyabi-Hauz main square. This is the last remaining ancient pool in Bukhara: it was spared for its beauty by Russian invaders who destroyed most of the city’s ponds to avoid the spread of waterborne diseases. Kavsar’s lavish breakfast, superior to most we tried on the drive, makes us forget about our next and slightly discouraging task: driving for three days back to Bishkek to return the vehicle and catch our flight home. Luckily, much like my old buddy Marco Polo, I’m in no rush to get off this route. It may be a different century but the people here are still hospitable, the architecture remains mysterious and the landscapes are ever soul-stirring.

Essentials Kyrgyzstan offers 30- and 60-day visa-free entry to citizens of 44 countries including Singapore and Brunei, while other nationals can apply for visas on arrival. Travelers to Uzbekistan may require invitation letters issued by a tour operator, depending on nationality. is the most reliable travel source for Central Asia and can help with visa support.


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Ordering at Hafuu is simple: once past the Japanese noren at the entrance, just ask for the beef-cutlet sandwich. Yes, there are set menus. Yes, there’s a pricier ¥5,000 Wagyu beef sandwich. But all you really need as you sit down at the 16-seat wooden counter, aside from your appetite, is that four-piece beefcutlet sandwich. From this perch you can see all that’s going on in the elongated kitchen, a scene that will whet your appetite for what’s coming. Pressed with coleslaw, encased in toast, the thick-cut beef is seared on the outside and sliced in half to reveal a beautiful bloodred inside. But it’s the simple taste and melting texture of the cutlet that will leave you moaning for more. Each bite is a reminder of what beef should taste like. Thick but tender, this is a sandwich that demands you eat it slowly, its flavorful juices squirting in directions that might embarrass but shouldn’t. The owner’s credentials couldn’t be more stellar, thanks to his century-old meat shop. There’s a second Hafuu, but opt for the original. Order one sandwich, don’t overdo it: it’s a delicious thought to realize you must return for more, and soon.; beef sandwich from ¥1,900.— Christopher Kucway

i n s e t: c h r i s t o p h e r k u c way

hafuu, kyoto

/ beyond /u r b a n s t u d y

Kicking the Blues

Now that Memphis is reinventing itself beyond barbecue and Elvis, could it be the next hot American city? by nina kokotas hahn. Photogr aphed by Michael Turek


Beale Street, the music hub of Memphis.


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/ beyond /u r b a n s t u d y If I learned any thing about Memphis in the years since

attending college there, it was that the city was famously unchanging. Known almost exclusively for fall-off-thebone ribs and smoky blues clubs on Beale Street, the Tennessee river city was like a time warp. This theory fell apart on my most recent visit, when Memphis felt undeniably different. The city hit a significant turning point in 2009, when mayor A. C. Wharton vowed to focus on quality of life and community by adding green spaces and making the city safer—a longtime issue for Memphis. “He uncorked pent-up urban energy,” says Pat Brown, a local who co-owns the T Clifton Art gallery in the booming Broad Avenue Arts District. This paved the way for game-changing chefs, innkeepers and shop owners to open businesses, diversifying and elevating the city. Here are the recent standouts.

Urban Escape

Shelby Farms Park

Clockwise from right: Suckling

pig at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen; City & State’s retail space; the coffee bar at City & State; a suite at the James Lee House, set in an 1848 mansion; staffers at Stock & Belle.


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At 1,820 hectares, Shelby Farms Park—a former prison farm on the eastern edge of the city—is about five times the size of Central Park. Designed by the team behind New York’s High Line, it includes the remote Outback, with pastoral meadows and equestrian trails, and the Uplands, with a playground for kids to blow off steam. The Shelby Farms Park Conservancy’s executive director, Jen Andrews, walked me through the Uplands. Its recycled-steel arbor weaves through the playground and is webbed with wisteria and vines. Andrews, who came for college in 2002 and never left, recalled the 2010 opening of the park’s 10-kilometer Greenline, which connects the park to the center of the city by bike trail. “There was a palpable sense of optimism and positivity,” she says. “People thought to themselves, ‘Memphis can have amenities like this.’ ” A major addition to the park will debut this fall with an expanded 32-hectare lake with boat rentals and cypressfringed islands; an events space for thousands; and an outpost of the Kitchen, the upscale Colorado restaurant chain from chefs Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Musk (brother of Elon). It all jibes not just with the park’s mission to draw the community outdoors but with a citywide trend toward a healthier, more active way of life.

Ce n t e r o f t h e a c t i o n

Broad Avenue Arts District

I met with local journalist Stacey Greenberg, a college pal, 13 kilometers west in Midtown’s burgeoning Broad Avenue Arts District. She and most other Memphians agree that Broad Avenue is the most interesting place in the city right now. “It seems there’s always something new opening here, or someone doing something new,” she says. In the past decade, the city has taken major strides to redevelop the street into an arts district, with a row of new businesses. There’s Wiseacre Brewing Co., where you can sip a Tiny Bomb beer in a colorful wooden taproom, and the Cove, a nautical and deliberately divey bar with smooth brown spirits, oysters at midnight and killer live bands. A few doors down, you’ll find crafts workshops at Five in One Social Club and fashion at the high-end 20twelve. On the other side of the street, a swooshy geometric mural painted on a working warehouse reads this is me. this is you. this is we. At night, the warehouse’s loading dock doubles as an events venue. Greenberg and I took in the view with smoky saltedcaramel lattes at City & State, a boutique and coffeehouse where college students hunch over laptops at tables. (With my alma mater, Rhodes, nearby, I couldn’t help comparing this coffee shop to the only option we knew as students, a 24-hour Perkins.) Lisa Toro, a California transplant, opened the place with her husband last year. “There’s great opportunity here,” she says excitedly. “It’s much more interesting to be a part of the change and to help bring it about, than to move to another city that has already established what it is.” W h e r e O l d M ee t s New

South Main Arts District

Downtown, not far from the city’s western border along the Mississippi, Memphis’s rebirth is being played out on a smaller scale around Beale and South Main Streets. On Beale, everything is as it has been for decades. Street performers flip over streets; neon signs take on their trademark glow; guitar riffs and sweet boozy smells spill out of old yet always exciting clubs. You can even walk into the same bar where, say, you worked as a server some 20 years ago and find a bartender you knew back then, still slinging drinks. But stroll down South Main and it’s a different story. The South Main Arts District has exploded with galleries and shops, many in protected buildings. Recent openings include the Blues Hall of Fame (which is across the street from the excellent National Civil Rights Museum) and Stock & Belle, a department store in miniature comprising a salon, an organic grocer, and a clothing and furniture store. Last month, chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman of the award-winning Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen opened their latest restaurant, Catherine & Mary’s, in the

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/ beyond /u r b a n s t u d y

Halo-Halo the peninsula , manila

Literally translating to “Mix-Mix” the ubiquitous Filipino dessert of halohalo is exactly that —a delightful mishmash of garishly colored sweets. It can definitely elicit some raised eyebrows from the uninitiated but once you get past its over-the-top festive looks you’re in for a serious treat, and there’s no better place to indulge than in the lobby of The Peninsula Manila where a few years ago, during an anniversary promotion, a crowd of 4,000 lined up past the main avenues just to have that singular experience. Settle yourself into one of the prized couches and leave decorum behind as you cradle your halo-halo close to your chest, shamelessly digging your way into deliciousness. Time is on your side with this dessert as each layer melts and melds into the other in an evolving medley of flavors: a little bit of purple yam jam and ice cream, a pop from a sweet red bean, slippery coconut slivers and crunchy toasted rice held together by a silky homemade custard and that refreshing shaved ice. Allow your eyes to roll back into your head as you welcome that inevitable sugar high, slowly climbing into a choreographed crescendo with the lobby’s string quartet.; halo-halo P792 . — Stephanie Zubiri


historic Chisca on Main building— once a hotel where Elvis made his radio debut, and now South Main’s newest residential complex. “Memphians want to eat different styles of food,” Hudman explains. “This challenge is very intoxicating and you have this sense that it starts to push everybody.” Catherine & Mary’s menu is inspired by the chefs’ Italian grandmothers. They serve classics such as creamy pasta carbonara alongside bruschetta-like Southern toasts—including griddled corn bread topped with peaches, Kentucky ham and hot mayo. history revised

Victorian Village

A five-minute drive from the South Main Arts District is the formerly rough-and-tumble Victorian Village, where the James Lee House, an elegant B&B, opened more than two years ago. The five suites come with remote-

controlled Tempur-Pedic beds; several have views over a fountain to a neighboring historic mansion, and 30-square-meter marble bathrooms with chandeliers. This is momentous in a city that has long had a dearth of great places to stay. “Memphis is exciting right now,” says B&B owner José Velázquez while pouring me a freshly roasted coffee. Elsewhere on the breakfast table were pains au chocolat from a nearby bakery and Meyer-lemon marmalade made by his wife, Jennifer. “Most people now see the potential that we’ve been talking about for a long time,” Velázquez says, rattling off the names of more districts reaping the many fruits of revitalization. This fall Graceland will open a snazzy 450room hotel, and the new walkway on the Harahan Bridge will allow pedestrians to cross between Memphis and Arkansas. “You don’t have to imagine it anymore. It’s happening.”

the details hotel s James Lee House This five-suite B&B offers rooms overlooking the fountain and red-brick courtyard of the historic mansion next door.; doubles from US$250. Madison Hotel Enjoy the rooftop bar at this downtown hotel, where views of the orange horizon over the Mississippi at sunset can’t be beat. madisonhotelmemphis. com; doubles from US$239. RESTAUR ANTS & BARS Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen Sit at the candlelit marble bar and order the “A|M breakfast”: poached egg, pork belly and polenta. andrewmichaelitaliankitchen. com; mains US$10–$30. City & State Browse the boutique and order a saltedcaramel latte at this Broad Avenue shop. The Cove This divey, nauticalthemed spot is hopping on nights when favorite local band Hope Clayburn’s Soul

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Scrimmage performs. Wiseacre Brewing Co. A brewery run by native Memphians and brothers Davin and Kellan Bartosch. In warm weather, join the crowd that gathers on the industrial back porch. wiseacre​ shops Stock & Belle Virtually everything you see in this multifaceted store is for sale—the art on the wall, furniture on the floor and flowing Lace & Whiskey skirts. 387 S. Main St.; 1-901/7342911. T Clifton Art Check out stunning contemporary glass art by more than 20 artists. 20twelve Choose from among designers like Giambattista Valli and Rosie Assoulin at this high-end retailer. activities National Civil Rights Museum After undergoing a

massive renovation, the site— encompassing Martin Luther King Jr.’s room at the Lorraine Motel—has added some 40 new films, oral histories and interactive exhibits in the past year. civilrights​ Shelby Farms Park Families visiting Memphis can explore the 1,820 hectares of green space that has laser tag, paintball and even a herd of buffalo.

Good to know

According to the Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum, this is the only city in the world to be mentioned in more than 1,000 song lyrics and titles.

t o p l e f t: P e t e r C . M a r q u e z . I l l u s t r at i o n s b y h o l ly wa l e s

T+L t bes s e t i b






In celebration of HM Queen Sirikit’s 7th cycle Birthday a cleverly-designed, wittily-directed opera production that highlights Giuseppe Verdi’s sophisticated music.

Un Ballo in Maschera The Helikon Opera, Moscow Composer: Giuseppe Verdi Conductor: Valery Kiryanov

Supported by Embassy of Russia

sunday 18 september (7.30 pm) Baht 4,500 / 3,500 / 3,000 / 2,000 / 1,500 a electrifying staging of Georges Bizet’s masterpiece by russia’s number one opera company. This production won "The Golden Mask" in "Best Director" and "Best actress".

carMen The Helikon Opera, Moscow Composer: Georges Bizet Conductor: Valery Kiryanov

Supported by Embassy of Russia

Tuesday 20 september (7.30 pm) Hotline 02 262 3191 (24 hrs)

Baht 4,500 / 3,500 / 3,000 / 2,000 / 1,500

Venue: Thailand Cultural Centre. Free shuttle from MRT station Thailand Cultural Centre, exit 1, during 5.30-7.00pm


t r av e l s m a rt e r


i l l u s t r at i o n b y a u t c h a r a pa n p h a i . b a c k g r o u n d : fr e e p i k . c o m

Remote Control

More digital nomads are swapping the office for the open road. Here’s how to kick-start your new life working abroad. by Diana Hubbell

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Claiming the corner office in (clockwise) Thailand, Peru and Vietnam.


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“There has been a massive shift towards remote productivity in the last few years. Cloud technology paired with collaborative tools such as video conferencing frees many jobs from being tied down to a physical location,” explains Greg Caplan, cofounder and CEO of Remote Year (; US$27,000 per year for transportation, housing, activities and workspace with Internet), which sends 75 professionals to 12 different destinations over the course of a year. Since the inaugural run in June 2015, more than 150,000 consultants, business owners, artists, lawyers and freelancers from 30 countries have applied. Participants on the most recent trip enjoyed like-minded company in places including Kuala Lumpur, Saigon, Koh Phangan and Phnom Penh. As usual, the Internet generation is leading the way: Millennials, Caplan says, are “putting more value on experiences over ownership of material things, which leads them to seek out remote jobs that allow them to travel and work.” Like anything else, remote working, sometimes dubbed “smart working” or “workshifting,” is not without its pitfalls. Your boss may be less thrilled with the idea than you are, and if you’re planning to travel across Asia, long-term visas and red tape can be tricky to negotiate. Still, many professionals are finding that it is not only possible, but also potentially more productive. “We find that the best work is done when people are inspired, feel connected and are mentally stimulated. Traditional offices don’t provide these kinds of environments. If anything, they discourage exploration of new people, places and ideas,” Caplan says. “By ditching the cubicle, you gain the freedom to choose where you work, when you work, and in what environments you work most effectively.” Sound tempting? Here’s what you need to know to get started.

courtesy of remote ye ar (3)

Ever wanted to quit your job and travel? A new generation of the workforce is heading off to distant lands without quitting at all. Thanks to an ever-more connected world, employees in the tech and creative sectors are hanging onto their sources of income while exploring the beaches of Borneo or the tea plantations of Sri Lanka. According to FlexJobs, the number of available remote positions worldwide rose 36 percent in 2015 from a year earlier, and while global stats are still shaky, Freelancers Union estimates that among Americans 53 million already do some form of freelance work—a number that’s expected to rise to half of the workforce by 2020.

Phone it in from Bali, at Hubud. below: The super social Spaces, in Sydney.

Cool Co-working Spaces

Tempting as it might be to loaf around in PJs all day, a structured work environment can do wonders for your personal productivity. With supportive communities, excellent networking opportunities and thoughtful extras, these co-working spaces all over Asia offer far more than a desk with Wi-Fi.

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f h u b u d ; c o u r t e s y o f s pa c e s s u rr e y h i l l s

CHIANG MAI | Simple Space

Curved mirrors and industrial furnishings make this newcomer stylish. Bonus: the low monthly membership comes with 10 free drinks at the cutesy eatery.; from Bt990 per month.

more than 15,000 members. Fundraising workshops, networking events, and mentoring programs at The Hub help members get down to business.; co-working plans from S$345.

BANGKOK | Oneday Foreword

SYDNEY | Spaces Surrey Hills

Casa Lapin, a perennial hipster favorite, is behind this handsome space in the heart of the popular Phrom Phong neighborhood. You’ll join because it’s open 24/7, but stay because your “office” Instagrams of perfect flat whites on wood furnishings will make your old coworkers jealous of your new digs.; from Bt6,900 per month.


High-powered entrepreneurs congregate at this branch of a global network with

Regular events, lecture series, stateof-the-art meeting rooms, and an airy, minimalist interior set this ambitious Amsterdam export apart from the crowd.; A$350 per month.

UBUD | Hubud

Innovators of all stripes call this gorgeous bamboo space amid rice paddies home. Blazing-fast Internet and expat services make this 400-square-meter Balinese dream especially enticing.; from Rp800,000 per month.

MUMBAI | Social

What if your after-work drinks were at work? This hub lives up to its name in the evenings, when it offers deconstructed Moscow Mules and other clever cocktails.; Rs5,000 per month with access to all affiliated spaces in India.

HONG KONG | The Hive

In Wanchai, The Hive caters to out-of-thebox start-ups. The sprawling facility has a library, sun deck and free coffee to keep the creative juices flowing. hk; from HK$2,800 per month.


Free-flowing coffee, a friendly community and the effortless aesthetic of a designer boutique make this a haven. aspace; from P8,000 per month.

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/ upgrade / ◄ Nekteck 20W Solar Charger

“My battery died” isn’t going to fly with your employers, no matter how far-flung. If you’re partial to working in places beyond the reach of extension cables, invest in an eco-friendly solarpowered charger like this one to keep your devices fully loaded. You’ll have extra incentive to select sun-drenched “office” spaces—Langkawi, perhaps?; from US$55.

Gadgets and Gizmos ◄ Bose QuietComfort 25

There’s nothing like the rumble of passing motorbike taxis or chatter of gossipy café-goers to wreck your concentration. Keep your cool with these noise-canceling headphones, which will either channel your favorite soothing tunes or deliver conference calls over the oceans with crisp sound.; US$300.

ioSafe Rugged Portable SSD ►

Travel can be rough on appliances and you can’t afford to risk losing work en route to your next destination. MacGyver-proof your data with this ultra-tough 1TB external hard drive that can survive three days of total immersion in water or an hour in diesel fuel. It’s also crush-resistant up to 1,100 kilograms of pressure, functions like a dream at high altitudes, and has a formidable Kensington Lock in case of theft. In other words, nothing will break this bad boy.; US$1,120.


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Wacaco Minipresso ▲

A steady supply of caffeine is essential to getting anything done, and after a few months your French press may not cut it anymore. When you decide to indulge your inner addict, this bullet-shaped portable espresso maker can give you your fix when you can’t make it to a café. With an average pressure of eight bars—just a hair below the standard nine that your barista wields—it packs a serious punch in a petite 360-gram shell that will fit in any carry-on.; US$59.

c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f n e k t e c k ; c o u r t e s y o f wa c a c o ( 2 ) ; c o u r t e s y o f i o s a f e ; c o u r t e s y o f b o s e

Sure, your trusty laptop will get you far, but these techie toys can keep you, and all your gear, powered up and connected, wherever you may be.



1 year / 12 issues for US$29.99. Available at

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Virtual Taskmasters

With no clock to watch and no boss bearing down on you, it’s more important than ever to stay focused. Load up your devices with these handy apps to stay on-task and on-track. The Team Players

The Time Managers

The Anti-Procrastinators

The Financial Planners

Everyone has coworkers, even if they don’t share physical desk space. In addition to industry staples such as Google Docs and Skype, these programs are built to help all of you work together despite the distance.

When you’re billing clients by the hour, knowing how long you spend on each project is essential to effectively charging and multitasking. Stick to a realistic schedule and streamline your workflow by enlisting a little outside help.

Social media’s seductive siren song is about to become your worst enemy. Avoid the endless stream of click bait with these lifesavers.

With multiple income sources and varied payment schedules, freelance finances can quickly become a nightmare. Rather than shelling out for a personal accountant, use technology to stay on top of the situation.

WasteNoTime MindMeister

Creativity seldom happens in a vacuum, which is why this collaborative brainstorming tool is such a boon. The web-based program allows your group to share ideas in the form of colorful, instantly comprehensible graphics.; free basic version, with tiers up to a professional business version for US$90 for six months.


This indispensable tool not only tracks your work on specific tasks both on and offline, but also converts the data into pie charts. Show this easy-to-read data to clients when sorting out the budget for longer projects.; free basic version, with tiers up to an advance professional model for US$49 per month.

When willpower isn’t enough, this app sets limits for certain websites and guilts you into productivity with cheeky quotes like “I do my work at the same time each day—the last minute” when you exceed them. It also tracks where you spend your time, so you know exactly how much of your life you’ve frittered away on Facebook. bumblebee; free.


Trouble keeping track of expenses? Just snap a photo of your receipt and Harvest will file it away for future reference. Keep forgetting to send invoices? It’ll file them and accept payment from a variety of sources online.; free basic version, with tiers up to US$99 per month for an unlimited professional version.

Write or Die Trello

Generate and share Pinterestesque boards for any kind of task with team members anywhere in the world with this visual aid. Trello can set specific deadlines for jobs and will automatically notify other users in the crew with updates.; free.


Simple yet elegant, Cushion’s schedule offers a visually appealing alternative to the traditional to-do list. With one click, zoom out and view your monthly or annual workload, so you can keep everything in perspective. cushion; from US$8 per month.

Writer’s block? This tough-love program forces you to put pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard. Once the countdown clock hits zero, it will start deleting your work if you haven’t made progress. For positive reinforcement, it’ll play soothing background music or show you a graphic of your choice (puppies?) when you get down to business.; free.


All your hard work will be in vain if you don’t manage to get paid for it. Wave is accountant and personal assistant, rolled into one electronic genie: it invoices your clients, organize your books, and keep tabs on tax-deductible expenses, so that nothing slips through the cracks.; free.

Insuring Your Success

Before you and your laptop can lounge beneath palm trees, sort out the basics. Unless your employer offers you coverage, buy private health insurance, even if you live in a popular medical-tourism destination like Thailand or Malaysia. Countries still have wildly varied laws—many Japanese clinics, for instance, won’t accept private insurance—so, thoroughly investigate the rules of your new home base. Although Asia lags behind the U.S. and E.U. in terms of organized options for freelancers, a few start-ups in the region, such as Horsepower (, a Philippine-based company with plans from P999 per year, offer more affordable options. Not all insurance plans will provide coverage if you leave your main country of residence. If you’re heading out of town or have a penchant for extreme sports, sign up for a short-term travel insurance such as World Nomads (, which is valid in more than 150 countries.


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DEALS | t+l reader specials


A private catamaran cruise in Langkawi, a live muay Thai show in Bangkok, or 999 red roses in Singapore? Take your pick of the extra-special amenities on offer this month. Fisherman’s village-inspired U Pattaya.

JW Marriott With this deal, there’s no need to hunt down free Wi-Fi to upload all your Instagramperfect shots: your upgraded harbor-view room comes with one complimentary mobile SIM card per room for local calls and unlimited 4G data. Not much of a shutterbug? You can opt for a HK$50 Octopus card for public transportation and convenience stores instead. The Deal Discover and Stay Connected in Hong Kong: two nights in a Premier Harbour View room, from HK$4,900, through December 31. Save 35%.


SUPER SAVER Oasia Hotel Downtown, Singapore This 27-story eco-skyscraper has 30-meter-tall garden decks and a façade of soaring vertical overgrowth that set the hotel apart: a true oasis in Tanjong Pagar’s sea of concrete, glass and steel. The Deal Opening promotion: a night in a Superior room, from S$165 for two; book by July 31. Save 50%.


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U Hotels & Resorts U properties across Asia are beloved for their cutting-edge designs, tranquil atmospheres and flexible 24-hour stay policy, which lets you check out a full day after you checked in. Whether you visit Bangkok; Chiang Mai; Sapa, Vietnam; or Alibaug, India, you’ll receive US$25 dining-and-spa credit per stay on top of the room discount. The Deal Ur Summer: two nights in a standard room, from Bt4,798, through July 15; book with code USUM. Save 25%.

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f u h o t e l pat taya ; c o u r t e s y o f o a s i a h o t e l d o w n t o w n s i n g a p o r e


Well Hotel A Bangkok trip wouldn’t be complete without muay Thai, so the hotel offers you two tickets to the Muay Thai Live Show at Asiatique, on the river. You’ll also get a set lunch or dinner at Eat Well Café, and a 25-percent discount on the à la carte menu at Well Spa. And while wellness is a focus here, you’ll still get your daily local-beer refill in the minibar. The Deal Bangkok Staycation package: two nights in a Superior room, from Bt8,102, through October 31. Save up to 57%.


Carlson Rezidor Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inns & Suites By Carlson properties across the region are teaming up to offer discounted room rates. Plus, at participating hotels, you’ll also get 20 percent off the in-house restaurant tab, helping you wine and dine your way through places like Cebu, Sydney and Beijing. The Deal Double Joy: a night in a standard room, from US$40; book by August 31. Save 20%. doublejoy.


Shangri-La This riverside retreat knows you need a place to unwind after a day of high-octane adventure. So it prepares a Jasmine Rice treatment for two, which consists of a 45-minute Jasmine Rice Body Glow and a 45-minute Jasmine Oil massage, followed by a spa-cuisine lunch or dinner. You also get a special discount to find out your biological age through the Longevity Index package at Bumrungrad’s Vitallife Center. The Deal Simply Wellness: two nights in a Deluxe River View room, from Bt12,600, through September 30. Save 40%.


The Surin Phuket Design Hotels-member The Surin may have laid claim to this private slice of Pansea Bay’s baby-powder beachfront since 1982, but a renovation led by Paris-based architect Ed Tuttle has kept the hotel fresh and fascinating. Guest rooms evoke a vintage Thai beachcottage feel and are connected to public buildings via elevated walkways through the coconut grove. The Deal The Surin Deal: a night in a Beach suite, from Bt5,514 for two, through October 31. Save 25%. MALDIVES

Loama Resort Maamigili We don’t know what you did last summer, but this year you’re in for a treat at the teardrop-shaped island in Raa Atoll: a complimentary snorkeling trip to Goimaru, a private isle with stunning coral reefs teeming with marine life; and 20-percent discount on spa treatments, so you can try their signature Thai-Swedish aromatherapy massage in their

lovely, westward, overwater spa. You get a room upgrade, too. The Deal Summer Specials: a night in a Beach villa, from US$200, through October 31. Save 50%. BALI

Katamama After almost six years of prep work, Katamama debuted this May in Seminyak. The 58-room artisanal and eco-conscious boutique hotel boasts walls made of 1.5 million handmade bricks; Javanese wood and rattan furniture; traditional indigo-dyed textiles, ceramics and staff uniforms; and green initiatives like a ban on plastic straws. Better yet, breakfast at the internationally acclaimed Spanish restaurant MoVida is included. The Deal A Grand Opening Gift: four nights in a Garden suite, from US$810 for two, through March 31, 2017. Save 25%.


The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Where better to pop the question than in a 37th-floor

suite with views of Marina Bay, a bottle of Dom Pérignon Vintage Rosé and a bouquet of 999 roses? Throw in a sensual soak in a butler-drawn bath and a five-course in-room dinner, and the answer will surely be “Yes.” The Deal In Pursuit of Happiness: a night in The Ritz Suite, from SG$19,999, through December 29. Save 20%. MALAYSIA

Pangkor Laut Resort Five kilometers off the west coast of Malaysia lies this world-class resort with sunset views over the Straits of Malacca, a perfect backdrop for your included candlelit dinner at Fisherman’s Cove. Add to the romance with a sunset junk-boat cruise; a 50-minute spa treatment for two; a fragrant flower bath; and a bottle of sparkling wine, then switch things up a bit with a leisure jungle walk led by a resident naturalist. The Deal Romantic Retreat: three nights in a Garden villa, from RM3,819, ongoing. Save 25%. — MONSICHA HOONSUWAN

c o u r t e s y o f F o u r S e a s o n s L a n g k aw i


Four Seasons Langkawi A complimentary catamaran sailing; a 60-minute Urut Melayu massage for two; and two weeks of quietude surrounded by ancient rain forest, cerulean sea and abundant wildlife are enough to seduce anyone needing a complete escape. You’ll also have plenty to do during the getaway, from complimentary archery and rock climbing to kayaking and windsurfing. The Deal Extend Your Stay: 14 nights in a Garden View pavilion, from US$8,700, ongoing. Save 20%.

Escape from it all at Four Seasons Langkawi.

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yousun moon

Poached lobster and asparagus at Jungsik, in Seoul.

/ july 2016 / Rooting out Kiwi cuisine on the South Island of New

Zealand | Comfort food for every style in Seoul | Unlikely Food Quests to surprise the peripatetic palate | Slovenia reveals its rich food and wine traditions 73

Blue cod at Fleurs Place, in Moeraki. Opposite: Sous-chef Filippo Moriggi inspecting pumpkins in the garden of Otahuna Lodge, in Christchurch.


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On the South Island of New Zealand, just about anything grows—and a group of inspired chefs and winemakers are turning the fruit of the land into a distinctive national cuisine. Kevin West digs in. P h o t o g r a p h e d b y S e a n F e n n e ss y

Clockwise from ABOVE: Cherry

tomatoes at Otahuna Lodge; diners at Fleurs Place, in Moeraki; the modern Seascape house at Annandale; chef Fleur Sullivan; Otahuna Lodge’s venison loin with cassis, porcini mushrooms and estate-grown vegetables.

It was getting on toward sunset at Annandale, a 1,600hectare sheep and cattle farm turned luxury lodge on the Banks Peninsula, a slightly flattened asterisk of land southeast of Christchurch, New Zealand. The light had turned rich and golden, and the twin newborn lambs dozing 0n the gravel road glowed like movie idols. Annandale’s director of hospitality, Callum Farnell, slowed the SUV to a crawl until they got the picture. They wobbled to their feet and then, all of a sudden alert and quick, dashed away, their legs clacking like a marionette’s. “The trip today takes a little longer because we’re in lambing season, and they have the right of way,” Farnell said as he resumed the 35-minute drive from the property entrance to the restored 19th-century Shepherd’s Cottage, where I’d be spending the night. “This is New Zealand.” Annandale dates to the heroic age of sheep farming, and the current owner, a rich Kiwi who made his fortune in the U.S. in real estate development, has kept the property’s original gravel roads to “maintain the farm character,” Farnell told me. But he also laid fiber-optic cables for high-speed Internet and spent untold sums on every other amenity that would foster Annandale’s atmosphere of privileged isolation. The Shepherd’s Cottage, which really was a hired man’s house in the day, is the most “primitive” of the property’s four lodgings, although its restoration using farm-cut macrocarpa wood achieves a result that is rustic only by Annandale standards. Two additional villas—a modern glass pavilion and a low-slung cedar beach house—sit on private coves that shelter rare Hector’s dolphins and offer views of an offshore aquaculture farm where Annandale gets its green-lipped mussels. The main house, the Homestead, is surrounded by gorgeous vegetable gardens. Most of what Annandale guests eat comes from the property or has been sourced locally—a distinct advantage thanks to the South Island’s rich agricultural history. Farnell got me to the cottage as the sun dropped below the horizon. He went inside to light the fire, and I stayed out to study how the raw land dropped with tectonic grandeur into the ocean’s void, a landscape that reminded me of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides or the wildest stretches of California’s Central Coast. A minute later he called me in to explain that the fridge had been stocked with the fixings for a three-course dinner: seared scallops on an herb salad garnished with edible flowers, a braised saddle of farm-raised beef with roasted root vegetables from the garden, chocolate mousse. (A printed card gave instructions for how to heat and assemble the ingredients.) Then he left me alone for an evening of fireside rusticity and Spotify. The next morning, after crumpets with homemade

jam—Kiwis put up exceptional preserves—I walked the pastures to count sheep and returned for a soak in the outdoor tub before Farnell came to collect me at midday. He was the only person I’d seen since he dropped me off. “What we market is the history and romance of being in the middle of a working farm,” Farnell told me. “It’s the quintessential New Zealand farm experience. But I tell people that it’s rustic and definitely not for everyone.” It was, however, definitely for me. Guest rating: awesome. And all the more so because of Annandale’s ardent farm-to-table program. Whereas a decade ago in New Zealand I might have encountered mostly European-leaning “resort-fancy” cooking, Annandale’s simple, honest, and intensely local meals perfectly set the tone for a weeklong trip to investigate the distinctive food culture that has taken root on the South Island, New Zealand’s larger, less tropical, and less populous portion. Auckland, on the North Island, is the country’s fine-dining hub, but the South Island is arguably the origin of a national cuisine. My leisurely route south from Christchurch, which is still recovering from the massive 2011 earthquake, to Queenstown in the Southern Alps, took me through a world of dramatic scenery, past multiple vineyards, olive groves, stone-fruit orchards, and a grazing hinterland that supplies much of the country’s world-famous lamb and venison. With this agricultural wealth as its underpinning, modern Kiwi cuisine builds on 19th-century Anglo-Irish cookery and enlarges the traditional pantry with ingredients from Europe (olive oil, truffles, saffron), Asia (coconut milk and lemongrass), and even Latin America (chilies and avocados), much of which the country now grows itself. The distinctive food and wine culture I found is vibrant—at once deeply rooted and globally attuned—and provided a glimpse of how the country has been shaped equally by its isolation and its transoceanic ties. In the past couple of years, the localseasonal-organic food movement has come of age, some 50 years after being hatched by a colorful, brilliant, cantankerous, dotty woman named Fleur Sullivan, who at 77 is the spiritual godmother of South Island cooking, something like the Alice Waters of New Zealand. I met her at Fleurs Place, her seafood restaurant in Moeraki, a minuscule fishing port about 4½ hours’ drive south from Annandale. Fleurs Place is a banged-together fish shack on a jetty, and it is unique in the world. International tourists flock here despite the remote location, some of them arriving by helicopter from t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j u l y 2 0 1 6


Queenstown, Dunedin or Christchurch. (Sullivan recently hired a Chinese-speaking reservationist to help with that key segment of her clientele.) It’s difficult to put your finger on what makes Fleurs Place such a draw. There’s the setting, of course, and the spectacular simplicity of the menu, which includes vast platters of local fish with unfamiliar names (moki, tarakihi), stews of green-lipped mussels and bright yellow scallops, old-fashioned preparations like potted eel, and nowhere-else ingredients such as muttonbird, a wild seabird. The eccentric dining room could be a hermit’s cottage, except that the wallboards are graffitied up to about 2½ meters high with signatures, drawings, notes and love letters left by guests. From its food and décor to the music played by a local guitarist during lunch, everything about Fleurs Place has an air of improvisational genius. People come because there’s no other place like it. Which is really another way to say that Sullivan herself is one of a kind. “When I came to Moeraki fifteen years ago, I didn’t mean to make another restaurant,” she told me after lunch. She backtracked to explain that she had already sold Olivers—the restaurant that helped make her name—in the former mining town of Clyde, an hour from Queenstown, and had come to Moeraki to recover from chemotherapy. Out on a fisherman’s boat one day, she watched the crew toss overboard the scraps from cleaned fish, and she lamented the waste of good bones. “I thought, ‘I could make fish stock with that,’ ” Sullivan recalled from behind thick black glasses that contrasted stylishly with her shag of white hair. “I’ve always done food of the region. That’s been my claim to fame.” She started selling fish chowder out of a trailer— New Zealand’s original food truck—and success sort of backed her into doing a restaurant. She claims that it doesn’t actually have a name. “I never opened it officially, so I never named it,” she said with an air that suggested she might still get around to it if only she could catch a spare minute. “The local people would ask, ‘When will Fleur’s place be open?’ I’m thirteen years into the soft opening.” Sullivan’s influence ricocheted down through the years and landed, most notably, at Roots, a tiny spot in Lyttelton run by young Chilean chef Giulio Sturla and his American wife, Christy. I had stopped for lunch on my way to Annandale because I’d read that Roots had recently been named New Zealand’s Restaurant of the Year. The bare-bones dining room was like the culmination of Sullivan’s


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locavore journey, but certain culinary markers—of René Redzepi’s heightened sensibilities, of Sturla’s global vision—pointed toward a new destination. On the day I visited, an Asian-y whiff lingered around the menu, as if Sturla had recently come back from Tokyo or Seoul with a suitcase full of ingredients; more recent menus lay a Latin foundation of tacos and ceviches. My five-course lunch, all served on hand-thrown pottery, included hapuku fish in foamy saffron broth, pumpkin gnocchi splashed with dashi, pork rillettes flecked with black garlic, and foraged greens sprouting from every dish, including dessert. I had all local wines, of course. The meal perfectly caught the spirit of modern cooking right now—I almost could have been back home in Los Angeles. After my meal at Fleurs Place, I turned inland from the coast and drove through the high grazing country of Central Otago to Clyde, where Sullivan had found her culinary voice. The region is vaguely analogous to the American West—wide open, sparsely populated, rugged, beautiful, historically shaped by ranching life—and the four-season climate favors stone fruit of every description, berries, apples, nuts and grapes. The original homesteaders survived on whatever they could raise or hunt, and when Sullivan moved to Clyde in 1977, the local fare was boringly straightforward— everything was served with fries and coleslaw. What she knew about restaurants was the French cooking she had learned in the go-go days of 1970s Queenstown. Somehow out of this combination of influences she invented a rabbit, venison and pickled-walnut pie at Olivers. It was a turning point because it ignored the rules of fancy restaurant cooking (everything imported was better, especially if from France) in favor of the homegrown, the seasonal, the locally sourced. Olivers today is less tumbledown than in Sullivan’s time, thanks to investment from the new owners, a second-career New Zealand couple. But the food, by chef Michael Coughlin, still bears the stamp of the region: duck-liver pâté with a jelly of crab apple and quince, roast lamb rump with ratatouille jam. The wine list demonstrated the range of Central Otago’s cool-climate vineyards, which produce refined bubblies, aromatic whites and elegant Pinot Noirs. The next morning over breakfast, Olivers owner David Ritchie explained that many of Central Otago’s ambitious restaurants popped up to serve winery visitors. It’s the same food-follows-wine story that accounts for the density of serious chefs in places like California’s Napa Valley and Mendoza, Argentina. Central Otago’s wine industry might still lag behind Marlborough’s, but it is making strides thanks in part to a boost in foreign capital. Ritchie said that wealthy Americans now own or co-own several vineyards and lodges—“multimillionaires from New York and elsewhere who have built their bolt-holes in New Zealand.” An hour up the road from Clyde into a high-altitude subregion called Gibbston, Amisfield winery illustrated Ritchie’s point about foreign money. Expanded in 2011 with help from an American investor, Amisfield occupies a high-style minimalist building with a busy “cellar door,” or tasting room, and a notable restaurant, Amisfield Bistro. Chef Vaughan Mabee’s kitchen sent out robust, photogenic food, such as a whole roasted cauliflower served on a board like a haunch of venison and actual venison baked into a pâte brisée garnished with South Island black truffles. Amisfield Bistro was expensive and glamorous, a setting for the Queenstown Beautiful People to show themselves when they’re bored with heli-skiing. Despite the jet-set atmosphere, I learned at the cellar door that only tiny quantities of Amisfield’s Pinot Noirs and dry Rieslings ever

Clockwise from left:

Heirloom beets and fennel pollen from the garden at Annandale, a resort on the Banks Peninsula; cattle grazing near Oamaru, about 40 kilometers from Moeraki; Grant Taylor with one of his Valli wines; on the banks of Lake Wakatipu, in the Otago region; at Fleurs Place, a clapboard building in the fishing village of Moeraki, the dining room walls are covered with guests’ graffiti.

rather than simply import influences, chefs have been inspired to look inwards

The sheep and cattle farm Annandale overlooks Pigeon Bay.

make the trip to the U.S.—a fact that holds true of most South Island wines, other than the large-scale commercial Sauvignon Blancs produced at the very northern tip. “We’re too small,” explained the tasting-room attendant, a gruffly charming Kiwi. “Here at Amisfield, we make twenty-five to thirty thousand cases total. If you make a hundred thousand cases, you can chunk it around the world. We could ship our entire production to the U.S. and you still couldn’t find it in the shops. What’s the point? We’d rather keep it and drink it.” Wine making in the Gibbston Valley began in the 1980s, when a few hobbyists broke away from the Anglo beer-and-whiskey habit to make wine for Queenstown tourists. It was a curiosity then—plonk, really. But by the mid 1990s, the growers had begun to map the area’s mineral-rich soils and understand that the low-humidity climate made organic production a viable option. Plonk gradually gave way to quality. The fact that Central Otago winemakers were not trying to make opulent “international-style” wines to appeal to the mighty American critic Robert Parker gave them permission to root deeply into the local terroir. This was explained to me by Gibbston Valley wine-making legend Grant Taylor, whose Valli Pinot Noirs have twice won world’s-best awards. “We’re not trying to make trendy wines,” Taylor said. “Pretty much everyone down here wants to make wines that express the place, wines that show where they come from.” Perhaps nowhere else in the world does “sense of place” come with such a beautiful setting as at Rippon, in Wanaka, another lakeside town that serves as a jumping-off point for the Southern Alps. The winery was established in 1975 by Rolfe and Lois Mills, parents of the current winemaker, and its 55 hectares are farmed according to biodynamic principles that combine rigorous organicfarming methods with more esoteric ideas. “Biodynamics is this beautiful theory,” explained cellar-door attendant Jack Pickering, “that says the land is a living, breathing organism that pulsates and takes energy from the stars and the planets, and everything you do has to respond to that energy.” He talked about how the glass of high-end Tinker’s Field Pinot Noir in front of us came from vines grown on their own roots. How they were cultivated with no fertilizers and no pesticides and how the grapes were picked by hand. How Rippon, whenever possible, doesn’t filter or fine its wines. Whatever one makes of all that, the resulting wine tasted as elemental as water and left me with an elated feeling of rootedness and well-being. Maybe it was just the giddy scenery. At the very least, Rippon’s idealistic approach was the diametrical opposite of mass-scale production. The wines are essentially unobtainable outside of the country. At that point in my week on the South Island, I had only one real question left, the most basic one: How, especially given its dismal postwar starting point, had the food culture evolved as it had? Grant Taylor laughingly told me that while he was growing up, in the 1960s, the food in New Zealand “was as bad as anything you got in England.” He put the improvement down to two facts: an influx of global tourists and the “overseas experience,” a Wanderjahr taken by most young Kiwis. They return home inoculated with ideas from abroad. The interesting twist is that rather than simply import French or Italian or Japanese influences, younger generations of chefs have been inspired to look inward for their culinary identity. Grant’s friend Jeremaia Fisk, a wilderness guide who at the time was managing Kinross Cottages near Valli, put it best.

“Kiwis were always trying to be someone else,” he explained to me over a glass of wine at the Kinross wine bar, “but now they want to be themselves.” A couple of days later, I was back near the Banks Peninsula for drinks and dinner with Miles Refo, co-owner with his partner, Hall Cannon, of Otahuna Lodge. In Otahuna’s paneled entrance hall, meticulously restored since the earthquake, Refo picked up on Fisk’s theme unprompted. He said that New Zealand is not a manufacturing country, so almost all its consumer goods have to be imported. But food is the economy’s strength and, being selfproduced, has been a ready medium for Kiwi identity, stretching equally into the country’s past and outward toward the world. As Refo and I talked, Otahuna chef Jimmy McIntyre laid out salumi made from the estate’s heritage Wessex Saddleback pigs, pickled pears, and zucchini relish from the garden. Dinner included crayfish and warehou from nearby waters, winter vegetables and mushrooms from the property, and duck raised by a woman down the road. Even the saffron was locally grown. There were also the by-now-familiar touches of the antipodean exotic: chipotles, avocados, coconut milk. “I first started cooking French food—frog’s legs and snails and terrines,” McIntyre told me the next morning as we chatted about his 37 years in New Zealand kitchens. “In the late seventies there wasn’t much else. But Kiwis traveled and gleaned knowledge and came back with ideas for what we can do here. The change has been phenomenal.” It occurred to me at some point later that what I most relished about my gastro-tour of the South Island was that I got to eat food and drink wine that, in fact, I couldn’t get at home, which was a startling notion, because I thought you could get anything in Los Angeles. The idea of inaccessibility was heartening, akin to the notion that if you want to see the best Velázquez paintings, you have to go to Madrid. Not everyone would bother, but if you care about such things, there’s no alternative. The unique particularity of a single place, its cultural terroir, can sometimes defy the homogenizing logic of 21st-century globalization, the flatworld economy. New Zealand’s South Island reminded me that the world is, in fact, still round, and if you want to drink Rippon in the Southern Alps or eat blue cod at Fleurs Place in Moeraki, you still have to put in the effort to fly across it to get there. And that, in and of itself, is a fine argument for making the trip. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j u l y 2 0 1 6


exotic & idyllic retreat ...where life is a private celebration

The details

Sanur I Ubud I Nusa Dua I Jimbaran

P. 62 361 705 777 F. 62 361 705 101 E.

RESTAUR ANTS Fleurs Place Fleur Sullivan, the godmother of modern Kiwi cooking, draws diners from all over to her marvelously ramshackle seaside spot in Moeraki.; mains NZ$35–$41. Harlequin Public House Part bistro, part London pub, this is the place for platters of oysters, homey comfort food, and a great list of New Zealand wines. Christchurch;; mains NZ$22–$56. Olivers An early culinary pioneer in the town of Clyde that still serves some of the best food around. olivers; mains NZ$17–$40. Rata Enjoy a glass of local wine in the sunny courtyard of this Queenstown hot spot before indulging in its award-winning cuisine.; mains NZ$37–$43. Riverstone Kitchen A prime stop near Moeraki where many ingredients are grown on the chef’s family farm. The menu includes dishes like fennel risotto, Thai red curry, and pear tarte Tatin.; mains NZ$33–$35.

Roots A critically acclaimed bare-bones spot that offers multiple globally influenced tasting menus. Lyttelton;; tasting menus from NZ$92. Saffron The ever-changing menu at this local favorite in historic Arrowtown takes inspiration from Eastern and Western cuisines.; mains NZ$16–$30. WINERIES Amisfield A sleek winery with a busy tasting room and a notable restaurant in Gibbston Valley. Queenstown; Mt. Difficulty This tasting room in Bannockburn offers terrific examples of Central Otago Pinot Noir, including some older vintages. If you’d like to stay for lunch, be sure to make a reservation. Quartz Reef A must-stop in downtown Cromwell for Rudi Bauer’s refined, biodynamically produced wines.

Rippon A biodynamic operation in Wanaka providing wines that are hard to find outside of New Zealand. Valli Schedule a visit at Gibbston Valley legend Grant Taylor’s vineyard and taste his lauded Pinot Noir. Gibbston; SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park The scenery here is epic, even by New Zealand’s very high standards. nationalparks. Butler’s Berry Farm This café and farm is an excellent place to buy local strawberry, currant and raspberry jams. Makikihi; Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct Exports of New Zealand lamb made Oamaru rich in the late 19th century. Now visitors can marvel at the well-preserved stone architecture and a number of bookstores and other small shops.

I l l u s t r at i o n b y h o l ly wa l e s

HOTEL S Annandale A secluded sheep and cattle farm with four villas and innovative farm-to-table cuisine. Pigeon Bay;; doubles from NZ$725. Kinross Cottages Simple and tasteful accommodations on a vineyard that also has a popular wine bar. Queenstown; kinross; doubles from NZ$230. Otahuna Lodge This classic South Island lodge has been beautifully restored since the 2011 earthquake and serves an excellent menu in its ornate dining room. Christchurch;; doubles from NZ$1,235, including dinner.

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OASIA HOTEL NOVENA, SINGAPORE NEAR-AWAY! BY AMERICAN EXPRESS IS OPEN TO BASIC PLATINUM RESERVE CREDIT CARD MEMBERS. • Card Member must make reservation with Oasia Hotel Novena, Singapore at at least 14 days in advance. The use of this voucher must be stated at time of reservation. • All reservations are subject to availability and not applicable during blackout dates (i.e. eves of Holidays and Public Holiday) or days of high occupancy. Please contact Oasia Hotel Novena, Singapore for more information. A room reservation confirmation letter or email (in soft or hardcopy) must be presented, along with the physical voucher and your Platinum Reserve Credit Card upon check-in. • Offer may not be combined with other hotel programmes or special offers and is not available on pre-existing reservations. • Card Member is responsible for their parking charges during the whole period of stay at Oasia Hotel Novena, Singapore and no complimentary parking will be provided. • No show or cancellation policies apply in accordance to the hotels’ policies. Please check with hotel for details.  • Accommodation is for a maximum of two (2) adults and is inclusive of all applicable tax and service charges for such accommodation. Breakfast is not included. Cost of meals and all other incidentals (including applicable tax and service charges), will be charged to the Card Member’s Platinum Reserve Credit Card.  • Merchant’s Terms and Conditions apply – please check with respective merchants for details. American Express acts solely as a payment provider and is not responsible or liable in the event that such services, activities or benefits are not provided or fulfilled by the merchant. Merchants are solely responsible for the fulfilment of all benefits and offers. • American Express does not assume liability and American Express Card Member(s) shall not make any claim whatsoever for (i) injury or bodily harm or (ii) loss of damage to property, howsoever caused, arising from, or in connection with these benefits and privileges.  • Programme benefits, participating merchants and Terms and Conditions may be amended or withdrawn without prior notice at the sole discretion of the American Express International Inc. Should there be any disputes, the decision of American Express will be final and no correspondence may be entertained. American Express International Inc., (UEN S68FC1878J) 20 (West) Pasir Panjang Road #08-00, Mapletree Business City, Singapore 117439. Incorporated with Limited Liability in the State of Delaware, U.S.A.® Registered Trademark of American Express Company. © Copyright 2016 American Express Company.

Photographed by Yo us un M o o n


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South Korean Comfort

Eating her way from grandma’s kitchen to next-wave top tables, Jeninne Lee-St. John finds that the best Seoul food spans regions, seasons and generations.

Iberian pork and fennel at Dosa, a new restaurant in Gangnam. Opposite: Overlooking the Blue House and Gyeongbok Palace from the Four Seasons Seoul.

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“A rainy day is a pancake day,” Angela Kim told me as a storm whipped up outside. “On rainy days, Korean people go to suljip and eat pancakes and drink makgeolli because the sound of the frying pancakes is like the sound of rain falling.” Philosophy behind this excursion to a suljip, or pub, in the Gongdeok neighborhood on Seoul’s southwestern riverbank sorted, we ate fried pancakes and drank makgeolli—the cloudy, slightly sparkling, fermented rice liquor that comes in more flavors than Baskin Robbins. I was lifting yet another drink to my mouth when a deepfried hot dog on a stick snuck into my field of vision. A guy in black-rimmed glasses peered through the divider between our booths, eyebrows raised and with an impish grin. “Want to try?” he asked. My friends exchanged glances and then fell into peals of laughter, toppling one of the bowls of kimchi stew on our crammed table. Hot dog guy, whose offer went rebuffed, had interrupted at an opportune moment. Angela, an epicurean expert whose start-up, Food Focus, has helped make her a TV personality on Korean cooking, her eversmiling assistant Jiyoung Kim, and our photographer, Yousun Moon, had been giving me an important lesson in somaek. Think of it as a Korean sake bomb. Mix a third of a shot of soju with half a glass of beer, slam your spoon into it to create an effervescence explosion, then down it all in one. I had just lost a drinking game and was going to have to do yet another somaek as punishment when one of the ladies charitably volunteered to be my “black rose”—or, woman who drinks in your place because you’re too much of a wimp. What was going on here? I’m the one who finishes the other people’s drinks. Clearly, I’d not had a proper session with hardcore Korean women. “In Korea, without beer or soju, people cannot be honest,” Angela said. “Business meetings are hard without beer or soju. The drinks are an honesty genie.”

from left: Lunch

at Maru, in Four Seasons Seoul; Akira Back, and a painting by his mom, at Dosa; Friend Chicken's offering of the ever-popular chimaek. opposite: It's a suljip afternoon in Gongdeok Market.

We weren’t exactly having a business meeting, but we were, technically, working. Angela had agreed to show me Seoul streetwise must-eats. Counting the deep-fried suljip grub and a boatload of market fare, black-pork barbecue and Korean fried chicken, a spin around the capital with her would be enough for a great culinary tale. But a newer facet of Korean food has begun to impress itself upon the most refined of global palates, prompting Michelin to announce in March that it will publish a Korean edition next year. It makes sense: the cuisine here is malleable, exceptionally diverse and, most important, distinct. Whether it’s the gochujang (chili paste), the sesame, the sweetened soy marinades or the probiotic-gold-mine fermented foods, you can always tell you’re eating Korean. Partly, I learned, that’s because of a national addiction to umami. “We don’t feel satisfaction without eating it,” Angela said. “That’s why there’s always kimchi.” Partly it’s fidelity to lineage: in Korea you can chart a direct, delicious line from grandma’s snacks to whitetablecloth degustation dishes. And you—or your black rose—can wash them all down with rice wine.

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kira Back served me a kimbap and Yousun giggled in surprise. The chef had fashioned what looked like a mini conical Japanese hand roll, but the photographer saw the after-school snack she grew up on. “When your mother or grandmother doesn’t feel like cooking real food, she makes kimbap,” Yousun said. We were among the first ever diners at Dosa, Back’s brand-new upscale Korean kitchen in fancy Gangnam, and what was the first thing he sent out? The most common of Korean victuals, and, as it turned out, the first thing we saw in Gwangjang Market the next day. The rolls of sticky rice and pickles wrapped in seaweed brushed with sesame oil are usually tubular, like narrow maki rolls. The market ladies rolled them with the dexterity of concert pianists, added ground chicken and served them with an addictive wasabi sauce only available in Gwangjang. Back had marinated his seaweed in sugar and corn puree and cooked it in the oven for two hours before filling it with sticky rice and wild sesame powder. The micro-cone melted in my mouth. “It’s my homage to early childhood,” he told me. The Korean-born Back grew up in Colorado and was a competitive snowboarder as a teenager until he began apprenticing with a Japanese


from left: Angela Kim gears up for more makgeolli; Dosa’s duck proscuitto on an apple puree-filled puff; Park Hyatt Seoul’s chef Massamiliano Ziano. opposite: Bo-ssam, octopus and paella in The Lounge at Park Hyatt Seoul.

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chef in Aspen. “I thought he was the coolest guy in the world,” he said. He was referencing Nobu Matsuhisa. Right. Now, Back has a stable of his own Japanese restaurants around the world, with openings in Bangkok and Dubai later this year. But Dosa is his first foray into Korean food, and Korea. The kimbap is the first hint that the menu is filled with memories, irony and artfulness. The dish Seoul Garden is certainly his canniest combination of the three: asparagus, carrot, radish, brussels and bean sprouts, and rice puffs are arrayed Legoland-cute to look like a tiny garden, complete with two dried silk worms. Back had been a standout baseball player as a kid in Korea, but he would get intense gameday jitters. His mother fed him silkworm and bean shakes to quell his nervous stomach. “She never told me what was in the shakes because, as a kid, I’d never have eaten the worm,” he said. I didn’t want to eat the worm either. Part of my mission was to try what the pros recommended, so I gave it a shot, but I found the whole dish a bit too mealy. Maybe I still have some kid-like tastes. The Koreans I polled about their Dosa dinners uniformly said Seoul Garden was their favorite dish. I will remember the tender-as-butter Iberian bo-ssam (boiled pork) cooked at 52 degrees Celsius for 48 minutes, served in magenta filets with a splinter of roasted fennel. But it’s the sea pineapple rice bowl that left its imprint on my taste buds. Slightly sweet and also briny, the bit of the gooey texture is absorbed by the rice, meaning that though it’s seafood, for those of us with a savory-leaning palate, it could be dessert. Back had a huge bowl of it to himself and though I’d consumed, at this point, eight other plates of food, I was envious of his superior portion. Angela pointed out the sea pineapples to me in Gwangjang Market the next day. Shaped like giant acorns, they were off-white and coral, bobbing in a tank where three hand-sized squid were plotting their escape. I was glad I had eaten them all gussied up before seeing them live. We went from stall to stall, squeezing in at the little benches that surround the counters manned mostly

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Every chef emphasized lightness, a skimming away to get to the essence


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Hanging outside Magpie, a craft brew bar in Itaewon. Opposite: Jungsik's iconic Old Grandfather dessert.

by women cooking, chopping and frying foods that were originally intended only as easy eats for other market vendors, but became beloved by the whole country. I have some quibbles with their affection for things like dwaeji kkeopdegi (marinated grilled pig skin)— though the collagen is supposed to be good for your complexion—and sundae. What a sneaky misnomer that is. It’s an extra-fat Korean blood sausage, and eating a couple of slices prompted me to signal for some makgeolli. But the spicy stir-fried rice cakes were fiery delicious and gave me a pang of craving for the similar tangyuan dumplings my Cantonese grandmother used to cook in her cabbage and sausage soup.


e tend to think of comfort food as rooted and unchanging, but it can also be progressive, the hint of a nostalgic taste, even if embedded in a new context, able to transport you. That’s what I felt with the spicy rice cakes, and it’s what The Lounge at Park Hyatt Seoul is going for in its relaunched menu. “Gangnam people are used to trying new things,” executive chef Massamiliano Ziano told me. “For Gangnam, this is comfort food. For the other side of the river, it would be complicated.” There was bo-ssam sliced in squares the traditional way, but the pork belly had been marinated for 48 hours then cooked for 24 over low heat, which makes it super soft. There was octopus sashimi, which you normally eat with gochujang, but they aerate their chili sauce to make it lighter, resulting in almost a whipped cream that surprises you with its bite and doesn’t overwhelm the fish. And there was bibimbap, but they call it “Korean paella” since it’s made of chicken and shellfish in a crab broth on top of 12 grains—which toast against the inside of the hot stone bowl, soccarat-style. Ziano told me this was his favorite and he was spot on. Elegant without being precious is the feel reinforced by the scene and the crowd in The Lounge. With floor-to-

from left: Raw fish and seaweed “sandwiches” at Jungsik; Gatsbyera glamour at speakeasy Charles H; rolling kimbap in Gwangjang Market. opposite: Cheonggyecheon stream, in downtown Seoul.

ceiling windows letting the lights of Gangnam twinkle around your dinner, The Lounge is a study in understated comfort, with an easygoing waitstaff and a make-whatyou-may-of-this vibe. Every chef I spoke with in Seoul emphasized lightness, a careful skimming away of the unnecessary to get to the essence, and then rebuilding delicately around that. Each of the high-end restaurants I ate in echoed that reductionist theme not just in the food but also design. At the Four Seasons Seoul, Kioku is a bamboo-dominant, skylightbrightened, airy, three-tiered space designed by André Fu. The seasonal menu from Michelin-starred chef Kazumi Sawada includes fresh catch from Cheju Island and Japan, along with Sawada’s acclaimed yuzu miso black-eye cod. Sit at the sushi bar to watch the chefs at work, or down in the dining room bathing in the light. Four Seasons Seoul is actually full of light and simple luxury. My sunshine-drenched suite boasted views of Gyeongbok Palace and the Blue House, where the president lives, from all three rooms. And the turndown treats ranged from Mason jars of house-made plum teas to platters full of ripe red cherries. With all I was eating, I was beyond grateful for the enormous, wellkitted gym, complete with complimentary work-out clothes and Pilates Reformer, though sweating

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out the toxins would’ve been far less bearable had I not the grown-up nursery of a spa or the vast in-house onsen to look forward to. There’s a fire pit in the lobby, an installation by artist Hwang Ran made of 150,000 hand-placed buttons, and arrangements and accents everywhere by famed florist Nicolai Bergmann, who opened a shop in the hotel at the request of his old friend, general manager Lubosh Barta. On the grassy roof deck, Barta would like to put an enormous grill, which would allow the hotel to serve up some version of Korean barbecue. Until then, Angela Kim steers me to Itaewon. Hilly Itaewon is known as expat land, but it’s also home to a slew of superlative barbecue joints. We went to Hanam Pig House, which specializes in black pig from Cheju raised on fresh veggies and volcanic water. The five-layer pork belly (ogyepsal) is cut so thick they don’t trust you to cook it yourself. A waiter mans your grill, turning and cutting the meat, and the resulting slices that you dip in a fish sauce made from Cheju anchovies then package into your lettuce are crispy, chewy and juicy all at once, retaining a smoky flavor that seems to flow straight from that island’s volcano. Continuing the Cheju party, we headed to Magpie, a popular craft beer house that brews on the island. On tap that night: the American wheat and the Blackstone stout. Then we popped across the way to


from left: Swim above Gangnam at Park Hyatt Seoul; chef Jungsik Yim after a successful Sunday lunch service; five-layer pork belly fresh from the grill at Hanam Pig House. opposite: Behind the bar at Alice.

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Friend Chicken, a hole-in-the-wall I needed to go to not because I was hungry for a second dinner, but because I couldn’t leave Korea without diving into chimaek. Though a compound of the words for chicken and beer, the term signifies more than the menu. “It’s the food culture,” Angela explained as she ordered banban chicken (half and half, meaning fried and with chili sauce) and we settled in to watch Korean baseball and drink Hite lager. When I slowed down, Jiyoung waved her hands by her ears, chanting, “Eonjeggaji. Eogge chumeul chuge halgeoya. Eonjeggaji. Eogge chumeul chuge halgeoya.” Drink now. Otherwise I’ll keep dancing like this.


t may be apparent by now that Korean rice bowls are a personal favorite. There’s, naturally, a Korean phrase that explains why: bapsim, or “steamed-rice power.” (Bring it, I say.) But my love derives from bibimbap in a hot stone pot and three other Korean ladies who taught me to eat it in late-night noshing sessions so many years ago. The originally vegetarian monk’s dish—you can get an exalted version in a brass lunchbox at Gyeongbok Palace—is more fulfilling with beef and a raw egg. Quickly stir it all up with gochujang, smash the mixture against the sides of the bowl in as thin a layer as possible, then wait while it continues to cook. For at least 20 minutes. The longer you wait, the crispier the rice gets. This trick my Korean-American friends taught me the year after college, when they introduced me to Korean food in Manhattan’s K-Town. I’ve carried it around the world with me, including every long-haul layover I’ve made via Incheon airport. I was looking forward to reliving that madeleine memory during this trip but when I got to Incheon, they had renovated the food courts. And the menus. They still had bibimbap, but instead of julienned veggies and ground beef, it was broccoli and capsicums and pea leaves atop Kobe beef slices. Jeez. Even the airport is going nouveau Korean. I was disappointed at the loss of my old comfort food... but I don’t get to determine tradition. I had come to eat in Seoul, whether in greasy

spoons or at gilded tables, for the same reason Akira Back had come to cook here. As he told me, “I want Koreans to tell me what’s Korean.” That’s not exactly the mantra of his good friend Jungsik Yim, whose, you know, totally casual eightcourse plus various amuse-bouches and palate cleansers Sunday lunch at his eponymous restaurant in Gangnam turned out to be my last meal in Seoul. “People ask me, ‘What are you trying to do? Korean food? Western food?’” he said when he emerged from the kitchen, boyish in a baseball cap but with an attitude and talent that command respect. “Who cares? I cook good food.” Michelin, which awarded his Manhattan outpost two stars in 2013, agrees. I appreciated the breadth of his menu that seemed to care little for continuity except for in quality. Yim sent out an prettily plated abalone imprinted with grill hashes, like a sirloin steak. The generous portion of North Atlantic lobster in a rich, red pepper sauce to which he’d added a tinge of chili “because it felt boring” was almost southern. He cooked a curlicueskin Cheju kite filet super light and poached in a flavorful ginger sauce. And you might have seen on Instagram his panna cotta sculptures shaped like the cartoonish Old Grandfather stone statues said to protect Cheju Island. But the dish that stands out most in my memory hews most closely to Korean comfort food: the beef tartare rice bowl, a light take on the yolk-topped beef sashimi people line up around the block for at Gwangjang Market. We had passed on it, but it made me feel like a wimp. (Again.) So I was relieved to be able to check Yim’s ethereal version of tartare—with a hint of citrus, and a crunch from sprouts that added texture to the mix’s borderline creaminess—off my list at the very last moment. It wasn’t traditional, but it was still raw.

The details Hotel s Four Seasons Hotel Seoul 97 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu; 82-2/6388-5000; fourseasons. com; doubles from W445,000. Park Hyatt Seoul 202 Teheranro, Gangnam-gu; 82-2/2016-1234;; doubles from W275,000. Restaurants & Bars Alice 47 Dosan-daero 55-gil, Gangnam-gu; 82-2/511-8420;; from W23,000. Charles H Four Seasons Hotel;; from W23,000. Dosa 92-12 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu; 82-2/516-3672;; tasting menus from W120,000. Friend Chicken 10 Hoenamu-ro 13-gil, Yongsan-gu; banban chicken W13,000.

Gongdeok Market and suljip 19 Mallijae-ro, Mapo-gu. Gwangjang Market 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu; 82-2/2267-0291. Gyeongbok Palace Royal Kitchen Experience royalculture; bibimbap W15,000. Hanam Pig House 47-5 Hannam-daero 20-gil, Yongsangu;; barbecue for two from W65,000. Jungsik 11 Seolleung-ro 158-gil, Gangnam-gu; 82-2/517-4654;; tasting menus from W50,000. Kioku Four Seasons; fourseasons. com; meal for two from W150,000. The Lounge Park Hyatt Seoul;; tasting menus from W90,000. Magpie Brewing Co. 244-1 Noksapyeong-daero, Yongsan-gu; 82-2/749-2703; magpiebrewing. com; draft beers from W6,000.

Speakeasy, drink hard

Two must-visit hidey-holes in Seoul Alice With a down-the-rabbit-hole theme, Alice is hidden in a side alley within a subterranean florist's shop, and the divining required to find it would in New York or London translate to a look-down-your-nose attitude. Not in Seoul. Everyone was all smiles, our waiter seemed utterly delighted at the absurdity of presenting us a cocktail in a 30-centimeter-tall panda cup—though surely it must've been the thousandth time he'd done it—and, as 3 a.m. neared, the bartender started belting out the words to the soundtrack, boogeying together while shaking drinks. It was pretty hard to head back up through the looking glass. Charles H In the Four Seasons basement, through what looks like a staff door, you'll find a long, gilded vault that directly channels the Gatsby age. Named after an American author (last name, Baker) who had the good sense to sail off during Prohibition to drink his way around the world, Charles H is a favorite of the city's CEOs and beautiful people. But if you can get a table or, better, seats at the bar, you'll immediately see that a stuffy room of poseurs this is not. I mean, you can't have on your menu three cauldrons of champagne punch that serve 10 people—the Dom Pérignon version clocking in at a rowdy W1.6 million—and take yourself too seriously.

The culinary melting pot has mixed up our senses of where to find exemplary eats. Adam h. Graham embarks on a few unlikely food quests that will add lesser-known staples to your epicurean treasure map. Illustrated by riety not many people go to bhutan in search of cheese . but that ’ s how i roll .

A food’s birthplace, quite logically, used to be considered the best place to eat it. While people still make pilgrimages everywhere from the Karaköy neighborhood of Istanbul for crisp, honey-kissed baklava with Turkish coffee, to Jabugo, Spain, for 5J ham from its acorn-fed, pure-bred Iberian black pigs, today the borders have blurred, putting our musty concept of authenticity under a microscope. As our understanding of food history grows ever-more

culturally interwoven, we free ourselves to be more objective about matters of taste and flavor. This shift in culinary thinking first began around the time of the famed 1976 Judgment of Paris, in which French wine critics did blind tastings of American and French wines. To the shock of everyone, California vintages beat out their French counterparts, where the varietals were thought to have originated. Ditto for when Tokyo Pizzeria e Trattoria da Isa’s Yamamoto Hisanori won the World Pizza Cup in Naples, Italy, in 2007

and then, for good measure, in the following two years as well. Over the years, London chefs have won accolades for their Indian curries, Korean pit-masters have nabbed Texas barbecue trophies and South African, Taiwanese and even Nepalese distillers have conquered whisky competitions. With chefs and brewers, vintners and culinarians moving around the world and experimenting with local flavors and ingredients, food has become less of a one-way ticket and more of a round-trip voyage. Following are a few of my favorites.

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Bali most visit bali in search of bliss . My trip here is no different,

except I’m not seeking metaphysical perfection. Not a feeling that can be induced by the terraced rice paddies, gamelan music or balian medicine men, this bliss has a distinct form— sweet, soft and mahogany. It’s transcendent chocolate. I know a thing or two about cocoa beans. For one, I live in Switzerland, a magnet for many milk-chocolate cheerleaders. I’ve traveled the globe from Belgium to Belize to Brooklyn in search of artisanal nibs. I’ve traversed the Amazon jungles of Ecuador and met with cacao farmers and food historians to research the origin of chocolate. But I hadn’t ever heard of Bali-style chocolate, until I stumbled upon it by accident. Twice. In 2012, I was visiting the island as part of an extravagant aroundthe-world trip. In Bali, we ventured to Santi Agro Wisata, an organic farm just off a woodsy mountain road in Tampaksiring-Kintamani, 15 kilometers north of Ubud. Supposedly we’d come for the pricey kopi luwak, or civet coffee, prized for its nutty, low-acidic flavor that I don’t find all that remarkable. No, it was their chocolate that was a revelation. Not only was it among the best I’d ever had, but also, I later learned, it was impossible to find outside of Bali. When I got home, multiple searches online for “Santi” or “Bali style chocolate” came up empty. “Had they closed?” I worried. On a return trip four years later, the memory of this candy ingrained on my brain, I know I want to track down the origin, but I have several stops to cram in. After visiting the nearby water temple Tirta Empul, my driver pulls into a dirt parking lot on a familiar-looking road. He says we are stopping to taste the world’s most expensive coffee. Because there are so many farms in the area with similar names, I don’t expect to be returning to the same one. Until I spot the red and white sign for Santi Agro Wisata. My heart starts racing and my mouth, Pavlovian, begins to water.

Visitors are given a tour of the grounds along a shady trail that circles the property. There are few plants that don’t thrive in Bali and a walk through the farm is a fragrant and memorable journey of the senses that’s testament to the island’s fertile abundance. Cacao is intercropped here, meaning it’s grown aside other plantings like coconut, lemongrass, coffee, ginger, nutmeg, clove and vanilla. While cacao’s origins might be in South America, Bali’s ebony volcanic soil is the ideal lab for earthy and delicious chocolate. Yet, the best part about the Santi’s chocolate is not how it’s grown, but how it’s prepared. Rather than play up the percentage of cacao in the bar like many artisan chocolatiers, Santi takes their 100-percent organic chocolate in a different direction, by eschewing dairy completely. Instead they use native coconut milk, sweetened with coconut sugar, both from coconuts grown on site. This creates a softer- and bolder-tasting chocolate that—ingenious in the tropics—does not melt. The finished product doesn’t have the snap that most chocolate bars do. Slicing into a thick hunk of it is like cutting into a soft loaf of banana bread or a firm piece of tofu—a process that’s almost as satisfying as eating it. In cooler climes, I discovered back in Europe, the chocolate does splinter when cut, but it’s still worth the trade-off for its dark coconut richness. The quarter-kilo sized bars are made at the farm and cost about US$10 apiece. I savored the hunk I brought home from my first Bali trip for several months. On the second visit, I purchase two bars assuming they’ll last me a few months. They’re gone within two weeks. Bliss, I suppose, doesn’t last forever. Santi Agro Wisata: Jalan Raya Tampaksiring-Kintamani, Gianyar; 62-81/933-117-053; chocolate bars from Rp140,000.

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Kyoto it ’ s difficult to overstate the omnipresence of r amen throughout japan . But those

tourists on a specific soup pilgrimage might head directly to Fukuoka, birthplace of tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen, or to the Sugamo district of Tokyo to Tsuta, a tiny noodle joint that became the first ramen place in Japan to receive a Michelin star last December. They do not necessarily target Kyoto. The ancient capital’s historic ryokan and quiet, internationally renowned restaurants are better known for kaiseki meals and genteel tea ceremonies. I was no different for my first few visits there. Then I heard about fire ramen. Game-changer. A secret within a secret. As it turns out, locals do know Kyoto specifically for its ramen—whose proliferation is tempting to chalk up to the tastes of students at the city’s dozens of universities. On Ramen Koji, an entire floor of the train station is devoted to ramen stands, serving at least eight different regional styles of the beloved noodles and broth. But Menbakaichidai, the birthplace of fire ramen, is not there. I find the discreet ramen shop in Kyoto’s historic Kamigyo Ward. It has four tables and a 12-seat counter where the fire ramen, which I would describe as “a greasy jewel box,” is a must. The fire I speak of is not a flicker you might find under a fondue pot. It’s a red molten liquid flame poured from a cast iron pot into your bowl. During my visit, chef Miyazawa Masamichi heats two tablespoons of vegetable oil flavored with green onions to 182 degrees Celsius before lighting them with an open flame and letting the volcanic liquid cascade into my soup bowl. When the oil hits the broth, it combusts, creating a massive explosion that nearly makes kindling of my misplaced chopstick. Yes, it’s showy. Yes, it’s definitely dangerous. But the process chars the thin slices of pork chashu and green onions, imbuing the ramen with a perfectly smoky creaminess I

haven’t tasted anywhere else. After two winter months in Japan (and dozens of steamy bowls of excellent ramen), it is hands down the most flavorful I’ve eaten. Miyazawa’s trademark ramen is becoming an icon, but in truth it’s a take on the classic green-onion ramen. It’s topped with a mossy tangle of thinly sliced kujonegi, a certified Kyoto variety of spring onion favored by Japanese for its distinct vegetal sweetness. The broth is a mix of homemade soy sauce and a secret formula of stocks including chicken and nine types of seafood. Submerged deep under the raft of green onions are thin toothsome brown noodles and delicate slices of tender chashu, a lean pork belly imported from Mexico. Diners who order this primordial dish must give up cameras and phones, wear protective aprons, and pay respect to the strict rules listed on the wall. Children cannot order it unless they promise to finish it, and there are no Halal or vegan versions. Politically correct ramen it is not. But it’s only available in Kyoto. And it’s worth every slurp. Menbakaichidai: 757-2 Minamiiseya-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto; 81-75/ 812-5818;; price per bowl ¥1,150.

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Bhutan in this nation squeezed into the 7,000 - meter - high himalayan folds , Gross National Happiness

measures the quality of life. Yet when I visited Bhutan, the happiness I sought was in the form of cheese. Not the iconic dish of roasted chilies and melted cheese that’s ubiquitous across Bhutan, but, rather, soft, quality, creamy European-style cheeses made from fresh, pure mountain milk. I’d first heard of Swiss-turnedBhutanese cheese-maker Fritz Maurer from some food writer friends. In the 1960s, Maurer was working with an NGO in Bhutan and started a program intended to help the country build its own dairy industry. After, he never cashed in his return ticket. He married a Bhutanese woman, had five kids, and set up shop in Bumthang, a small city in eastern Bhutan. These days, Bumthang has a new airport, but I went the long way, an 11-day road trip of temple tours, dzong visits and meditative treks over Himalayan passes decorated with colorful depictions of Rinpoche and other tantric deities. I ate many plates of chili cheese. Too many. The culmination of my spiritual and culinary pilgrimage comes on a sunny December afternoon. Maurer is wearing a traditional Bhutanese gho and a chunky knit sweater. He looks more like a kilt-wearing

Scotsman than the Swiss-Bhutanese hybrid he’s become. Like many Swiss, his humor remains as dry as the Himalayan air. His cheeses include a hard, buttery Emmental and a pungent Gruyère, both available for sale in Bumthang’s tiny Yoser Lham Shop, decorated with cowbells and fonduerecipe calendars. The shop’s worn wooden walls seem to absorb the wafting odors coming off the wheels of cheese in the neighboring fermentation room and are a homey whiff of Alpine goodness for me. Next door is the Red Panda Brewery, which Maurer helped start. It brews a cloudy but crisp Weissbier made with live yeast and a tart apple cider, and sells jars of golden local honey, all high-quality products that Maurer introduced to Bhutan. “You can preserve traditions— but you can’t preserve culture. It changes as humans do,” Maurer says when I ask him what it was like being a foreign-food pioneer in Bhutan. He tells me immediately that the quality is not yet where he wants it to be. “We’re trying to encourage the farmers to sell us better quality cream and milk because you can’t make great cheese without fatty cream,” he says in the Red Panda dining room. “Sometimes the farmers skim the cream off or water the milk down.” To counter that, he borrows a dairy-economics tactic from home: “We tell them that the better quality their cream, the more we’ll pay.” Because bringing cheese home is never an easy task due to variable heat and cold conditions in the cargo holds of airplanes, I buy a few hunks of Maurer’s cheeses and eat them over the course of my stay. They are not as uniformly creamy and floral as the cheeses in Switzerland, but they are dense and delicious, and have a coarse, crumbly texture and a rustic Himalayan flavor all their own. It is a reminder that food can be culturally transformative—and is always better when shared. Red Panda Brewery and Yoser Lham cheese shop: Bathpalathang, Bumthang; 975-17/115-216 or 9753/631-145; cheese from US$5.

A Place at the



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Movia Estate, Slovenia’s most influential winery. Opposite: The “idea of beef” soup at Pri Lojzetu, a restaurant in a 17th-century hunting lodge.

With meals that feel like magic shows and brightly colored wines made by mysterious alchemical techniques, Slovenia has emerged as one of Europe’s most intriguing places to eat and drink. Alex Halberstadt falls under the country’s spell. P h o t o g r ap h e d by M a rc u s N i l ss o n

What we first noticed driving east from venice were the sudden hills, fog clinging to their peaks, and the groves of persimmon trees, heavy with fire-orange fruit. Soon the signs changed from Italian to Slovene and four-sided Romanesque church towers began rising in the distance, and everything looked almost familiar, but not quite. The sensation wasn’t entirely unexpected. As a country, Slovenia is not even 25 years old, but for centuries its territory formed a buffer zone between larger nations, a land ruled by outsiders who left indelible traces before leaving. Visiting the country felt like being somewhere I’d never been but seemed to remember anyway. Nowhere is this living history more apparent than in the local food and wine, two of the most exciting reasons to come to this wedge of former Yugoslavia. To eat in Slovenia is to encounter influences from Italy and Austria, Hungary and Croatia, even Turkey and Russia. And in recent years, the country’s wines— particularly the savory, tannic whites that obtain their coppery hue from contact with grape skins—have captured the attention of serious drinkers from Tokyo to New York. In the countryside and in the capital of Ljubljana, winemakers and chefs are now using the traditional kitchen as a laboratory to create an evolving but hugely original food culture. That is why meals here occasionally take on the qualities of a tale by the Brothers Grimm— primal, strange and not easily forgotten. My friend Garrett Oliver was piloting our miniature Fiat convertible over the hills of Goriška Brda, just beyond the Italian border. Garrett is the brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery and a walking culinary encyclopedia. Because Slovenia was a part of the Eastern bloc when he last visited, he approached each of our meals with the seriousness of an archaeologist cataloguing an Aztec city. In the distance, we spotted the Kabaj winery, restaurant and hotel, a place set into a hillside at an angle so precarious that it looked like it might slide away at the lightest drizzle. The owner, Jean-Michel Morel, a Frenchman who resembles a detective

from a New Wave noir, came here nearly 30 years ago after marrying a Slovenian winemaker’s daughter. We sat down for lunch with him in the courtyard while his wife, Katja, brought bowls of a sour turnip soup called jota. All around were vineyards and hills. We were 24 kilometers from the Adriatic, but could have been half a continent away. Morel poured us his Rebula, an orange-hued white that smelled, improbably, of roses and tea. He ages the wine the way ancient Romans did: in clay amphorae lined with beeswax and buried in the ground. “Most orange wines are mistakes,” Morel said bluntly. His was not: I found it more delicate and fun to drink than most I’d had. Garrett and I hurried through dessert—tiny winter pears boiled in wine with a chestnut mousse—and thanked the Morels, because we had an appointment just beyond the neighboring hill. Our rendezvous was with Aleš Kristančič, the most prominent figure on the country’s food and wine scene. After the fall of Yugoslavia, he decided to focus on making idiosyncratic wines based on local grape varieties rather than

Barrels of Rebula in the cellar of Kabaj. from top right: Near the Italian border; hors d’oeuvres at Dvorni, a Ljubljana wine bar. Opposite: The vineyards of Kabaj, in the rolling hills of Goriška Brda.

imitate the Italians and the French. Soon he was being discussed around restaurant tables around the world. He seemed to have influenced nearly every winemaker and chef we met. His winery, Movia, is a pink stucco palace set atop a jutting hill. Inside, there was a spray of orchids on a grand piano and a photo of Kristančič decapitating a bottle with what appeared to be a broadsword. A monumental oil painting nearby depicted the disembodied heads of Kristančič, his wife, Vesna, and their two children floating above the Parthenon. “Memories,” from Cats, was playing at breathtaking volume on the sound system. It was nearly dusk in Goriška Brda, and the hills around us glowed the color of  Welch’s grape juice. Nearly an hour after we arrived, Kristančič appeared, smiling, trailing a flustered assistant. A man of easy charisma, he regaled us with stories about the region’s Yugoslavian past. When his father, a seventh-generation winemaker, refused to join the local socialist cooperative, young Aleš was reprimanded at t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j u l y 2 0 1 6


Thyme sorbet at Majerija.

Opposite, from top:

Congress Square, in central Ljubljana; the Basil Room at Majerija.


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school for the misdeed. He seems to have inherited his father’s obstinate spirit, because his wines sometimes defy common sense. Take Puro, which has become his trademark. Nearly every maker of sparkling wines disgorges his product—uncorks the bottles after secondary fermentation to eject the spent yeasts—​at the winery. Puro must be the only one intended to be disgorged at home by the consumer. Vesna demonstrated this by submerging a bottle in a tank of water and popping it open with a device resembling a back scratcher. It tasted bone-dry and saline, with a note of sage that seems to infuse everything from Movia.

For dinner, we headed to the Vipava

Valley on a southbound route that snaked back and forth across the Italian border. Navigating Slovenian highways, Garrett and I discovered, requires a ticket called a vinjeta. I bought one at a toll booth and tossed it thoughtlessly on the dashboard; when the Fiat reached full speed, a gust of wind blew it into a swirling river. We explained our predicament to a young woman working the tollbooth at the Ajdovščina exit. She made a call and a colleague appeared, an older woman in a kerchief. Her toothy smile indicated that the ridiculous nature of our situation wasn’t lost on her, but eventually she decided that we would have to buy another vinjeta. “You see,” she explained with refreshing Slavic directness, “it is your fault.” At Pri Lojzetu, located in a 17th-century hunting lodge at the foot of the Julian Alps, we met the genial, foxlike Tomaž Kavčič, who goes

by Tomi and whose great-grandparents founded the restaurant in the 1890s. Kavčič conceives fine-dining interpretations of his family’s generations-old recipes with a dash of Siegfried & Roy. Early in the meal, he presented us with trays of juniper surrounding a tiny glass of gin and tonic, then flooded our table, and us, with dry-ice fog poured from a watering can. It was the first time I had been submerged in my food. Could we tell how the fog circulated the aroma of the juniper, Tomi asked excitedly. We said that we could. Later, he appeared with rectangles of meat that had been subjected to many hours of sous vide alchemy. “Jowl of bear,” Tomi offered nonchalantly, in an accent that allowed for a bit of uncertainty. “Pear?” Garrett asked, clearly unprepared for the truth. “No, bear,” the chef replied. Eager to clarify, he set down the plates, stood on tiptoe with his arms raised and growled. The meat, gamey and sharp, turned out to be unexpectedly tender. Slovenia is one of the few places in Europe where it is legal to eat bear. The next morning, I asked Matej Tomažič, owner of Majerija, a restaurant a few kilometers away, about the odd local specialty. He said that he considered it the finest game meat and favored the paw, simmered for several days in a soup or casserole. “When it is served,” Tomažič said, “sometimes you are not sure if you are looking at hand of bear or hand of man.” Though Majerija is one of the country’s bestknown restaurants, we nearly gave up trying to find it. After leaving the highway we drove along a smaller road and found ourselves on an

unpaved, boulder-strewn lane bordering vineyards and vegetable fields. The GPS surrendered entirely, flashing in despair. Finally we saw a sign on a tree, about ten centimeters square, depicting a diagram of a plate and a wine glass. The most memorable part of the lunch there was the mlinci—housemade pasta grilled on a cast-iron stove and topped with broccoli and smoked duck breast, both sourced nearby. Tomažič and his wife, Nataša, recently added a hotel to the property. Because of laws prohibiting new buildings in the vicinity of old ones, they placed the guest quarters underground, beneath the herb garden. The stylish rooms, each named after one of the herbs, were painted in pastel hues, giving the interiors the look of a posh Mexican spa, except for the skylights and humming ventilation. In the morning, it was confounding to emerge from this elegant dungeon to views of mountains and acacia-edged fields, and to inhale the scents of woodsmoke and rosemary that hung in the almost voluptuously fresh air. After breakfast, we found Primož Lavrenčič on the grass outside the restaurant waiting to take us to his winery, Burja Estate. Wearing a flannel shirt and smoking a hand-​rolled cigarette, he looked as unassuming as a Portland barista. But he is one of Slovenia’s best winemakers. He consulted for a decade at his family’s respected winery, Sutor, before parting ways with his brother in 2009 over what could be called artistic differences. While Sutor bottles dense, oaky Merlots and Chardonnays, Lavrenčič focuses on indigenous grapes at Burja, some of which are all but unknown

outside Slovenia. He uncorked a decade-old bottle of his specialty, a white called Zelen that may be his country’s gift to the wine world. Fresh and stony, with an enticing, cheeselike aroma, it tastes like nothing else and ages gracefully, as my first taste proved. Burja is named for the cold wind that howls through the valley, sometimes reaching 200 kilometers per hour and decimating the vines. Lavrenčič took us to the tiny house he and his wife rent nearby, where we met his two young daughters, who were trying to teach a docile orange cat to waltz. In the cellar, which had been a hiding place for members of the antifascist resistance during World War II, an antique crucifix hung on a bare stone wall. A cobweb-covered shelf beside it was filled with empties of priceless old Burgundies. Lavrenčič shrugged. “I like Zelen, but I like those, too,” he said.

Ljubljana lay a 45-minute drive east.

The city was an outpost of the Hapsburg monarchy for more than half a millennium, then was fought over by European powers for most of the 20th century. Today, it is finally independent. Much of it was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1895, lending it a remarkable visual consistency, with many odd and wonderful examples of Art Nouveau architecture. One is the Dragon Bridge that spans the Ljubljanica River, a tribute to the beast that is said to have been slain here by Jason and the Argonauts. Ljubljana appeared to be devoid of American tourists; while we walked around, several men of Yugoslavian vintage stopped and gaped unselfconsciously at Garrett, startled to encounter a passerby of African descent. We arrived for lunch at Špajza, which means pantry in Slovene, only to find it closed. Fortunately, the owner, Petra Sorbara, answered the door. “No problem,” she said. “I will open it and be your waitress.” Sorbara’s brother, Erik, turns dishes that many Slovenians remember from their grandmothers’ kitchens into pristine restaurant food. Ajdovi žganci na kislem mleku z ocvirki—cold-smoked buckwheat porridge with sour milk and cracklings—was one of the most haunting things I’ve tasted. “For many of us who grew up here,” Sorbara explained, “this used to be breakfast.” It was followed by a tartare of a deer that Sorbara’s father had shot, topped with a raw quail egg and wasabi foam. Later, she brought us a fillet of young horse—it tasted remarkably like aged beef—rolled in

Borut Licen, manager of Vinoteka Movia, a wine bar in Ljubljana. Opposite: Burja Estate’s house cat.

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Kabaj, a winery in western Slovenia.

black truffles. We set to work tackling this paleo feast seated at a rough-hewn farm table, surrounded by antique photos and cut flowers, the only customers in one of the city’s most popular eateries. It is difficult not to be impressed by how comfortable and gracious life seems in Ljubljana. I went for a stroll past the cafés facing the river with Miran Mohar, one of the country’s most successful artists, a native of the city who spent years living in other places, including New York. “Life in Ljubljana is like being on a constant vacation,” he told me, gesturing at the scenery. Mohar had been an artist in Yugoslavia, but even under Tito’s authoritarian regime, Ljubljana offered a surprising degree of freedom; he recalled a gay club that opened here in the 1980s and brought plenty of visitors from Italy and Austria. “Of course, after a while you end up knowing everyone,” he said. As if to demonstrate, he waved to an important-looking, leonine man at a sidewalk table who, he said, was a novelist. The key to living happily in Ljubljana, Mohar suggested, was not living there all the time. “When you’re based in a small city,” he said, “it’s good to spend a lot of time traveling.” It was nearly time for dinner, so Garrett and I took a taxi to Cubo, a crowded, brightly lit space on the city’s outskirts that turned out to be an unabashed celebration of Slovenian capitalism. The parking lot was packed with the kinds of cavernous black sedans that often come outfitted with curtains. The interior was adorned with paintings of large-denomination euro notes and vitrines containing taxidermied birds plucking jewelry out of geodes. The garrulous owner, Boštjan Trstenjak, sat with us and guided us through the salient points of his biography: after starting out as a waiter in a Yugoslavian disco and a used-car salesman in East Germany, he founded Cubo in 2003 and began his inexorable climb to the summit of Slovenian fine dining. He was the country’s first chef to publish his own cookbook, he informed us. In 2010, he opened a second Cubo in the city center—where the previous afternoon I had tasted a porcini risotto better than any I’d eaten in Italy—but last year he sold it to some Russians. Like the room, the food at the original Cubo was modern and bright, if not particularly Slovenian, and everyone around us appeared to be having exaggerated amounts of fun. “Isn’t this awesome?” Trstenjak exclaimed, before leaving us with our octopus. We spent our final waking hours in Ljubljana at Vinoteka Movia, a wine bar opened several years ago by Aleš Kristančič to showcase his

bottles in the capital. There we met Eva Klemenčič, a 25-year-old employee who was studying for the Master Sommelier exam. She poured us glass after glass of unfamiliar wine—a lime-scented Pinela, a savory Klarnica—while patiently answering our questions. On the quiet side street outside, the chestnut roasters were rolling their carts away and the last drinkers were heading home, and it was easy to succumb to the illusion that the city had been this way for centuries. We were the last customers. “To renewal,” Garrett said. We raised our glasses before Klemenčič wished us safe travels and shuttered the bar behind us.

The details HOTEL S Hotel Cubo A historic property with sleek, modern rooms and a fantastic restaurant of the same name. Ljubljana;; doubles from €150. Majerija After indulging in top-notch cuisine at the property’s restaurant, head underground to one of the 10 subterranean rooms, named after herbs growing in the garden above them. Vipava Valley;; doubles from €96. RESTAUR ANTS & BARS Dvorni Bar A well-loved and centrally located wine bar where patrons often spill out onto the street. Ljubljana; Hiša Franko Legend has it that Hemingway wrote sections of A Farewell to Arms at this estate, whose restaurant is known for its delicious Slovenian wines. Kobarid; hisafranko. com; tasting menus from €70. JB Restaurant Ljubljana’s top fine-dining restaurant, housed in an Art Deco building.; tasting menus from €50. Pri Lojzetu Family-owned for four generations, this restaurant offers a magicshow take on the region’s cuisine. Vipava Valley;; mains €18– €53. Špajza Bistronomic fare

like deer tartare topped with wasabi foam is served here in a rustic interior on one of the city’s most picturesque streets. Ljubljana;; mains €18– €60. Strelec Igor Jagodic cooks flavorful dishes like roasted duck breast with honey, figs and artichokes inside Ljubljana Castle.; tasting menus from €42. Vinoteka Movia Operated by Slovenia’s best-known winemaker, this bar has a large selection of wines from every corner of the region. Ljubljana; Zvezda A classic pastry shop and café offering delightful views of the Ljubljanica River. Ljubljana; WINERIES Burja Estate Owner Primož Lavrenčič spent years traveling in Burgundy before founding this vineyard, which produces only organic wines, in the Vipava Valley. burjaestate. com. Kabaj The Rebula ages here in beeswax-lined clay amphorae buried in the ground—a technique used by the ancient Romans. Goriška Brda; Movia This estate along the Italian border dates back to the 18th century. Goriška Brda; hisa-movia.

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Havana Social.


After a few challenging years, a flourishing creative class and a spate of openings are putting Thailand’s capital back in the spotlight. By Christopher Kucway. photogr aphed by christopher wise

Night of cups Nightlife is a fundamental part of Bangkok’s fabric— making a bar crawl one of the best ways to get an authentic portrait of the city. Venture to these diverse hot spots for a glimpse at the everevolving scene.


House on Sathorn As the sun sets, the locals head to outdoor watering holes like this terraced bar, set in an 1889 mansion. Sip a gin tea beneath parasols, tropical trees and mirrored skyscrapers. thehouse​

Havana Social Enter this clandestine 1950s-style joint via a dilapidated phone booth. You’ll find fedoras, cigars and a crowd that can pull off both. Order a Cuba Libre and the Latin vibe is complete. havanasocialbkk.

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Sing Sing Theater Come here for live performances and a slice of the past. Lanterns, cheongsamclad dancers and secret passages create a dreamlike ambience—and the drinks are killer.

Rabbit Hole Craft cocktails abound at this upscale bar, where unexpected infusions and smallbatch-distilled spirits are de rigueur. Try the specialty, a perfectly balanced whitetruffle-gin martini.

The Beer Cap If you can't pick from the vast list of brews at this friendly hangout (there's everything from Oregon IPAs to little-known British ciders), ask owner Chris Foo for a rec—or a cheeky sample from the taps.

Sleeping Beauties

New World

Riverside Retreats

The 140-year-old Mandarin Oriental recently reopened its Author’s Wing, with suites that give out onto a tropical garden by the river. mandarin​oriental. com; Author’s Wing suites from Bt38,500.

Take in the skyline views from a balcony at the Shangri-La Hotel. Warm-hued silk accents and carved teak panels give the rooms a sophisticated but relaxed feel.; doubles from Bt5,700.

For some 1920s Shanghai, try the Cabochon Hotel. An elegant façade and plank floors lend it a colonial air, and a café au lait on the terrace is Instagram catnip.; doubles from Bt5,884.

Find urbane luxury at the Metropolitan by COMO, in the buzzy Sathorn neighborhood. Its clean, minimalist interiors are sleek yet airy, and the pool is fantastic. como​; doubles from Bt6,450.

With just 24 rooms, the family-run Ariyasom Villa Boutique Hotel occupies a quiet, intimate 1942 building. Colorful fabrics and simple, chic furnishings liven things up.; studios from Bt5,438.

The Siam interprets classic Orientalism with modern furnishings. Book one of the Mae Nam suites, where dark floors contrast with the bright riverfront. thesiamhotel. com; suites from Bt18,000.

Bespoke Boutiques

old world

design draws

High-end hotels to satisfy tastes both classic and contemporary. Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.

Shopping Secrets

Leather-goods designer Met Hengtrakul , the mastermind behind luxury accessories store Mettique (, shares his favorite destinations. Studio 21 Jewelry “Pieces from Thai designers that use elements from around the world—antique coins, precious stones—in one-of-a-kind cuff links and jewelry.” // Art Resources “This shop is filled with understated home goods with unique touches, like mosaics of bronze and stingray skins.” 142/20 Soi Sueksa Witthaya; 66-2/235-4846. // P. Tendercool “I adore this design studio—they build reclaimed-wood furniture using traditional techniques.”

H Gallery.

State of the art

Most of Bangkok’s museums are one-note and, frankly, uninspiring. For a more compelling look at the city’s creative scene, gallery-hopping is the way to go. 100 Tonson Gallery ( showcases emerging artists alongside boldfaced names like Erwin Wurm and Damien Hirst in a beautifully bare-bones space. Across town, American expat H. Ernest Lee focuses on regional artists at H Gallery (hgallery​, with an array of contemporary works that reveal a seldom-seen avant-garde side of Asia. Kathmandu Photo Gallery (​/kathmandu-photo.silogallery) occupies a narrow shophouse where owner and photographer Manit Sriwanichpoom is unafraid to confront taboo subjects, including the state of Thai society and politics. His work is at once critical and irreverent—and not to be missed.

Beyond Pad Thai After 12 years away from Thailand, Kiwi Michael Poutawa has returned as executive chef at The Peninsula. Fluent in Thai, Poutawa knows Bangkok’s best meals are eaten both on crowded sidewalks in the tropical heat and on white linen in airconditioned restaurants that would be the envy of any city. ► Som tAm What to Expect A spicysweet-sour salad of thinly sliced green papaya, chilies, peanuts and dried shrimp that delivers a funky finish. Where to Get It Thiptara (, the Peninsula Hotel’s outdoor restaurant headed up by Thai chef Chamnan Thepchana. It serves some of the best home-style cooking in the city. ► Kor moo yang with nam jim jaew What to Expect Roasted pork neck with a fiery tamarind dipping sauce. Where to Get It The Never Ending Summer ( theneverendingsummer), a former warehouse turned restaurant with an open kitchen on the riverside. ► Pad kra pao What to Expect Minced chicken or pork sautéed with holy basil and chilies and served over rice. Where to Get It A number of street carts around the Grand Palace by the river sell the dish—look for the vendors with the longest lines of locals.

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/ place /

Baa Ga Din.


a state of calm

Culinary Crossroads

Thailand has a spa tradition all its own—and the sheer number of options in the city ensures you’ll find a cure for what ails you. First on the list should be a Thai massage at Ruen Nuad (42 Convent Rd.; traditional massage Bt350 per hour). Don’t expect much kneading: instead, your body will be pressed, stretched and manipulated to release tension. Still stressed? Try luk pra kob, an aromatherapy massage that uses hot poultices made with fragrant herbs like lemongrass and eucalyptus. Elemis Spa (; Luk Prakob Thai Herbal Compress, Bt4,260) does a nice one. Or indulge with a round of shiro­dhara at Dii Spa (; Ayurveda Black Marine Package Bt15,600). This ayurvedic technique involves a stream of warm oil poured over your forehead and scalp, which is supposed to balance the body’s energies. Who knows? But it’s definitely soothing.

The menus may be Thai, Japanese or Burmese, but the chefs in Bangkok’s top kitchens hail from every corner of the globe. And in this city, those cultural collisions are leading to gastronomic magic. ► For a mod take on Japanese, head to KomBa-Wa (; mains Bt500–Bt1,700) in the happening Suan Phlu neighborhood. You’ll find ingredients straight from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market served with a Western spin, like the fresh Maine lobster with black-cod-miso gyoza and squid-ink-infused ramen.

► Baa Ga Din (; mains Bt284– Bt880), from American Chandler Schultz and local chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn, offers a Western-influenced interpretation of Thai staples. Try the hoy tod (fried oysters) with egg mousse and garlic purée, plus the wings with fermented-chili sauce and basil mayo.

► Expect Thai-style tapas at Err (; mains Bt100–Bt400), a quirky new spot by the Thai-Australian couple behind the popular Bo.lan. Coconut-smoked Chiang Rai–style curry sausage is a hit, as is the braised pork belly and ribs with pepper and toddy-palm sugar.

► The marriage of Burmese cooking and Bangkok street food is a happy one at Soul Food Mahanakorn (soulfoodmahanakorn; mains Bt200–Bt320). Go for Burmese pork-belly curry with tamarind, the charcoal-grilled tigerprawn satay, and at least one of the daily specials, which can range from fresh-caught fish to flower salads.

Shopping Secrets Furniture designer Purim Kraiya of Studio248 (studio​ leans toward minimalism in his work, and his favorite stores reflect a similar aesthetic. Gentle Rams “This place, hidden in Black Amber Social Club, is a great spot to find handcrafted men’s clothing and accessories.” gentle​ // JJ Green Night Market “I can always find beautiful vintage furniture at this flea market, and the atmosphere is fun and laid-back.” 1 Kamphaeng Phet 3. // Anyroom “This furniture studio is where architecture types love to shop—it’s stocked with simple Thai designs.” anyroom. com.


Getting Around

Both Bangkok’s traffic and its cabbies are notoriously bad. Luckily, there are plenty of other, more picturesque, ways to traverse the town. River-crossing on the SkyTrain.

Train The two-line SkyTrain (; day pass $4) and the MRT (bangkok​metro.; $3) are friendly to beginners and extensive—and they’ve got AC, a crucial amenity in Bangkok summers.

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Boat Water taxis and ferries make river travel a breeze. Start at Sathorn Pier for access to all five Chao Phraya Express Boat lines (chaophraya​, covering 33 piers.

Bike Touring company Co Van Kessel (covan​ arranges three- to five-hour itineraries, plus bikes, that cover parts of the Old Town near the Chao Phraya River unknown even to many natives.

On Foot Get the lay of the land with a tour from Bangkok Walking Adventures (walkin​ Try Chinatown Street Bites, a roving eating adventure guided by a local food expert.

Car If you decide to brave the gridlock, Panniga Dumrongpiwatana (66-86/600-3309) is the one to call. She’s a terrific driver with a deep knowledge of the city and a clean, comfortable car.

b o t t o m : t h a n a p o l m a r at ta n a / g e t t y i m a g e s


Megamall Field Guide In East Asia’s hottest city, the air-conditioned mall functions as more than just a place to shop. The center of the scene is EmQuartier (emquartier.​, a shiny-new, sprawling complex that attracts a cross section of subcultures. Even if you don’t care to browse, the peoplewatching can’t be beat. Here, a who’s who.

get community-minded The hottest hangouts in Bangkok are laid-back, come-as-you-are gathering places with food, drink, arts and entertainment options for every taste.

Genus The Aussie Expat Habitat Jones the Grocer This is the grazing area for out-oftheir-element Aussies who want some home cooking. The go-to order: a flat white and a Jones big breakfast of artisanal sausage, eggs, tomatoes, wild mushrooms and potato Rösti. jonesthegrocer; breakfast Bt100–Bt390.

t h e j a m fa c t o r y: s e k s a n r o jj a n a m e ta k u l

Genus The SchoolKid Habitat Food Court A mix of Western staples (the ubiquitous Starbucks) and quirky Bangkok mainstays (Ka-Nom Fashion Bakery) has made this a popular study spot among local youth. And even without calculus homework, you shouldn’t miss the charcoal-matcha ice cream from Kyo Roll En. Genus The Fashion Plate Habitat Qurator With more than 6,000 square meters of space, Qurator is a house of worship for this class of mall-goer. It brims with a mix of established and up-and-coming Thai design labels like Sanshai and Vickteerut, and often carries limited-edition pieces you won’t find elsewhere. Genus The Chambray-Clad Amateur Anthropologist Habitat D’Ark Bangkok’s scenesters flock to this café to see and be seen while documenting their latte art. Order a pour-over, or stop by at lunchtime for pork belly with a coffee-infused glaze. darkoffee. com; drinks Bt100-Bt140.

The Jam Factory.

The Jam Factory It was beneath a bodhi tree that Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment—and that's how you'll feel planting yourself in this bodhi-canopied, renovated-warehouse complex on the lesser-trod opposite river bank. How does local starchitect Duangrit Bunnag lure his fellow hi-sos across? The Never Ending Summer with its upscale Thai classic food and polished concrete was the first bulwark, but there's also a bookshop, a gallery, an interior design shop and starlit patio bar. Just hop on the quick (and practically free) cross-river ferry from River City for a blissfully unexpected city-outskirt outing.

The Commons Spend a few minutes people-watching at The Commons and you'll see so many bear hugs and air-kisses you may think you're at airport arrivals. Everyone didn't necessarily come together; no, they just ran into their pals, cousins, coworkers because everyone comes here. The tiered, multiuse, lawnroofed green space is Bangkok's of-themoment community center. Claim a table in the central courtyard, disperse to order from different restaurants and bars (Mexican; dim sum; lobster) and have your meals and drinks delivered to the table. That way no one has to miss the conversation... or the live acoustic music.

Shopping Secrets

Designer Moo Piyasombatkul of Moo Eyewear ( runs an empire selling stylish glasses. These are her go-to shops. Sretsis “This line of clothing and accessories created by the Sukhahuta sisters is full of whimsical, dreamy designs—it reflects the sisters’ personalities so well.” // Kloset “I go here to find my favorite vintage-inspired footwear from Croon Shoes—the designs have a touch of glitter and bling, and they’re incredibly comfortable.” // Erb “This is my favorite Bangkok beauty brand. I’m always using their body lotion and a perfume that I personalized at the store’s Bespoke Fleurfume Bar.”

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wish you were here

Shinsuke Matsukawa /  Tsukiji /  japan

By sunrise, Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market is already several hours into its working day. The auctions are complete, the prized seafood in every form imagineable—and some unimagineable—is in the hands of the middlemen, and is being portioned for sale. By 8 a.m., most of the fish has been carved, sliced and divided by knowing hands with the highest quality Japanese blades, then carted off in every direction by restaurateurs and seafood sellers. That’s the way it’s been for 80 years but, come November, the market will move to a new location, making way for a development linked to the 2020 Olympics. So, get to this landmark while you can for the quintessential Japanese breakfast: some of the freshest sushi you’ll ever savor, accompanied by a beer.


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July 2016