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SouThEaST aSia

SEPTEMBER 2013

Bangkok

On second thought, make it two nights

food+drink special 100 places to eat like a local did someone say ramen? taipei take away

The center of the Chinese food universe Singapore S$7.90 ● Hong Kong HK$43 THailand THB175 ● indoneSia idr50,000 MalaySia Myr17 ● VieTnaM Vnd85,000 Macau Mop44 ● pHilippineS pHp240 BurMa MMK35 ● caMBodia KHr22,000 Brunei Bnd7.90 ● laoS laK52,000

70 9 771906 082018


Volume 07 / Issue 09

Contents

September 2013 Features 88

98

Temples of Taste To properly worship at the altar of Taipei’s culinary culture, roby n eck h a r d t enlists insider wisdom. Foodies, get ready for a pilgrimage. pho t ogr a phed by dav id h ager m a n . gu ide page 97 Bone Soup: An Obsession Hungry, hopeful and hopelessly in love, a da m sachs travels to the island of Kyushu to seek out the home of his cherished tonkotsu ramen. pho t ogr a phed by t e tsu ya mi u r a . m a p a n d gu ide page

104.

d a vi d h a g e r m a n

106 Bangkok Haunts A city on the rise and teeming with new sweet spots, the Thai capital is a warren of excitement. Hit the town with sylvia gavin for a full night into day (into night

into day…) photographed by cedric arnold . guide page 115 116 100 Places to Eat Like a Local You know those one-of-a-kind spots that are so beloved and authentic that you can’t imagine them anyplace else? Yeah, we love them too. That’s why we canvassed our network of correspondents, chefs, critics and food experts for their favorite local eats. 126 Return to Provence From Cap d’Antibes to the hills of tiny St.-Jeannet, lu k e ba r r follows in the footsteps of Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher; exploring the original culinary paradise. pho t ogr a phed by k at her in e wolkoff. m a p a n d gu ide page

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Plating ultra-fresh sashimi at Addiction Aquatic Development in Taipei, page 88. t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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Contents

dest i nat ions

14 …

contr ibu tors

Radar

Plus Hot openings in Singapore and Hong Kong; Imperial Chinese cuisine; teas with history in Thailand’s north; far-out restaurants; and more.

32 Lip-Smacking Laos ben keene samples the spicy specialties of the Laotian capital. 36 Salts of the Earth See a whole new side of this not-so-ordinary seasoning with a professional salt sommelier. by merritt gurley

50 To Market, to Market Artisanal food fairs are flourishing across Southeast Asia. 54 Rediscovering Khao Lak The natural wonders on this sandy stretch of western Thailand have adam skolnick addicted. 62 South Korea’s Second City madeline gressel checks out Busan.

Trip Doctor

69 T+L’s Global Guide to Cooking Schools We seek out 23 of the best culinary courses around the world. 74 Tech The top smartphone apps for foodies. 76 Deals A photo journey in Malaysia; a luxe city stay in Bangkok; a romantic escape to Bali; and more.

Point of View

80 The Cookbook Collectors Recipeobsessed authors matt lee and ted lee pay homage to their literary inspiration for a lifetime of travel.

Decoder 136 Phnom Penh A sense of optimism reverberates in Phnom Penh’s once-sleepy streets. You might expect to be charmed by the colonial hotels and lovely galleries, but sylvia gavin writes about the maelstrom of bespoke boutiques, great cafés and beyond-cool bars that make the Cambodian capital one of Southeast Asia’s most surprising destinations. photographed by

Departments 16 18 … i n b o x 2 0

e d i t o r ’s n o t e

On the Cover At Sala Rattanakosin, Bangkok. Photographer: Ausadavut Sarum; assistant: Chaicharn Kowitkittiwan; stylist: Rocha Kit Kitti; hair: Chutimon Moma; make up: Krissada Suriyawattananont; model: Rawiwan Bunprachom. Dress by Pucci; bag by Bulgari; shoes by Chanel

cedric arnold

Last Look

142 Street Eats A look at roadside noshing around the region. photographed by morgan ommer

morgan ommer

Industrial cool at Bar Betta in Hanoi, page 25.

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Editor’s Note

where to find me chrisk@mediatransasia.com @CKucway on Twitter

Over the Mooncake

At the Metropolitan hotel in Bangkok.

our next stops

Australia

Hong Kong Kazakhstan San Francisco

The T+L Code Travel + Leisure editors, writers and photographers are the industry’s most reliable sources. While on assignment, they travel incognito whenever possible and do not take press trips or accept free travel of any kind. 16

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j e n i n n e l e e - S t. j o h n

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his month’s Mid-Autumn Festival in Chinese locales around the region is one of the more beautiful breaks on the Asian calendar, a time for family and friends to gather. Mooncakes are key to the celebration and, with the refined palate of Hong Kong, The Peninsula hotel’s handmade creations are second to none (At this point, I admit I’m taking that on faith as mooncakes are not a personal favorite). This year, when the hotel put its 65,000 or so boxes of mooncakes for sale online, the demand was so great that the site immediately—though very briefly—crashed. If there’s a better example of Asia’s love affair with food, I’ve yet to hear it. That it coincides with our annual food and drink special is simply sheer luck. Each year, ideas for this issue start off like a menu that is just a bit too long. Paring those ideas down is a difficult task. Do we forego an inside look at eating in Penang for a feature about Taipei? Can we hold off on that story about umami-flavored dishes? But enough deliberation—let’s head straight to the starters. You’ve heard of wine sommeliers but how about a salt sommelier? The idea grew into our brief but fascinating look at artisanal salts (“Salts of the Earth,” page 36). Also, the pop-up nature of farmers’ markets around Southeast Asia (“To Market, to Market,” page 50) will whet your appetite for hand-plucked produce and home-churned cheeses. Even on a peace-and-quiet-seeking side trip north of Phuket (“Rediscovering Khao Lak,” page 54), we manage to sneak in a few great Thai meals. Moving on to the main course, Taipei (“Temples of Taste,” page 88) has long been underrated in every respect, particularly when it comes to eating and drinking. As strong as Taiwan’s capital is with regards to food, Thailand’s (“Bangkok Haunts,” page 106) is known for its nightlife, which these days has matured into everything from excellent, stand-alone restaurants to bars that mix stunning cocktails to hot spots that will have your forget what day it is—none of this wee-hour stuff for Bangkok: there’s enough to do to keep you out 48 hours straight. After that, like the online mooncake order form, you can crash.— chr istopher k uc way


Destinations

September 2013 123

126

prov e nc e 62 be ij i n g ta i pe i

88

106 ph n om pe n h

busa n

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manila

destination

page

when to go

what US$5 buys

who to follow

Beijing

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March and April or September and October have milder temperatures and often clearer skies

The city’s favorite breakfast: jian bing, a crispy crêpe filled with lettuce, hoisin sauce, egg and deep-fried crueller

@thebeijinger

Busan

62

April and May or September and October bring milder, less muggy temperatures

A seafood-studded pancake, or panjeon, from Nampodong

@KoreanTravel

Manila

66

December through February is the coolest, driest time of year

Two soft tacos from one of the food trucks at Cucina Andara

@WhenInManila

Taipei

88

July to October is typhoon season—plan accordingly

Three steamed buns stuffed with slow-braised pork from Lan Jia Gua Bao

@TT_Features

Provence

126

The weather is pleasant most of the year, but particularly good from April to October. Aim for the spring or fall to avoid the hordes of tourists

Admission to the Chapelle du Rosaire

@provencetourism

Phnom Penh

136

Avoid the rainy and hot seasons by traveling between the end of October and mid-March

A plate of tapas, such as a yogurt-dressed tempura barracuda with black sesame, at the trendy Doors

@CambodiaTourism

Long Weekend

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Beach

Active

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Food+Drink

Shopping

Arts+Culture


Contributors

Photographer “Bangkok Haunts” and “Decoder: Phnom Penh” (pages 106 and 136).

Madeline Gressel

Writer “South Korea’s Second City” (page 62).

Katherine Wolkoff

bangkok’s biggest changes during your 12 years? Improvements in transport, access to much more international food and a dining scene getting better all the time. one-night plan There’s no one perfect itinerary—and that’s the beauty. You could start with an art opening then a quiet dinner somewhere like Le Lys and end up in Sukhumvit at a concert or club dancing the night away. Or, start your Saturday night post-shopping at Chatuchak at Red Lantern bar, sipping a couple of P’Lor’s mojitos to the sound of indie tunes, drop off your shopping and head out into the night...  bangkok vs. phnom penh I love both cities. Phnom Penh is a lot more low-key and relaxed than its more frantic and dressier neighbor. But it also has a great art scene and cultural calendar, and ever more impressive dining.

differences between korea’s biggest cities There’s nothing like urbane and elegant Seoul. Busan is a bit rougher around the edges, but it has a bumping, youthful feel—sort of like an overgrown university town. It’s warmer than Seoul, both geographically and personally, and has a mountainous, seaside landscape. street cred Busan maintained total independence from the North throughout the Korean War, which has given the city a strong sense of identity and importance. Busanites are tough.  bath house addict Spa Land is my favorite place in Busan. There’s an overwhelming sense of communal peace. They sell this vinegar juice, which is quite a health craze in Korea, that comes in a range of flavors, and is said to aid digestion, boost energy and lower blood pressure. It’s also delicious!

provence, in three tastes Sun, salt and tomatoes. what would you fly back for? A sunset drive around the Cap d’Antibes peninsula on the French Riviera—it’s full of mansions and cliffside ocean views. french food you can’t live without Steak au poivre. I am always craving it. memorable trip moment Delivering pastries to the nuns at the Matisse Chapel. food porn tip Take a bite, then take the picture. Messy is beautiful. where do you hope your next adventure takes you? I dream of slurping pho on the crowded streets of Saigon and shooting the strangler fig trees at the ruins near Siem Reap.

Photographer “Return to Provence” (page 126).

‘I dream of slurping pho on the streets of Saigon and shooting the strangler fig trees at the ruins near Siem Reap.’—k atherine wolkoff

f r o m l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f c e d r ic a r n o l d ; c o u r t e s y o f m a d e l i n e g r e s s e l ; S t e p h e n Hi l g e r

Cedric Arnold


Inbox

Sublime Shores I have seen the best beaches in Southeast Asia, from Penang to Phuket, but I was amazed by your issue on beaches and islands [July 2013]! During my travels, Boracay impressed me the most because of the friendliness of the people. There are plenty of things to do, day and night. With the information overload from T+L SEA, I can’t wait to plan my next holiday there. Jeremy Weng Kee Cheong singapore A view of Discovery Shores Resort. Opposite: A wall of silence surrounds you at the secluded Shangri-La Boracay.

Boracay without Bounds On thiS PhiLiPPine iSLAnD DReAmLAnD, mAy the winD unDeR yOuR wingS BeAR yOu wheRe the Sun SAiLS AnD the mOOn wALkS. By stephanie ZuBiri.

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Q: Insider Cambodia

Cross-Cultural Encounters

@TravLeisureAsia we are going to Phnom Penh. What do you recommend to do there rather than sightseeing? @tonocruz1er

I couldn’t agree more with your article ‘In Praise of Sightskipping’ in the July issue. I once went for a foot massage in Mongkok in Hong Kong, where I ended up in the living room of a Chinese family. Mom was working my feet, dad was having his noodles while glaring at me and the kids were doing their homework, with Chinese TV blasting into the room. It was a different experience that makes a great story—one that I will never forget. Jan De Jong

A: So glad you asked! Phnom Penh’s

cool cachet punches far above its weight class. With new-school, boundary-busting restaurants and bars popping up every week, we suggest eating and drinking your way through. For all the best hidden gems and pointers from locals, please see Decoder: Phnom Penh, page 136. contact info

ba ngkok

tleditor@mediatransasia.com, travelandleisureasia.com, f facebook.com/ TravelLeisureAsia or @TravLeisureAsia.

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Comments may be edited for clarity and space.


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Regular contributors / photographers Cedric Arnold, Jennifer Chen, Robyn Eckhardt, Philipp Engelhorn, David Hagerman, Lauryn Ishak, Naomi Lindt, Jen Lin-Liu, Brent Madison, Adam Skolnick, Darren Soh, Daven Wu

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Radar On Our

The license platelined bar in Zone 9’s Bar Betta, Hanoi.

News. Finds. Opinions. Obsessions.

debut ➔

Get in the Zone Dropping by Hanoi’s new nightlife hub, David Buglar feels he’s parachuted into the post-apocalypse. In a good way. Was there ever a more apt name for an industrial wasteland than Zone 9? In the blink of an eye, this block of derelict buildings, including a defunct pharmaceutical factory, has been gutted and a host of creative businesses, bars and cafés has moved in. This is surreal stuff for long-time Hanoi residents. It wasn’t so long ago that bar choices here were limited to either backpacker spots or street-level bia hoi (Hanoi’s cheap, fresh beer joints). Now the Vietnamese capital is suddenly developing its own enclave of cool. ➔

Photographed by Morgan Ommer

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Radar Clockwise from below: Wall murals dominate Bar Betta; the Brutalist Tadioto; art big and small abounds in Tadioto; dinner at the minimalist District01.

The new Bar Betta (2F Building B, 9 Tran Thanh Tong; 84-4/37349134; drinks for two VND80,000), which fits right at home in Zone 9, has proved an instant hit. Jampacked to the bursting point every Friday and Saturday, it’s a cavernous space that has kept many of the building’s original industrial features, while adding an eclectic mix of distressed furnishings and massive wallwide propaganda murals. Barflies looking to dodge the crowds at Bar Betta can meander across a courtyard to the more laid-back Tadioto (2F Building A, 9 Tran Thanh Tong; 84-4/6680-9124; tadioto.com; drinks for two VND100,000), a favored watering hole of the capital’s creative set. The Zone 9 development seems tailor-made for Tadioto’s owner, Nguyen Qui Duc, who has taken his section of a large Brutalist block and created a space that would fit right in among the bars of East Berlin. Bare concrete floors, dim lighting, handmade furnishings and well-poured drinks make this perfect for both intimate conversations 26

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between friends and pulling up a stool at the bar to make some new ones. And there is plenty more to come, with a colossal space next to the main bar ready to play host to exhibitions and live shows. Above Tadioto is the Nhasan Studio (3F Building A, 9 Tran Thanh Tong; nhasanstudio.org), a new art gallery. And along a crumbling corridor you’ll find District01 (9 Tran Thanh Tong; 84-4/3971-3427; drinks for two VND90,000), a white-washed, minimalist café where Mac-toting, skinny-jean-clad kids seem to have found their natural habitat. Alongside some excellent Vietnamese coffee,

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District01 is serving up very fine fresh juices—try the mango shake. Come Friday night, hundreds upon hundreds of motorcycles cram into Zone 9’s over-packed parking lot—a testament to the thirst of the local youth for this long-awaited hangout, which still resembles a building site as developers continue to stake their claims. Although the Shoreditch-ing of the area comes as something of a surprise, it follows a spate of openings over the last two years: bars like CAMA ATK (73 Mai Hac De; cama-atk.com; drinks for two VND120,000) led the movement with a blend of thoughtful interior design, live music, rotating art displays and palate-pleasing cocktails. It’s palpable that Hanoi is turning a corner with Zone 9, the city’s new epicenter of edge. ✚


Radar shopping

From left: Khe-Yo’s grilled ribs and sticky rice; the cozy interior of Pok Pok Ny.

from hotel to home

Asian Invasion

a hotel r e v ie w er

An undercover inspector reveals the secrets of her stays.

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If a guest complains on TripAdvisor, I’m often sent to investigate. I’ve done 500-​plus incognito overnights...but it’s no vacation!

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I always pack a measuring tape; some companies want me to get nittygritty. Is the radius of light from a lamp exactly right? I’m not kidding.

—sarah bliss

Heart Cone chairs from London’s CitizenM Hotel.

ld

con f essions of

double the size of the no-reservations eatery. Meanwhile, a small noodleslinging spin-off (pokpokpatthai.com; dinner for two US$25) is already a hit. With Laotian cuisine angling for the spotlight (see “Lip-Smacking Laos,” page 32), Tribeca newcomer Khe-Yo (kheyo. com; dinner for two US$60) introduces diners to such specialties as sien-haeng (beef jerky) and laap-pa (fluke and banana flower salad), all upscaled and locally sourced. Guests at Soulayphet Schwader and Marc Forgione’s joint venture can sip Lao Lao whiskey while dunking pinches of sticky rice, satisfied in finally having figured out what Southeast Asians have known all along: we have some seriously good eats. —diana hubbell

so

It’s never been tough to find Thai food in New York City, but scout for true local favorites like som tam on restaurant menus and you may be disappointed. Authenticity hounds can rejoice now, because a branch of Bangkok’s beloved Somtum Der (somtumder.com; dinner for two US$40) just opened, bringing Isaan food to Alphabet City. And you may have heard about an ambitious little joint named Pok Pok Ny (pokpokny. com; dinner for two US$60)? Chef Andy Ricker stormed into town last year with a host of lesser-known Thai staples such as hoi thawt (oyster pancake) and yam makheua yao (grilled eggplant salad) in all of their fiery, unadulterated glory, drawing lines that snaked out the door and down the block—leading to plans to

Whining is part of my job description. I’ll freak out that the room smells like smoke, even if it’s daisy-fresh, just to see how staff react.

I even remove batteries from the remote and grumble about the fritzy TV, then time how long it takes to get it fixed. It’s an exacting art.

f r o m l e f t: © N o a h F e ck s ; © Ev a n S u n g f o r T h e N e w Y o r k Ti m e s ; c o u r t e s y o f d i s c o v e r & d e l iv e r

export

Covet that Zisha tea set by Neri + Hu at The Waterhouse in Shanghai? Fancy the Marcel Wanders knotted chair from Amsterdam’s Conservatorium? London-based e-commerce site Discover & Deliver (discover-deliver.com) makes it possible to bring them home, selling high-design furniture, lighting and accessories found in some of the world’s most stylish properties. Now that’s what we call room service. 


Radar

food

Lip-Smacking Laos

In a flurry of fresh herbs and hot chilies, Ben Keene nibbles his way through the Laotian capital, discovering the flavors of Asia’s lesser-known foodie destination. “Chop, chop, chop. Pound, pound, pound,” chants cooking class instructor Nook as she guides her students through the process of making papaya salad. “In Laos, we cook with hands and eat with fingers.” It’s mid-morning and Nook has just led the small group back from their market visit. Perhaps still a bit full from a breakfast of mango-andsticky-rice pancakes and Lao coffee, they gather round Nook in a small 32

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garden as she walks them through the preparations for mok pla (fish steamed in banana leaves), laap (a salad consisting of minced chicken, pork or other meat), tam mak hoong (green papaya salad), jeow (vegetable dips) and, of course, sticky rice—that quintessential edible utensil. When it comes to Southeast Asian cuisine, it’s usually Thailand and Vietnam that get all the love. In recent years, though, the healthy, fragrant

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and spicy food of Laos has started to gain the attention of hungry travelers— and cooking-focused tour companies that sate them. “Laos is every gourmand’s dream,” says Gustav Auer, hospitality projects coordinator for Friends International, the nonprofit that manages Vientiane’s Makphet restaurant. “A down-to-earth cuisine full of surprising flavors and people who are willing to share their love of food. To me it is fresh, adventurous, organic and wonderfully spicy.” Yes, it’s the spice that gives it life— along with the rich fish sauce and a liberal selection of wild ingredients. “I think on the whole Lao cuisine is hotter than that in the rest of the region,” says Peter O’Sullivan, owner of Naga Tours, which is gearing up for its next Laos culinary tour in 2014 (naga.co.uk; two weeks all-inclusive £2,000). “It’s quite sophisticated with some of the ingredients being harder to identify than classic Thai or Vietnamese dishes. And it’s the use of handfuls of fresh herbs and the condiments—chili and tamarind—that really set it apart.” Take a Naga trip to the countryside to see where ingredients are grown and harvested, join Backyard Travel’s (backyardtravel. com; one person for US$198 or two for US$99 each) newly added cooking class and tour of Vientiane’s night market, or peruse Makphet’s cookbook, From Honeybees to Pepperwood, to get a sense of Laotian cuisine’s enduring ➔

l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f vi l l a M a ly; r i g h t: c o u r t e s y o f f r i e n d s - i n t e r n at i o n a l

From left: Vegetable salad, Laotian spring rolls, pandanas chicken, and herb soup; yum seen nua, or beef salad, at Makphet.


Clockwise from top: Pork laap with mint and chilies; awh larm: Luang Prabang style stew; a bowl of bamboo soup at Makphet.

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reliance on foraging. “Ingredients such as wild herbs, forest mushrooms, spices and chili bring the food to life,” Auer says. In a country with plenty of tantalizing recipes for intrepid eaters, there are a few go-to bites sure to intrigue. Take, for example red ant egg salad, made with fresh coriander, lemongrass, mint, spring onions, chili power—and a generous helping of tart, almost sour, red ants and their eggs. Or there’s lam, a spicy stew seasoned with dill, basil, pepperwood, buffalo skin and chilies. Dedicated to creative interpretations of national delicacies, the menu at Makphet (makphetrestaurant.org; dinner for two LAK182,000) includes mee gah tee, a complex coconut and curried fish soup with rice noodles as well as a savory banana flower salad accented with the bright flavors of bell pepper and green onion and topped with a tangy tamarind and garlic sauce. As for street food, don’t miss the crispy fried spring rolls or the salt-rubbed river fish cooked over a charcoal grill. To get your bearings, perhaps it’s best to go back to Nook. Originally from Luang Prabang, Nook started Lao Experiences (lao-experiences.com; US$55) in 2011 with Morven Smith, an Australian expat who also teaches at the Vientiane International School. Lao Experiences, therefore, is a great

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learning lab for teasing out the subtle differences between the cuisine of the capital and Luang Prabang, 340 kilometers north. The differences usually take the form of variations on a recipe: Nook’s laap recipe, for instance, includes 10 ingredients; those that originate in the south might only have six; and a few are built from as many as a dozen herbs, greens and spices. Together, Nook and Smith hope to contribute to the economy by sourcing native ingredients from the city’s main market and hiring local, while also introducing visitors to Laotian food and culture. During any class, tour or, for that matter, meal in Laos, one ingredient is likely to leave an impression: padek. Salty, pungent and deeper in flavor than the fish sauces of neighboring Thailand or Vietnam, this fermented condiment finds its way into a host of dishes, from soups and salads to laap, curries and even that unusual red ant egg salad. “We use a very small amount of fermented fish in our dishes,” says Manola Sysouphanthavong, co-owner of Lao Kitchen (lao-kitchen.com; dinner for two LAK160,000), a Vientiane restaurant serving traditional fare such as oo-ah (pork sausage), keng naw mai (bamboo shoot stew) and khai pehn (deep fried river weed). “Some people do not like the taste and smell.” Yes, padek is an acquired taste, but one that lends a distinctly Laotian dimension to any recipe. Which is what you were sniffing, chopping, stewing and eating your way through the People’s Democratic Republic to uncover, after all. ✚

c l o ckwi s e f r o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f vi l l a M a ly; c o u r t e s y o f f r i e n d s - i n t e r n at i o n a l ( 2 )

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Salts of the Earth

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Salt sommelier Sommai Wooniem breaks beyond the black and white of this snowy seasoning and into a Technicolor world of flavor. By Merritt Gurley

Salts, and their perfect pairings 1 Cyprus black lava (in a Himalayan Pink salt bowl), salad and soup. 2 Hiwa Kai Hawaiian sea (also in a Himalayan pink salt bowl), seafood and white meat. 3 Sel gris, fish and salads. 4 Tom yum salt, Thai food and grilled seafood. 5 Kala namak, spicy foods and rich soups. 6 Trapani sea, steak. 7 Himalayan pink, duck and fish. 8 Bali-coconut and lime salt, halibut and prawns. 9 Peruvian pink, grilled chicken. 10 Salish smoked, creamy pasta and baked potatoes. 11 Porcini mushroom salt, steak and salmon. 12 Murray River flake, red meat. 13 Hawaiian Red Alawa Sea, prime rib. 14 Bolivian rose salt, grilled seafood or chicken.

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Photographed by Korwit Krajaiphot


We’ve all heard of wine sommeliers, but salt? The average person would be hard-pressed to list more than three varieties—sea? kosher? table? Yet salt is the one seasoning we quite literally can’t live without. The human body cannot produce it naturally, and we need it to maintain a fluid balance required to survive, thus we rely on food for our sodium chloride fix. In fact, so valuable is this mineral that there was a time when salt was twice the price of gold, and used as currency—in fact the word “salary” stems from the Latin “salis” for salt. And while we may not go back being paid in condiments any time soon, salt is making a comeback. Shops like At the Meadow in Portland, Oregon and restaurants like Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in London are investing in high quality artisanal salts, to further enhance the delicate flavors of dishes. Now hotels are catching on and Anantara is adding the job title of salt sommelier to its restaurants worldwide. Perhaps it was the briny ocean air at Anantara Phuket Villas that inspired Sommai Wooniem to dive head-first into a career in salt at the hotel’s fusion restaurant, Sea.Fire.Salt. (phuket.anantara.com; dinner for two Bt3,000). Here, you’ll be gobsmacked by the rainbow of salts on hand. “A simple request to ‘pass the salt’ gets a whole new meaning,” Wooniem says. There are 17 versions of the ingredient (14 pictured here) at Sea.Fire.Salt., each serving a special purpose and boasting different properties from the earth where it was harvested, including the volcanic-baked red clay in the Hawaiian sea salt, or the 87 minerals and trace elements—such as copper, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron—in Himalayan pink salt. In some cases, further flavors are added, as with the red alder wood-smoked Salish salt and the limeand coconut-infused Bali salt. Each is designed to complement a particular composition of flavors. “Choosing the right salt can be the most important component of a dish,” Wooniem says. The porcini mushroom salt, for example, pairs well with grilled T-bone steak. If you’re still picturing a sprinkle of salt on your meal, or pinched into a recipe, get ready for another curveball: At Sea.Fire.Salt., the chef often does the actual cooking on a thick slab of blush-pink salt. “Red snapper infused with lemongrass, ginger and coarse black pepper is baked to perfection on a Himalayan salt brick,” Wooniem explains. “This is the biggest surprise for diners.” And the adventure in alkali doesn’t end with the entrée. For dessert, try the dark chocolate truffles served on a slab of salt, sprinkled with Salish smoked salt, to bring out the earthy flavors of the cocoa. Next in the shaker at Sea.Fire.Salt.? Experiments with Shiso salt: purple in color, powdery in texture, tangy in taste—this salt’s got street cred. Shiso salt has been produced in Japan for thousands of years. That may sound weighty but, you know, just take it with a grain of... ✚


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Radar dining

Star Power

Casual dining at Jamie’s Italian.

c o u r t e s y o f j a m i e ’ s i ta l i a n

Sardine-topped bruschetta.

Prawn linguine.

A megastar since the debut of his show The Naked Chef 15 years ago, Jamie Oliver seems to succeed in just about everything. Now, the British food personality and marketing mogul has opened his first venue in Southeast Asia, joining the likes of Mario Batali, Cat Cora and Wolfgang Puck in the Lion City. Though Singapore already has its fair share of celeb chefs, Oliver hopes his trattoria will stand out with its unfussy, family-friendly style and relatively affordable prices. Like most of his empire, the emphasis here is on rustic cuisine often meant for sharing. Guests can dine on risotto with chunks of Brixham Bay crab or minced black truffle, or on the massive wooden planks of antipasti, sporting everything from San Daniele prosciutto to beetrootcured salmon. There’s a good selection of Italian wines for the parents, and a kids’ menu for the smaller set, making this spot an easy crowd-pleaser. Jamie’s Italian, 1 HarbourFront Walk, VivoCity; 65/6733-5500; jamieoliver. com; dinner for two S$100. –diana hubbell


Radar t r av e l u n i f o r m

anna sui The designer shares her lowmaintenance packing logic. She might have a cult following among fashionistas and an eyecatching new luggage line for Tumi, but style isn’t Anna Sui’s top priority when traveling. “I’m all about comfort,” she admits. That means stretch jeans from Uniqlo and a loose-fitting silk tunic from one of her past collections. New York– based Sui often flies to Japan for work and England to see friends, and fastidiously plans each day’s look in advance, favoring pieces in wrinkle-resistant chiffon or crepe de chine. “There’s nothing worse than bringing the wrong clothes.” —rachel felder

Sui’s Chippewa boots are intentionally a bit big—easier to pull on and off.

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“I pack an extra collapsible bag in my suitcase for souvenirs—like the Tutankhamen head I bought in Egypt.”

Photographed by Danielle Levitt at Sui’s New York City studio

hair and mak eup: carolina dali

“I scour London’s Portobello Market, a favorite shopping stop, for my vintage Bakelite jewelry.”

“Always in my Tumi carry-on: noise-reducing headphones and British rock zines.”


r e s tau r a n t s

Malaysia by the Spoonful Three new Kuala Lumpur restaurants serve up some sizzling local flavors. By Mark Lean

The laid-back Melur & Thyme.

Garam asam fish at Lima Blas.

Local labels at M Café.

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Even those toughest of customers, finicky Straits Chinese matriarchs, give the traditional Nyonya cuisine at Lima Blas (15 Jln. Mesui, off of Jln. Nagasari; 60-3/2110-1289; meal for two RM50), which means ‘15’ in Malay, top marks. Devised and prepared by co-owner John Tan and his celebrity chef wife Florence, the menu includes dishes like pai tee—an assortment of thinly sliced colorful greens stuffed into a deep-fried shell shaped like a top hat, and capped with juicy shrimp; kangkung masak lemak keledek—blanched morning glory and sweet potatoes simmered in coconut milk; and Nyonya curry laksa—a flavorsome curry noodle broth packed with egg, chicken and fish cake slices, a pinch of lime and the restaurant’s secret weapon: its spicy and addictive sambal. Savor it all in the 1950’s Malaccan shop house transported to the big city, courtesy of the vision of Tan and his partner Alan Yun. Expect to find salvaged curios—antique weighing scales, brass standing fans, metal buckets—along with bare brick walls and quirky pop artwork selected by Kuching-based interior designer Lucas Goh. The tonal gray interiors, colonial wicker bar chairs and hand-drawn wall murals might not offer any clear clues about the cuisine at Melur & Thyme (G03H-I GF Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre; 60-3/2181-8001; melurandthyme.com; meal for two RM80), which features a cross-cultural mélange of dishes from Asia, Europe and the Americas. But the flavors speak volumes. Highlights include the restaurant’s melur (“jasmine” in Malay) tapas offerings: clever reworking of classic Malay snacks and delicacies including freshly barbecued duck satay; zesty lemongrass and lime leaf accented quail; and rich salmon chunks stewed in coconut milk. For mains, try the Penang kway teow—wok-fried broad rice noodles with tiger prawns and duck; and the Chinese banquet favorite sang har mein, an elaborate serving of fried king prawns and wonton noodles garnished with a tasty mix of sautéed ginger, diced garlic and a fistful of spring onions. Join the city’s high-society crowd at M Café (47 Jln. Medan Setia 2, Plaza Damansara, Bukit Damansara; 60-3/2095-9088; meal for two RM50), a lively—especially on weekends—Damansara Heights neighborhood joint that shares space with Meesha Sukira, an up-and-coming local fashion label renowned for its zesty and elegant Malaysian batik creations. Equally attractive are the cafe’s most popular dishes including fried salted egg chicken and traditional pan mee pasta, the café’s take on traditional soupy Hakka flat flour noodles sprinkled with crunchy deep-fried anchovies. For a sweet ending, the homemade Hainanese kaya—a tasty paste of caramelized eggs, sugar and coconut milk—is best enjoyed when smeared indulgently on warm buttered toast. ✚

Radar

F r o m T o p : c o u r t e s y O F M e l u r & T h y m e ; c o u r t e s y O F L I MA BLAS ; c o u r t e s y O F M C a f É

Radar


The pool at the Hotel Metropole, in Monte Carlo.

spotlight

Among fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s new side projects? A Monte Carlo pool with serious style cred. Alexandra Marshall reports. “Work is making a living out of being bored,” Karl Lagerfeld once quipped. If that’s the case, he’s been exceedingly bored lately—and focusing his eagle eye on the world of travel. Lagerfeld just unveiled a slick redesign of the pool, patio and Odyssey restaurant at Hotel Metropole (metropole.com), in Monaco, where he had a house for 10 years and maintains a close friendship with Princess Caroline. Surrounded by the lacy garden rooftops of Monte Carlo, the new space is strikingly graphic, with angular ebony-and-ecru furniture, square umbrellas and a backlit black-and-white photo mural depicting models in the mode of Odysseus, togas and all. Though Lagerfeld doesn’t approach designing a space as he does a dress, “in a way, it’s all about fashion,” he says. “I want people to love it and feel at ease.” He’s applying that credo to other undertakings: interiors for Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland and a collaboration with Sofitel’s new So Hotel in Singapore, opening in November. Then there are Lagerfeld’s 12 collections a year for Fendi and Chanel; his namesake brand, Karl Lagerfeld; KL, a new affordable line; and boutique openings in Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin. What else does a 78-year-old do to stay entertained? 

On the Road with Lagerfeld Must-brings “Stationery, pencils, watercolors, books, iPods and iPads. I have to transform a hotel room into a personal, creative space.” Top Hotels “The Four Seasons Hotel Milano (fourseasons.com) and New York’s Mercer (mercerhotel.com) are my favorite places to stay. In Rome, I love the Hotel Hassler (hotelhassler​ roma.com).” Constant Companion “My cat, Choupette. She couldn’t go to Singapore with me, and it was the worst. Thankfully, I follow her on Twitter at @ChoupettesDiary.” Best Trip “St. Tropez. I rent a villa at La Reserve Ramatuelle (lareserve-ramatuelle. com) all year round, even if I don’t go as often as I’d like.”

F ROM TOP : c o u r t e s y o f t h e h o t e l m e t r o p o l e ; © S b u k l e y / d r e a m s t i m e . c o m ; C OURTESY O F DES I GN HOTELS

Karl’s in Charge


Radar drink

N I C OLA C H I LTON

Legionary Teas How do you take your tea: with milk, sugar, or serious backstory? After half a century fighting against Communists in both Yunnan and Chiang Rai, and the Burmese government in Shan State in between, the battle-hardened remnants of two regiments of Kuomintang (KMT) forces and the families they toted along through three countries settled into a new challenge: growing tea. They conquered that terrain with a high-grade, highly respected High Mountain Oolong that, blended with roasted jasmine rice, makes up the brand-new Four Seasons Autumn Tea—one of four exclusive teas Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai (fourseasons.com; pot of tea plus one dessert Bt325, or 200 grams of

packaged teas Bt300) is launching this month. Blended by 101 Tea Plantation, which is run by two daughters of KMT soldiers, the selection is rounded out by Spring (pure white tea, jasmine and golden osmanthus flower), Summer (green tea and lotus flower) and Winter (Pu’er fermented black tea and Chulalongkorn rose). The last one symbolizes the Thai royal family’s enduring affection for the verdant north of its former capitals and for tiny Mae Salong—a gorgeous hilly hamlet filled with windy streets and the Mandarin-speaking descendants of those peripatetic warriors whose legacy flows from the 93rd Division to the Golden Triangle to a five-star tea service.—jeninne lee - st. john

Four Seasons’s exclusive new teas. Below: Plantations of Mae Salong.


Radar

From left: Ponies for the little ones at the Bangkok Farmers’ Market; gourmet cheese at PasarBella; stopping for a mid-market nosh at Cucina Andare.

n ot i c e d

To Market, to Market

Farmers’ markets in Southeast Asia? No, we don’t mean the traditional local wet markets. Artisanal weekend food fairs are blossoming in the region with everything from hand-stitched crafts to homemade honey.

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With live music, cooking demos and classes on everything from gardening to mozzarella making, organizers have put some serious effort into making the monthly market a true community event and family affair. While mom and dad learn about the latest health trends, kids can play with Shetland ponies. K Village, Sukhumvit Soi 26, Bangkok; 66-88/507-8694; bkkfm.com; last Saturday and Sunday of each month, 8 a.m to 4 p.m. One to watch: Spring Epicurean Market last month held its inaugural event, with more of a breakfast bent, on a shady patch of green, green grass perfect for morning coffee sipping. Monthly markets are planned. Spring and Summer Restaurant, Sukhumvit Soi 49, Soi Phromsi, Bangkok.—lor en br aunohler

philippines In Manila where franchises are king, a real foodie can have a tough time finding interesting and honest eats. But a flourishing market is giving epicureans a chance to shine.

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Vendors at the Salcedo Saturday Market submit to a rigorous approval

process, resulting in a well-curated mix of about 150 producers showcasing homemade artisanal goods and diverse pret-a-manger. More of an occasion for the stylish set to stroll and graze rather than a simple grab-and-go, the market draws an upscale audience with an educated palate, big sunnies and Saturday-chic style. While many vendors are high-society elite living out their culinary passion projects, or celeb chefs testing out new dishes, it’s also a stepping stone for foodie start-ups to bud before they bloom. Buy locally made Greek-style yogurt from Rizal Dairy Farms. Try out the flavorful milky mushroom from boutique grower Ministry of Mushrooms. Grab some fresh microgreens to garnish your culinary creations from Down to Earth. From fresh fish to homemade sausages, the market has everything you need to turn out a great meal. Or purchase some gorgeous cooked food to enjoy on the spot or re-plate at home. Our

f r o m l e f t: © J o h n B o y e r ; © K ONG C HONG YE W ; © S o n n y TH a k u r

thailand It may seem petulant to crave “farmfresh” food in Bangkok, but those looking for a break from the culinarily monocultural have embraced a wealth of small-scale local producers creating international gastronomic delights from scratch. Though many hawk their wares online, the monthly Bangkok Farmers’ Market offers the chance to check them all out in one go. Organic local produce is abundant, of course, but the 60-plus vendors also offer homemade pickles, tahinis and nut butters, cheeses, dips, beauty products, northern Thai coffee, sustainable seafood and much more. Not to be missed are the artisan breads by bakers like Urban Pantry, Bangkok Bread Boys and Maison Jean Philippe, as well mouth-watering charcuterie by Sloane’s Sausages. There are plenty of samples to nibble on, but we recommend committing to heartier fare and whipping out your wallet for an array of offerings from porchetta to rösti to Vietnamese salads and Thai sweets from local restaurants.


C l o ckwi s e f r o m l e f t: © A l b e r t o b u zz o l a ( 2 ) ; © K ONG C HONG YE W ; © S o n n y TH a k u r

Clockwise from left: Fruit abounds at Simple Market; Taiwanese handicrafts, also at Simple Market; Fresh macarons at PasarBella; grab a hot shawarma at Cucina Andare.

favorites? Thai Style Roasted Suckling Pig by Azuthai, and savory French galettes by Gigi la Crepe. Jaime Velazquez Park, Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati; Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. On trend: Get bitten by the foodtruck bug at Cucina Andare, the new weekend-evening market that offers cheap and cheerful fast food like shawarma or Philly cheesesteaks. This popular new kid provides the perfect forum for talented young culinarians. Glorietta 3 Park in front of Makati Shangrila and Landmark, Ayala Center, Makati; open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. —stephanie zubiri taiwan Though a stone’s throw from the hub of Taipei 101, the picturesque plot of 44 South Village and its neatly crumbling houses framed by grassy slopes feel worlds away. Taipei’s first housing estate for military families, the rehabilitated space is now the capital’s favorite foodie secret.

Enter the colorfully painted wooden doors and make your way to the square hosting Simple Market, where on Sundays a rotating roster of independent farmers, designers and crafters come together to showcase their wares. Coffee from Alishan, leafy greens and homemade soya bean curd are on offer on one side of the market, while the other half is taken over by imaginative crafts. During the week, come here for groceries at Good Cho’s, a gourmetfocused lifestyle store that merges a café, ice cream stall and gallery, all highlighting local design and organic produce. Fans make the trek for the best bagels in town, then cool off with the local fruit and tea ice creams from Midori. 54 Songqin St., Xinyi District, Taipei; Simple Market takes place on Sundays, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.—lim sio hui singapore Putting an upscale spin on the traditional farmers’ market, PasarBella is Singapore’s airconditioned answer to London’s

Borough Market. It’s tucked in a cavernous refurbished space with natty touches like metal birdcages suspended from lofty ceilings, walls fashioned from painted wooden planks and a mellow down-tempo soundtrack. Here, within The Grandstand in Bukit Timah, more than 30 merchants peddle everything from organic Thai produce to artisanal Sri Lankan teas and Singaporean microbrews, though the food focus is decidedly European. PasarBella is best on weekends, when there’s live jazz, extended hours and expanded menus. At Bella Bakery, seasonal tarts, quiches and cakes are complemented by sandwiches stuffed with roast pork belly or jamón serrano sliced on the spot. Massive 25-kilogram pans of Spanish paella loaded with mussels and jumbo tiger prawns draw crowds to Le Patio. Finally, drink up at The Great Beer Experiment—the rare Singapore craft beer shop where staff provide fluent tasting notes and recommendations. 200 Turf Club Rd.; 65/6887-0077; pasarbella.com; 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily—brian spencer

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Radar

Edge Lounge and Restaurant, Maldives.

t+l p i c ks

Eating Outside the Box

under the sea

in a plane

walking on water

in a video game

Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora, Singapore It’s not every day that you get up close and personal with a spotted eagle ray, nor feast on sustenance inspired by Iron Chef Cat Cora. But at this underwater restaurant, you can do both. Marvel at the marine life around you while you try dishes from the deep. Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway; 65/65776688; rwsentosa.com; five-course meal for two S$316.

DC Restaurant, China Now boarding: diners willing to ditch their airplane food bias for steaming bowls of hot pot. From the captains’ chairs to stewardess wait staff, this A380-themed eatery approximates the first-class dining experience of the world’s largest passenger airliner. Unit 1, 6F 5 Longhu Xingyuehui, 258 Beibin Yi Lu, Jiangbei Dist., Chongqing; 86-23/6753-6117; meal for two RMB278.

Edge, Maldives Cast off for a fine dining adventure 500 meters offshore. Relish grilled reef lobster with lemon butter and parsley fleur de sel while taking in a 360-view of the Indian Ocean. Not ready to sail home after dinner? Plunge below the surface to Subsix, the first underwater dance club on Earth. Niyama by Per Aquum, Dhaalu Atoll; 960/676-2828; niyama.peraquum.com; meal for two US$250.

Hajime Robot Restaurant, Thailand Why bother with human interaction when you can manipulate machines? Using a tableside computer, tap in your selection for your all-you-can-eat hot pot or barbecue meal, and one of the samurai-attired robots will deliver—taking breaks only for dance routines. 59/27, 3F Monopoly Park Rama 3, Bangkok; 66-2/683-1670; barbecue buffet for two Bt998. ✚

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courtesy of edge lounge

In a region with a surprising number of offbeat options, Loren Braunohler digs into Asia’s most exotic—and in one case electronic—dining destinations. Not a run-of-the-mill repas in sight.


Radar Solitude on the beach at Khao Lak, left. Sai Rung Waterfall.

g e taway

Rediscovering Khao Lak The natural wonders on this sandy stretch of western Thailand have Adam Skolnick addicted. As I round the bend to Khao Lak, an hour north of Phuket, I behold a vast horseshoe bay with golden sand and resort rooftops peeking above the swaying coconut palms. The place is all the more beautiful because it’s a study in tragedy and triumph: Khao Lak was hit hard during the 2004 tsunami. Today, visitors can contemplate the devastating force of nature at Hat Bang Niang, where Police Boat 813, an old navy patrol, remains stranded in an open field nearly a kilometer from the shore, and at the Tsunami Memorial Park in nearby village Baan Nam Kem. Another memorial of sorts: all the resorts that have risen from the ashes of those that were open and 54

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under construction nine years back. There’s luxe here, yet the beaches are quiet, and there’s a mellow village feel that’s addictive. The Similan Islands Marine National Park

(November to May; dnp. go.th; admission Bt400), remains Khao Lak’s chief attraction thanks to its swirling jade waters and nine smooth granite islands topped with rain forest, edged with bleach-white beaches and fringed with coral reefs. The archipelago is extremely popular for snorkeling day-trips. New outfit Fantastic (fantastic similan.com; island daytrip Bt3,200) is a campy frolic of a swim tour featuring lunch on the beach—and players from a local cross-dressing cabaret as guides. This trip

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is duplicated exactly nowhere else on earth. Immediately south of Hat Khao Lak: the 125-squarekilometer Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park (dnp. go.th; adults Bt100), a collage of sea cliffs, 1,000-meterhigh hills, beaches, estuaries and mangroves. Wildlife ranges from hornbills, to gibbons, to Asiatic black bears. There’s also a 3-kilometer nature trail here that leads through the jungle to a small sandy cove that, with a little luck, you’ll have all to yourself. Grab lunch at Go Pong (Hwy 4, 66-81/907-7460; dishes Bt30 to Bt100), a superb street stall specializing in aromatic noodle soups. Takieng (26/43 Moo 5, Ban Niang; dishes Bt80 to Bt350) is more of a

dinner spot; try the steamed fish in green curry. Touristy, yes, but authentic Thai food. About 20 kilometers north of Khao Lak proper, Hat Pakarang and Hat Bang Sak (a.k.a. White Sand Beach) offer the absolute best stretches of sand in the area. With thick mangroves, ample rolling pasture and rubber-tree plantations forming a wide buffer between the coast and highway, you’ll really feel like you’re away from it all. Check into The Sarojin (sarojin.com; doubles from Bt6,100), an independently owned, boutique property that focuses on personal service. Or get a room on the long, lazy river at the comfortable JW Marriott (jwmarriottkhaolak.com; doubles from Bt3,200). ✚

Photographed by Philipp Engelhorn


Radar

Ivan Li putting the final touches on a pork dish.

expert

Forbidden Flavors

Soft spoken and unassuming, Ivan Li is a chef who clearly enjoys Chinese food. But instead of being dictated by geography, as much of the nation’s menus are, his love of the cuisine follows a historical path. His great grandfather, you see, cooked in the Forbidden City during the Qing dynasty, though he stayed in the kitchen and left the tasting to eunuchs. With that position came recipes for up to 400 dishes served in the Imperial court. More than a century later, the best, or some might say only, way to enjoy the same menus is to visit one of Li’s restaurants—in Beijing, Tokyo or Melbourne, with a Taipei location opening later this year—or to book a sought-after seat at annual events like 56

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the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong Food and Wine Festival (ritz-carlton.com), where I caught up with him. Where each meal in the Forbidden City involved between 100 and 150 dishes, naturally over time some traditions have been lost. What remains is largely due to word of mouth within the Li household. “Fortunately, the practice of Imperial Cuisine never stopped in my family for four generations,” the chef points out as we pore over his intricate menu. That means dishes as exotic as camel hump—now, as then, a delicacy in China and, in case you were wondering, one with a slightly gamey though not unpleasant aftertaste—as well as simpler sides such as pureed

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Chinese green beans that exude freshness. Imperial Court tradition even meant that any pork served was organic. The menu is so well curated, diners traverse the country without leaving the table. Whether it’s stir-fried lobster, bamboo shoots and black fungus, or handmade noodles in a deer-tail sauce with pickled vegetables, every corner of the kingdom comes into play. It’s that detailed mix of ingredients across China that makes dining at Li’s such a transportive experience. Just don’t ask the welltraveled chef what’s in his suitcase. Family Li Imperial Cuisine, 301, L3 Euro Plaza, 99 Yu Xiang Rd., Beijing; 86-10/8046-1748; beijinglijiacai.cn; dinner for two RMB1,600. ✚

C o u r t e s Y o f Ri t z- c a r lt o n H o n g k o n g

Beijing-based chef Ivan Li is in the business of bringing Imperial Chinese cuisine to, if not the masses, then anyone wanting a taste of the past. By Christopher Kucway


Radar

obsession

Do the Locomotion

From top: China’s bullet trains are a viable option for travel around the country; a train attendant waits for passengers; Beijing South Railway Station is the world’s largest rail station.

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For a modern microcosm of the Middle Kingdom, look no further than the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail line. Old men in Mao jackets and wool caps jostle for position with ginger-bearded hipsters sporting anchor tattoos and families toting wheel-cases. In first-class, businessmen with Bo Xilai haircuts forget their inner voices and scream into Bible-size cell phones, while society types in Chanel look on completely disinterested. Conductors in military garb ply the aisle, along with food attendants flogging stale lunchboxes, bottles of soda and green tea, all of which the ruby-red reclining chair set routinely (and smartly) ignore. Nobody seems to notice that this bullet train is traveling at about 300 kilometers an hour. It will gobble up the 1,300 kilometers-plus of track to Beijing in a shade under five hours (ctrip.com; second-class tickets from RMB553). The US$32-billion-dollar line, built in a staggeringly short two years, is not only a marvel of engineering, but also of efficiency. The 90 trains each day are always on time. China’s high-speed lines are only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to Asia’s clean, fast, efficient and convenient high-speed rail lines. Back in the 1960’s, Japan launched the granddaddy of the Asian networks, the Shinkansen (jrpass.com; unlimited seven-day tickets from ¥28,300), whose

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2,400 kilometers set the standard of super-swift trains, now found in five Asian countries. China’s entry into the HSR club helps put Asia on track to reproduce the vast, interconnected, much-loved European train networks. China’s high-speed rail network is, at 9,300 kilometers, already the world’s largest. But why stop there? Beijing wants to almost double that by 2015. Not bad for a country that didn’t build its first rail track until 1876. Of course, back then the locals were concerned that the steel links would play havoc with the flow of chi, or life energy, which is found in mountains, people and animals—but certainly not the iron horse. Taiwan is a place almost purposebuilt for high-speed rail travel. The 345-kilometer line from Taipei to the southern port of Kaohsiung (thsrc.com. tw; Taipei-Kaohsiung tickets from NT$1,490) has been so successful that airlines scrapped the flight route last year. South Korea, too, has a link between Seoul and Busan (info.korail. com; tickets from W26,500), with other lines now under construction. Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have been mulling high-speed lines for a while now. Even Uzbekistan has a 300-kilometer-long link. As for China, the mainland network will eventually hook up with Hong Kong, making it easier than ever to move comfortably into the fast lane. ✚

f r o m t o p : Mc C l at c h y-T r i b u n e , G e t t y i m a g e s ; L I U J I N V, g e t t y i m a g e s ; X i Z h a n g , D r e a m s t i m e . c o m

China’s high-speed rail lines are so fast, efficient, affordable and comfortable that Cain Nunns is jilting airplanes and reigniting his love affair with the old romance of train travel.


Radar

Life-size characters decorate the store.

c u lt u r e

Beijing’s Back Alleys In and around the Gulou district of China’s development-hungry capital, an enclave of hutongs— alleys formed by walls of traditional courtyard residences— has managed to dodge the wrecking ball. Determined to preserve the charm (and avoid the fate of hutongs in nearby Nanluoguxiang, now overrun with souvenir shops), entrepreneurs have moved deeper into these narrow streets. French-owned Wuhao (wuhaoonline.com) showcases one-off furniture and accessories by emerging talents. At Good Design Institute (good​ studio.net), everyday objects get a twist, such as lampshades made of bed slats. Serk (serk.cc) stocks carbon-fiber bikes—and doubles as a bar serving Belgian beer. For a more local tipple, head to Mai (40 Beiluoguxiang, Dongcheng), known for its craft cocktails.  —chaney kwak

goods

Gaga for Ghibli Hayao Miyazaki has been charming Asian audiences with his intricate, fantastical animations since the release of the visually iconic My Neighbor Totoro in 1988. His production company, Studio Ghibli, is the continent’s closest counterpart to Disney, with an added reliance on free-hand animation and a heavy dose of earthy, whimsical Japanese spiritualism. Certain images from Studio Ghibli films are as memorable as the movies themselves: a cat that becomes a bus, a porcine airplane pilot, a broomstickriding girl and, of course, the ineffably adorable Totoro carrying his umbrella. Part of the great financial success of Studio Ghibli has been in its ability to market the characters as merchandise. For years, stuffed Totoros have been marching tummy-first onto the shelves of toy stores across Asia and the world.

Serk, in Beijing.

Surprisingly, Studio Ghibli has never licensed an official store outside Japan—until now. The first international Studio Ghibli Store opened in Hong Kong on June 21, to lines of enthusiastic Hong Kongers. The 1,300-square-meter, in Tsim Sha Tsui’s Harbour City, sells all the favorite characters in myriad incarnations, plus some exclusive Hong Kong merchandise. The entrance is designed to look like a magical forest, flanked by Totoro watchmen. Step inside and immerse yourself in the world of Studio Ghibli—all available for purchase. Donguri Republic, Shop 19, LCX Level 3, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui; 852/2376-3363; donguri.hk. –madeline gressel

Food + restaurants: the breakdown Tomato foam

Wooden benches

Kobe beef

No-bookings policies

Mixology Cocktails

Cupcakes

Scandinavian cuisine

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Pak Bung In-N-Out Burger

just right

overhyped

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Kale

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Filipino cuisine

Craft Beers

Extreme-aged beef

Paletas (ice pops)

Tomato sauce

Accepting reservations

Chairs with backs

underrated

c l o ckwi s e f r o m l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f s e r k ; courtesy of studio ghibili (2)

continuum


Radar

explore

South Korea’s Second City 1. soak it up The largest department store on Earth has Korea’s sleekest jjimjilbang, the 24-hour Spa Land (Shinsegae Centum City 1F-3F, 1495 Wudong, Haeundae-gu; 82-51/745-2900; shinsegae.com; W12,000 weekdays, W14,000 weekends and holidays). Natural springs feed the hot, cold and salt baths; the outdoor rock pool is toasty, surrounded by winter snow. Don pajamas and take a footbath and then a dry-brick sauna, then cool down with an ice cream. Finish in the soft-leather recliners of the Relaxation Room.

The 24-hour Spa Land.

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2. treat yourself Nampodong Street (open daily except the last Tuesday of every month, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.; 37-1, Nampodong 4-ga, Jung-gu) is lined with food stalls. All the classic Korean snacks are here, like dumplings, sundae (blood sausage), pajeon (seafood pancake), and fried silkworm larvae for the brave. But the sweets are best. Try patbingsu (shaved ice and red bean) and heottok (pronounced “hot do”), a pancake stuffed with nuts and syrup. Around the corner is Korea’s largest fish market, Jagalchi, run by hard-boiled women known as jagalchi ajumas. A wander reveals oysters, blowfish, shark, sea urchin, monkfish, octopus and the slightly offputting penis fish. Buy some and they’ll cook it for you right there.

Busan street food..

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3. find your center Perched on the slope of Mount Geumjeongsan, Beomeosa Temple (open daily 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; free entry) is a magnificent example of traditional Korean architecture. This Buddhist temple of the “nirvana fish” was built by a monk in 678 AD, and destroyed in 1592 during a Japanese invasion. The painstaking reconstruction, erected in 1713, still stands. Explore the brightly painted teal-and-umber complex and then, weather permitting, have a picnic, while bathing your feet in the nearby forest stream.

Beomeosa Temple.

4. splash around Spring and summer transform Busan into Korea’s seaside playground. The two best beaches are Haeundae and Gwangalli. The former is Busan’s answer to Miami Beach; the latter is quieter, broader, lined with charming seafood restaurants and graced with an amazing panorama of the elegant Diamond Bridge. Both stretches boast fresh seafood in cafés and beach bars, and Gwangalli hosts the deservedly popular Busan Fireworks Festival (October 26 to 28, 2013; Millak Heo Center, 1 Millaksubyeon-ro, Suyeong-gu). At the end of Gwangalli sits the Millak Heo Center, a 10-story building devoted to seafood restaurants, where you can try raw octopus.

Haeundae Beach.

5. get cultured The Busan International Film Festival (biff.kr; October 3 to 12) has become Asia’s largest, and arguably most important, film festival. The October festival is oriented towards exposing and rewarding new, talented global filmmakers. In 2012, the festival hosted a total of 304 films from some 75 countries, including a Hong Kong opener, a Bangladeshi closer, Michael Haneke’s Amour, American indie fave Beasts of the Southern Wild, and the muchdiscussed Korean Pieta.

The Busan International Film Main Lobby Festival. xxxxxxxx

C l o ckwi s e F r o m T o p : © j s ’ S f a v o r i t e t h i n g s / g e t t y i m a g e s . c o m ; © C h u n g s u n g - J u n / g e t t y i m a g e s . c o m ; © B r i a n F a r r e l l / g e t t y i m a g e s . c o m ; © S u n g Ji -y o u n g / g e t t y i m a g e s . c o m ; © A l e x a n d e r B e l o k u r o v / g e t t y i m a g e s . c o m ; C o u r t e s y o f s h i n s e g a e c e n t r u m ci t y

South Korea’s largest port is booming and should be on your wish list. Madeline Gressel shares her five favorite things to do in Busan.


Radar m y tow n

Magical Manila

Filipino artist Patricia Eustaquio has plenty of appetite for her beloved hometown. By Jeff Chu

Poolside view of Manila Bay at Sofitel. Artist Patricia Eustaquio.

Stay The Malate area feels more

authentic than some newer neighborhoods. Stay at the Sofitel (Roxas Blvd., Pasay City; 63-2/551-5555; sofitelmanila.com; doubles from P6,550), in the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex.

See+Do For inspiration, I usually go

to the old parts of Manila, near Manila Bay and near Chinatown. I say that’s Manila Manila. I love seeing the old churches; my favorite is the Minor Basilica of San Sebastián (Plaza del Carmen, Quiapo; 63-2/734-8931). The national museum is poorly maintained, but new galleries are opening, including a strip of interesting ones along Pasong Tamo in Makati, such as Silverlens (2F YMC Building 2, 2320 Chino Roces Ave.; 63-2/816-0044; silverlensgalleries.com), which represents me in Manila. In Old Manila, a gallery just opened called 1335 (1335 A. Mabini St., Ermita; 63-2/254-8498; 1335mabini.com) in Casa Tesoro, a colonial building transformed into several floors of gallery space. 66

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Contemporary Filipino art at Silverlens Gallery.

Shop Casa Tesoro has a store on one

Sip and sup at NamNam.

floor where they sell traditional crafts from all over the Philippines, like the hand-carved wooden Ifugao figurines called bulols. I love the old bookstore La Solidaridad (531 Padre Faura St.; 63-2/254-1086), owned by Filipino artist Francisco Sionil Jose. I also always send people to the S.C. Vizcarra (737 Roxas Blvd., Parañaque City; 63-2/8546753; vizcarra1925.com) factory, where they sell nice hand-woven bags made out of lotus leaves and cane.

Eat+Drink For me, Manila is about the water. Go to Manila Bay for sunset cocktails. WhiteMoon Bar (2F Sunset Quay, Manila Ocean Park, Parade Ave.; 63-91/7520-0375; drinks for two P400) is right on the water. Ang Bistro sa Remedios (ljcrestaurants.com.ph/ bistro-remedios; dinner for two P5,600) is very old, with traditional Filipino food like crispy pata (fried pig’s leg).

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NamNam (GF Greenbelt 2, Makati;

63-2/625-0515; dinner for two P1,800) has more modern Filipino dishes—not fusion, just updated traditional. But most of my family doesn’t like Filipino food. They like Spanish food. We eat at Terry’s (GF 1 Lafayette Sq., 132 L.P. Leviste, Makati; 63-2/844-1816; dinner for two P3,000) for really good tapas. ✚

c l o ckwi s e f r o m t o p Ri g h t: © s o n n y t h a k u r ; © m i g u e l n a ci a n c e n o (4)

Cebu-born but Manila-raised Eustaquio’s first solo U.S. exhibition opens September 19 at Tyler Rollins Fine Art (trfineart.com) in New York City. Her works include Strange Fruit, a cast-brass sculpture of atis (custard apple), and a series of paintings called Butcher’s Blossoms—some of the images are details of orchids, while others are meat, and it’s startlingly hard to tell them apart. Her food pieces, she says, “relate to this appetite for objects and consumption of art.”

Books by local authors at La Soledaridad.


your travel dilemmas solved ➔

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Trip Doctor c u li na ry i nstit u t es

t he best a pps for foodies

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Garden-fresh preparations at Hotel de la Paix, in Luang Prabang.

T+L’s Global Guide to

Jago Ga zendam

Cooking Schools

Travelers eager to pack their aprons now have plenty of options, from Luang Prabang to Lima. Whether you want to pick organic herbs in a provincial garden or prep your own livestock, Shane Mitchell and Diana Hubbell dish up the ultimate list of programs. t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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Strategies

Thailand

B a n gkok— A quick and lovely sail across the Chao Phraya river delivers you from the Mandarin Oriental to the beautifully restored house brimming with antiques that’s home to the hotel’s cooking school (mandarinoriental.com/ bangkok; from US$130). And what a course: under the tutelage of chef Narain Kiattiyocharoen, you’ll master 30 dishes over the course of six consecutive, sensory-rich days— though you’re welcome to sign up for just one five-recipe class. Learn to prepare iconic dishes, starting with

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a detailed introduction to the fundamental ingredients and cultural ancestory of Thai cuisine. Taste, smell and touch local herbs from the hotel’s on-site garden before venturing to the kitchen for hands-on experience. You might have the chance to whip up a batch of gai takrai (deep-fried chicken with crispy lemongrass), perhaps the most addictive fingerfood ever, or haw mok thalay, a creamy seafood mousse rich with coconut milk and spice, and studded with tender pieces of shellfish. The lesson is peppered with anecdotes and tips (a brass wok makes the most sensational curries) suitable for both novice cooks and experienced Thai chefs. The class ends, of course,

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in a lavish lunch and a goodie bag with bundles of fragrant spices. → → spend the night This grande dame needs little introduction. It’s as effortlessly classy as ever. chia n g mai — At the colonialstyle 137 Pillars House Hotel (137pillars​house.com; from US$115), chef Jaiphak Na Chiangmai tempers the heat of traditional fiery recipes. Fans of Thai food eager to master tom yum goong (prawn soup with lemongrass) and gaeng kiew wan gai (green curry with chicken) won’t be disappointed. → Don’ t M iss A visit to the local Tanin Market, where students shop for ingredients such as lemongrass and galangal before pulling out the mortar and pestle.

Italy tusca n y—

At the 12th-century Castello di Vicarello (vicarello. it; from US$260; doubles from US$530), hotelier and cookbook author Aurora Baccheschi Berti focuses on the rustic cuisine of Maremma, on Tuscany’s southwest coast. → Top Dish Tortelli with ricotta and spinach, which you’ll prepare using the estate’s own olive oil and produce from the kitchen garden. campa n ia— In Naples, owner and master pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia of the celebrated Pizzeria La Notizia holds weeklong classes through his Pizza Consulting (blog​ pizza​napoletana. com; from US$950). Learn the secrets behind Neapolitan pizza—from proofing doppio-zero-flour dough to firing wood-burning ovens. → Don’ t M iss A visit to one of the regional olive and tomato producers that supply Coccia’s restaurant.

Fixing a traditional Thai dessert of glacéed bananas at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.

w a s i n e e C h a n ta k o r n

Our 23 favorite culinary adventures range from half-day sessions to weeklong courses.


U.S. & Canada

n e w orlea n s — At Langlois Culinary Crossroads (langloisnola.com; from

US$80), Louisiana cookbook author Amy Cyrex-Sins offers a half-day course in a converted grocery store in the Faubourg-Marigny neighborhood. → Top Dishes Chicken gumbo, red beans and rice, and other down-home classics that have made New Orleans one of America’s regional-food capitals. mai n e — Willing Foot (willingfoot.com; from US$1,075) arranges a five-day driving itinerary along Maine’s scenic Route 1, stopping at farms, fisheries and bakeries and finishing with a farmhouse cooking class. → Don’t Miss The lobster rolls at roadside stands. B ritish columbia— On rural Salt Island near Vancouver, Foxglove Farm (foxglove​farm​bc.ca; from US$120; doubles from US$100) holds cooking (and gardening) classes, as well as mushroom-foraging and cheese-making tutorials. → Spend the Night The four guest rooms are housed in rustic log cabins.

England

cots wolds — For an experience straight out of Downton Abbey, look no further than the School of Artisan Food (schoolof​artisanfood.org; from US$60), in Sherwood Forest. Their courses spotlight traditional English cookery—cider making, wild game butchery, fruit preserves and more. → Don’t Miss Food historian Ivan Day’s class on historic pies, which includes elaborate Victorian meat pasties. Two hours south, the Cookery School at Daylesford  (daylesfordorganic.com; US$460; doubles from US$245) has a two-day hunting and foraging program on its 800-hectare estate, along with courses in butchery, pastry and bread making. → Spend the Night Students can stay in one of the five light-filled stone-and-timber manor cottages on the property.

Australia

tasma n ia— Set on a

2-hectare property an hour north of Hobart, the Agrarian Kitchen (theagrarian​kitchen.com; from US$370) is a working farm with an extensive vegetable garden, orchard and berry patch. Students can roll up their sleeves and learn everything from making pasta by hand to Prepping cooking with truffles. gnocchi → Don’t Miss Some at Tasmania’s courses are not for the Agrarian Kitchen. dabbler: owners Rodney and Séverine Dunn are best known for their multiday master classes on farming techniques, from plucking chickens to whole-hog butchery.

India

kerala— Located in the scenic backwaters of the region’s Malabar Coast, Philipkutty’s Farm (philip​kuttysfarm.com; from US$13; doubles from US$235) is where Aniamma Philip and her daughter-in-law Anu Mathew hold classes centered on family recipes for appam bread, vegetable thoran and curries redolent of spices from their garden. → Spend the Night The five villas face the tranquil Vembanad Lake.

Mexico

F ro m to p : pau l in e m a k ; Jago Ga z en da m

Cooking in the garden, at Hotel de la Paix.

Laos

lua n g P raba n g —Tamarind’s (tamarindlaos.com; US$35) students first

head to a buzzing outdoor market to pick up ingredients, then venture out to a gorgeous lakeside pavillion to cook such specialties as lemongrass-stuffed chicken. → Don’ t M iss Cooking over live fires in traditional Lao vessels. Over at Hotel de la Paix (hoteldelapaixxlp.com; US$75), the executive chef of the 3 Nagas, a restaurant run by the hotel’s owners, offers a hands-on introduction to the national cuisine. → spend the night Suites are quiet and comfortable, and there’s an art gallery and in-house spa worth checking out.

m é rida— At Los Dos (los-dos.com; from US$125) in colonial Mérida, David Sterling teaches cocina yucateca, one of Mexico’s great regional cuisines. Daylong workshops start at the Lucas de Gálvez market to look for Mayan staples. After sampling street food, students head back to learn the techniques for achiote-marinated red snapper and pit-roasted venison. → Don’ t M iss Trips to artisanal producers of rum, honey and chicharrónes rinds).

France

B ordeau x— Husband-and-wife team Jean-Pierre and Denise Moullé of Two Bordelais (twobordelais.com; from US$4,000) hold a weeklong course on Bordeaux-style cooking in the 13th-century Château La Louvière and their own farmhouse. A former head chef at Chez Panisse, Jean-Pierre is an expert at preparing ingredients such as agneau de prés sales (lamb raised in salt meadows). → Don’ t M iss Private châteaux wine tastings, a tutorial on local cheeses with an affineur, and a visit to a chocolatier.

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Peru

lima— During an

exclusive daylong course, rising-​star chef Virgilio Martinez (dehouche.com; from US$500) will lead you on a morning tour of the bustling Surquillo market to introduce you to the rare fruits, seeds, grains and seafood he first discovered on foraging trips to the Amazon and the Andes. You’ll return with your ingredients to his renowned Central Restaurant for a private master class. → Don’ t M iss Martinez’s innovative seven-course tasting menu at Central.

A market tour with the Hanoi Cooking Centre, in Vietnam.

marrakesh —The Rhode School of Cuisine at Dar Liqama (rhode​schoolof​ cuisine.​com; from US$2,900) holds a weeklong course on how to prepare everything from harira lentil soup to rosewater ice cream. → Spend the Night  The eight-bedroom villa has a hammam. Among the citrus groves at Faim d’Epices  (faimdepices.com; from US$150), just outside Marrakesh, Paris-born chef Michel Paillet peppers half-day courses with spice workshops and flatbread baking. → Top Dishes Soulful tagines such as beef with pears and candied oranges.

Culinary Institutes

Several top professional cooking schools also have programs for novices. Here, three worth donning a toque for.

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1 | The Culinary Institute of America (ciachef. edu; from US$2,195) at Greystone, in Napa Valley, runs a Flavors of Wine Country “boot camp." The five-day, hands-on course introduces you to northern Californian

China

beiji n g — Lillian Chou, a former editor at Gourmet magazine, leads private day tours and cooking classes through Backstreet Beijing  (bespoke-beijing.com; from US$500); both give travelers a street-level taste of the city. She’ll guide you through Sanyuanli Market to sample regional specialties, such as Tianjin jian bing (rolled bean crêpes) and candied hawthorns. Classes end with a family-style meal of pickles, steamed buns, dumplings and braised goose. → Don’ t M iss A trip to an organic farm near Beijing to cook tofu in a wok over a wood fire.

cuisine, paired with wines from the world-class vineyards that surround the campus. 2 | The International Culinary Center (international culinary​​center.com; from US$195), in Manhattan, has a

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star-studded faculty (André Soltner; Jacques Pépin; Jacques Torres), who have created short courses for home cooks on knife skills, tapas, pâtés—even on baking the perfect New York bagel. We love the Art of

Vietnam

ha n oi — Chef and cookbook author Tracey Lister and partner Linh Dinh Phung helm the Hanoi Cooking Centre  (hanoicooking​​centre.com; from US$55), near the city’s Old Quarter. They offer hands-on, half-day lessons on dishes of the northern highlands (such as bun oc, noodle soup with escargot), but their true expertise is the humble fare of Hanoi’s street-​food stalls. → Don’t Miss Walking tours that include stops for pho; Frenchcolonial-influenced pastries; and ca phe sua da, iced coffee with condensed milk. ✚

Japanese Cuisine program, led by chef and cookbook author Hiroko Shimbo. 3 | Le Cordon Bleu (cordonbleu. edu; half-day classes from US$60) spreads the classical French gospel globally.

One- to four-day courses and workshops are available for amateur chefs at most of its 40 campuses, from Tokyo to Lima; in Paris, a popular demo on boeuf bourguignonne honors famous graduate Julia Child.

c o u r t e s y o f t h e h a n o i c o o ki n g c e n t r e

Morocco


Tech

by Tom Samiljan and Merritt Gurley

The Best Apps for Foodies

We’ve road-tested the latest crop of digital tools to help you find exactly what you’re looking for, so you can breeze through culinary adventures far and wide.

For a little less mystery

Meal Snap

For the perfect order

Ever thought you knew what you ordered only to end up with a plate full of question marks? This app lets you photograph the meal you were served and then tells you what on earth it is. Even if you manage to stump Meal Snap on the name of the dish, it will still call out the ingredients it recognizes. As an added bonus, it will tell you the estimated number of calories in the food, for those of you who keep track of that sort of thing. US$2.99; mealsnap.com; IOS.

For getting what you want

Zomato

Currently available in India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka (and fast expanding), Zomato helps you find the food and ambiance you’re in the mood for, with filters for their large index of restaurants like “pure veg,” “outdoor seating” and “credit cards accepted.” There are also user reviews for each listing, to further inform your dining decision. Free; zomato.com; Android, BlackBerry and iOS.

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Burpple

For the best local brews

Untappd

This app is equal parts food journal and dining mentor. Photograph and rate your favorite meals to keep track of the all-stars. When you brave a new restaurant that other Burpple users have already pioneered, you can browse the app for dishes with the highest marks, so you’re armed for your order. With this cheat-sheet of ratings and photos, you’ll be the one with the entrée that everyone else envies. Free; burpple.com; iOS.

Like a Yelp for beer-lovers, Untappd helps locate the best bars around you—and pinpoints their top microbrews. A notepad function keeps track of beers you like and ones you’d like to try next. You can also share your finds on Facebook. Free; untappd.com; Android, BlackBerry and iOS.

For knowing what’s near

AroundMe

Don’t want to wander? AroundMe uses the GPS on your smartphone to show you destinations in close proximity to your location, from coffee shops, bars and restaurants to pharmacies and banks. On Android, Google Maps will navigate a path to your desired locale—perfect for the directionally challenged. Free; aroundmeapp.com; Android and iOS.

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One to Watch

Evernote Food Digital note-taking pioneer Evernote’s culinary spin-off might be the best new documenting and sharing tool for foodies. Built-in templates let you record your meal (with everything from maps to photographs) on the fly. When you’re done, your notes instantly upload to your account and become digital mementos of your gastronomic pilgrimages. Free; evernote.com; Android and iOS.

Illustrated by Joanna Neborsky


Deals

T+L Reader Exclusives

Indonesia

US$140 per night

At U Paasha Seminyak Bali.

INDONESIA

Spa

What Early Bird Offer at U Paasha Seminyak Bali (uhotelsresorts.com/ upaashaseminyak). Details A stay in a suite. Highlights Guests have 24-hour use of the room, complimentary bike usage, and breakfast whenever and wherever they choose. Cost US$140 per night, double, must be booked 14 days in advance, through December 15. Savings 20 percent.

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SRI LANKA

What Meet Sri Lanka at Centara Passikudah Resort & Spa Sri Lanka (centarahotelsandresorts. com). Details Two nights in a Superior room. Highlights Return flights from Colombo Ratmalana Airport to a local airport; complimentary breakfast and lunch or dinner; and a 20 percent spa and dining discount. Cost US$718 (US$359 per night), double, through October 31. Savings 37 percent.

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MALAYSIA

What Relax, Rejuvenate, Rediscover at Pangkor Laut (pangkorlautresort.com). Details Three nights in a Garden villa. Highlights A 50-minute spa experience, plus one Chef’s Kitchen Experience, daily breakfast and dinner, use of catamaran for the first hour, and return boat transfers. Cost From RM4,845 (RM1,615 per night), double, through December 31. Savings 20 percent.

THAILAND

What The Siam Staycation at The Siam (thesiamhotel.com). Details A night in a Siam suite. Highlights One 60-minute signature Aroma Journey massage in the Opium Spa for two, plus a specially designed romantic dinner for two, as well as complimentary breakfast and lunch for two. Cost From Bt22,000, double, through October 31. Savings 22 percent.

c o u r t e s y o f u p a a s h a s e m i n ya k b a l i

Island


Deals Romance SINGAPORE

What Ultimate Romance in Singapore at Singapore Marriott (singaporemarriott.com). Details A night in a Premier Deluxe room. Highlights Complimentary bottle of champagne on arrival; four-course al fresco dinner at Pool Grill with premium wine pairings; and a buffet breakfast at Marriott Café. Cost From S$795, double, through December 22. Savings 20 percent.

INDONESIA

What Ultimate Romance at Anantara Bali Uluwatu (bali-uluwatu.anantara.com). Details Two nights in an Ocean View suite. Highlights One 90-minute Balinese massage; one Dining by Design experience; daily seasonal fruits and complimentary daily breakfast either in-suite or at the rooftop restaurant; daily special turndown service;

fresh flower-petal display and honeymoon cake on arrival; return airport transfers; and a special departure gift. Cost From US$990 (US$495 per night), double, through December 31. Savings 25 percent.

City MACAU

What Sensational Summer at The Venetian Macao (venetianmacao.com). Details A stay in a Royale suite. Highlights Complimentary entry for two to the Dinosaurs LIVE exhibition and 3-D movie; a choice of either one-way Cotai Water Jet Cotai Class tickets for two from Macau to Hong Kong or a gondola ride for two at Shoppes Grand Canal; and a choice of either daily breakfast for two at Café Deco or Fogo Samba, or a daily lunch buffet for two at Bambu or The Golden Peacock. Cost From MOP1,798, double, through September 20. Savings Up to 50 percent.

SINGAPORE

What 30 Days Advanced Saver at WANGZ Hotel, Singapore (wangzhotel.com). Details A stay in a Superior room. Highlights Daily continental breakfast for two; a 25 percent dining discount at Nectar restaurant and Halo rooftop lounge; one-way airport transfer; and a complimentary upgrade to the next room category when you tell the front desk “T+L Advanced Saver,” 30-day advance booking. Cost From S$693 (S$231 per night), double, through December 31. Savings 40 percent.

THAILAND

What Stay Longer at the Four Seasons Bangkok (fourseasons.com). Details Three nights in a Deluxe room. Highlights Guests who book three consecutive nights recieve a complimentary third night. Cost From Bt18,900 (Bt6,300 per night), through December 20. Savings 33 percent.

Culture The serene courtyard at Four Seasons Bangkok.

CHINA

What Tastes and Sounds of Beijing from the Peninsula Beijing (peninsula.com). Details Two nights in a Grand Deluxe room. Highlights A complimentary class on dumpling-making with the Peninsula Academy and a guided excursion through a local market. Cost From US$838 (US$419 per night), double, through October 31. Savings 30 percent.

JAPAN

What Taste of Japan from Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo (hotel-chinzanso-tokyo.com). Details Two nights in a Garden View Superior room. Highlight A guided walking tour of Chinzanso: a Meiji-period garden with temples, waterfalls and a thousand-year-old shrine. Cost US$1,000 (US$500 per night). Savings 40 percent.

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courtesy of four se asons bangkok

MALAYSIA

What The Cultural Photography Journey at Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur (mandarinoriental.com). Details Two nights in a Deluxe City View room. Highlights Personal photography excursion with Leica Store Malaysia for two from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; personal chauffeur with a guide; complimentary room upgrade to either a Premium City View room or a Deluxe Park View room; and daily breakfast for two at Mosaic restaurant. Cost From RM1,875 (RM938 per night), double, through June 1, 2014. Savings 25 percent.


Point of View

The Cookbook Collectors

W

hen we were 11 and 13 years old, our parents dressed us in neckties and blazers and marched us to a French restaurant in our hometown, Charleston, South Carolina. We sulked through dinner until dessert arrived: crème caramel. And in that instant of magical custard, its essence of burnt marshmallow skin made silkensmooth (and grown-up-approved), everything changed. We’d never been to France, but we knew this crème caramel was a journey unto itself, to another place. Walking home, we conspired to re-create this trip ourselves. We waited until a day when our parents were out of the house, took down Mom’s dusty, stained Joy of Cooking from the cabinet above the telephone table in the kitchen, and went to work. We followed the instructions to the letter: making the amber-colored caramel on the stovetop; dividing it among the ramekins and swirling till it coated the bottoms; pouring in the custard and baking the cups in a pan half-filled with water. When inverted, the delicate little custards came out ➔

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c l o ckwi s e f r o m t o p l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f m a r vi n g a p u lt o s ; c o u r t e s y o f m aya s m e n d ; c o u r t e s y o f w . w . n o r t o n ; c o u r t e s y o f a r t i s a n b o o k s ; c o u r t e s y o f c h r i s t o p h e r h i r s h e i m e r ; c o u r t e s y o f i s s aya s i a m e s e c l u b

Recipe-obsessed authors Matt Lee and Ted Lee pay homage to their literary inspiration for a lifetime of travel.


Point of View

A cookbook should make you yearn for a destination so much, you want not only to step into the kitchen but also to set off on an adventure perfect—caramel syrup flowing over the browned-on-top pucks—just like the ones we’d tasted in the restaurant. We had been to France and back in a kitchen on East Bay Street, and it was irresistibly delicious. After that first transporting experience, we fell prey to the charms of the cookbook—an obsession, really, that continues to this day. Our shelves 82

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now groan with titles such as Exotic Ethiopian Cooking, Hawaiian and Pacific Foods and Loving Breton Cuisine. Each book is a snapshot of a far-flung voyage we took, providing a direct line to a moment in our travels: scooping up berbere-spiced lentils with spongy injera bread in Addis Ababa, sampling tart pickled mango from a roadside stand on Oahu, tasting beurre aux algues (seaweed butter) for the first time in St.-Malo. Granted, the old tomes rarely give us a precise roadmap to the main dish we’re going to put on the table tonight, simply because the ingredients, the methods and the “cook till done” sketchiness of the instructions don’t fly in today’s kitchens. But loosened from their instructional component, they offer an evocative window into a time and a place. An exceptional cookbook should make you yearn for a destination so much that you want not only to step into the kitchen—and, through the sorcery of heat and ingredients, take a trip—but also to set

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off on that next adventure in search of foreign flavors in their original context. (For a list of cookbooks that will have you dreaming of travels across Asia, see the next page.) These days when we travel, we scour used-book stores and oddball junk-tique shops—look for a large earthenware pickle crock being used as a doorstop—that typically have a forgotten shelf of cookbooks somewhere in the back. Old kitchen volumes have become even more than inspiration or armchair-traveler’s amusement. With their period illustrations, graphic design and photography, these books, to us, are also objets d’art. The best among the newest breed of cookbooks are bound to have the same timelessness as these classics—yes, even in the iPad age, when any recipe is available with the tap of a screen. These modern culinary guides are putting as much emphasis on experiencing the place as on the recipes themselves. Take Israeli-born chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s ➔

n a p at R a v e e w at

Inside Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland.


Point of View Jerusalem, with its pastiche of images welcoming you right into the fabric of the city’s street life: men enjoying a hookah in the afternoon shade; savory glazed ka’ach bilmalch biscuits you could almost pluck off the page. Or Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavor, peppered with images of rice paddies and early-morning market

Pla Yang with all the trimmings from the Issaya Siamese Club Cookbook.

scenes, and Fabrizia Lanza’s Coming Home to Sicily, which brings to mind the beauty of growing up among the grapevines and gardens of Regaleali. A journey for the reader is exactly what we aimed to create when we went to research our newest cookbook, The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen. Here was a place we thought we knew well. But as we immersed ourselves more deeply than we ever had before in our collection of Lowcountry cookbooks of the 19th and 20th centuries, we ended up doing a bit of time travel in our own hometown. There were ingredients we’d never encountered before: roasted tanya, anyone? Our reappraisal of these old volumes yielded recipes that had all but disappeared from Charleston’s tables—the English dessert syllabub, for instance, which every pre-1950 Charleston cookbook worth its salt included—and that we thought were worth bringing back. So many of the recipes we created for this book, we realized, could be tied to specific

Loosened from their instructional component, cookbooks offer an evocative window into a time and a place restaurants and residences. That’s why we decided to include a walking tour that would allow travelers an entrée into Charleston. Paging through these regional period pieces, we’re amazed at how readily the rhythms of the food culture, and the argot, become apparent. You can bet that when we do, finally, book our first trip to Israel, Burma or southern Italy, we’ll be traveling with one of these cookbooks tucked in our carry-on. ✚

Top Southeast Asian Cookbooks

Every Grain of Rice Fuchsia Dunlop The first Westerner to attend the Sichuan Culinary Institute, Dunlop long has been considered one of the foremost authorities on Chinese cuisine. After tackling incendiary Sichuan and hearty Hunanese cuisines, as

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well as penning a best-selling memoir, she offers us a simpler, more practical work. While Every Grain of Rice remains rigorously authentic, it focuses more on homecooking than baroque banquet preparations. The recipes are mostly within the range of even a novice cook. The emphasis is on a balanced, flexitarian sort of eating—so a vegetarian rendition of ma po dofu sits comfortably alongside a celebratory braised pork belly. Cambodian Cooking Joannès Rivière Cambodian cuisine seldom gets international respect—a fact that Chef Rivière, of Cuisine Wat Damnak in Siem Reap, has been working to change. The restaurant’s rotating tasting menus are seasonal and contemporary, while remaining true to local flavors. In this debut

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cookbook, he introduces readers to the fundamentals, while at the same time aiding a worthy cause: proceeds help provide young Cambodians with the training to become chefs. BURMA: RIVERS OF FLAVOR Naomi Duguid One of the most talked about cookbooks in the last few years, the photos alone are enticing enough to make you want to book a ticket to Rangoon. Glossy pictures of morning markets and travel anecdotes punctuate the recipes for banana flower salad, golden egg curry and coconut sauce noodles. Cradle of Flavor James Oseland This James Beard-awardwinning volume is the result of two decades of research through the markets, street stalls,

restaurants and home kitchens of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. All the work paid off. Eminently readable, meticulously detailed and filled with genuine enthusiasm, this one will have you running to the stove to whip up a cinnamon-scented rendang. The adobo road cookbook Marvin Gapultos When American-born Gapultos decided to get in touch with his Filipino roots, the result was a journey into what was, until recently, an underappreciated cuisine. One blog, an L.A.-based food truck and many trips to the Philippines later, Gapultos gives us 85 recipes dedicated to his family’s homecooking. Classics like pork and pineapple adobo are here, as are modernized riffs, such as a coconut milk risotto. —diana hubbell

K o r wi t K r a j a i p h o t

Issaya Siamese Club Cookbook Recipes by Ian Kittichai, text Joe Cummings Gorgeously photographed, this coffee table-ready tome will sate fans of one of Bangkok’s best Thai fine dining restaurants. All of Kittichai’s signature dishes are here, including fall-off-thebone-tender lamb shank braised in matsaman curry and smoked coconut cheesecake. Though many of the recipes are elaborate, the book is surprisingly accessible for the work of a celebrity chef.


September 2013

In This Issue

c e d r ic a r n o l d

88 Taipei 98 Kyushu 106 Bangkok 116 100 Places To Eat Like A Local 126 Provence Cabaret at Maggie Choo’s in Bangkok, page 106.

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temples of

taste

Taipei 101 towers over the city. Opposite: Noodles doused in pork fat at Yuan Guo.


To properly worship at the altar of Taipei’s culinary culture, ROBYN ECKHARDT enlists insider wisdom. Foodies, get ready for a pilgrimage. PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVID HAGERMAN

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Above: Find iced douhua, silky bean curd with ginger syrup, at the hawker-food haven off Wuchang Road. Below: The touchstone for Taiwan’s famous beef-noodle soup, niurou mian, is at the decades-old, grease-stained Laopai Niurou La Mian Da Wang.


ivy says, #1

Temples Are Where It’s At

at half past 11 on a Friday morning, almost every chair in Taipei’s Shanghai Long Ji Restaurant is occupied. While the mostly middle-aged and elderly customers peruse menus, red-shirted waitresses shuttle small plates of room temperature dishes like drunken pig feet, red-cooked river prawns, and tofu skin “noodles” mixed with blanched mustard greens and edamame from the front display counter to Formica-topped tables, pausing occasionally to bellow orders in the direction of the kitchen. When bowls of cai fan (steamed rice threaded with stems of baby bok choy), platters of stews and stirfries, and tureens of steaming soup begin arriving in the dining room, the clatter of chopsticks against porcelain joins the cacophony of voices bouncing off walls and ceiling. Amid all the joyful, noisy eating, Ivy Chen nearly has to shout to be heard. “This is real beef, not tenderized like many restaurants do. A little chewy, but you can taste the meat,” she says, pointing with her chopsticks at a stir-fry of beef matchsticks, jade scallion leaves and fresh red chilies. Petite, with a conspiratorial smile and eyebrows that shoot up when she’s discussing good things to eat, Tainan native Ivy Chen is a 56-year-old cooking instructor and food writer who doesn’t hesitate to pass judgment. “This rice is no good. It’s too soft!” she snorts as I, wallowing in blissful ignorance, shovel in mouthfuls of the offending cai fan. “Food just cannot be delicious without fat!” she crows, slipping a spoon into a bowl of tender soy-stewed pork ribs and baby yam bathed in glossy mahogany sauce. I’m in Taipei for five days, charged with sussing out the city’s dining scene, and this lunch with Ivy is the first full meal of my trip. It’s not my first visit so I’m not unfamiliar with the territory. But Taipei is a sprawling metropolis, and the capital of a place whose food—regional Chinese and Japanese specialties, native island food and innumerable combinations and permutations of all of the above—defies easy description. Open for business round the clock and home to limitless epicurean offerings, from humble street food to white-tablecloth fare, Taipei inspires a frantic, kid-in-a-candy-story quest to eat it all. Now. So with limited time on the ground, I seek direction. Ivy Chen, a foodie of strong opinions, is just the person to provide it.

Pick any spot at random on a map of Taipei and there’s a good chance you’ll wind up near a temple. In this city of a little more than 2.6 million enthusiastic noshers, lighting a stick of incense in an elaborately embellished hall devoted to Matsu, Guanyin, the Tiger God or any of hundreds of other deities is as central to daily life as breakfast, lunch and dinner. Which explains the symbiotic relationship between worship and victuals. “If you want to find good food, go to a temple area,” Ivy says. “Temples are bustling places, so in Taipei’s early days this is where fresh markets set up.” Markets attracted prepared food sellers, who parked their stalls near the sources of their fresh ingredients. Though these days many of Taipei’s temples are dwarfed by high rises, they continue to anchor pockets of prodigious eats. There’s no better proof of this than Wuchang Road, where a lively city god temple sits just across the street from Café Astoria (a half-century-old coffee shop and bakery where Ivy and I chatted over walnut-studded marshmallows and iced coffee). The street, near Taipei Main Station, is home to scads of restaurants and cafés, and on any day but Mondays—when many markets, restaurants and vendors close—its sidewalks are packed with sellers of produce, teas, boiled sweet potatoes and taro and sweets like mochi and peanut brittle. Several strides west of Café Astoria is a portal to hawker food heaven, an alley of vendors selling fruits, cold jellies and iced douhua (silky bean curd with ginger syrup and various toppings) that dead-ends at another, longer lane lined with purveyors of steaming noodle soups, braised meats and stir-fries. It is deep in this alley that I find my touchstone for niurou mian, Taiwan’s famous beef-noodle soup. Laopai Niurou La Mian Da Wang is a decades-old, grease-stained corner shop fronted by a cauldron big enough to bathe in, and one of the few establishments open to the elements. That means no air-conditioning—and the alley is an inferno during summer months. But I would gladly suffer through a thousand sweat-drenched sittings over a serving of Laopai’s ropey hand-pulled noodles immersed in cinnamon and star anise-touched beef broth bobbing with rafts of tender meat. The only way to better a bowlful is to add every condiment on the table—ginger-and-garlic slurry, Sichuan-style chili flakes in oil and chopped preserved mustard greens—and to accompany it with thick-skinned, boiled dumplings spilling Chinese chives and pork.

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At hot pot hot spot Lao Jiu, champagne accompanies bubbling bowls brimming with suan baicai.

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I would gladly suffer through a thousand sweat-drenched sittings over Laopai’s hand-pulled noodles in beef broth bobbing with rafts of meat


ivy says, #2

Seafood Rules

“Our fish is so good, so fresh. How could you visit Taipei and not eat fish?” Ivy asks as we settle our bill at Astoria. Gastronomically speaking, one of the best things Taipei has going for it is its location on an island. With more than 1,500 kilometers of coastline, Taiwan boasts one of the world’s largest fishing industries; of more salience to the eater is the fact that its food transport and handling standards are top-notch. The quality of the seafood on display at any wet market in the city is matched only by that in Japan. Delicate coral shrimp and clear-eyed, ruddygilled mackerel, rose-mottled squid and chunks of crimson tuna—these constitute visual evidence that the island’s cooks demand the finest. “The simplest preparations are best,” Ivy says. “Try our seafood congee.” One evening, I follow a recommendation to the eastern edge of the Ningxia Night Market, near Dihua district, and locate no-frills congee joint Dong Shi Xian Zhou in the middle of a row of, well, no-frills congee joints. Behind the display of glistening seafood on ice at its entrance, one burly tank-topped man labors over a stove set with individual pans of congee while another works an adjacent griddle, frying oyster omelettes and sauteeing laboriously boned and butterflied shimu yu (milkfish, possibly Taiwan’s favorite piscine species). After ordering one of each—congee, fillet and omelette—I snag one of the five tables on Dong Shi’s cramped ground floor (there’s more seating upstairs) and wait. Twenty minutes I wait, but all is forgiven when my congee—Taiwan’s is loose and soupy, Thai khao tom-style rather than thick Hong Kong jook-style—arrives. I hang my head over the aluminium bowl, extra deep so the rice sinks to its bottom and set in a wooden frame that suspends it above the table’s surface, breathe deep and smell the sea. Batons of bamboo and ginger float in a clear broth with clams, oysters, squid rings, a few thick slices of mushroom and a blush-pink shell-on prawn. The light but intense broth speaks of fish bones simmered slowly and carefully. Served with lime, salt and pepper dip, the beautifully browned, crispy milkfish displays a pool of fat in its middle. The omelette’s plump bivalves might have just been plucked from the ocean but finishing it is beyond my abilities—though I do briefly consider a second congee. The scene at Japanese-run Addiction Aquatic Development (AAD), which opened earlier this year in Taipei’s wholesale market district, couldn’t be more different. With concrete floors, dark timber counters and exposed piping, the cavernous dining and shopping emporium exudes urban cool. When I arrive for a late

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weekday lunch, pandemonium reigns at the standingonly sushi and sashimi bar, whose roped-off entrance is hidden behind a clutch of mostly youngish Taiwanese customers waiting, assigned numbers in hand, to be allowed in. I console myself at the half-empty seafood bar with a gluttonous mixed cold plate: a bed of ice mounded with oysters, tuna and yellowtail sashimi, fresh abalone, prawns, rock lobster halves and two huge crab legs. The sea-salty bivalves take well to a squeeze of lime and a dab of wasabi, but the delicate sweetness of the shellfish demands that I leave all accompaniments aside. ivy says, #3

Night Markets Are Overrated

Though Taipei flies well under the radar of many foodobsessed travelers, its night markets are the stuff of legend. I’ve never understood why. Swayed by the hype, four years ago I passed an evening at Raohe Night Market in the city’s northeast. The atmosphere was jovial, with bright lights, loud music and enthusiastic crowds, but Raohe’s edible offerings left me ruing time and calories wasted. Night-market food is carnival food. Deep-fried, slathered in salad cream, wildly colored and/or served on a stick, it’s more about fun than flavor, something to be easily consumed while your senses are otherwise occupied. “It’s a shame that Taipei puts so much energy into promoting its night markets,” Ivy says. “Sure, go once if you want. But don’t spend your nights there.” And why would you, when the city holds so many other, more delicious nocturnal diversions? “Mommy wants you to drink!” cries Mary Lin as she arrives at our table of 10 with a tray of thimble-sized glasses, then toasts us by draining her own. Welcome to Yuan Guo, which Mary, a former accountant, and her husband Paul Yaung opened 10 years ago. At this cozy restaurant serving home-style Taiwanese dishes in the shadow of Taipei 101, the vibe is familial and the welcome warm, whether you’re a long-standing regular or a new face. “We’ve thought about expanding, but it’s hard to keep the special feeling,” Mary tells me during a break on this jumping Friday evening.

I hang my head over the bowl, breathe deep and smell the sea. The light but intense broth speaks of fish bones simmered slowly and carefully


Sea-salty mixed cold plate at Addiction Aquatic Development.


Clockwise from top left: Pulled-pork gua bao; diners at Yuan Guo; a plate of radish and dofu; eating on the street, Taipei-style.


Wedges of sweet, milky, young bamboo served with mayonnaise precede thin slices of well-marbled pork marinated in wine lees and a plate of lu wei While a boisterous wedding party occupying the communal table at Yuan Guo’s center opens bottle after bottle of champagne and couples in the restaurant’s few booths share hot pot, I work my way through a perfectly timed succession of dishes that arrive far enough apart to allow leisurely alcohol-accompanied-nibbling but close enough together to ensure that I never encounter a cold mouthful. Wedges of sweet, milky, young bamboo served with mayonnaise on the side precede thin slices of wellmarbled pork marinated in wine lees (the sludgy solids at the bottom of the wine barrel) and a plate of lu wei, the classic Taiwanese anise-and-soy-sauce-mixed braise of tofu, pork and offal. Deep-fried and sautéed with cracklings, funky century-old eggs boast a seductive chewiness and taste sweet, salty and intriguingly fishy. Yuan Guo’s stripped-down oyster omelette is filler-free, composed only of barely cooked marble-sized specimens enclosed in a pillow of beaten egg. To finish: a bowl of wheat noodles, memorably dressed with just a spoonful of lu wei juices, a drizzle of lard and the fantastically fiery chili sauce that Paul and Mary make themselves. On another evening, I follow the trendsetters to Lao Jiu, a sleek but low-key restaurant specializing in upscale hot pot, which is enjoying a moment in Taipei. Lao Jui’s version is flavored with suan baicai (pickled cabbage) and served with wine to match. “Our soup has many layers. When you take a sip of champagne it brings out the sweetness of the cabbage,” co-owner Han Chen Kuan, who opened the restaurant two years ago with his cousin, tells me earnestly as he adds to our pot shreds of baicai, which turn grass green after minutes in the boiling soup. Also of-themoment in this city: pairing wine with food. And the young restaurateur hopes that by combining fashion with a passion for quality ingredients—his cabbage is naturally fermented and the pork belly served with hot pot is from female pigs (“Less smell, nicer flavor,” Han says)—will

enable him to recast a dish traditionally reserved for family reunions as an anytime splurge for Taipei’s younger diners. I’ve always eaten hot pot out of obligation; it’s never been something I’d ever go out of my way for. But Han’s suan baicai, made in Taichung where Han’s uncle opened the original Lao Jiu more than a decade ago, lends the soup a lovely brightness that shines through even after the addition of thinly sliced pork, king oyster mushrooms, silky tofu skin and squares of spongy frozen tofu. The lowly pickled vegetable reaches its apogee as a bit player in a brilliant plate of thick, chewy potato-starch noodles fried with pork. If Taipei has a gastronomic downside it’s that you’ll leave, as I have after every visit, regretting all the dishes left uneaten. Concerted street trolling will yield treasures like gua bao (Taiwan’s pulled pork sandwich), noodles in a soup of squid and holy basil and the freshest tofu served with little more than a dab of oyster sauce, and concentrated table hopping will lead to some of the region’s best, most interesting restaurant fare. But privileging one means missing out on another: you just can’t eat it all. Certainly not now. Which is as good an excuse as any to return and try, try again. ✚

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T L Guide Eat Shanghai Long Ji Cai Guan 1 Ln. 101, Yanping Nan Rd.; 886-2/2331-5078; NT$600 for two. Laopai Niurou La Mian Da Wang Ln. 46, Chongqing Nan Rd. Section 1; NT$150 for two. Dong Shi Xian Zhou 66 Ningxia Rd.; 886-2/2555-7593; 4:20 p.m. to 10:20 p.m.; congee NT$300 for two. Addiction Aquatic Development 18 Alley 2, Ln. 410, Minzu Dong Rd., Zhongshan; 886-2/2508-1268; www. addiction.com.tw; NT$2,800 for two (cash only). Yuan Guo 6 Ln. 178, Zhuangjing Lu, Xinyi; 886-2/2723-2111; dinner for two NT$1,100. Lao Jiu 307 Fuxing Bei Rd.; 886-2/2718-1122; hot pot with wine NT$2,000 for two. Lan Jia Gua Bao 3 Alley 8, Lane 316, Roosevelt Rd. Section 3; 886-2/2368-1165; NT$90 for two.

Li Ji Hakka Squid Noodle 289 Ding Zhou Rd. Section 3; NT$200 for two. Long Tan Dou Hua 237 Ding Zhou Rd. Section 3; NT$70 for two. Drink Café Astoria 2F 5 Wuchang Rd. Section 1; 886-2/2381-5589; coffee for two NT$160. Alchemy World-class craft cocktails in a reservations-only speakeasy. 2F 16-1 Xinyi Rd. Section 5; 886-9/5358-5759 (booking required); cocktails for two NT$700. Whinos Wine bar with an excellent and well-priced by-the-glass selection, and wine-friendly nibbles. 7 Ln. 14, Siwei Rd., Da’an; 866-2/27050656; wine tasting for two NT$1,200. Café Bastille Offers more than 100 Belgian beers. 91 Wenzhou Jie; 886-2/3365-2275; drinks for two NT$300.

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Bone Soup: An Obsession

Hungry, hopeful and hopelessly in love, Adam Sachs travels to the Japanese island of Kyushu to seek out the spiritual home of his cherished tonkotsu ramen. 11 98

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Traditional tonkotsu-style ramen at Mengekijo Genei, in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka.

Photographed by

Tetsuya Miura


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am on a plane, crossing an ocean to eat a soup made of pork bones. Mid-flight, I dream of my first encounter. Of the first slurp, revelatory as a first kiss. Of steam rising off the fat-slicked surface, the hot mishmash of chewy noodles and the just-set egg spilling its sunsetty yolk into the porky depths that are touched with the tang of sea and soy and miso and whatever proprietary, body- and mind-altering secrets have been stirred into the mix by the cooks at that pocket-size, second-floor shop in Omotesando that has a line up the stairs and down the block. You don’t forget your first time with tonkotsu ramen. Mine happened a decade ago. Cold, gray Tokyo lunchtime in December. The first, skeptical spoonful. (What’s all the fuss about?) Then the full rush of pure rendered meaty umami-ness. (Where has this been all my life?) It is not a normal smell, the smell of tonkotsu ramen. The odor (no one would call it a fragrance) does not tip gently up the nasal passage. Rather, it sticks like a blow dart in the bridge of your nose. A sour, worrying foulness that speaks of some ancient, ancestral revulsion: this is how you first become aware of the proximity of true Hakatastyle tonkotsu ramen. And it’s precisely this strange funk that—once you’ve overcome the initial, misleading impression and fallen hard for the stuff—you find yourself dreaming about.

Since that first encounter, I’ve slouched over countless bowls of ramen, traditional and otherwise, in Tokyo—and sometimes in New York when the weather turns cool and I miss it. I’ve taken the train to Yokohama to visit the Ramen Museum. But I’ve never made it south to Fukuoka, a seaside city on the island of Kyushu, at the southwestern end of the country, to find the spiritual home of tonkotsu, the style of ramen that first opened my mind and staked its claim there of permanent longing. Memory propels me back. And also the plane. A plane is a must for crossing an ocean in time for dinner.

Adachi Ward 12:45 a.m. Somewhere in the northern outskirts of Tokyo I land in Tokyo late—and hungry. Happily, ramen shops keep insomniac hours, so I use my one-night layover to begin my ramen mission before flying to Kyushu in the morning. Tokyo’s is a culture of everythingness: every regional variety of ramen delivered to the big stage of the capital city, then endlessly remixed and reinvented. You could fill every issue of this magazine for a year trying to describe the shape-shifting universe of Japanese


From far left: “Ramen Genovese” with green pesto at Ramen Unari, a hipster ramen shop in Fukuoka; local girls in Fukuoka’s Daimyo area; outside Yatai Nagahamaya #1, also in Fukuoka; dough being pulled into noodles at Mengekijo Genei.

ramen and you wouldn’t get close to a complete picture. There are, in fact, many magazines devoted solely to ramen—and ramen TV shows, comic books and competitions. Among the legion of ramen bloggers is my guide tonight, a 33-year-old California transplant named Brian MacDuckston. Gangly, personable, head shaved, smile full of braces, Brian supports himself doing educational dance- and sing-alongs for kids; at night he documents his noodle addiction on his site, Ramen Adventures. I ask Brian to paint me a picture of the state of ramen in Tokyo these days. “There’s a place called Papapapapine,” he says. “Its speciality is pineapple ramen. Pineapple in the soup, pineapple in the toppings. What’s goofy is, it works.” Picture painted. Rather than wade into the torrent of the new, I want to get right into the classical Kyushu swing of things, so Brian steers us by multiple subway connections to the moonlit streets of a semi-industrial suburb. This is big-sky country by Tokyo standards. We’re looking for Tanaka Shoten, an out-ofthe-way shop celebrated for its traditional Hakata-style ramen. We smell it before we see it.

Inside, we take our place at the bar and order a round of foam-topped draft beers. When the ramen is set before us, we lean our faces into the piggy shvitz of rising steam before getting to work slurping, splattering and spooning up the milky, mouth-coatingly rich soup. Down the line, every head in the place is bowed in identical communion. Noodle neophytes take note: ramen as it is served in the many thousands of steamy little shops and multiplying chains across Japan has nothing in common with the denatured supermarket noodlebricks and MSG-laced flavor dust. This kind of ramen exists in Japan, of course, in a vast universe of categories. But the undergraduatesustaining, just-add-water stuff has as much to do with real ramen as freeze-dried astronaut food has to do with flying to the moon. Real ramen knocks you back a little and then sets you right on your feet. What we register as the “soup” component is really two things: the stock, which is cooked for many hours, and the tare, a reduced soy- or miso-based flavor-intensifying sauce that is introduced in small quantities just before the boiled noodles are dropped into the bowl. The stock is the soul of ramen; the tare its animating spirit. The stock is the steady thump of the rhythm section; tare, the soaring improvisational riffs of the horns. Tonkotsu refers to pork bones—and it is those long-boiled, marrow-rich, collagen-imparting pig parts that give the Hakata style (named for a neighborhood in Fukuoka) its distinctive stank and opaque creaminess and have spread its fame and influence to every ramen-crazed corner of Japan. Behind the bar, a thick-armed dude with a towel tied round his head agitates a roiling cauldron with a wooden spoon as big as an oar. His t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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There is something festive about ducking into a yatai. It’s like entering a jovial private-party-in-progress damp T-shirt says power of bones. “He’s beating the flavor out of those bones,” Brian says, dreamily.

Mengekijo Genei 12 p.m. Tenjin Area, Fukuoka City Japan’s seventh-largest city has much to recommend it, and little evidence that anybody’s been heeding the call. There are beaches, curving canals, sparkling shopping centers and sweet blocks of hip boutiques and coffee shops. Monocle magazine ranked it 12th in its Global Quality of Life Survey. Rem Koolhaas did a striking housing project here; Michael Graves, a lovely Hyatt.

Despite these charms, the city is not high on the foreign visitor’s circuit. Even Japanese in the north seem to admire the idea of this relaxed southern city more than they actually come here. My friend Shinji Nohara agreed to travel down from Tokyo, mainly because he knew we’d eat well. Tonkotsu is Fukuoka’s most famous culinary export and fans of the form won’t be disappointed by the towering 12-story Ichiran building. Ichiran pioneered a style of ramen consumption that might be called solitary confinement with


Regulars slurp ramen and sip shochu at Yatai Nagahamaya #1.

Mengekijo Genei, which occupies an angular, corrugated-steel structure that looks as if it might house a small architectural firm, fits this definition well. Inside, the seats are arranged like a tiny theater in the round, or a college science lab, each row higher than the one in front so that every diner has a clear view of center stage: the man boiling the noodles and ladling out the soup. Hideki Irie, the charismatic chef-owner, wears a large gem pendant necklace at the neck of his tight black T-shirt and oversize black sunglasses perched on his smoothly shaved head. He has the bearing of a club DJ or a featherweight boxer. Before finding his true calling, he was a private investigator. “I wasn’t enjoying my work,” he says. “So an old friend asked me to take a look at his ramen shop. I saw that for 500 yen people could be happy. So I became an apprentice for five years to learn to make ramen.” Eventually he opened his own shop, but soon realized he could no longer enjoy ramen: the MSG, he felt, was making him sick. “It took me a year to create my own ramen without MSG, a year of studying dashi and making my own soy sauce to get the balance right.” The noodles at Genei are made in-house daily. They’re springy, with a nice bit of chewiness due to an unusually high water content. Irie-san demonstrates his method of getting them just right: “I love you,” he says, smacking a handful of noodles against the counter, gently squeezing and rolling them together, then pulling them apart and shaking them out again. The noodles now are curlier. “No stress,” he says. “I love you.” Smack. “I love you….” Shinji and I order a classic tonkotsu and another girded with shrimp oil. Each is finished with thin seared slices of pork, sliced negi (large Japanese scallion) and a plethora of greens. Irie-san’s tare is the result of his yearlong quest to replace MSG with an umami oomph of his own devising. In addition to the proprietary shoyu, or soy sauce (which he says costs him nearly US$200 a liter), the tare incorporates kombu, bonito, a special sardine called irune, mackerel, dried shrimp, dried scallop and dried abalone. Activated by this blend, the soup is slightly frothy, the flavor massive, deeply, envelopingly meaty, but clean. Despite or perhaps because of its innovations, it’s everything you’d want from an ideal tonkotsu. Everything but the traditional telltale brow-wrinkling stink. Irie simmers his broth for 20 hours using only the bones from the heads of pigs. Pigs’ heads, it turns out, smell sweet.

Kurume Train Station 2 p.m. Kurume, 40 kilometers south of Fukuoka benefits: diners sit alone, separated in their sweaty-slurping-soup-inhaling isolation from one another by red-curtained dividers. Only in Japan could such a setup spawn a successful countrywide chain. Ippudo is another estimable Fukuoka-founded brand, with outposts in Tokyo, Sydney and New York City—which is authentic down to the long lines out the door. The originals are excellent, necessary stops on any tonkotsu pilgrimage. But I want to eat things I can’t find elsewhere.

The Bridgestone tire company was founded in this midsize industrial city on the Chikugo River in the 1930’s. Outside the central train station, between the taxi queue and the parking structure, there is a monument to another of the city’s claims to history. The bronze statue is shaped like a yatai, an old-style street-food cart popular in this region and found nowhere else in Japan. Erected by the local Committee of Ramen Renaissance, the statue marks two signal moments in the development of tonkotsu ramen and the establishment of the region’s preeminence in the evolution of noodle soup. The short but complex story here is that in 1937, a gentleman from Kurume went to Yokohama and found in the stalls of Chinatown a noodle broth made of chicken bones. He had a hunch that pork bones t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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would be even tastier, and opened a yatai called Nankin Senryo, thus establishing the local craze for ramen. A few years later, another yatai owner’s mother left a pot on the fire for too long. The overcooked soup turned creamy, cloudy, thick. Traditional Japanese dashi-based broths are valued for their clarity. Here was something else altogether. But it was good, and from this happy accident the long-cooked Kyushu variant was born. After paying our respects by the train station, Shinji and I board a short local train called the Yellow One-Man Diesel Car. In a sleepy village a few stops away, the original Nankin Senryo still stands. Here, Chieko Miyamoto, the daughter-in-law of the originator of the tonkotsu style, makes soup every day with her sons. Despite the global export of ramen, despite the vogue for new styles, the family hasn’t changed the recipe in 75 years. On the train ride home, Shinji and I read through a whole issue of Ramen Walker magazine. I am pretty sure none of this is a soupinduced dream. It all really happened.

Yatai Nagahamaya #1 1 a.m. Nagahama District, Fukuoka City Shinji and I are joined by some friends of friends, reporters at the local paper whom we got to know over a pre-ramen yakitori feast and several rounds of beer and sake. The reporters guide us to Nagahama, a neighborhood known for its distinct but hard-to-define style of ramen. Ganso Nagahamaya, a famous local shop, doesn’t look like a restaurant; it looks like the loading bay of a factory. And it runs like an industrial operation for getting noodles and soup into mouths as efficiently as possible. Buy a ticket from the machine, and by the time you find a seat at one of the communal tables in the brightly lit space half open to the night air, the bowl is already in front of you. Nagahama style is lighter, the broth a little sour and salty, the noodles very thin and hard, the meat boiled and slight. It is not an immediately alluring bowl, but there is something about it that makes you want more. One of the reporters claims to be on a diet. He finishes his bowl in two minutes. The other, a confirmed Ganso-phile, explains, “There is nothing special about this place but I find myself thinking about it always. Not because it’s so tasty but because I am addicted. It can’t be explained. Like love.” The addicted reporter estimates he’s been here 200 times, and he can’t stop coming back. We pat him on the back and tell him it’s okay—we understand.

Japan

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T L Guide Getting There Japan Airlines (JAL) offers daily flights to Fukuoka from both Tokyo Narita and Haneda airports with a flight time of two hours. A more leisurely option is the five-hour ride on Japan Railways’ high-speed Nozomi train.

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From Ganso, we walk to a nearby street lined with yatai. Yatai are miniature mobile restaurants. In the evenings they’re unpacked for dinner business at the side of a canal or on certain blocks where they’re licensed to operate in little clusters. The after-hours drinking and snacking period of latest night (or, the wee hours of the morning) is the busiest; before sunrise, the yatai will be folded up and rolled out of sight. Each is no bigger than the kind of cart that would sell sunglasses in an American mall, but unfurled, they’re somehow big enough to sit six or eight tightly around a little bar. They bring to mind the VW vans converted into mini disco bars that punctuate the Bangkok evenings. Japan doesn’t have a culture of street food, so there is something festive and liberating about ducking into a yatai. It’s like entering a compact, self-contained jovial private-party-in-progress. At Yatai Nagahamaya #1 we order a lot of shochu on the rocks, some oden (braised vegetables and gooey-textured fish-cake things bathing in broth) and a final bowl of rustic ramen. The dieting reporter finishes his without incident. Ramen as a form is like the yatai: a space where the Japanese can go off script, cut loose, relax. The allure is that it’s different at every place. We had our fill of textbook tonkotsu as well as tweaked modern varieties (such as green-pesto “Ramen Genovese” at the excellent little hipster shop Ramen Unari). At Shifuku 429, we meet Sakimukai Yoshinobu, a hardworking dude whose riff is chicken tonkotsu: intensely yellow, luxuriously fatty stuff that may be the best chicken noodle soup in the world. Here is something new and old, another thing to dream about. Shinji and I have been eating ramen for days. Every night, full of noodles, I think: no more. Then morning comes, lunchtime looms, and I relent: let’s go for a bowl. ✚

eat Ganso Nagahamaya 2-5-19 Nagahama, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka; 81-92/781-0723. Ichiran Nakasu 5-3-2 Nakasu, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka; 81-92/262-0433. Mengekijo Genei 2-16-3 Yakuin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka; 81-92/732-6100. Nankin Senryo 702-2 Nonakamachi, Kurume; 81-94/237-7279. Papapapapine 3-12-1 Nishi-Ogikubo, Suginami-ku, Tokyo; papapapapine.com.

Ramen Unari 6-23 Nakasu, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka; 81-92/ 281-8278. Shifuku 429 2-3-1 Enokida, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka; 81-92/4740-0900. Tanaka Shoten 2-14-6 Hitotsuya, Adachi-ku, Tokyo; tanaka-shoten.net. Yatai Nagahamaya #1 1-10 Minato, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka. A bowl of tonkotsu ramen at these shops ranges from about 680 to 1,280.


k o k g n Ba s t n u a H The Saturday Night Fever-meets-Star Wars dancehall at Grease. Opposite: Keeping watch at Rooftop Gallery.


A city on the rise and teeming with new sweet spots, the Thai capital is a warren of excitement. Hit the town with sylvia gavin for a full night into day and, possibly, back into night again. Photographed by Cedric Arnold t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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h it w h g u la u o y s e k a m “It g in h t y n a t a h t k in h t to delight so fantastic could exist.” Thus exclaimed a giddy Somerset Maugham on arriving in Bangkok way back in 1922. Nearly a century on, it’s hard not to get all swimmy with excitement at the prospect of a night out in the Thai capital. With its decadent dining scene, sumptuous sky bars and au courant late-night speakeasies all back-dropped by glittering temples, Bangkok has truly made a forceful entrance onto the world’s style stage. So unexpected a metamorphosis, it reads like some deus ex machina plot. Lest we forget, 10 years ago the notion of “Bangkok nightlife” elicited a wink-wink, nudge-nudge because, fairly or not, the Thai capital was known as the seedy sin city where the dregs of humankind washed up, or as a mere stopping point en route to some sandy southerly shore. Now-hopping Sukhumvit Soi 11 was a hostel-filled backwater; Thonglor was where exactly? These days, however, Asia’s City of Angels is flying high on home-grown wings, and talked about for all the right reasons: innovative eateries, a vibrant local music scene, edgy street art festivals and a choc-a-bloc cultural calendar. Yes, word is firmly out—you may have noticed that Bangkok was crowned the best city in the world by readers of this magazine just last month, as well as being named the No. 1 spot by the Global Destination Cities Index for 2013. As the official “most visited place on the planet,” with 15.98 million arrivals expected this year, Bangkok is definitely doing many things very right. But after touristy days traipsing temples, meandering through malls, taking cooking classes and soaking in Siamese culture, put away that guidebook (and those flip-flops!) and hit the town at our fave, mostly new, spots. You can sleep tomorrow. Or the next day.

The Cocktail Crew

British writer Lawrence Osborne deemed Bangkok “the capital of pleasure.” And, without question, one of the capital pleasures in this city is to start the night in one of the city’s legendary sky bars, which offer the opportunity to take in the enormity of this metropolis. Oldies such as Sky Bar (lebua at State Tower) and The Speakeasy (Hotel Muse) remain goodies. However, three recent rooftop additions are making us swoon with vertigo. For starters, it’s hard to find fault with a classy but laidback place that shines the spotlight on traditional Thailand. Amble along to the rooftop bar of the new Sala Rattanakosin in Old Bangkok. The fourth-floor roofline sacrifices no view: located right on the river—with Wat Arun glowing gloriously on one side and Wat Pho on the


Clockwise from opposite bottom: Prohibition-era throwback Le Derriere; Water Library’s gummybear cocktail; Lumpini Park glitters beneath Park Society, Sofitel So; ricotta gnocchi with chestnuts, pumpkin and tonka bean puree, at Smith; a live session at Sonic.

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other—this is a terrace made for a lovely lazy sundowner, and envy-inducing Facebook photo updates. If you’re looking for more scene, check out the lightscamera-traffic views at two more glam hotels. Octave, starting at the 45th floor of the new Marriott on Sukhumvit and stretching three levels skyward, has a jaw-dropping view of Thonglor. Sprawled across the glassy 29th-floor deck of the Sofitel So, Park Society is where Bangkok’s pretty people partake. Nothing pleases us more than settling onto a day bed, lychee and rose petal martini in hand. Contemplate the air-kissing clientele, the view over Lumpini Park and the staff’s Christian Lacroix-designed uniforms, and try not to feel like an extra in a Martini ad. Happy at ground level? The brass-fanned verandas of the Cuban/Spanish/French-themed Hemingway’s are transportive. Soak up your rum with a small plate of veal-and-pork meatballs. Undoubtedly the best cocktails in town are at Water Library Thonglor. Masterful mixologists disappear behind bursts of smoke, whisking up liquid nitrogen, home-infusion concoctions. This is a case of bubble, bubble, toil and lots of trouble! The more posh may enjoy the Louis XIII Cognac infused with truffle bianco d’Alba. We, however, prefer to stoke our sweet tooths with their Haribo-infused gummy-bear cocktail.

Culture Vultures

A vibrant art scene is an evolving aspect of the nightscape. On any given evening, you’ll find clusters of people, glasses of wine in hand, mingling amid artwork. In New York and L.A., it’s never been a question whether arty people like to

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party but, here in Bangkok, this is a relatively new social phenomenon. “Of course, not everybody can be a collector, but everybody should have the opportunity to appreciate art,” says Myrtille Tibayrenc, artistic director at Toot Yung Art Center. “I really focus on events and derived objects around my exhibitions because I feel artists should be speaking to a lot of people, not just an elite.” A bright, bold gallery space opened in the center just last month, to support such Thai artists as Tawan Wattuya, who specializes in provacative, contemporary watercolors. The new Toot Yung space is getting even more ambitious with its nocturnal gatherings, with a program including regular film projections, small concerts and lectures. Then there’s Serendia Gallery, with works firmly in the high-end of the scale, throwing sophisticated openings where you can hob-nob with Bangkok’s high-society. Art photography is also gaining increasing prominence here, with two excellent gallery spaces pushing the city into the world-class category. Hossein Farmani’s Rooftop Gallery goes all out for its glamorous openings, and Manit Sriwanichpoom’s older Kathmandu Gallery provides a charming platform for eclectic get-togethers of the great (and the good) of Bangkok’s photographers. For those who like their pictures moving, pop into the Friese-Greene Club for a screening of a classic film in their private nine-seat cinema. Tucked away down a sub soi, it has an exclusive private members’ club feel, but ring the bell and access shall be granted. There is no signage so you have to be a bit determined to find it—which is of course exactly how it should be.


Hot Plates

One of the most remarkable transformations to have taken place in Bangkok in the past decade is in the dining department. The city has always been a foodies’ paradise but fine dining used to entail dressing to the nines and spending the evening with unnervingly attentive hotel waiters, ready to leap in should a napkin need adjusting. Today, however, cropping up all across the city are soigné eateries that are raising high the culinary bar, while keeping things cool and casual. Much talked about is Quince, and deservedly so. The focus is on using local produce and seasonal ingredients, with consistently excellent results. The interior manages to be both adorned and industrial (courtesy of managing partner, Bangkok impresario and Laotian prince Sanya Souvanna Phouma), and the spicy mojitos are perfect. Just down the road, the similar-in-style Smith is a joint project of celebrity chefs Ian Kittichai and Peter Pitakwong, and master mixologist Chanond Purananda. The name here—aptly, in our opinion—denotes an expert craftsperson (say, a blacksmith). Source farms are listed on the menu and an herb garden on the back terrace is freshly plucked for each plate. The farm-fresh trend continues at Appia, where organic chickens roast on spits all day, christening the potatoes below in their herby juices, and where the succulent porchetta is rolled around fennel, rosemary and silky liver—which you can also order as a starter by the trough. This new Roman darling is perpetually booked, even the seats at the bar, where you most definitely should order the flamingo-pink Aperol Spritz—continuing the

track record of secretly potent cocktails owner Jarrett Wrisley started at his much loved Thai resto Soul Food. While we’re on the subject of this country’s cuisine, Supanniga Eating Room is packed with members of the hi-so set in search of home-style cooking like the authentically spicy Trat-style dishes this place delivers. A more contemporary spin on Thai can be found at The Myth of Mahanaga, a recently revamped place where your curry might feature sous-vide chicken and dessert might be a roseapple tarte tatin. Or just toss out your preconceptions of Thai food altogether and navigate to the tiny Thonglor soi that’s home to Paste, where Blue Elephant-trained Bongkoch Satongun and hubby Jason Bailey serve up art on a plate, somehow making “tossed with flower petals” seem an authentically Thai technique. Especially if you’re visiting, it’s probably a trek across town to the up-and-coming Ari, but the extra stops on the BTS will pay off in both the cuisine and the experience of a true residential Bangkok ’hood. Stop by grandma-kitsch

Soigné eateries are raising high the culinary bar, while keeping casual

Wat Arun glows across the river from Sala Rattanakosin. Opposite: Thee Oh Sees rock Cosmic Café.


Clockwise from above: Farmto-table Quince; cavatelli with lamb ragu, carrot fondue and tarragon at Appia; Chef Jess Barnes presides over Opposite Mess Hall; world-weary cabaret at Maggie Choo’s; Quince’s spicy mojitos.


opposite, top: Jarret t Wrisle y

hipster fave Fatbird for the grilled chicken liver with cherry sauce appetizer, but save room for multi courses across the street at Salt , whose glass-and-concrete dining room wrapped by a large, terraced outdoor garden would be at home in Santa Monica. Like many in Bangkok, the menu here is massive and transcontinental; we like the salads, sashimi and wood-fired pizzas. Meanwhile, brand spanking-new Sousaku also has the whole snazzy industrial thing going, in addition to being really good for sushi. Finding authentic American cooking anywhere in Asia is always a challenge, but Bangkok has two new places frying, baking and grilling up great takes on classic soul food and barbecue. Wear something loose to the airy, round banquette-filled Tribeca, because the biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, and chicken and waffles go down way too easily. If you prefer your food off the flame, head to Shuffle for high-end burgers and ribs. The complimentary warm mini-croissants and craft beers are almost enough to make you forget you’re in a shopping center. (Almost.) The effortlessly cool new kid on the block is Opposite Mess Hall . Summed up simply as “open kitchen, long bar, shared tables,” this hangout captures the current Williamsburg zeitgeist and serves it up with fantastic fare. Co-owners Somrak Sila and Christopher Wise—who are also behind the eternally popular WTF bar just across the soi—are always welcoming. Linger over a leisurely meal from Chef Jess Barnes’s mood swing-inspired menu (who doesn’t appreciate croquetas of the day?), make friends, make plans and onwards out into the night you go. However, for those who don’t wear their trousers rolled, urbane Scarlett Wine Bar & Restaurant , up on the top floor of the Pullman Hotel, offers just the right amount of pizzazz. Bustling and cosmopolitan, Scarlett is where stylish young professionals come to clink glasses of fine wine and nibble on sensational tapas. Sink into a sofa on the outdoor terrace and settle in for the evening. The lights of the city glow like cinders in a grate below you.

The Band Plays On

Not so long ago, the live music scene consisted of cheesy cover bands in hotel bars. The times have most certainly changed. Self-professed arbiter of cool, Monocle magazine recently ran a multi-page spread on the tunes scene in Bangkok—something that would have been unthinkable a few years ago—highlighting how the city that was “long-

known for producing J and K pop” now abounds with funky non-formula-fitting indie bands. Venues such as Badmotel , Moose, Sonic and Cosmic Cafe provide louche performance spaces for these groundgaining indie groups. Keep in mind that these are where Thai scenester kids party—which, depending on the music, can entail quite a lot of shoe-staring and Singha-sipping. Other nights can be raucous. Choose accordingly. In a mellower mood? Best head to Black, a new bebop venue run by jazz trumpeter Idrees Dawud, whose dad played with Dizzy Gillespie, or Jazz Happens Bar, where you can tap your toes to some top-class Coltrane covers. Around the corner from there, you’ll stumble upon Adhere 13th Blues Bar, a Bangkok institution. Squeeze yourself in the door and you’ll get caught up in the friendly swirl. Speaking of blues, follow the sound of Sweet Home Chicago down Sukhumvit Soi 11 til you hit Apoteka, the apothecary-themed jam bar with an enviable front porch and secret rooms—both perfect spots for socializing to this most American of beats. Its younger sister, Apoteka Thonglor, mostly known for amenable DJs (and our favorite ginger-rific Gingnam Style cocktail), has allocated weekly live music nights to a diverse line-up of local house bands, from alterna-soft rock to liquid drum and base.

Club Kids

If that isn’t a deep-enough dive into the nocturnal din, an eclectic club scene awaits. With the closing of iconic Bed Supperclub last month, which newbie will take over the affections of Bangkok clubbers is still a mystery. For now, our money’s on the yet-to-be opened Ku De Ta, Thailand’s answer the glammed up roof bar on top of Marina Bay Sands; the details are still hush-hush, but if the place is anything like its Singaporean cousin, it could well be the next big thing. And that’ll be just the latest of the growing options—especially when you take into account the ever-increasing blurring of the lines between bars, clubs and live music venues, with a number of new spots operating as one-stop-shops for your night out. Take the multi-themed Grease, which caters to a youngish crowd of clubbers, loungers and flirters. Skip the unfortunately named ground-floor bar “Any Winehouse” and ascend the old-school elevator to the dance floor on level three, vibrating with the thousands of flashing LED lights that blanket the walls and ceiling with a Saturday Night Fever-meets-Star Wars aura. The fourth floor is all bright and white and banquettes, good for group chats or making eyes across the room. The top-floor terrace is that elusive relaxation spot every Bangkok dweller craves. In fact, the town seems to be moving away from the open-plan, thumping techno clubs of yesteryear. “There is much more variety now than ever before, and recently a new kind of bar has appeared,” DJ and artist Justin Mills says. “This year has seen the opening of three elegant, magical places: Le Derriere, Maggie Choo’s and the re-opened Iron Fairies. The creative minds behind these places have thought way out of the box on what a bar in Bangkok can be.”









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If you order the potent Le Derriere, you may end up on your own derriere James Bond wanders into a steamy 19th-century Shanghai opium den as filmed by Wong Kar-wai… This is the Oriental opulence of underground Maggie Choo’s. Cheongsam-clad ladies in retro wigs, radiating just the right amount of world-weariness, are found draped across the piano, playing cards or languishing on swings. The crowd is well-heeled, the mood 100 percent cabaret and the cocktails great. We should also call out the cocktails powerful: notably those made with absinthe, which is enjoying a micro-trend in the city right now—though we’re not sure whether that’s because of or in spite of Oscar Wilde’s words, “after the first glass of absinthe, you see things as you wish they were.” In a neighborhood (Soi 11) where the hemlines tend to head north, at Le Derriere you’ll find ladies in long slinky dresses, men sporting Borsalinos at jaunty angles. Totter back in time through the Prohibition era-esque unmarked black door. Grab three friends and partake of the antique, four-spouted absinthe fountain. Be warned: if you order the potent Le Derriere cocktail, you may end up on your own derriere—not necessarily a bad thing since you’ll be looking straight up at the stars through the bar’s open roof. While you’re chasing the Green Fairy, follow the trail to the newly redone Iron Fairies. Creator Ashley Sutton’s original venue, a brooding Victorian hole-in-the-wall, developed a cult following for its live jazz, inventive cocktails, enormous burgers and hand-forged metal sprites (for sale, with a vial of pixie dust). The new space, larger and right next door, boasts all of the original’s eccentric charm, with absinthe and elixirs such as the Smoke in a Bottle No.2, cloaked in its own cloud of oregano smoke.

The Wee Hours

All this hopping about can be tiring on the toes—especially for those of us in impracticably high heels—and, frankly, where else in the world can you get a foot massage at 2 a.m.? That’s the city’s official closing time, but, we promise, after-hours bars and clubs abound. Make Thai friends, and they’ll lead you to their favorite, secret haunts. Or: all walks of life cram in together at the legendary Wong’s Place. Not for the fainthearted, Wong’s stays open until the last customer finishes his or her drink. (Er, daylight.) An alternative option—and perhaps a wiser one?—is to swing by Pak Khlong Talat , the biggest wholesale flower market in Thailand. Bustling with business all through the night, it’s a gorgeously trippy place to wander around and purchase armfuls of orchids and roses.

Okay. It’s finally time to draw the blackout shades and get some shut-eye… Unless it’s Saturday or Sunday, in which case you should probably pop some headache meds, don your sunnies and head to the Bangkok institution that is Chatuchak market. This is the place for hand-stitched designs, local art and antiques—and great nooks to refuel on coffee with ambiance and street food with flair, as well as get going again at bars that gear up as the commerce winds down. Specifically: Viva 8, which features deephouse, killer mojitos and the occasional drag fashion show. As we said before last night, you can sleep tomorrow. Or the next day. ✚


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T L Guide

Clockwise from left: Grease’s loungy rooftop; Freise-Greene Club has a private members’ club feel; mixology and microbrews at Smith.

Eat Quince Sukhumvit Soi 45; 66-2/662-4478; quincebangkok. com; dinner for two Bt1,800. Smith 1/8 Sukhumvit Soi 49; 66-2/261-0515-6; smithrestaurant.com; dinner for two Bt2,500. Appia 20/4 Sukhumvit Soi 31; 66-2/261-2056; appia-bangkok. com; dinner for two Bt1,800. Supanniga Eating Room 160/11 Thonglor; 66-2/7147508; dinner for two Bt1,200. The Myth of Mahanaga Sukhumvit Soi 29; 66-2/6623060; themythbangkok.com; dinner for two Bt1,200. Paste 20/6 Sukhumvit Soi 49; 66-2/392-4313; pastebangkok. com; dinner for two Bt1,500. Fatbird 36/9 Phahon Yothin Soi 7; 66-85/924-1565; dinner for two Bt1,000. Salt Ari Soi 4; 66-2/619-6886; dinner for two Bt1,200. Sousaku 1/6 Ari Soi 2; 66-2/ 279-2461; dinner for two Bt900. Tribeca Nihonmura Mall, 85 Thonglor Soi 13; 66-2/7129209; dinner for two Bt1,000. Shuffle 2F Rainhill, 777 Sukhumvit; 66-2/261-6992; dinner for two Bt1,400. Opposite Mess Hall Sukhumvit Soi 51; 66-2/662-6330; oppositebangkok.com; dinner for two Bt1,400. Scarlett Wine Bar & Restaurant Pullman Bangkok Hotel G, 188 Silom Rd., Suriyawongse; 66-2/238-1991; pullmanbangkokhotelg.com; dinner for two Bt2,400. Drink Sky Bar 63F lebua, 1055 Silom Rd.; lebua.com; drinks Bt500. The Speakeasy Hotel Muse, 55/555 Langsuan Rd.; hotelmusebangkok.com; drinks Bt280. Sala Rattanakosin 39 Soi Ta Tien, Maharat Rd.; 66-2/6221388; salaresorts.com; drinks Bt250. Octave 45F Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, 2 Sukhumvit Soi 57; 66-2/797-0000; marriott.com; drinks Bt350. Park Society Sofitel So Bangkok, 2 North Sathorn Rd.;

66-2/624-0000; sofitel-sobangkok.com; drinks Bt350. Hemingway’s 1 Sukhumvit Soi 14; 66-2/653-3900; hemingway sbangkok.com; drinks Bt200. Water Library Thonglor The Grass, Thonglor Soi 12; 66-2/714-9292; mywaterlibrary. com/thonglor; drinks Bt250. Badmotel Thonglor between Sois 15 and 17; 66-2/712-7288; drinks Bt150. Moose 24 Ekamai Soi 21; 66-2/108-9550; drinks Bt170. Sonic 90 Ekamai; 66-2/3823397; drinks Bt150. Cosmic Cafe RCA Block C; 66-81/304-6907; drinks Bt200. Black Sukhumvit Soi 33; 66-2/ 259-6919; ohsomuchjazz.com. Jazz Happens 62 Phra Athit Rd.; 66-2/282-9934. Adhere 13th Blues 13 Samsen Rd.; 66-89/769-4613. Apoteka Sukhumvit Soi 11; 66-83/720-5586; drinks Bt280. Apoteka Thonglor Thonglor Soi 12; 66-90/626-7655; drinks Bt280. Grease 46/12-13 Sukhumvit Soi 49; 66-2/662-6120; drinks Bt260. Maggie Choo’s 320 Silom Rd.; 66-2/635-6055; drinks Bt280. Le Derriere 34 Sukhumvit Soi 11, behind Q Bar; 66-2/2525366; absinthe Bt350. Iron Fairies 394 Thonglor, near Soi 12; 66-2/714-8875; theironfairies.com; drinks Bt280. Wong’s Place 27/3 Soi Sribamphen; 66-81/901-0235; drinks Bt100. Viva 8 Section 8, Chatuchak Market; 66-2/618-7425; Saturdays and Sundays only; drinks Bt200. See+Do Toot Yung Art Center 19 Prachathipatai Rd.; 66-84/9145499; tootyunggallery.com. Serindia Gallery OP Garden 4, Soi Charoen Krung 36; 662/238-6410; serindiagallery.com. Farmani Rooftop Gallery Thonglor; farmanigallery.com. Kathmandu Gallery 87 Pan Rd.; kathmandu-bkk.com. Freise-Greene Club Sukhumvit Soi 22; 66-87/000-0795; fgc.in.th. Pak Khlong Talat Chak Phet Rd. near Memorial Bridge.

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A d a m W i s e m a n ; i l l u s t r at i o n s b y M a d s b u r c h a r t h . o p p osit e pag e: M o rga n O m m er

T+L

You know those one-of-a-kind spots that are so beloved and authentic that you can’t imagine them existing anyplace else? Yeah, we love those places, too. That’s why we canvassed our global network of correspondents, chefs, critics and food experts for their favorite local haunts. From thousands of mouthwatering suggestions, we created a food lover’s map of the world: a delectable, definitive guide to where to eat like a local, from Hong Kong to Honolulu. If eating is a surefire way to get to the soul of a place, our picks are guaranteed to deliver. →


WORTH The TRIP

Trust us—you’ll be glad you made the trek. ABU GHOSH, ISRAEL Abu Gosh Restaurant

Salemi, Italy Ardigna Ristorante Rustico

LLANçÀ, Spain Els Pescadors

ZURICH, Switzerland Restaurant Ziegelhütte

In the Judean Hills west of Jerusalem, this simple restaurant is devoted to the art of making hummus from chickpeas ground by hand daily. (The entire Arab village of Abu Ghosh is famous for it.) Baskets of warm pita and the tenderest lamb, beef and chicken kebabs complete the meal. abugoshrestaurant.co.il.

Chef’s Haunt

Because, really, doesn’t everything taste better at the beach? AMALFI COAST, ITALY Lo Scoglio da Tommaso Pleasure yachts from Capri and Positano drop anchor for lunch perched over the Mediterranean. The only thing fresher than the peppery wild arugula salad is the ricci (sea urchin) in the spaghetti. hotelloscoglio.com.

BURTON BRADSTOCK, ENGLAND Hive Beach Café A chalkboard menu behind the counter tells you what’s on offer (fish pies; grilled herring; a crab sandwich with chips) at this classic holiday spot. hivebeachcafe. co.uk.

ENSENADA, MEXICO La Guerrerense

Sabina Bandera has crafted complex and flavorful seafood cocktails and ceviches—pismo clam, sea urchin, octopus, mussels and more—from her humble street stall for almost 40 years. Don’t miss her house-made salsas. 52-646/174-2114.

JOSÉ IGNACIO, URUGUAY Parador La Huella

Chic South Americans congregate amid the dunes for languorous midday meals that can last until dusk. Keep things simple with sea bass cooked over coals and a pitcher of clericó. paradorlahuella.com.

KOH SAMUI, THAILAND Bangpo Seafood At this family-run shack, tables in the sand are piled high with deep-fried red snapper and irresistible khoei jii (shrimp paste, crabmeat, coconut and spices, roasted over a fire in a coconut husk). 66-77/420-010.

MARATHI, GREECE Pantelis Marathi

On a tiny, car-free isle between Patmos and Bodrum, Turkey, this harborfront restaurant is a popular stop for the sailing crowd. Everything is impossibly fresh, from the crawfish sautéed in lemon oil to the creamy local goat cheese. marathi-island.gr.

MARSHALL, CALIFORNIA Marshall Store

The oysters alone (from a farm up the road) are worth the hour-long drive from San Francisco to a dockside shanty on Tomales Bay. But a bowl of clam chowder feels particularly restorative on a foggy northern California day. themarshallstore.com.

SYDNEY Pilu Kiosk

Forget Bondi—at least for a bit—and head to Freshwater Beach, in Sydney’s northern suburbs. The restaurant here is known for its whole suckling pig, but the café next door has a suckling-pig panino that’s just as delicious and one-fifth the price. piluatfreshwater.com.au.

TURKS AND CAICOS Da Conch Shack

In three pastel-trimmed cottages right on the shore, an expat chef cooks up the freshest possible conch— harvested from the ocean moments before it’s on your plate. daconchshack.com.

Naomi Pomeroy Portland, Oregon

Take a tram from downtown, then walk up a trail to this traditional country restaurant and beer garden, where regulars gather over plates of schnitzel and Älplermagronen (creamy macaroni with cheese and potatoes). wirtschaftziegelhuette.ch.

“Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon’s, at the back of a grocery store, is super-authentic. The nopales (cactus) salad is a must.”  1-503/255-4356.

FOREIGN & DOMESTIC

All-American ethnic enclaves. Houston Thiên Thanh Catering to one of the largest

Vietnamese communities in the U.S., Bellaire Boulevard is lined with countless pho and bánh xèo joints—but everyone comes here for bánh cuón: dainty, ravioli-like crêpes filled with ground shrimp or barbecued pork and drizzled with a pungent nuoc cham sauce. 1-281/564-0419.

Los Angeles Attari Sandwiches The city nicknamed “Tehrangeles” is home to hundreds of thousands of Iranian Americans, many of whom live or work in Westwood. On Fridays they flock to Attari’s courtyard for the special abgoosht, a nourishing lamb-and-bean stew that’s mashed into a paste and served with lamb broth and piquant torshi (pickles). attarisandwiches.com.

Miami Papo Llega y Pon Roast pig was never as glorious as

at this bare-bones pit stop in Allapattah, a historically Cuban enclave west of the city’s Design District. Line up with the cops for a superlative pan con lechón (choppedpork sandwich) served on warm Cuban bread. 1-305/635-0137.

F r o m L e f t: J o h n n y Mi l l e r ; A l ici a J . r o s e

There’s always a crowd at Da Conch Shack, on Blue Hills beach, in Turks and Caicos.

Beside the harbor in a tiny Costa Brava town, Els Pescadors serves up the day’s tastiest catch— prawns, John Dory, sea bass, turbot—brought in by the fishing boats bobbing just a stone’s throw from your table. restaurantelspescadors. com.

The most charming restaurant in western Sicily sits an hour’s drive inland from Marsala, on a remote hilltop. Nearly everything is made in-house: tangy ricotta, fragrant wildflower honey, garlicky salumi, silky tagliatelle, even the bittersweet amaro digestif. ardigna.it.


Café Society

Take a seat and stay awhile. New Orleans Morning Call

Seven decadent ways to start the day. BEIRUT, LEBANON Al Soussi

sheep’s-milk cheeses, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, warm sourdough bread, local honey and chai, on a rooftop terrace with postcard-worthy views. mangeriebebek.com.

For more than 50 years, this pint-size kitchen in West Beirut has been serving an irresistible version of fatteh, made with layers of toasted pita, chickpeas, yogurt and pine nuts. 961-1/312-145.

LONDON Ottolenghi

HONG KONG Tasty Congee & Noodle Wontun Shop

Wake up with a bowl of rice porridge at this Happy Valley institution—and pair it with an order of fabulously crisp youtiao (Chinese crullers). tasty.com.hk.

ISTANBUL Mangerie

It’s the best breakfast on the Bosporus: a lavish spread of eggs,

Chef’s Haunt

April Bloomfield London

Follow Islington’s beau monde to this high-end Middle Eastern bakery and café, where the tantalizing bread platter (toasted tableside) is a full meal in itself. ottolenghi.co.uk.

OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI Big Bad Breakfast

Southern chef John Currence’s motto? “Lard have mercy!” Flour biscuits slathered with sausage gravy and the burrito filled with house-made

chorizo will have you praying for more. bigbadbreakfast.com.

The airy beignets (made from a 143-yearold recipe) and café au lait at this 24-hour, wood-paneled Metairie haunt leave the better-known Café du Monde in their sugar dust. morningcallcoffeestand.com.

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA Huckleberry

Sydney Bar Coluzzi

The perpetually crowded joint is famous for its maple-bacon biscuits, Valrhona chocolate– dipped doughnuts and egg sandwiches stuffed with bacon, cave-aged Gruyère and tangy aioli. huckleberrycafe.com.

Founded by Roman immigrant and former boxing champion Luigi Coluzzi, the curbside café has been Darlinghurst’s de facto community center since 1957. Order a flat white (the espresso is as powerful as Luigi’s uppercut), claim one of the sidewalk stools, and watch the entire neighborhood pass by. 322 Victoria St.

TOKYO Sushi Dai

vienna Café Central

Join vendors and tuna auctioneers from the neighboring Tsukiji Fish Market queuing up at dawn for a post-shift sushi breakfast at this 13-seat spot. You won’t find fresher toro in all of Tokyo. 81-3/3547-6797.

Though it’s welcomed plenty of tourists over its 137 years—not to mention habitués like Freud, Lenin and Trotsky—the utterly grand café inside the majestic Palais Ferstel is known among pastry-obsessed Wieners for serving the best, flakiest strudel in town. palaisevents.at.

“The food at Dock Kitchen, in Ladbroke Grove, is complex and delicious. Chef Stevie Parle pulls inspiration from his travels, as with his Cornish crab with curry leaves and coconut.”  dock k itchen . co . u k . MUMBAI Pao bhaji on Chowpatty Beach

On balmy evenings along this bustling strip of sand, vendors hawk irresistible snacks to strolling couples and families. Look for pao bhaji, a mouth-tingling vegetable-and-potato stir-fry that’s sopped up with a billowy roll. Northern Marine Drive.

Don’t leave town without trying these.

f r o m t o p : m e l a n i e d u n e a ; n ick b i s h o p, h at t i e b ' s h o t c h ick e n

BRUSSELS Mussels at De Noordzee Squeeze in amid the regulars at this outdoor fish stall— they’re all devouring massive plates of perfectly steamed mussels. poissonneriemer​ dunord.be.

BUENOS AIRES Steak at La Cabrera

For God’s sake, you’re in B.A.—you’ll need a good rib eye, plus sweetbreads and chorizo and a nice earthy Malbec. Find all of the above at Palermo’s most beloved grill house. parrillalacabrera. com.

CAPE TOWN Karoo Dorper lamb at Carne SA

South Africa is renowned for its free-range lamb, and this restaurant is the place to try it—straight from the owner’s farm and impeccably grilled over coal. carne-sa.com.

HANOI, VIETNAM Chà cá at Chà Cá Thăng Long Northern

Vietnam’s signature seafood dish takes a star turn at this Old Quarter canteen. Firm white snakehead fish is marinated in galangal, shrimp paste and turmeric, then sautéed at your table over a charcoal burner and served with vermicelli noodles, fish sauce and a mountain of dill. chacathanglong.com.

NASHVILLE Fried chicken at Hattie B’s Opened last year

by a father-and-son team, Hattie B’s quickly became the spot for fiery, cayenneinfused, Nashville-style deep-fried “hot chicken.” Cool your palate with a craft beer and killer pimento mac-​ and-cheese. hattieb.com.

MÉRIDA, MEXICO Tacos at Wayané

Yucatecans believe that the biggest meal of the day should be the first. So they arrive in droves to this corner stand come seven in the morning for addictive tacos such as chaya con huevos (eggs with chaya leaf) and castakan (twice-fried pork belly). 52-999/927-4160.

ROME Cacio e pepe at Sora Margherita

Hattie B's cayenneinfused "hot chicken," Nashville.

The most delicious plate of pasta in Rome is served in a narrow space with 15 paper-​ topped tables: cacio e pepe with Pecorino and handmade noodles, garnished upon request with a generous dollop of sheep’s-milk ricotta. 39-06/687-4216.

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Eight iconic dishes you can’t get—or get as good—anywhere else. This lantern-lit village is celebrated for cao làu soup, whose thick noodles must be cooked in water from one of five local wells. Morning Glory serves a stellar version: one with a tangy broth laced with juicy strips of pork and chewy rice noodles.

SYDNEY Lamingtons

At bite-size bakery Flour & Stone, these Aussie squares of vanilla sponge cake, slathered in chocolate icing and dusted in coconut, come stuffed with panna cotta and berry compote. flourandstone.com.au.

Chicken tagine at Al Baraka gas station, outside Marrakesh.

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA Hokkien mee

NYC chef and Malaysian food expert Zak Pelaccio swears by this savory-sweet tangle of egg noodles charred in a wok with crisp

bits of lard, pork, shrimp, fish cake and cockles. Seek it out at Aik Yuen Restaurant. Jln. Sarikei, Setapak.

MARRAKESH, MOROCCO Chicken tagine

Al Baraka may be the best gas station you’ll ever eat at. Head to the tagine window for a whole-chicken stew, pungent with preserved lemons and olives. RP 24 Commune Annakhil, Sidi Yousef Ben Ali.

MARSEILLES, FRANCE Bouillabaisse

In Vallon des Auffes, the idyllic L’Épuisette serves a Provençal bouillabaisse that’s oceans away from all others—brash and intense, rich with saffron and garlic and tasting unmistakably of the sea. l-epuisette.fr.com.

PINOSO, SPAIN Paella

In a sleepy hamlet west of

“P.A.&Co. is like after-school for adults—everyone knows each other and no one has reservations. Every time I’ve gone by myself, I’ve felt right at home.”  paco . se .

Alicante, the chef at Paco Gandía layers rice in a pan the size of a bicycle tire, along with rabbit, tomatoes, saffron and snails that feed on wild herbs. Licked by flames from an open fire, the paella is near-mythical. 34/96-547-8023.

GENOA, ITALY Farinata

Liguria’s beloved equivalent of the French socca is a thin, pizza-like pancake made from chickpea flour, served hot from the oven and typically adorned with hunks of gorgonzola or Stracchino cheese. Find the best at the family-run trattoria Sa’ Pesta, deep in the centro storico. sapesta.it.

new orleans Panéed rabbit

Brigsten's signature dish is sesame-crusted, shallowfried rabbit served with mustard sauce—a Cajun and Creole blend. brigstens.com.

Chef’s Haunt

Marcus Samuelsson Stockholm

EAT STREET

A culinary jaunt down Singapore’s Balestier Road. Five very different reasons to love the U.S.A. cleveland Sokolowski’s University Inn

Eastern European immigrants, multigenerational families, and Food Network star chef Michael Symon swear by the old-school stuffed cabbage and kielbasa at this cafeteria-style favorite. sokolowskis.com.

Bryan, Texas Fargo’s Pit BBQ

Superb pork spare ribs, tender brisket and juicy smoked chickens (with skin as crackly as potato chips) draw the faithful to the newest location

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of Fargo’s, just up the road from its former takeout shack in the Brazos Valley town of Bryan. 1-979/778-3662.

Honolulu Ono Seafoods

Is this the best tuna poke on Oahu? Hometown hero Ed Kenney (of New York’s Town restaurant) says so. Order a portion tossed to order—along with pickled mango, kimchi and poi. 1-808/732-4806.

new orleans Casmento’s

Oysters from from Gulf Coast

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waters—whether served raw on the half-shell or fried on Louisiana’s answer to Texas toast —rule the roost. casamentosrestaurant.com.

Belfast, Maine Chase’s Daily

This bakery/luncheonette/ farm stand is the harbor city's unofficial canteen. The Chase family crafts hearty vegetarian dishes—savory onion crêpes; velvety leek soup; heirloom tomato salad—from ingredients grown on their farm in nearby Freedom (yes, Freedom). 1-207/338-0555.

→ Café de Hong Kong Homesick Hong Kongers come for comfort food such as fried rice with fish roe. 65/6255-3865. → Combat Durian Follow your nose to this seasonal stand that sells prized varieties of the much-maligned fruit. The buttery mao shan wang is as creamy and rich as its name implies. 65/9278-9928. → Founder Bak Kut Teh Plenty of shops sell bak kut teh—a pork-rib soup that’s the ultimate hangover cure—but Founder’s version has extra-tender ribs and a longsimmered broth. 65/6352-6192. → Loong Fatt Eating House & Confectionary A tiny bakeshop with superior tau sar piah, crumbly sesame-seed-encrusted pastries filled with sweet or savory bean paste. 65/6253-4584. → Whampoa Food Street (Keng) Fish Head Steamboat Slurp up every last drop of fish head steamboat, a rich stock of grouper or pomfret bobbing with thick slices of fish, prawn, squid, cabbage and sour plum. 65/9127-6550.

F r o m t o p : M a r c u s Ni l s s o n ; G e o r d i e W o o d . O p p o s i t e P a g e : Ev a n S u n g ( 7 )

HOI AN, VIETNAM Cao làu


Pizza

Paulie Gee’s The Regina: fior di latte, Italian tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, olive oil and fresh basil. Greenpoint, Brooklyn; pauliegee.com.

Seven perfect bites of the Big Apple.

Roast chicken Calliope

Pan-seared breast served in chicken stock with cabbage stuffed with confit leg and vegetables. East Village; calliopenyc.com.

Oysters

Maison Premiere Caraquet oysters on the half shell. Williamsburg, Brooklyn; maisonpremiere.com.

Soup dumplings CafĂŠ China

Shanghainese xiao long bao with soy-vinegarginger sauce. Midtown; cafechinanyc.com.

Sushi

Sushi Yasuda Arctic char, ebi (shrimp), uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe). Midtown; sushiyasuda.com.

Pasta

Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria Carbonara: Pasta tossed with house-cured pancetta, eggs, Parmesan and black pepper. NoHo; ilbucovineria.com.

Bagel sandwich

Russ & Daughters The Classic: Scottish smoked salmon, cream cheese and red onion on a poppy-seed bagel. Lower East Side; russanddaughters.com.


Chez Aline

Choose your own fillings or defer to chef Delphine Zampetti for a deceptively simple baguette sandwich at her petite, retro-flavored deli. 11th Arr.; 33-1/43-71-90-75.

Septime

Rustic wooden tables and an open kitchen give the space a farmhouse vibe; the menu of neo-bistro classics is both soulful and inventive. 11th Arr.; septime-charonne.fr.

L’Avant Comptoir

At this elbow-to-elbow, standingroom-only “hors d’oeuvres bar,” the bread basket is communal, but the foie gras skewers and boudin noir macarons are just for you. Sixth Arr.; 331/44-27-07-97.

Frenchie Wine Bar

Across from impossible-to-book Frenchie lies its edgy sibling, whose shared tables, 80’s rock playlist and small plates (pulled pork on brioche) are all the rage. Second Arr.; frenchie-restaurant.com.

Eight intimate spots that make up the food lover’s short list. Barcelona El Vaso de Oro

Among the old fishermen’s houses of Barceloneta, this sepia-toned cervecería is full of local sea dogs and other salty types who come for house-brewed lager and a dizzying array of tapas (boat-fresh squid and shrimp; flash-fried padrón peppers). And when a football match is on, forget about it: the tiny bar is as jammed and as rowdy as it gets. vasodeoro.com.

copenhagen Ved Stranden 10 Vinhandel & Bar

On Monday nights, the canal-side wine bar becomes the hangout for the city’s culinary scene. A guest cook— sometimes from Noma or Relae— prepares a simple, tasty one-pot dish that functions like a staff meal, except it’s open to all. ved​ stranden10.dk.

montreal La Salle à Manger

Grab a stool and join us at the bar.

This neighborhood bistro hits all the marks of Nouvelle Montréal cuisine:

taxidermy in the dining room, chalkboard of nose-to-tail specials, and scruffy hipster chefs in baseball caps. Sit at the bar amid the regulars snacking on plates of sublime pork rillettes and rabbit pâté. lasalle​amanger. ca.

São Paulo, brazil Emporio Sagarana

Shelves of beer bottles line the walls at this cozy bar that serves Brazilian comfort food, including sausage-filled cheese bread; sandwiches of pancetta, arugula and Minas Gerais cheese; and dulce de nata. emporio​ sagarana.com.br.

Seattle Walrus & the Carpenter

Pristine shellfish, displayed on ice in wire baskets lining a gleaming zinc counter, are the main attraction at this handsome Ballard oyster bar. The shucking itself is a work of art. the walrusbar.com.

C l o ckwi s e F r o m T o p : C é l i n e C l a n e t (8) ; m a r e n c a r u s o ; c e d r ic A n g e l e s ; Ya n n ick G r a n d m o n d

Front and center at La Salle à Manger, in Montreal’s Plateau neighborhood.


Burger heaven

Café Constant

Bistrot Paul Bert

Two blocks from the Eiffel Tower, noted chef Christian Constant pays homage to his grandmother’s recipes at his casual, bi-level brasserie. Seventh Arr.; cafeconstant.com.

The classic Parisian bistro every carnivore dreams of, with knife-cut steak tartare, foie gras, haricots verts and, of course, a venerable steak frites. 11th Arr.; 33-1/43-72-24-01.

st. louis O’Connell’s Pub No less an authority than

Shake Shack’s Danny Meyer gives this his vote for “one of the juiciest, most satisfying cheeseburgers you’ll ever have.” Bonus points for the Cardinals baseball game blaring above the bar. 1-314/773-6600.

Secret tables

(Tell them we sent you.)

Ten Belles

The new-wave coffee shop from rock-star barista Thomas Lehoux, whose cappuccinos are made with cult Telescope beans. 10th Arr.; tenbelles.com.

Glass

It’s all about creative cocktails, grilled hot dogs and Brooklyn Brewery beer (!) at this South Pigalle nightspot, where a fashionable crowd mingles with chefs fresh off the line. Ninth Arr.; glassparis.com.

Where the people are just as pretty as the food.

BEIJING Southern Barbarian

In Baochang Hutong, an up-and-coming nightlife destination, this slick spot focuses on the cuisine of the Yunnan province of southwestern China (home to many of the country’s ethnic minorities). Order the pan-fried goat cheese, mashed potatoes with pickled vegetables, and mint salad. southernbarbarian.com.

KIGALI, RWANDA Republika

One of the best restaurants in the Rwandan capital—not to mention the top place for drinks at sundown—attracts a chic clientele with great music, friendly service and dishes like the superbly salty, deep-fried sambaza (a sardine-like freshwater fish) from Lake Kivu. 250/788-303-030.

MIAMI BEACH Juvia

A “living wall” by horticultural artist Patrick Blanc forms the backdrop for the equally photogenic array of models and scenesters nibbling daintily on crudi at the penthouse atop 1111 Lincoln Road—perhaps the trendiest parking garage in the world. juviamiami.com.

MOSCOW Bar Strelka

The roof deck of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture & Design draws the city’s freethinking intellectuals and cultural elite. The menu ranges from shareable snacks ( jamón ibérico) to hearty classics (oxtail ragù with polenta). strelkainstitute.com.

ROME Da Cesare

Bar Strelka’s rooftop terrace overlooking the Moscow River.

On the ground floor of a 1970’s building in the residential Monteverde neighborhood, food lovers tout this as the best trattoria in town. Standouts: fried meatballs in a basil sauce, tiny cuttlefish and gnocchi that are nothing short of revelatory. 39-06/536-015.

HONG KONG Da Ping Huo

ROME Settimio

LIMA, PERU Chez Wong

mexico city El Pozole de Moctezuma

The under-the-radar private restaurant has a 12-course set menu featuring Sichuan classics such as fiery pork ma po dofu and chili-laced braised beef. At the end of the evening, co-owner Ms. Wang, a classically trained soprano, sings a charming Chinese folk song. dapinghuo. com.hk.

Culinary superstars like Eric Ripert seek out this diminutive dining room—tucked inside a residential building in working-​ class Santa Catalina—​ for the city’s finest ceviche, sliced and seasoned by chef Javier Wong. It’s only open for lunch; reserve a spot well in advance. 51-1/4706217.

Come without a reservation and you’re rolling the dice—the quirky owners will decide with a glance whether you deserve a seat at their trattoria. If you do make the cut, you’ll find quintessential Roman classics like house-made fettuccine. 39-06/​ 6880-1978.

On a gritty block near Metro Garibaldi, this closed-door restaurant has no sign—just a buzzer that reads pozole. Order the spicy, fortifying hominy stew, which tastes best with tostadas slathered in Mexican crema. 52-55/​ 5526-7448.

Chef’s Haunt

Daniel Patterson Oakland, California

“My favorite Thai restaurant in the Bay Area is Hawker Fare, which chef James Syhabout took over from his mother. Now it has a fun, modern vibe and Syhabout’s versions of the gutsy food he grew up eating.”  h aw k er fa r e . com .

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Skip dessert? Unthinkable! AMMAN, JORDAN Habibah

For the city’s best knafeh, follow the queue down an alleyway near downtown’s Arab Bank. The generous pockets of shredded phyllo and sweet cheese are crowned with local pistachios and syrup, and served piping hot. habibahsweets.com.

BERLIN Mr. Minsch

The vibe is Mad Hatter meets 1950’s hausfrau at this Kreuzberg takeout bakery, where master pastry chef Andreas Minsch turns out his extravagant confections. You’ll be hard-pressed to choose between an enormous cinnamon roll or a slice of the popular Black Forest cherry cake. 49-30/2845-0894.

CAMBRIDGE , MAssachusetts Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream

Behind a distinctive lavender façade on Inman Square, the shop’s intense, exotic flavors (more than 50 each day) include burnt sugar, licorice, honey-lavender, apple cider, and cinnamon-spiced Mexican chocolate. christinasicecream.com.

HONG KONG Auntie Sweet

In the laid-back Tin Hau neighborhood, groups of boisterous families head to this cheery café for traditional Asian desserts,

including terrific tong shui (sweet Cantonese soups and custards), durian-and-tofu pudding and our favorite: super-rich black-sesame ice cream. 852/2508-6962.

ROME Cristalli di Zucchero

Adjacent to a farmers’ market just off the Circus Maximus is a pretty-in-pink pasticceria where Parisian-style tartlets are made with regional ingredients like apricots and pistachios. Order the flaky ricotta-and-chocolatefilled Romanella at the counter with an espresso— then get another one to go. cristallidizucchero.it.

TAIPEI Ice Monster

Ignore the candy-colored popsicles up front. What you want is the “mango avalanche”—shaved ice piled high with cubes of fresh fruit, mango pudding, condensed milk and mango sorbet. It’s enough for four dainty eaters or two ravenous ones. ice-monster.com.

VIENNA Xocolat

Even the most jaded epicurean succumbs to the Willy Wonkaesque sense of wonder at this haven for the cocoa-obsessed. Lose yourself amid the shelves of chocolate bars, truffles and pralines—some house-made, some globally sourced—then sign up for a class in creating your own. xocolat.at.

A sugar cone piled high with “moka explosion,” strawberry, and black raspberry ice cream at Christina’s, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Edited by Irene Edwards, Nikki Ekstein, Jennifer Flowers, Peter Jon Lindberg, Nilou Motamed The Panel Brett Anderson, Luke Barr, April Bloomfield, Massimo Bottura, Anya von Bremzen, Sean Brock, Jennifer Chen, Anissa Helou, Frances Hibbard, Graham Holliday, Ed Kenney, Wendy Lyn, Francine Maroukian, Tomás Martín, Danny Meyer, Elizabeth Minchilli, Shane Mitchell, Adrian Moore, Robert Newton, Clara Padron, Daniel Patterson, Zak Pelaccio, Naomi Pomeroy, Eric Ripert, Pavia Rosati, Marcus Samuelsson, Maria Shollenbarger, Gail Simmons, Oliver Strand, Lesley Tellez, Daniel Vaughn, Gisela Williams

Kristin Teig

CONTRIBUTORS


The outdoor dining table at Le Moulin de la Cagne, the house the author rented in St.-Jeannet, France.


From left: Fruit for sale in St.-Paul de Vence; small boats near the Port de l’Olivette, on Cap d’Antibes. Opposite: Cafés on Rue Georges Clémenceau, in Antibes.

W

When my mother and father fell in love, in the summer of 1967, they took off for Provence. They were in Switzerland at the time, and both 21 years old. A few days after they met, an impromptu Mediterranean weekend vacation seemed like the thing to do, and so they boarded a train to Cassis, a pretty fishing village east of Marseilles. They arrived in the evening. My mother decided they would sleep on the beach, and she tossed my father’s too-heavy American suitcase under a bush near the train station with an energetic flourish. My mother was Swiss, and fearless. She had packed a small tent, which they pitched near the water after walking through town and along the length of the beach. They shared a baguette and a bottle of wine. That night, when the mosquitoes came, they lit cigarettes and smoked furiously inside the tent, which my mother insisted was the standard European method of fighting them off. I think of my parents in their smoky tent as I stand in the shallow water in front of Plage Keller, on the Cap d’Antibes. The bohemian romance of the French Riviera of 1967 seems a lifetime away—my lifetime, in fact, since I was born in 1968—but the freewheeling, sybaritic mood remains. There is the sheer physical beauty of the place, the infinite gradations of blue sky and blue water in the distance, the golden, glowing sunlight and air, the extra-attractive 128

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people in their bathing suits, the sound of laughter and ice cubes melting in the heat, the whole scene taking on the sudden, nostalgic glamour of an old Polaroid or an Instagram shot. But the glamour is real, not a special effect. The drive to the beach had taken us past the grand villas of the superrich hidden away among the trees. Villa America, Sara and Gerald Murphy’s 1920’s outpost—where they entertained everyone from Picasso and Hemingway to Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald—was a few minutes’ walk away, and so was the iconic Hôtel du Cap. At Plage Keller, meanwhile, athletic waiters adjusted our bright-yellow beach umbrellas, tracking the sun throughout the day, and took orders for refreshments, drinks and lunch. My wife and friends and our kids sprawled on our chaise longues drinking Badoit and reading Gillian Flynn and Hilary Mantel novels. We were on vacation. We were in Provence. It’s funny how a place can insert itself into your life, seemingly by accident, and then take on mythical powers of attraction. I have been coming to the Côte d’Azur repeatedly over the past several years, sometimes for vacation, sometimes for work, and the more I come here, the more I want to come back. I am not the only one, needless to say. In my family, it was my great-aunt, the writer M.F.K. Fisher, who led the way. She had come to France for the first time in the late 1920’s, living in Dijon with her first husband, and she made a career out of writing about food and life—and quite often, France—seducing American readers with her descriptions of oysters, or freshly picked green beans, or of sitting alone at a café,


An alleyway in Carros, northeast of St.-Jeannet. Opposite: Fresh goat cheeses at Au Poivre d’Âne, in Vence.


on this trip, I had rented a house in the hills. It was about a half-hour’s drive from the coast, in St.-Jeannet, a tiny town outside Vence. The massive stone former olive-oil mill, Le Moulin de la Cagne, was built in the 1700’s and set on a steep, terraced hillside that fell away into a gorge. The owner of the house was a Dutch flower-bulb impresario, and the gardens were appropriately grand, full of rare and spectacular plants, otherworldly blooms and enormous cacti. There was a grape arbor above the outdoor table where we ate every meal; there were mulberry, olive, 132

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lime, grapefruit, plum and kumquat trees; there was a mossy pool of carp. We hung our laundry to dry instantly in the heat on the upper terrace and swam in the pool on the lower terrace. Farther below was a large vegetable garden, where we picked tomatoes and cucumbers. Every night at exactly 11 p.m., the sprinkler system would activate. It was a very thorough, drenching, professional sprinkler system, one befitting a Dutch flower man. He had forgotten to mention it, and so on one of the first nights we were there, we found ourselves frantically clearing wine glasses and stowing chair cushions as the sound of the hissing, spraying water grew louder and louder, surrounding us. We escaped inside. The timing and coordination of the various sprinklers was fiendishly complicated, I learned, and could not be changed. And so we got used to the late-evening water. (One night, my older daughter, Sachi, eight, asked if she could stay up and run through the sprinklers. We all watched as she ran back and forth laughing in the dark in her long, wet nightgown, looking like a ghost in the mist in a gothic fantasy.) We would wash up in the kitchen every night at five minutes to 11 p.m., and drink brandies in the living room, where an enormous millstone and other remnants of olive-oil production served as décor. The garden sparkled in the morning, lush and green. Towering above the house, above the village of St.-Jeannet, was a small, bare mountain—the Baou de St.-Jeannet. It was craggy and beautiful, like a smaller Montagne Ste.-Victoire in a Cézanne painting, and had some of that flinty hardness. This is the essential duality of Provence, I thought as I stood in the garden and looked up at the cliff. The softness and the toughness. The wild, fertile abundance and the austere, unforgiving stone; the unbelievable richness and perfection of the tomatoes and peaches, but also the dry prickliness of rosemary bushes and thistles. Two sides of the same lovely coin. I walked through the garden and climbed the stone staircases connecting the terraces above the house. Sachi had discovered a path that led up the steep hill to an abandoned viaduct that spanned the gorge. She led the way, collecting flowers. The vegetation was wild, overgrown and unwatered, full of long grasses and thorny bushes. We crossed the viaduct and looked down at our miniature house and garden and pool, waving at the rest of our miniature family. They waved back.

provence is made for cooking. The markets, produce stands,

butchers, fishmongers, bakeries and cheese shops all have the best stuff imaginable: large crates of peaches and nectarines, all just ripe, sell for a few euros. Your average supermarket chicken is mindbogglingly delicious. Staples like wine and bread are transcendent. The local bakery, Aux Suprêmes de St.-Jeannet, didn’t look like much. It was set just off the main roundabout in the center of town, in a little shopping area next to a pharmacy and gift shop. Parking was haphazard. But inside was that amber smell of all French bakeries, the smell of butter and flour being fired into golden-brown croissants at high heat. In the morning, a long, fast-moving line led past trays of petits fours—tiny éclairs, apple tarts, Mont Blancs—toward the bins of baguettes in front. The bakery was famously good, I learned, drawing customers from kilometers around. I came every day, and felt a little more French each time, rattling off my order and then driving the kilometer or two to the house with my window rolled down, bread and croissants tossed on the back seat. A slightly longer drive was required to get to the food shops in Vence, a larger town with a well-preserved medieval center that has

i n s e t: c o u r t e s y o f l u k e b a r r

happy, drinking a glass of vermouth. M.F. loved Provence. She and her sister Norah—my grandmother—came to France often, and for months at a time. In the fall of 1970, the sisters rented an apartment not far from Plascassier, where Julia Child and her husband, Paul, had built their vacation house. Contemplating her future in a letter to a friend, M.F. wrote: “I know, at this far date in my life, that I was meant to live and if possible to die on a dry, olive-covered hillside in Provence.” The trip that fall of 1970 was a fateful one, not only for my great-aunt, but for the entire American food establishment. They were all there in Provence together that fall and winter, more or less coincidentally: Julia Child, James Beard, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, Judith Jones and M.F., the people behind the seminal cookbooks and food writing of the era. They ate and drank and cooked together (and talked and sniped and gossiped, too), and they were all, in one way or another, rethinking their attachments to France, where they had each fallen in love with food and cooking to begin with. I have been writing a book about this historical moment, about the American love affair with France and how it came to an end—or at least, how the terms of the relationship, in the realms of food, taste and snobbery, had changed rapidly in the late 1960’s. The unquestioned authority of French haute cuisine was waning; the American counterculture, with its co-op vegetable gardens and homemade bread, was on the rise. And as it turned out, the casual, rustic cooking of rural French bistros and Provençal home kitchens had an outsize role to play in inspiring the modern American food revolution, from Chez Panisse to every farm-to-table menu in the land. This is why I’ve been coming to Provence again and again: to untangle the strands of cultural and culinary history that made it so influential for Child, Beard, my great-aunt and the others—a place where food and life intertwined so easily, and indeed still do.


Clockwise from far left: M.F.K. Fisher on a walk in Aix-enProvence in the 1950’s; inside the Matisse-designed Chapelle du Rosaire, just outside Vence; the sculpture garden at the Fondation Maeght, in St.-Paul de Vence; the swimming pool at Le Moulin de la Cagne.


Late afternoon at Plage Keller, on Cap d’Antibes.

narrow streets opening onto squares lined with cafés and plenty of kitschy Provençal gift shops, but plenty of real food shops, too. There were greengrocers in small spaces with cement floors, and specialty markets selling cheese and wine. I found a butcher whose store, Boucherie Centrale, was built into the exterior wall of the old town. He was an icon of French bourgeois contentment, a portly man in a bloody apron slicing off large pieces of his house-made terrines of pâté, dispensing sausages and cooking advice, steaks, pork chops and legs of lamb. I spent most of my time in Provence thinking about, looking at, buying, preparing and eating food. My wife, Yumi, and I were the de facto chefs of the operation, feeding friends and relatives from morning until night. We loved it. The kitchen was state-of-the-art, with an enormous Lacanche stove, and approximately the size of our Brooklyn apartment.

julia child came to provence to escape her American fame, and to cook for her friends. Here, she was anonymous, just another (very tall) American perusing the farmers’ markets and waiting in line for her morning baguettes. She and Paul had built their house in 1965, on the

estate of Simone Beck, her co-author of the Mastering the Art of French Cooking books. They named it La Pitchoune; it was a small, single-story house near Grasse. It was quiet. The phone did not ring. No recipes needed to be tested, no television programs needed to be filmed. The cooking that happened here was casual and communal. For a few weeks in 1970, the kitchen in the Childs’ house in Provence was the epicenter of the American food world. James Beard and M.F. came to dinner, or stopped by on their way back from the Fondation Maeght museum; Richard Olney, the reclusive American author of the just-released French Menu Cookbook, who lived a few outside Toulon, came to pay his respects. Judith Jones, the editor at Knopf who’d discovered Child and Beck, visited with her husband, Evan. France had inspired them, but it was the simple, seasonal cooking of Provence that now resonated most of all. Stews, braises, roasts, bouillabaisses—Provence represented a humbler, less theatrical cooking, a break from the deluxe classics of French restaurant cuisine, where everything came draped in rich sauces, or was flambéed, or both. It was simple; it suited the times. This was also a moment of broadening interest in American regional and international cuisine. Beard was finishing his opus, American Cookery; Child was ready to move beyond purely French recipes and teach her readers and TV viewers to make New England clam chowders and to explore Indian curry. Still, it made perfect sense that it was here, in Provence, that this group came together to contemplate their culinary futures. This was where it had all started.

our days were leisurely affairs, during which we drove and

walked aimlessly, letting ourselves get lost and semi-lost, shopping for


groceries, stopping for coffee, visiting the local sights. Like M.F. and Beard, who in 1970 had embarked on numerous art excursions, we stopped at the Matisse Chapel, in Vence, a beautiful building designed by the artist in the late 1940’s and containing his stained-glass windows, murals and other works. And in St.-Paul de Vence, the next town over, at the Fondation Maeght, a strange, Brutalist-looking cement structure surrounded by lawns, trees and sculpture gardens that was built in the mid-60’s by Paris art dealer Aimé Maeght. There were Giacomettis, Chagalls, Calders and Braques. The largest farmers’ market in the area was in Antibes, in the center of the old town. It was vast, with long rows of specialty purveyors selling everything from cured meats and olives to fresh cheeses and fresh fish. Local fruit and vegetable farmers set up shop in the center aisle, with their piles of artichokes, eggplants and enormous heads of lettuce, their apricots and tiny wild strawberries. The ocean was a few blocks away. We wandered the alleys in the direction of the Grimaldi Castle, built on the ramparts surrounding the city, and the sudden looming-into-view of the Mediterranean was almost shocking. It sparkled, bright blue. The Grimaldi now houses a small Picasso museum. This was where the artist worked just after World War II, producing dozens of paintings and drawings, including the famous La Joie de Vivre. The museum also has numerous colorful ceramics with his designs and drawings. The aesthetic of this art—all of it, at the Matisse Chapel, the Maeght Foundation, the Picasso museum—was sunlit, happy, vigorous and bold; it was Provençal. The same adjectives could describe the food we ate. Dockside in Antibes, at Le Novella restaurant, we ordered garlicky salads, moules

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T L Guide stay T+L A-List agent Bob Preston (europanache.com; 888/600-6777) can arrange personalized itineraries in Provence. Several villa-rental agencies, including Hosted Villas (hostedvillas. com) and Ville et Village (villeetvillage. com) specialize in the region. For information about Le Moulin de la Cagne, the house the author rented in St.-Jeannet, e-mail owner Peter de Boer at pcdeboer@gmail.com. eat Le César Plage Keller, 1035 Chemin de la Garoupe, Cap d’Antibes; plagekeller. com; dinner from €160. Le Novella 40 Blvd. d’Aguillon; Antibes; 33-4/93-34-73-29; dinner from €180.

do Chapelle du Rosaire 466 Ave. Henri Matisse, Vence; 33-4/93-58-03-26; admission €3.50. Fondation Maeght 623 Chemin des Gardettes, St.-Paul de Vence; fondationmaeght.com; admission €4. Musée Picasso Château Grimaldi, Place Mariejol, Antibes; 33-4/92-9054-20; admission €6. shop Au Poivre d’Âne An excellent cheese shop. 12 Rue du Marché, Vence; 33-4/93-58-04-25. Aux Suprêmes de St.-Jeannet Quai du Peyron, St.-Jeannet; 33-4/9211-02-09. Boucherie Centrale 26 Ave. Marcellin Maurel, Vence; 33-4/93-58-01-03. cooking classes and tours Cooking with Friends in France Cooking classes at La Pitchoune, the former home of Julia Child, taught by Kathie Alex. cookingwithfriends.com; four-day cooking class with five-day accommodation US$2,650 per person double. Les Petits Farcis Market tours and cooking classes. petitsfarcis.com; cooking class with market tour and four-course lunch €195 per person.

frites and petits farcis—stuffed eggplants and peppers. The flavors were intense.

back at the house in st.-jeannet,

we cooked with Child, Beck, Beard, Olney and M.F. in mind, re-creating the communal atmosphere and sense of hedonistic possibility in the kitchen, embracing the pleasure of the land itself. When my friend Kathie Alex came to lunch one day, toward the end of our trip, I felt the past connecting to the present. I’d met Kathie on previous trips here, while researching my book: she is a former student of Simone Beck’s and the present owner of La Pitchoune. The Childs had built their house with the understanding that it would belong to the Beck family after they died, and the Becks eventually sold it to Kathie. She teaches cooking classes in the house, where Child’s kitchen remains unchanged—her cooking utensils still hanging on the walls. I made an onion tart—the onions cooked very, very slowly, with lots of thyme; Yumi made a large green salad and a small white-bean-and-tuna salad. We cut up baguettes and sliced tomatoes and cantaloupes. We opened a rosé. We were ever-so-slightly nervous, cooking for a real cook, but of course we needn’t have been. The atmosphere and philosophy and ingredients of Provence conspire to make this sort of outdoor lunch party a grand, sunny, rosé-tinted success. Kathie remembered Beck as a daunting presence in the kitchen, but also as a fiercely loyal friend. Beck saw herself as the guardian of all that was true and French—vraiment française— and as Child grew as a cook, and became ever more famous in America, their relationship became ever more fraught. The second volume of Mastering, released in the fall of 1970, would be their last collaboration. They’d always have Provence, though, where they and their families both came to vacation in their adjacent houses, all through the 70’s and 80’s. No longer co-authors, the women were better friends—sisters, they called each other. By the time Kathie started teaching cooking classes, in the 1990’s, the original generation of American pioneers had retired or passed on. M.F. died in 1992, in Glen Ellen, California, where I grew up visiting her as a kid, and where she served family lunches on the veranda. Now Kathie was pondering her future—who would take over Julia’s La Pitchoune kitchen when she retired?—and we were serving lunch, keeping traditions alive. We toasted our meal, and the history all around us, the people who came before us, and Provence, of course. Then we unpacked the pear tart from the St.-Jeannet bakery, maybe the best pear tart ever made, and raised our glasses again. ✚ t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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Our Definitive Guide to

The Royal Palace fronts busy Sisowath Quay. Opposite: Poolside at the spaceship-like Le Blanc Boutique Hotel.


A sense of vibrant optimism reverberates in Phnom Penh’s oncesleepy streets. You might expect to be charmed by the colonial hotels and lovely galleries, but Sylvia Gavin says the maelstrom of bespoke boutiques, great cafés and beyondcool bars make the Cambodian capital one of Southeast Asia’s most surprising destinations. Photographed by Cedric Arnold t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a .c o m

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phnom penh

N Sisowath Quay

Street 178 street 240

Mekong river street 240½

boeng kan kang 0

4 KM

Lay of the Land Riverside The ever-popular waterfront is lined with cafés, small boutique hotels and somewhat overeager tuk-tuk drivers. Sip a drink at one of the terraces on Sisowath Quay and watch life in the city parade past along the promenade. Street 240 and Street 240½ A firm favorite with well-to-do expats and Cambodians, tree-lined Street 240 is awash with quirky boutiques, wine bars, artisan studios and some of the best eateries. The vibe is distinctly ‘bourgeois bohemian.’ Strictly for those in the know: the narrow alleyway Street 240½ is an up-and-coming enclave of super cool bars and restaurants. Street 178 Lined with art galleries and street-side sculpture studios, this is Phnom Penh’s ‘Art Street.’ Boeng Ken Kang (BKK1 and 2) A leafy, mostly residential neighborhood that feels like a bubble of tranquility in the middle of the cluttered city. Spend time walking around here to stumble upon lots of gems (restaurants, boutiques and spas) that are neither obvious nor easy to find.

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From left: Poolside at Raffles Hotel Le Royal; a room at The Plantation Urban Resort & Spa.

Stay

Brand-new boutique beauts take hospitality into the future; stately grande dames that survived a dark era highlight a still happier past. Raffles Hotel Le Royal The city’s leading hotel: five-star luxury with a hearty dollop of old-world charm. This one-time host to Somerset Maugham, Charlie Chaplin and Jackie O is seen by many as a destination in and of itself. Poolside is a lovely spot to linger. 92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh; 855-23/981-888; raffles.com; US$260.

Pavilion Set in a leafy tropical haven, the immensely popular Pavilion offers comfortable rooms in a renovated colonial villa, friendly service and a great swimming pool, at bargain rates. Locals will tell you this is the city’s best hotel besides Raffles, but word is most definitely out, so it can be difficult to get a

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booking—with the four private-pool rooms most requested. 227 St. 19; 855-23/222-280; thepavilion.asia; doubles from US$60, privatepool rooms US$120.

The Plantation Urban Resort & Spa “Perfect” repeatedly pops up in reviews of this place, and we agree. This beautiful, family-friendly hotel combines colonial charm, modern amenities and fantastic food. The gallery hosts contemporary Cambodian art, and little city guides are provided in room. 28 St. 184; 855-23/215-151; theplantation.asia; US$65.

Maison d’Ambre Each of the 10 sleek and spacious suites has

a theme. Particularly popular: “Mogambo” and “Shanghai Gesture.” The roof bar, The 5th Element, is superb for sundowners. 123 St. 19 cor. St. 110; 855-23/ 222-780; lamaison dambre.com; US$150.

Le Blanc Boutique Hotel With gleaming white walls and a spaceship vibe, the attention to detail and design is evident in each of the nine bedrooms at this hotel from Cambodian architect Unnpeng Puthvisal. Something very different, indeed. 21A St. 352; 85523/971-971; leblanc boutique hotel.com; US$125.

The White Mansion This popular boutique hotel in the former U.S. Ambassador’s home offers elegant, spacious rooms and friendly service. The deluxe rooms have lovely balconies nestled just under the roof. 26 St. 240; 855-23/555-955; hotelphnompenhwhitemansion.com; US$99.

Cara Hotel Just a block from the river, this reliable, inexpensive option has clean rooms, satellite TV, free Wi-Fi, friendly service. Most appealing: the excellent tapas spot, Doors, downstairs. 18 St. 47 and St. 84; 855-23/430-066; hotelcara.com; US$45.

Hotel prices are starting rates for double occupancy unless noted.


Shop Handcrafted baubles, textiles, clothing and sweets—plus one seriously chic stylist. Ambre Cambodian designer Romyda Keth’s shop is a joy to the senses. Fabulously feminine and consummately cool, her silk creations are spread out across a beautifully renovated French-era mansion. There are sections for home designs, men’s and children’s. 37 St. 178; 85523/217-935; romydaketh.net.

Chocolate by The Shop Sweet lovers should make a beeline to this cocoa paradise. Sothearith Sum will talk you through Cambodian flavors such Mondolkiri honey pralines and Kampot pepper-encrusted chocolate slabs. 38 St. 337, and 35 St. 240; 855-23/ 998-638; chocolate-cambodia.com.

De.Gran Beauty Salon Blazing a bright trail, this upmarket Japanese salon is responsible for ensuring that the city’s party people sport voguish haircuts and kohl-clad eyes. 19

St. 352; 855-23/999-707; degranjapan.com.

Elsewhere Casual yet elegant clothing, all of which come in muted hues of natural linen, silk or cotton and are perfect for the tropics. 52 St. 240; 855-12/414-596; elsewhere2.asia.

From top: Silk scarves from Eric Rasina; designer Romyda Keth at Ambre; sweet treats at Chocolate by The Shop.

Eric Rasina It’s only fitting that a Cambodiadwelling designer originally from Madagascar would forge exquisite collections derived from an awe-inspiring blend of African, European and Asian influences. Wander in, even if just to stroke the silk scarves. 28 Sihanouk Blvd.; 855-23/997 590; ericraisina.com.

The Garden of Desire Unique handcrafted jewelry by Cambodian Ly Pisith, using natural raw cut stones such as amethyst and smoky quartz set in fine silver and gold. A must. 33 St. 178; 855-12/319-116; gardenofdesire-asia.com.

+

See Do Meta House, German Cambodian Cultural Center On any evening at this active art and media center, you can watch a documentary, attend a music performance, visit a photography show or mingle over light fare and Mekong beers. 37 Sothearos Blvd.; 855-23/224-140; metahouse.com; screenings US$2.

National Museum of Cambodia Intramuros is one of theTuol Sleng few colonial-era areas. (S21) Museum.

Housed in a distinctive cardinal-red building resembling a Khmer temple, the museum displays a

Cambodia overflows with currents of history—much of it confrontational.

millennia-spanning array of Khmer relics and sculptures. Unquestionably a must-do. Ticket booth, cnr. of Streets 13 and 178; 855-23/211753; cambodiamuseum.info; admission US$5.

The Killing Fields The memorial park at Choeung Ek, outside Phnom Penh, commemorates the many thousands of victims of the Khmer Rouge. The startling centerpiece—a memorial stupa composed of 8,000 human skulls—stands as testament to the horrors inflicted under that regime. 15 kilometers southwest of

Phnom Penh, in Rolous; admission US$5 including audio tour.

Tuol Sleng Genocide (S21) Museum Prior to 1975, Tuol Sleng was a high school; during the four years of Khmer Rouge rule, it became one of the country’s most notorious torture facilities. Today it remains as a museum and a memorial. Wrapping up your tour, the lines of photos of those who perished make for moving— and confronting—viewing. Cnr. of Streets 113 and 350; admission US$3.

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phnom penh From below: Hanging at Doors; Absolut-cured salmon gravlax, The Duck; diners at the too-cool Public House.

Time for a Tipple Bar.Sito Hidden away, this stylish speakeasy is for those very much in-the-know. Their signature espresso martini will keep you up late. St. 240½; 855-77/555-447; facebook.com/bar.sito.asia. Foreign Correspondents Club Drinking haunts don’t get more legendary than this, and as the sun goes down, the roof terrace fills up. 363 Sisowath Quay; 855-10/350494; fcccambodia.com.

Eat With such on-trend eateries, foodies would be forgiven for wondering whether they’re in Phnom Penh or on the Lower East Side. Armand’s Cozy French bistro with excellent beef. Order the steak flambé, and affable Armand Gerbié cooks it tableside with generous volumes of Cognac. 33 St. 108; 855-15/548966; US$66.

Deco The eternally loyal clientele raves about the duck breast with watermelon, cashew nuts and plum sauce. Cnr. Sts. 57 and 352; 855-17/577-327; deco phnompenh.com; US$50.

Doors Hipster hot spot serving sensational tapas, to the beat of bands and DJs. Recommended: tempura barracuda with yogurt dressing and black

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sesame; and squid-inkinfused Black Barcelona Rice. 18 St. 47 and St. 84; 855-23/986-114; doorspp.com; US$30.

upstairs. 1C St. 282; 885-23/214-660; terrazza.asia; US$50.

CommonTiger; fivecourse tasting US$40.

Public House

The Common Tiger The former executive sous chef at Song Saa Private Island, Timothy Bruyns, has just opened a restaurant that’s already setting a new standard with its local ingredient-filled, stripped down innovations. Gorgeous stuff and uncommonly good service meant to appeal to a sophisticated home market; “We don’t want to be tourist-focused,” Bruyns says. 20 St. 294; 855-23/212-917; facebook.com/The

Understated bistro for the city’s well-heeled. Linger over Absolutcured salmon gravlax, lime aioli and crisp capers; and seared duck breast, roast potatoes, wilted spinach and berry jus. 49 Sothearos Blvd.; 855-89/823-704; the-duck.net; US$75.

Abuzz with the sound of trendy professionals clinking their glasses, this too-cool gastro-pub serves fish and chips, and shepherds pie—not to mention great cocktails. St. 240½; 855-17/770-754; US$30.

Terrazza A brand-new resto-deli jammed with meats and cheeses and lots of pizzazz all imported from Italy. Pizzas are woodfired, pastas homemade and the music flows like wine at Groove lounge

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The Duck

Zino Wine Bar In a town without much Mediterranean, the good food and great wine fill a big hole. 12 St. 294; 855-23/998-519; facebook.com/ zinowinebar; US$40.

Restaurant prices are approximate rates for dinner for two unless noted.

Le Moon Terrace Bar Atop the Amanjaya Pancam Hotel, with views of both the hopping riverfront and the illuminated Royal Palace, you’d be hard pushed to find a better sunset viewpoint. Amanjaya Hotel, 1 Sisowath Quay; 855-23/219-579; amanjaya-pancam-hotel.com. Tepui at Chinese House Seriously stylish, laid-back Latin. Combining Chinese décor and French colonial architecture, the lounge/ gallery is a perfect place meet friends—and drink some of the city’s best cocktails; the passion margarita deserves a special mention. 45 Sisowath Quay; 855-23/991-514; chinesehouse.asia. The Bungalows Sunset Bar Part of an eco-tourism project, this fantastic floating bar terrace is open on selected days from 5 p.m. Book ahead. Arexat Village, across the Mekong River; 855-77/555-447; mekong bungalows.asia/#the-bar.


From left: French designs from Le Marais; at Romdeng, lotus root and chicken salad in galangal dressing; escaping the city at Kirirom National Park.

Local Take f r o m t o p l e f t: e r m i n e n o r o d o m , l e m a r a i s ; s a b i n e v a l e n s , f r i e n d s i n t e r n at i o n a l ; j o h n b o r t h wick / g e t t y i m a g e s . i l l u s t r at i o n s b y w a s i n e e c h a n ta k o r n

Get the scoop on the city from three insiders. Alexis de

Romdya Keth

Suremain

Owner of Ambre and President of the Fashion Council of Cambodia

Property developer and owner of Pavilion

I take visiting friends to Eclipse Skybar (855-23/964-171) for its

panoramic views of the city. One unusual thing to do is tour the Citadel Knife Factory (knives-citadel.com), which showcases the traditional craftsmanship in the production of this internationally renowned cutlery. During the hot season, I relish the opportunity to escape the city and head south to Kirirom National Park, in Phnom Sruoch District, an hour’s drive away. It is much cooler there and you can just let the kids go.

Em Riem

Artist and designer

One of my favorite places to eat is Romdeng (tree-alliance.org/ourrestaurants/romdeng.asp), where they create simple but tasty Cambodian dishes with excellent service. Another favorite is Heart of an Angel (17 St. 608, Toul Kok): an absolute oasis and the perfect place to go when you want to escape everything. When hitting the town with my fashion friends, I inevitably end up at Metro Hassakan (271 St. 148 and Sisowath; 855-23/222275) or Rahu Metro (159 Sisowath Quay; 855-77/854-060).

At home, I mostly eat Cambodian food, so when I dine out, I like to go to La Residence (la-residence-restaurant. com) for fantastic French cuisine. When in the mood for shopping, I always pop into Le Marais (lemarais.com.kh) to check out their selection of French designers. In terms of local designers, for beautifully refined and designed clothes, Lim Keo (9 St. 222) and Eric Rasina (see “Shop”) are two must-visits. Java Arts.

Art Appreciation Java Arts At the forefront of Cambodian contemporary art, openings here gather the great of the local art scene. Both a café and a gallery, with a lovely terrace on which to mingle with the luminaries. 56 Sihanouk Blvd.; javaarts.org.

Gallerie XM Em Riem, one of the best-known artists in Cambodia, shows his powerful work that stretches elastically from portraits of Khmer Rouge victims on burlap rice bags to extravagantly sculptural rattan furniture. 13 Rue 178.

Romeet Gallery Aiming to promote young Cambodian artists, this contemporary art space is also well known for its educational activities. With innovative and experimental exhibitions, Romeet takes more risks than most. 34E St. 178; romeet.com.

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Last Look

Photographed by Morgan Ommer

Street Eats

Hanoi Communist rations-era dishes at Food Trade Shop Number 37 in the Vietnamese capital include thit luoc (boiled pork), rau bi xao toi (spinach sautĂŠed with garlic) and dau phu ran (fried tofu).

Hong Kong During the Cheung Chau Bun festival, children dressed as folk heroes compete to climb a 10-meter-high mountain of these delicious, meat-free dumplings.

Mandalay A major pilgrimage site in central Burma, the golden Buddha in Mahamuni Temple is said to be one of five likenesses made in his lifetime. Trying to wrap your head around that calls for an ice cream!

Bangkok Dip fresh veggies into nam prik long rua (Thai chili paste), or smear it on your rice. The selection here is for sale at Or Tor Kor market, near Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok.

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September 2013  

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia September 2013

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