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Dear Smythson Diary

Smythson 2017 diaries

Smythson 2017 diaries

It’s that time of year when my Smythson diary prompts me with a little note that I should be ordering my new agenda for next year. Smythson’s 2017 diaries have just been launched and if you order online between today (August 22nd) and next Monday (August 29th) there’s free shipping on the new Panama Diaries. Click on the link below for happy shopping:

Smythson

Brexit Breaks – Hotels in England & Wales

If you live outside of the UK and get paid in anything other than sterling now is a good time to book a British holiday.

Lucknam Park

Lucknam Park

 

Lucknam Park, Wiltshire

Lucknam Park is the perfect country house hotel: neither stuffily chintzy nor brought incongruously up to date with over-designed styling, it’s a mix of old world good looks, modern comforts, friendly service and fabulous food.

Once you’ve driven up the mile long, tree-flanked avenue to the splendid Palladian house, indulge in a traditional afternoon tea (scones with clotted cream and homemade jam) in the beautiful drawing room with views over the parkland. Then set off on the hour-long walk along he estate’s perimeter wall, or horsey types can head for the hotel’s impressive equestrian centre – just enough fresh air and exercise to have you hungry again for dinner

The Michelin-starred Park restaurant, headed up by chef Hywel Jones, is pure Jane Austen, all chandeliers, swagged curtains and bow windows. The food here is on the elaborate side but it’s never a case of style over substance.

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Lucknam Park

Then there’s the spa. Ah – the spa, a super slick surprise behind the main house. Swim in the indoor pool complete with roaring fireplace (yes, you read that correctly), loll about in the hot rooms and outdoor hydro pool and try a treatment using herbs from the hotel’s vegetable garden. Bath, Austen’s stomping ground, is only six miles away but with so much to occupy you at Lucknam who knows if you’ll make it there.

wwww.lucknampark.co.uk

oldswan_exterior

The Old Swan

The Old Swan, Minster Lovell

Imagine the ideal country inn and you’ll picture The Old Swan. Exposed beams and brick, flagstone floors, log fires, cosy nooks, inviting bar… this is a wonderful weekend retreat in the Cotswolds countryside.

When it comes to eating, choose between the more formal restaurant with vaulted ceiling and rich wool tapestries or the pub like but equally appealing dining room.

Old Swan & Minster Mill

Old Swan

Settle down by the fire for a nightcap (the snug is for residents only) before climbing the wooden stairs to one of the most comfortable beds you’ve ever slept in.

Bring your hiking boots as there are walks aplenty almost from the front door.

http://www.oldswanandminstermill.com

Gilpin Lake House

Gilpin Lake House

Gilpin Lake House, Cumbria

Staying at the lake House feels like steoppping into your own home – albeit with a number of staff at hand. With just six bedrooms and overlooking a private tarn, the house is intimate and relaxed. Part of that comes from the comfortable interiors but also from the personable service.

Tea is laid out every afternoon in the conservatory, where the very decent breakfast is served too. Dinner is over at Gilpin Lodge, the renowned hotel and restaurant owned by the same family. Its a few minute away but a driver is provided.

Gilpin Lake House treatment room.jpg

Gilpin Lake House

Walks in the rugged countryside are de rigour. Afterwards there’s the Lake House’s indoor pool, sauna and outdoor hot tub to enjoy as well as a massage room overlooking the lake.

http://www.gilpinlodge.co.uk

Ynyshir-Hall-Hotel-exterior

Ynyshir Hall

Ynyshir Hall, Powys

Queen Victoria’s former country residence in Wales has been revamped into a luxurious small hotel.

Artist and owner Rob Reen’s striking paintings adorn the cosy bedrooms and chic dining room. A wealth of local produce is showcased in the Michelin starred restaurant including meat from the excellent village butcher, fish from nearby Borth and herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden. But the menu is anything but provincial.

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Ynyshir Hall

Outside of the comfortable cocoon of the hotel with its sumptuous fabrics and lush colours, there are some stunning walks in this pretty corner of Wales. Either around the Dovey estuary where Ynyshir Hall nestles or a more strenuous hill climb – you may even spot local resident Robert Plant of Stairway to Heaven fame.

http://www.ynyshir-hall.co.uk

Still Time for Tiffany Tea at The Pen

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Good news for afternoon tea lovers: The Peninsula Hong Kong has extended its popular Tiffany & Co inspired tea until the end of this month.

The New York Spirit afternoon tea includes cupcakes in Tiffany blue and white, New York cheesecake with blueberries and cream and Tiffany & Co boxes in cake form: vanilla mousse, strawberry marmalade and almond joconde sponge.

The New York Spirit Afternoon Tea set is available at The Lobby, The Peninsula Hong Kong, until 31 August 2016.

http://hongkong.peninsula.com/en/special-offers/tiffany-afternoon-tea

Her name is Rio…

Chloe tracksuit spring/summer 16

Chloe tracksuit spring/summer 16

Well, actually it’s Chloe, and this is probably the first and only post from Chopstix about the Rio Olympics: a Chloe “tracksuit” priced at a reassuringly expensive £2,000 at Net-a-Porter. You’re welcome.

http://www.net-a-porter.com/gb/en/product/685112/Chloe/two-tone-silk-blend-jersey-sweater

http://www.net-a-porter.com/gb/en/product/685090/Chloe/jersey-wide-leg-sweatpants

The Rise and Rise of the Hotel Residence

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The Residences by Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

Aman is synonymous with luxury resorts so it comes as a surprise when CEO Olivier Jolivet tells us they are not in the hotel business. “Aman is not a hospitality company, but a lifestyle brand that operates much like a club. It’s about like-minded people enjoying each other’s company,” he says when Chopstix meets him in Singapore – home to Aman HQ.

Residential sales, Jolivet says, are at the heart of the Aman business. “The majority of our private residence owners are ‘Amanjunkies’ who returned many times to our resorts, often with friends, and wanted to have a permanent piece of this lifestyle,” he says. “It gives our guests a sense of belonging and is a legacy that is passed onto the next generation.”

Real estate experts in Southeast Asia agree that demand for residences by luxury brand hotels in the region is on the increase fueled by High Net Worths.

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Amanoi, Vietnam

At the very least they are second homes and often third or fourth. “Our guests are buying one, two or three residences,” says Jolivet whose customers are celebrities and Ultra High Net Worths.

The appeal is understandable: you’re buying into the ethos of your favourite hotel brand with added benefits such as 24 hour concierge services. Some are seeking privacy as well.

“Typically, the buyers residences managed by five star operators are end-users who want the hotel services,” says Julien Naouri, Director of Investments, Asia Pacific at Savills. “On the other hand, some buyers seek an investment return, where the unit is going back in the hotel unit managed pool.”

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Amanoi, Vietnam

Sarkunan Subramaniam, Managing Director of Knight Frank Malaysia says it can be a combination of both: “Most buy as holiday homes for themselves as well as capital appreciation and rental yields.”

Having well known architects and interior designers linked to the property also increases the appeal, Willson Kalip, Country Head of Knight Frank Indonesia points out.

Currently Aman residences for sale include Amanoi in Vietnam where buyers have the chance to collaborate with star architect Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston on designing their home. Gathy is also working on the upcoming Four Seasons Bangkok residences, adjacent to a new Four Seasons hotel on the Chao Praya river. The all corner apartments are due to open in 2018.

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A rendering of The Four Seasons Residences, Bangkok

Due to open around the same time, on the same stretch of the river is the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Residences where buyers will have the option of a full interior design service by renowned designer Joyce Wang who recently revamped the guest rooms at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong.

LMHKG redesigned L900 dining & living room Sheer down (1MB)-2

Joyce Wang designed suite at The Landmark Oriental Hong Kong

“Hotel residences are often second or third homes so owners have a “plug and play” expectation,” says Wang. “The design has to function intuitively so they don’t have to learn new ways of operating a household, from light switches to bathroom and kitchen fittings. A hotel residence should make one feel pampered and looked after.”

This marks the first Mandarin Oriental residences in Southeast Asia with a second slated for Bali. Situated diagonally opposite the Mandarin Oriental hotel, each unit – ranging in size from 130 to 230 sq m and penthouses from 380 to 710 sq m – will have a river view.

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A rendering of the Mandarin Oriental Residences, Bangkok

The Peninsula has chosen Shanghai for its first foray into residences. Based right next door to The Peninsula hotel, overlooking the Bund, it comprises an exclusive clutch of 36 one to four bedroomed apartments. All are designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon who was also responsible for the hotel and so share the same 1920s influenced aesthetic.

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The Peninsula Residences Shanghai have similar designs to the hotel rooms

While residents can order room service and catering from the hotel’s chefs, they are given priority bookings at The Pen’s restaurants as well as the spa facilities. They also have access to its famous fleet of Rolls Royces.

Expect to see more Aman residences in city locations too. “We are listening to our customers, they are telling us that when they are travelling they want a pied-a-terre right in the centre,” says Jolivet.

Aman Tokyo guest room

Aman Tokyo suite

They’ll be based on the suites at the recently opened Aman Tokyo. These 141 sq m spaces encompass lounging, dining, sleeping and bathing areas in a minimalist apartment-like setting that can be cleverly divided or opened up by slick sliding doors.

As Jolivet puts it: “a perfectly managed, top of the top property that is a club of the happy few.”

Designers in Demand

Joyce Wang
Hong Konger Wang has designed projects in LA and London as well as her home town. Most recently she revamped the guest rooms at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong bringing a residential feel to them with the use of tactile, luxurious fabrics and creating different experience areas such installing a cocktail cabinet rather than a minibar.

Jean-Michel Gathy
Gathy is one of Aman’s go to architects and has also designed iconic resorts such as the Chedi Oman and the Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives. He is responsible for many hotel design trends including over water hammocks and spa like bathrooms.

Pierre-Yves Rochon
The acclaimed French designer is behind stunning hotels such as the Shangri-La Paris, Grand Hotel Cap Ferat in the South of France and The Savoy, London and has brought a deluxe Art Deco yet contemporary feel to The Peninsula Shanghai hotel and Residences.

Win a Gold Bar

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Yep, you read that correctly. To celebrate the launch of the BFG film, Harrods has launched a competition to win an exclusive gold bar from its own bank. Now that’s what we call a competition. Here are the details: https://www.harrodsbank.co.uk/bfg?cid=email_crm_emagJUNE16_pub_emag_05_2016_nonrewardsMALE_all_030616

Luxe for Less at Joel Robuchon Restaurant

A canny way of eating at Michelin starred restaurants in London and Paris has long been to opt for the set lunch. Now you can do the same in Singapore with Joel Robuchon Restaurant being awarded three Michelin stars.

There are three set lunches available on a Saturday only, starting in price at SG$148 (the dinner menus start at SG$248) and rising to SG$168 and SG$188.

A dish at Joel Robuchon Singapore

Joel Robuchon Restaurant

The least expensive offers an amuse bouche, choice of starter which may include wild salmon tartare, a choice of main such as braised lamb shoulder or caramelised black cod (designed especially for the Singapore outpost), cheese or dessert followed by petit fours.

The middle priced set lunch menu includes a soup and the most expensive a choice of seafood and a choice of meat course on top.

JRR-5

http://www.rwsentosa.com

Will Pippa Middleton plump for Packham?

G&J

The Bride wore Jenny Packham

Fashion experts say the smart money’s on  Jenny Packham for Pippa Middleton’s wedding dress. Fabulous choice P-Mid!

http://www.jennypackham.com

Some thoughts on the first Singapore Michelin Guide

Michelin announced the first selection of the MICHELIN guide Singapore 2016-2

The Michelin Star winners in Singapore

Before the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore was launched on July 21st I was sure of two things: that at least one hawker stall would gain a star and that Joel Robuchon would be awarded three. The former because I could see the headlines about “the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant” pinging around the world (and so could Michelin, I’ll wager) and the latter because Robuchon tends to collect three Michelin stars around the globe as naturally as breathing.

And so, as you’ve probably heard, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle and Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle became the proud recipients of a Michelin star apiece while Joel Robuchon clocked up another three stars for his fine dining establishment in Singapore (read on for the full list). All announced, in a world first for Michelin, to much fanfare: a songstress in glitter crooning When You Wish Upon a Star and dancers in chefs uniforms waving giant forks and spoons. Even the three star reveal had some drama: director Michael Ellis teased us at first that not every location was worthy of three Michelin stars before announcing he did indeed have a red envelope and that it was not empty.

The departure of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants had left a restaurant awards ceremony shaped hole in Singapore. Asia’s 50 Best, an industry only event, debuted in Singapore three years ago and left for Bangkok this year amid rumours that the Singapore Tourism Board was cutting its funding.

Enter the Michelin Guide Singapore and its Gala Dinner Awards Ceremony – a new approach for the tyre company come publisher who usually simply announce the list at a press conference.  The event was part sponsored by the Singapore Tourism Board, who flew in media from around the world, and open to anyone who could pay SG$400 for a ticket. Much has been made of the price but Singapore is a city that flourishes on expensive “exclusive” events and the price is equal to what you’d expect to pay for dinner at many of the Michelin starred restaurants. Naturally there was no San Pellegrino or Acqua Panna in sight, the “official water partners” being Evian and Badoit.

Three stars for the Joël Robuchon restaurant in Singapore-2

Joel Robuchon – the only three Michelin stars in Singapore

The food at the dinner was flagged up as by Joel Robuchon, owner of two restaurants at RW Sentosa, the “title partner” in whose convention space the Michelin awards were held. Robuchon, it was announced later that evening, was the recipient of two Michelin stars for L’atelier de Joel Robuchon and the coveted three for Joel Robuchon Restaurant – the only three star Michelin winner in Singapore.

Two of the other restaurants openly given credit for catering the event – Forest and Osia – are also tenants of RW Sentosa. They both received one Michelin star.

I can only imagine how Marina Bay Sands, the rival casino and celebrity restaurant joint across town, are spitting (roulette) chips. They clocked up just two stars (as opposed to RW Sentosa’s total of seven) for Wolfgang Puck’s Cut and Waku Ghin by Tetsuya Wakuda – two highly acclaimed restaurants.

On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that whatever the talents of a hawker stall chef they could be on a par with these two establishments and many others on the one star list including Shinji by Kanesaka, Jaan and The Kitchen at Bacchanalia. And there were many on the bulging one star list that were equal to two. There were also some puzzling omissions. Where was the Tippling Club? Wild Rocket? Gunther’s? Saint Pierre? I could go on.

Six other establishments obtain two stars in this 2016 edition of the MICHELIN Singapore guide.jpg

The two Michelin star winners in Singapore

 

I have eaten at Joel Robuchon in Singapore and while the food was undoubtedly excellent there were a few snags. Two of the dishes that were brought to the table were not the ones I ordered and our waiter had no idea that there were wine pairings available – as written clearly on the menu. It’s not what I would describe as a three star experience however Michelin states: “The service levels have no bearing on the award.” That surprises me as I would have thought it’s a vital component of a restaurant “worth a special journey”. If anyone has an old copy of a European based Michelin Guide I’d love to know if includes the same criteria.

 

Here’s the list:

 

*** Three Stars

Joel Robuchon

 

** Two Stars

Andre

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Les Amis

Odette

Shisen Hanten

Shoukouwa

 

*One Star

Alma

The Kitchen at Bacchanalia

Beni

Candlenut

Corner House

Crystal Jade Golden Palace

Cut

Forest

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Jaan

Lei Garden

Osia

Putien (Kitchener Road)

Rhubarb

Shinji (Raffles hotel)

Shinji (St Regis)

Summer Pavillion

Sushi Ichi

Terra

The Song of India

Waku Ghin

 

 

A Cut Above

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Porterhouse steak at Cut by Wolfgang Puck

As Cut was awarded a Michelin star in the inaugural Singapore guide, launched yesterday, Chopstix looks back on meeting chef Joshua Brown:

Californian chef Joshua Brown had never visited Singapore before moving here with his family to open CUT restaurant at Marina Bay Sands. But the protege of Hollywood’s favourite chef, Wolfgang Puck, took to researching his new home city with a passion. “I hit the ground running,” he says. “There was all this fantastic food available 24 hours a day. I think I must have gained 20 pounds in the first month I got here.”

He arrived two months before the restaurant opened and any free time was spent exploring the city’s varied eating outlets: “What I would call street food. Most of my eating excursions were to hawker centres, we don’t have anything like that in LA.”
When Chef Brown arrived in 2010 to head up the first Asian outpost of Wolfgang Puck’s LA based steakhouse, the Marina Bay Sands celebrity restaurant concept was in its infancy. “Daniel Boulud was here and everyone else was in the process of opening,” Brown recalls. “It was exciting, the project was massive, who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”

 

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Joshua Brown, sixth from left, celebrating the Cut Michelin star win

Brown started working with the famous Wolfgang Puck pretty early on his career – a major opportunity for any aspiring chef. But before that break he hadn’t enjoyed an easy or direct route to success. “I’ve had a very weird culinary path,” he says with a smile. “I’ve worked in construction – I’ve pumped concrete. I went to culinary school but after I graduated I was waiting for the right opportunity. I had friends who were working at chain restaurants and I didn’t want to do that.”
Following a stint at a local restaurant in his native California, he began working at Puck’s legendary film star hang out Spago in Beverly Hills in 2001. He began as a line cook and worked his way up to kitchen manager where he was in charge of ordering produce. Six years later he became part of the launch team of CUT Beverly Hills. It while he was sous chef there that he was promoted to head chef of the new CUT Singapore.
“Wolfgang’s company is all about that – coming up within the ranks,” says Brown. “Wolf’s very passionate about what he does but there’s loyalty on both sides. You feel like you’re part of something bigger. It’s amazing the amount of restaurants he has but he can walk into any one of them and know everyone’s name.”
As with himself, Brown says most of the team stay for the longhaul: “I have a very low turnover of staff. A restaurant team is a tight crew. It’s not like working in an office in your own cubicle, your all interacting and you have to have each other’s back.”

 

joshua-brown

Chef Joshua Brown at Cut Singapore

Like CUT in the US and London, the restaurant is an upscale twist on an American steakhouse. At Marina Bay Sands, the walls are lined with strikingly realistic photographs of Hollywood film and music including Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, a nod to Puck’s roots in LA. Brown says it’s not an attempt to recreate the Hollywood glitz in Singapore though: “Wolfgang has a great relationship with art galleries. These used to be on the walls at CUT Beverly Hills and we thought they would go well here.”
Given his background, you can forgive Brown for being unfazed by celebrity. “I got very used to it working for Wolfgang in LA. I was part of the kitchen team at the Kodak theatre when Wolfgang was catering the Oscars so I got very used to it. And lot of famous people would come in and out through the kitchen at the restaurants [presumably to avoid the paparazzi] so a I saw a lot of them. I thought Mohammad Ali was cool. He used to interact with us. Did he enjoy his food? I hope so!”

 

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Cut by Wolfgang Puck, Singapore

What Brown really gets passionate talking about is ingredients. As at all CUTs, much emphasis is put on the quality of the meat. “We started buying meat from Australia for the LA restaurant about a year and a half before we opened CUT in Singapore just to find out which was the best producer for our needs,” he explains. This turned out to be the acclaimed Rangers Valley beef. He also sources meat for CUT Singapore from the American mid West states of Illinois and Idaho and Wagyu beef from Honshu, Japan.
“I learnt a lot doing the purchasing for Spago. I source the best produce I can get my hands on. I’m not saying it has to be American, it’s the best we can get wherever we are based. Most of my suppliers I’ve had relationships for years – I’m sticking with what I know.”
The side dishes at CUT are as impressive as the steaks. At every restaurant you’ll find classics like the butter lettuce salad, French fries and creamed spinach “Served with a fried egg on top like Wolfgang’s mother used to make him,” says Brown. “I’d never seen that before but it works really well.”

 

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Wolfgang Puck

Although he tries to buy seasonal he points out that being based in Singapore, what this means in practice is buying what’s in season in a particular country. “We try to buy whatever we can locally in Singapore such as spinach and fish but we buy mostly from Australia, Europe and the US.”
This summer fava beans, English peas and Heirloom potatoes will be back on the menu. “I bring in tomatoes unrefridgerated,” he emphasises. “The fridge breaks down the structure and dries them out so they have the texture of cardboard. It changes the sweetness too.”
But some tastes have been altered to suit the Singaporean market. “When we first opened we found that customers were much more sensitive to salt,” Brown admits. “We used to finish off the steaks with a pinch of fleur de sel [an exclusive hand harvested sea salt] on top but people said it was too salty – the first couple of days were really rough. Now we serve the fleur de sel on the side along with the mustards.”

 

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The bar at Cut, Singapore

While I’m talking to Chef Brown I can’t help but notice the impressive bar filled with eye catching glass wear, cocktail shakers, muddlers and syrups. Unusually, the chefs all have a hand in creating the cocktails. “The infusions and elixers are all made by the kitchen staff. If we can make it, we make it. We sit around and try new drinks – that’s a lot of fun.”
A good bar is not always a given in a restaurant but Brown thinks its essential. “For a restaurant to be successful you need great service, great food and a great bar. You can have one without the other, you have to have the whole package.”
As I get up to leave, I’d expected Chef Brown to take a well deserved break between lunch and dinner service but he says he’s back off to the kitchen to devise a non meat menu for this evening. “I have a vegetarian coming in for dinner. You wouldn’t believe how many vegetarians come in – I thought there were a lot in LA…” Such is the draw of CUT that even the non carnivores don’t want to miss out.

[This piece originally ran in August 2014]

Who’ll get the Michelin Man’s thumbs up in Singapore?

The Michelin Guide Singapore will launch in 2016

The Michelin Guide Singapore launches July 21st 2016

When it comes to the Michelin Guide and Asia, anything is possible, just look at the Hong Kong edition. But here’s who we’d like to see gain stars in the inaugural Singapore red book published on July 21st:

Shinji by Kaneska at Raffles Hotel

This menu-less, omakase (“I’ll leave the choice up to you”) restaurant is surely a shoo-in for three Michelin stars. It’s the brainchild of renowned Tokyo chef Shinji Kanesaka, as the name suggests.

In Singapore, a team of Japanese chefs work under the watchful eye of master chef Koichiro Oshino who has been with Shinji for over 20 years. They work behind a wooden counter carved in a single piece from a 220 year old hinoki or Japanese Cypress tree which is as stunning as the food they prepare.

Only fish and seafood is served but not just sushi and sashimi there’s plenty of grilled dishes too.
Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road, Singapore 189673
http://www.shinjibykanesaka.com

Gunther’s

Gunther Hubrechsen doesn’t get as much glory as the showier chefs in Singapore which is a travesty because his food (modern European) is superb and his eponymous restaurant makes a refreshing change from the shopping mall and hotel set ups in the Lion City.

Instead, Gunther’s is based in a converted shop-house on an historic side-street. A tiny but cute belle époque-esqe bar leads to a surprisingly modern dining area.

Star attraction is the vast tray of impressive raw ingredients, including live seafood, shown to each diner at the start of the meal and testament that produce is king here. Signature dish is cold angel hair pasta with caviar.

That the customers are overwhelmingly regulars is proof of Gunther’s appeal.

36 Purvis Street
http://www.gunthers.com.sg

 

Marinated shrimp with sea urchin and caviar at Waku Ghin, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Marinated shrimp with sea urchin and caviar at Waku Ghin, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Waku Ghin

Exclusive has become an over used word but it’s a fitting description for Waku Ghin. There are just 25 covers, dotted among four private rooms each with a chef preparing a 10 course tasting menu on a teppanyaki grill.

This is Sydney-based chef Tetsuya Wakuda’s first foray outside of Australia and is an extremely hot ticket in Singapore – especially since it zoomed into the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2012 (it’s currently the highest ranking Singapore restaurant in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants).

To start is raw seafood, maybe sea urchin and abalone, followed by “salads” such as scallops with daikon and oyster. Standout dish is the marinated shrimp with sea urchin and caviar.

The the real magic begins as your private chef cooks a succession of fish and meat dishes such as crab legs steamed on a salt bed and wagyu beef with grated wasabi. It’s part theatre, part cooking lesson.

All dishes can be expertly paired with wines or sake from biodynamic Sancerre to an Australian chardonnay produced especially for the chef.

Casino level 2, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue
http://www.marinabaysands.com

Saint Pierre

A long time darling of Singa’s fine dining scene, Saint Pierre has recently moved to a new location in a heritage buildings overlooking the Marina – perhaps with an eye to a Michelin star or two.

Whatever the reason, chef Emmanuel Stroobant’s fancy fare sits better in this table clothed, chandeliered setting though the vibe is modern rather than stuffy. Stroobant combines French techniques with tip top Japanese ingredients with wonderful results. The service is top notch too.

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Tomato – part of the vegetable tasting menu at Saint Pierre

Tasting menu only for dinner (six or ten courses, meat or vegetarian) plus there’s a spectacular French cheese cart and a post dessert trolley. More affordable set lunches during the week. Try to arrive for 7pm to catch the jaw dropping sunset reflected in the Marina Bay Sands spectacular across the bay.

1 Fullerton Road
#02-02B One Fullerton

http://www.saintpierre.com.sg

The Tippling Club

 

Mangalica Pork Collar

Mangalica Pork Collar, the Tippling Club, Singapore

Chef Ryan Clift’s inventive tasting menus include dizzying roll call of ingredients and techniques, many gleaned from Japan, and are cleverly paired with craft cocktails. The tasting menu kicks off with a round of amuse bouche that may include jamon iberico with freeze dried tomato and olive oil gel; and puffed beef tendon with margarita pizza seasoning.

Then on to seafood such as snow crab, kyoho grapes from Yamanashi prefecture, nasturtiums,  and fruit tomato heart; and meat such as Mangalica pork collar brined then slow cooked for 19 hours at 72 degrees, miso and yuzu pudding, nuka carrot and cucumber, nori cracker and cinnamon-infused dash.

Spanning three shop houses in Tanjong Pagar, the mod meets retro design mixing metro tiles, statement lighting and bold wallpaper gives a fashionable feel to the cosy converted shophouse. Book a seat at a counter to watch your dishes being assembled.

38 Tanjong Pagar Road.

http://www.tipplingclub.com

Bacchanalia

Bacch-Interior-1

The open kitchen interior of Bacchanalia, Singapore

Former Fat Duck chef Ivan Brehm has at last got the restaurant he deserves in the new Bacchanalia venue on gentrified Hong Kong Street. Gone is the moody lighting and lounge bar setting, refreshingly replaced by an airy, open space that’s like eating in someone’s (very expensive) kitchen.

More importantly chef Brehm – and fellow Fat Duck alum Mark Ebbels – are able to focus on the food. Out with the a la carte burgers and fries, in with a tasting menu only that really lets the food shine.

Ivan will talk you through the mind blowing detail that went into each component of every dish. Produce-driven is becoming an overused phrase but Brehem and Ebbels seeks out the finest ingredients they can in nearby Cameron Highlands and also grow their own on the rooftop vegetable garden.

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Bacchanalia, Singapore

Left to his own devises, Ivan also brings in touches of Middle Eastern. Such as the lamb saddle and charred eggplant purees with harissa and kibbeh nay (a minced raw lamb on Arabic bread) – one of the best dishes Chopstix and tasted in Singapore this year.

It’s a relief to see that old favourites like the cold pressed coconut cream aged carnaroli risotto are still on the menu too.

Desserts such as marsala mousse, coffee ganache, cacao gel and blackcurrent sorbet are equally cleverly created and delectable.

You won’t want to miss out on the superb drinks pairings from sommelier Matthew Chan either.

39 Hong Kong Street, Singapore 059678

http://www.bacchanalia.asia

 

Dehesa

Owner JP was head chef of the renowned Fino and Barafina Spanish restaurants in London now he’s set up stall on the fringes of the CBD, a stone’s throw from the madness of Boat Quay.

Less fancy than Fino but not as casual as Barafina, Dehesa hits the right balance of relaxed dining in a cool, mostly communal seating, setting with open kitchen and counter space.

And the food is phenomenal. Offal is the speciality (order the crispy pig’s head. We bet it doesn’t look at all how you imagine and it’s incredibly modish) but if that’s not your bag, there are plenty of other Spanish stalwarts to choose from. Plus a good selection of Spanish wines and sherries.

12 North Canal Road
http://www.dehesa.com.sg

Sky on 57
Local enfant terrible Justin Quek trained with some of the best chefs in France and now mixes Singaporean Chinese flavours with classical French techniques and vice versa.

Justin Quek

Justin Quek at Sky on 57

His impressive menu includes foie gras braised in soy sauce in the same style as Teochew braised duck and xiao long bao filled with foie gras and truffle consomee.

A particular triumph is JQ’s Beef Broth with Braised Tendon, Ribs & Slices of Wagyu. The chef says it’s inspired by Singaporeans eating Beef Noodles at hawker stalls at the end of a night out to avoid a hangover the next day. His version comes with a shot of Jack Daniel’s added.

Level 57, Sands Skypark Tower 1
http://www.marinabaysands.com/restaurants/sky-on-57

Odette

Julien Royer, formerly head chef of the acclaimed Jaan, now has his own restaurant in the form of Odette, a bread roll’s throw away from his alma mater, within Singapore’s stunning new National Gallery.

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The specially designed open kitchen at Odette

 

At Odette, named in honour of his grandmother, Royer is continuing to mix classical French with modern techniques in his new home. Some of his greatest hits from Jaan are on the menu: Mushroom “tea”; 55 mins Onsen Egg; Heirloom Beetroot Variation; and Hay Smoked Pigeon.

In it’s new incarnation though the Pigeon is served two ways: the breast cooked sous vide then grilled and the leg cooked for six hours. And the Onsen Eggs are smoked on a bed of pines – foraged by the chef’s father and sent over from France (another family link).

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Julien Royer Chef de Cuisine Odette

Royer has also added some new creations such as the standouts Hokkaido Uni with Apple, Mussel and Caviar and Trout with Miso Glazed Kurobuta Pork.

The welcome champagne trolley includes Chartogne-Taillet rose, Henri Giraud for Odette and Krug – said to be Royer’s favourite.

Desserts, by pastry chef Nicolas Vergnole, are also impressive including Confit Victoria Pineapple (below): toasted coconut ice cream, banana cake, passionfruit coulis, tapioca and Kaffir lime.

http://www.odetterestaurant.com

Odette - Confit Victoria Pineapple.jpg

 

Jaan

Restaurants with a knock out view usually don’t bode well on the food front but that’s not the case with Jaan. Although the 70th floor vista of central Singapore will impress even the most spoilt and/or jaded traveller, the cuisine – and the service, also match it.

All tables at this compact restaurant are cleverly set up to enjoy the outlook overlooking the river, marina and beyond to the Straits sea.

Tomato Collection

Jaan Sinapore

The kitchen is in good hands with Kirk Westaway who recently became head chef after several years of being sous. Westaway has largely retained the contemporary take on classic French cuisine that Jaan is renowned for while introducing his own impressive creations including Heirloom Tomatoes with Aerated Tomato Consomee and Burrata; and John Dory with Chicken Wing and Jus – inspired by the wafer thin chicken skin which the entire dish was then designed around.

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Jaan Singapore

The chef has also brought in top ingredients from his home in the West of England. Not to mention witty takes on foodie memories such as canapés with the taste and texture of fish and chips or desserts reminiscent of a famous British chocolate bar, albeit with a sophisticated execution of course.

Level 70, Swissotel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Road

http://www.jaan.com.sg

Best Luxury Family Friendly Hotels in Asia

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Villas overlooking the rice field at Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai

Luxury resorts catering to multigenerations have evolved enormously in recent years offering children’s cooking classes and spa treatments to wildlife excursions and cultural activities for the whole family. And multigenerational or 3G holidays where grandparents, parents and kids holiday together, are on the rise fuelling even more demand for a great family getaway. Here are six of the best, five star hotels in Asia that offer more than the usual kid’s clubs.

The Peninsula, Hong Kong

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The Peninsula Hong Kong

 

In the Kids On Us programme (available until December 2016) children under 12 staying at The Peninsula Hong Kong and dining with their parents for lunch or dinner can enjoy the Kids Menu for free. Between July 1st and August 31st there’s also a Kid’s Buffet offered at The Verandah restaurant including a designated sweetie bar.

Children are provided with adorable slippers and robes featuring The Peninsula bear and various family friendly activities are offered by the hotel. A Little Pastry Chef’s Adventure offers children aged four to 10 years old the chance to learn how to bake and decorate cakes.

http://www.hongkong.peninsula.com

 

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The Peninsula Hong Kong

 

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Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai

Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai

This northern Thai resort resembles an impressive film set of a Lanna style enclave. A paddy field at its heart is surrounded by two storey teak villas some with their own pools. Both kids and adults can ride on the paddy’s resident water buffalo and learn about rice planting (above). Over at the rustic Arts and Crafts Village families can try out traditional Lanna skills such as rice pounding, bamboo weaving and paper cutting. There are also child specific activities including meditation and yoga in a one hundred year old wooden house. Leaving parents free to visit the stunning spa.
dharadhevi.com

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The Datai, Langkawi

The Datai, Langkawi
With its enchanting rainforest setting, The Datai has access to mangroves and waterways as well as being close to the sea. Accommodation spans rooms in the main house to Rainforest or Beach Villas. There’s a variety of restaurants too most beguiling of which is the treehouse like Pavilion, on 30 metres high stilts and shaded by the forest (above). Monkeys roam freely around the resort. Resident naturalist Irshad Mobarak guides complementary morning and evening walks through the rainforest pointing out plants and wildlife such as flying lemurs. Families may book a number of adventures including kayaking through the mangroves to spot kingfishers and eagles, trekking though the jungle and swimming in natural pools.

Thedatai.com

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Children’s Beach Combing at The Datai

 

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Teens’ Club at Cheval Blanc Randheli

 

Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives
Part of the prestigious Cheval Blanc stable, Randheli has been slickly designed by the starchitect Jean-Michel Gathy. There are trademark romantic over-water pavilions but also family friendly Island villas which have two bedrooms and a large outside dining area. No details have been overlooked with specially designed mini furniture and food and drink menus for kids. As well as dedicated play areas for children and teenagers with wall to wall activities, the resort organises Mini Olympics where the whole family can take part in swim races, volleyball, beach football and rope pulling. Finished off with a barbecue on the beach.
randheli.chevalblanc.com/en

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Pool villa at Alila Villas Soori

Alila Villas Soori, Bali
Soori, on the quieter West coast of Bali, is an all-villa resort, all of which with plunge pools and most have direct access to the beach. The pared back, modern design carries on in the restaurants (though in villa dining is very popular here) and the spa (which has children’s treatments). Alila are known for their Journeys – offering guests an insight into local life and culture – at Soori they have Journeys tailor made for children. Choose from traditional Balinese kite making (and flying), creating terracotta pieces with a local craftsman, learning to bake with the pastry chef or dressing up and learning to dance like a Balinese princess. Move over Disney.
alilahotels.com/soori

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A pool villa at Amanpuri

Amanpuri, Phuket
Set in a coconut grove on an isolated peninsula of the island, Amanpuri is designed to appeal as much to Aman Juniors as Aman Junkies. Two bedroomed pavilions overlooking the sea come with a private swimming pool and outdoor dining area. With their parents present, Aman Juniors may try spa treatments, snorkel and kayak in the Andaman Sea or take a dingy out to an ocean platform to feed the fish. Amanpuri also has its own fleet of boats from sleek yachts to a Chinese junk for swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving or a cruise to nearby islands.
aman.com/resorts/amanpuri

Chanel Couture’s Japanese Style

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Chanel haute couture Spring Summer 2016

With Paris Haute Couture week upon us again, Chopstix takes another look at Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2016 couture show.

While some at the time described the set as “a doll’s house” or a “spa”, Chopstix sees it more as a traditional Japanese house. Which reminded us of an architectural tour of the Aman Tokyo, designed by Kerry Hill Architects.

The Japanese traditional house, we were told by an Aman spokeswoman, is designed to embrace nature; “We love nature and seeing the changes of the seasons.” Thus the importance of gardens, and in the absence of those, gardens are brought inside as at Aman Tokyo even with its urban tower location. Trees are brought inside such as the one used as a focus point in the lobby (below) and the tiny foliage displays that adorn the corridors leading to the guest rooms.

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Aman Tokyo

The houses are also designed to be opened up, as the Chanel one was, which again brings the outside – and therefore nature – in. In the suites at Aman Tokyo a sliding “hatch” door of traditional camphor wood and washi paper in the bathroom (below) opening on to a plant in the living area conveys this sentiment.

 

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Aman Tokyo

The Chanel couture set was the perfect backdrop for Karl Lagerfeld’s Japanese influenced collection including balloon sleeved jackets, long length pencil skirts and cork wedges reminiscent of okobo shoes.

Chanel couture spring summer 16

Chanel haute couture spring summer 2016

http://www.amanresorts.com

Best Hotels in Hong Kong for Establishment Day

If you’re in Hong Kong for July 1st make sure you have a room with a view – of Victoria Harbour for the fireworks.

Kowloon side:

The Intercontinental

Fireworks Intercont

View of the anniversary fireworks in the harbour from the Intercontinental hotel

The Interconti is perched right on the harbour’s edge giving it some fantastic views from many of its guests rooms where you feel you’re right on the water and the rooftop Presidential Suite as well as the Lobby Lounge and Harbourside restaurant plus Alain Ducasse’s Spoon and Nobu if you can bag a window table.
http://www.hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com

The Presidential Suite, Intercontinental Hong Kong

Presidential Suite, Intercontinental Hong Kong

The Peninsula

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A suite at The Peninsula Hong Kong

 

Book a guest room or suite overlooking Victoria Harbour. Even the swimming pool and its adjoining terrace have a bird’s eye view – not to mention the sauna in the spa. And don’t miss out on booking a Rolls Royce transfer to celebrate in style.

http://www.peninsula.com

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Swimming pool at The Peninsula Hong Kong

The Ritz Carlton

Tosca at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

Tosca at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

 

Many of the rooms have dizzying views of the harbour (check you are facing the right way) but perhaps the best is from Tosca the hotel’s Italian fine dining restaurant.

http://www.ritzcarlton.com/Hong_Kong

 

 

Island side:

Grand Hyatt

Executive Room, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

Executive Room, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

The Grand Hyatt Hong Kong rooms make full use of its unique harbour location as the way the hotel juts out gives a phenomenal sweeping view of Victoria Harbour, the Kowloon skyline and back to Hong Kong Island.

After a recent refurb the guest rooms have had their bedrooms and bathrooms opened up to create one seamless space so the views of the harbour and the special light that creates is ramped up to the max. And the Grand Suites have a view-soaked seating area.

Grand Club, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

Grand Club, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

The newly revamped Grand Club has a sweeping stair case leading up to the best view of Victoria Harbour.
http://www.hongkong.grandhyatt.com

Island Shangri La

Shangri La HK Horizon Club Lounge

Shangri La Hong Kong club lounge

Over 200 rooms and several suites have views of the harbour. Book a Horizon Club Harbour view for access to the executive lounge on the 56th floor. The adjacent French fine dining restaurant Petrus also has a fabulous view.
http://www.shangri-la.com/hongkong/islandshangrila/

Four Seasons Hong Kong

Four Seasons Hong Kong Executive Club

The Four Seasons
There are stunning views from many of the rooms and all of the suites (some of them panoramic) as well as Caprice and Lung King Heen restaurants and the pool area. Plus the Executive Club has a fantastic balcony with views of the harbour from the 45th floor.
http://www.fourseasons.com/hongkong/

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The Four Seasons Hong Kong swimming pool

 

Summer on a Plate

Marinated mackerel and grilled octopus, brown shrimps jelly, shizo paste and butter milk lime granita.

Pierre Gagniere is introducing his now customary lighter summer menu at Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong on July 14th.

The three course dinner menu will change every few weeks, starting off with dishes such as Marinated mackerel, grilled octopus, shizu paste and lime granita (above); Grilled John Dory; and Ice Cream Burrata, white balsamic vinegar, raspberry meringue with coulis honey olive oil basil (below).

Ice cream burrata, white balsamic vinegar, raspberry meringue, coulis honey olive oil basil 1

http://www.mandarinoriental.com

Summer Holidays

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Hats off to Eugenia Kim and her gorgeous sun hats.

http://www.eugeniakim.com

Spotting Leopards in Style at Jawai

 

jawai-tent

What is it?

Jawai Leopard Camp is a luxury tented camp in the wilderness near Jawai Bandh, Rajasthan, halfway between Jodhpur and Udaipur and a couple of hours car ride from both.

What makes it different from the other safari camps in India?

While Ranthambore is more well known with the big ticket draw of tigers, at Jawai (where leopards are the attraction) you won’t encounter a mass of jeeps crowded around every animal. As Jawai is the only camp in the vicinity and has just nine double tents plus a family suite, the safari feels exclusive.

Jawai shepherds

What’s the design concept?

Contemporary safari chic. Based on the idea of a moveable camp, it’s all canvas and metal with a black, white and red colour scheme – inspired by the local Rabari herdsmen’s outfits that are topped with striking scarlet turbans. Stunning black and white photographs of leopards and shepherds are dotted throughout. There are two open sided communal tents one for lounging and the other for dining, both overlooking the rocky Aravalli hills. The guest tents are a short walk away – after nightfall and before dawn (more of which later) you’ll be guided back and fore by shepherds carrying lanterns.

 

What are the guest tents like?

Very comfortable. The roomy bedroom has a double bed and liberal amounts of locally designed throws and rugs. Each tent has a private verandah complete with writing desk for that Out of India feeling. The bathrooms are particularly impressive: free standing wood and metal double basins and a large, wood slatted shower. Plus a proper loo of course – this is glamping after all.

Jawai guest tent

Tell me about the leopard spotting

Personable and knowledgable guides take you on two jeep drives a day, skillfully negotiating the scrubland and granite hills to find the best spot for viewing the leopards. Days are dictated by the wilderness drives. You’ll be heading off before dawn for the first in the hope of a sunrise sighting (coffee and binoculars provided). Then back out around 5.30pm for an evening drive. Each time you arrive back at camp you’ll be greeted jeep-side with a refreshing drink and chilled towel. All very civilised.

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Are there any other animals?

You’ll see monkeys and peacocks aplenty but a notable wildlife draw are the migratory birds. The area is a veritable twitchers’ paradise, particularly near the Jawai Bandh reservoir.

So I can go off piste from the leopard spotting?

Certainly. You may want to organise a private drive combining bird watching with a vintage jeep ride to catch the sunset (along with a few sundowners) at the picturesque reservoir.

When will I eat?

Meals are pretty flexible and worked around the safaris. Breakfast is available from the moment you get back from the early morning drive, there’s a leisurely lunch slot, afternoon tea before you leave for the evening wilderness drive and dinner available when you return – in a delightful al fresco and lantern strewn setting. You’ll want to sit around the campfire first for an aperitif though.

What’s the food like?

A mix of modern international and traditional Rajasthani and all very good. Chefs work from an open kitchen and source vegetables from their own garden. Meat is procured from local farmers and fish from the nearby lake.

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What else is there to do?

With the early starts you’ll probably want a nap in the afternoon but there’s also a sleek looking swimming pool and massages are available either in the spa tent or on your own verandah. Nearby is the impressive Ranakpur temple complex and a little further afield, Kumbhalgarh, a stunning fort that’s doable as a day trip.

Anything else I should know?

Go dressed for your pick up. When you’re dropped off at the meeting point you’ll be straight in an open topped 4×4 then it’s about a 20 minute off road bumpy drive so an outfit you can clamber in and out of a jeep, sun tan lotion and a hat that stays on your head are advisable.

What’s the damage?

Rates start at HK$6,898 (59,000 INR) per tent plus taxes and a Conservation Contribution of HK$117 (1000 INR) per person per night, including all meals, two wilderness drives a day, WI FI and laundry.

www.sujanluxury.com/jawai

 

 

 

 

 

Will El Celler de Can Roca retain the World’s Best Restaurant title tonight?

Jordi, Josep and Joan Roca at the three Michelin-starred El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, who have launched an exclusive dining experience in partnership with American Express Invites® at Felix restaurant at The Peninsula Hong Kong on 3 and 4 June 2016 - their first in the City - offering American Express Centurion Members access to one of the most sought after chef's tables in the world. Copyright David Loftus.

Jordi, Josep and Joan Roca at El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. Copyright David Loftus.

When the World’s 50 Best Restaurants are announced in New York tonight, the Roca brothers will find out if they’ve retained the title for the three Michelin-starred El Celler de Can Roca in Spain. Chopstix met the brothers earlier this month when they held their first dining experience in Hong Kong – an American Express Invites event at The Peninsula hotel.

How did the partnership with American Express Invites come about?
Joan Roca, Head Chef: “At El Celler de Can Roca, we have a long standing relationship with American Express with a great many customers coming to our restaurant in Girona. So when the opportunity arose to do something together in Hong Kong we embraced it.

“Felix at The Peninsula, Hong Kong is an exceptional place and the perfect setting for our work to shine. They clearly put a lot of emphasis on interior design, featuring Philippe Starck interiors and the space itself has a significant effect on the dining experience. The atmosphere is of absolute modernity, which combines perfectly with our understanding of food.”

What inspiration have you had from Hong Kong?
Joan Roca: “Hong Kong is a fascinating city because it encapsulates a sense of modernity and innovation with a unique frenetic energy. Like all chefs, when we travel, we travel with our eyes, hearts and minds open.

“What’s more, Hong Kong is a place where diverse Asian cuisines converge. It is a city with a magnificent culinary culture and a diverse mix of styles and ingredients that we find deeply interesting. We love the challenge of interpreting them through our food, whilst also bringing flavours from our own kitchen to this great gastronomic city.”

 

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Joan and Josep Roca at their American Express Invites event at The Peninsula Hong Kong

Josep, we hear you’re a collector of rare Chinese tea -what are the similarities between tea and wine tasting?

Josep Roca, Head Sommelier: “Yes, it is true that I love the world of tea. I have always said that if I did not devote myself to the world of wine, tea would have become the most important part of my life. Tea has an association with health, history and wisdom. To drink tea is also to drink from a culture within a cup; for me there are many similarities to the world of wine.”

What attracted each of you to your respective roles as chef, pastry chef and sommelier?
Jordi Roca, Head Pastry Chef:  “There is a creative triangle with the three of us; complementing each other. When we work together we understand each other, enjoy ourselves and know that we can go far.

“Each of us work in a different area of the kitchen and restaurant when it comes to creating the menu. I am ‘the sweet cuisine’, the dish that is integrated at the end of the dining experience. Joan is involved throughout the entire menu, even when it comes to the desserts. All our opinions create harmony across the whole menu, providing a structure. Josep is a great expert in gastronomic memory. Drawing on the world of wine, he uses his knowledge to provide us with many ideas for flavours and associations to create the dishes on the menu.

Jordi Roca

Joan Roca, Head Chef at El Celler de Can Roca Members. Copyright David Loftus

“What attracted me most to the world of sweet food is that you can play more, you have more freedom to create. I find myself in that special moment where the customer has just finished dinner. They have been serious and now they are relaxed, with everything that comes after the last savoury dish is fun. I feel comfortable in this role of entertainment, to be able to have fun with our clients through dishes”

[UPDATE: El Celler de Can Roca is number two in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016. Joan Roca has been awarded Chefs’ Choice Award 2016.]

Tea with Tiffany at The Pen

Throughout June The Peninsula hotels in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing are celebrating some of the prestigious brands in their exclusive shopping arcades with a Legendary Artisans programme.

Chanel opened its first international store at The Peninsula Hong Kong while Tiffany & Co, Harry Winston, Graff, Louis Vuitton and Davidoff opened their first Asian flagships there.

The programme includes showcases by Chanel and Graff as well as Ralph Lauren at the three hotels and a Tiffany & Co tea at The Peninsula hotels Hong Kong and Beijing with a Harry Winston themed tea at The Pen Shanghai.

 

There are also Legendary Artisans packages including airport transfers, afternoon tea and discounts, available at all three hotels. See http://www.peninsula.com for more details.

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Rolls Royce transfers at The Peninsula

Exclusive new dishes from El Celler de Can Roca

A deconstruction of the ingredients used to create ‘Vinegar marinated prawn and katsuobushi with head juice, crispy prawn legs, seaweed velouté and phytoplàncton’, an Asian inspired dish created by the Roca Brothers for El Celler de Can Roca's exclusive dining experience on 3 and 4 June 2016, in partnership with American Express Invites® at Felix restaurant at The Peninsula Hong Kong - their first in the City. Copyright David Loftus.

A deconstruction of the ingredients used to create Vinegar marinated prawn and katsuobushi with head juice, crispy prawn legs, seaweed velouté and phytoplàncton. Copyright David Loftus.

This gorgeous piece of art, above, actually transforms into this equally lovely dish, below. When in hands of the Roca brothers of El Celler de Can Roca that is.

The three Michelin-starred El Celler de Can Roca launched an exclusive dining experience in partnership with American Express Invites® at Felix restaurant at The Peninsula Hong Kong on 3 and 4 June 2016 - their first in the City - offering American Express Centurion Members access to one of the most sought after chef's tables in the world. Copyright David Loftus.

Copyright David Loftus.

Joan, Jordi and Josep Roca have created three unique Asian influenced dishes, based on signatures at their three Michelin starred restaurant, otherwise known as The World’s Best Restaurant, in Spain.

They will be served for the first time at the restaurant’s first ever dining experience in Hong Kong in partnership with America Express Invites, on the 3rd and 4th June.

The event, which includes a 14 course tasting menu, takes place at The Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong’s Felix restaurant for American Express Centurion Members by invitation.

If your name’s not on the list, here’s a further taste:

Aman’s Shanghai Surprise

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Aman Resorts is opening a hotel just outside Shanghai, its fourth in China, in 2017. And it’s even more special than we’ve come to expect from Aman.

This “renovation like no other” involves saving and transplanting endangered ancient trees and historic buildings from the flood planes of Jiangxi.

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Some 50 Ming and Qing Dynasty houses have been preserved and are being reconstructed by master craftsman in their new home of Shanghai. And traditional Chinese architects have added new buildings to blend with the historic structures.

10,000 camphor trees have also made the 800 kilometre journey, overseen by expert botanists. They’ve been replanted in native soil and face the same direction as they had previously. Three years later they are said to be flourishing.

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The project is so special, it has yet to be given a name.

http://www.aman.com

Jason Atherton in Asia

Jason Atherton and his wife Irha

Jason Atherton and his wife Irha

As  Jason Atherton announces a new restaurant opening in the Philippines (his wife’s homeland) and steps away from his restaurants in Singapore, Choptix looks back to meeting the chef and restaurateur in his early days in Asia:

Jason Atherton has been clocking up the air miles between the UK and Asia in just this last week alone. The former Gordon Ramsay protégé and head chef at Maze in London, now with his own Michelin starred restaurant Pollen Street Social, has made three round trips in seven days.

Read more

Brunch spots by the Bay

Is this the best Croque Madame in Asia?

Croque Madame at db Bistro & Oyster Bar

 

 

As a child, Jonathan Kinsella, executive chef at Daniel Boulud’s db Bistro & Oyster Bar, remembers his father making breakfast for the whole family every day. “My father is a chef and he was rarely home for dinner as he was running a restaurant so he always made sure to cook us breakfast,” Kinsella recalls.

“He would make spiced apple pancakes, soft scrambled eggs with roasted sausages and whole button mushrooms cooked in butter. When we were very young he used to make us soft boiled eggs with toast soldiers and cinnamon raisin oatmeal, which is still one of my favourite things to eat today.”

Read more

Countdown for Amber’s Signature Sea Urchin

Hokkaido Sea Urchin in a Lobster Jell-O with Cauliflower, Caviar and Crispy Seaweed Waffles

There’s one month to try the Hokkaido Sea Urchin in Lobster Jell-O with Cauliflower, Caviar and Crispy Seaweed created by Richard Ekkebus at Amber, Hong Kong, before it’s taken off menu. This is the first fancy uni dish Chopstix tasted and still the best. Over the years the dish has gained a devoted following and inspired a specially designed molluscan ceramic bowl. Last day on the menu is May 31st, go bid a fond farewell. Lucky San Franciscans will still be able to enjoy it at chef Corey Lee’s In Situ restaurant.

http://www.mandarinoriental.com/landmark/fine-dining/amber/

 

Annie Leibovitz is on point with Women: New Portraits

Misty Copeland copyright Annie Leibovitz

Misty Copeland, New York City, 2015 copyright Annie Leibovitz from Women: New Portraits

[UPDATE: The exhibition opens in Hong Kong this on June 3rd]

Annie Leibovitz’s Women: New Portraits exhibition opens in Singapore tomorrow having shown in London, Tokyo and San Francisco. and before moving on to cities such as Hong Kong and London. The show features Leibovitz’s new photographic portraits of prominent women such as Sheryl Sandberg and Malala Yousafzai as well as highlights of the renowned photographer’s (female) back catalogue relayed on digital screens. Chopstix caught up with her in SG:

*I was working with UBS on a commercial project and they asked me ‘Is there something you’d like to do?’ I thought about adding on to the original Women’s project in 1999 which I did with Susan Sontag. I was really reluctant to do it back then. I thought it was too big.

*But an idea I was interested in at the time was showgirls in Las Vegas. I went out to the casinos and picked out several showgirls to come into the studio the next day for The New Yorker. The first girl came in looking like that [she points to a photo of an ordinary looking woman in plain clothes.] I was taken back. I took photographs of the women before and after and it was an intriguing set of images for me. It made me think about how women dress up to be women.

*One of the women I shot for the first Women’s project was Hillary Clinton who was then the First Lady. The project was choc full of women from all walks. It was very, very diverse.

*What is important to me is that you could read about the women photographed. The biogs are little haikus about these women.

*On the screens [showing a rotation of Leibovitz’s work] I’ve thrown in the kitchen sink. There’s a whole load of photographs I’ve taken of women.

*It’s a work in progress. I’m working on taking more photographs for the exhibition this year. I’m hoping to photograph, don’t laugh, Kim Kardashian. We’re also trying to arrange Venus and Serena Williams together.

*When we did the sitting with Zaha Hadid I remember I didn’t think it was very good. Zaha died and I went hack to my files and I love them. So I put them in the show. They’re not the most flattering pictures of her but they are strong.

*It’s incredible that in the 75 year history of the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland is the first black prima ballerina. She’s more atheletic than ballerinas of the past so she’s breaking lots of boundaries. She has lovely shoulders. I do love this, she’s so beautiful.

*I photographed Elizabeth Warren who said ‘blow up the banks”. I was free to photograph who I wanted [for this UBS exhibition].

*When I photographed Caitlyn Jenner for Vanity Fair it was an amazing sitting because we weren’t thinking about the magazine cover. We were helping this person get to the next place in their life. It was overwhelming how she was received, it was a big deal. I had no doubt she would be on this wall. I asked her permission to use an out take and she said yes.

*There is no end to this project. How can it end? I really like it though, I’m really enjoying it.

* It’s a little Hollywood centred at the moment. A particular weakness in the wall is [the lack of] women’s issues. We’ve been trying to get into a refugee camp for a long time and we’re finally going in with Malala [Yousafzai] this summer.

*I would like to photograph Angela Merkel. We’ve had a letter back that says unfortunately she’s very busy.

*When I have photography students in I’m brutal with them. I tell them it’s not about waiting for someone to give you a job.

*If you want to be a photographer, don’t think it’s a dead art because everyone’s taking photographs now. You have to think about what you’re trying to say with your pictures. It’s completely different to taking a picture with your iphone. Which by the way is fantastic.

Annie Leibovitz copyright Annie Leibovitz

*I’m very lucky, I started working for Rolling Stone magazine when I was 19 years old. Then Vanity Fair and the New Yorker. So I’ve always had a vehicle.

*When I was young I thought my subjects were lucky to be in my pictures. Then I grew up and realized the sitter is important.

*That’s why I’m interested in Kim Kardashian. I love pop culture as much as I love Gloria Steinem. I love a mix.

*I’ve never been interested in celebrity. I’m interested in what someone does. I’m not just interested in what they look like, I’m interested in what they do.

*When I was asked to shoot the Pirelli calendar I said no, it’s not going to work. You can’t go from being a girly calendar to one about distinguished women.

*Then my studio asked a couple of women and they said yes. People I would never have expected to. So I drew up a list and I asked some of my friends – Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Amy Schumer… – for favours.

*I told Amy Schumer you have to be the joke, the only one who didn’t get the memo to not take your clothes off.

Women: New Portraits by Annie Leibovitz is on at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station from April 29th – May 22nd 2016. Entrance is free.

www. ubs.com/annieleibovitz

 

 

 

A Clucking Good Cook Book

Congratulations to Diana Henry who won a James Beard Award in New York City last night for A Bird in the Hand: Chicken recipes for every day and every mood. Available to buy from Amazon:

A Bird in the Hand: Chicken recipes for every day and every mood

Mad About the Bard

Smythson Shakespeare set

Marking 400 years since the death of Shakespeare, Smythson has introduced a set of special edition notebook’s featuring some of the bard’s most famous quotations. Choose between the likes of To Be Or Not To Be or All The World’s A Stage – or buy all six in a Smythson box set.

Smythson

Is this the Best Hotel in the World?

Taj umaid palace exterior on horizon

Is the Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace, on a hill overlooking Jodhpur in Rajasthan, northern India, really the Best Hotel in the World as declared by Trip Advisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards 2016? Having stayed earlier this year, Chopstix can confirm it’s definitely up there. Here’s why:

1.The sheer scale and grandeur – Yes it’s a palace and it’s staggeringly vast (our first sight of the place was from the plane coming into Jodhpur airport, it’s so big and majestic you can’t miss it). The sight of it is overwhelming when you draw up outside and that feeling never really leaves you throughout your stay.

2.The Royal Welcome – we don’t want to spoil the surprise but it really is special.

3.The Maharaja lives here – Maharaja Gaj Sing and his family still occupy one of the wings. In fact his Highness doesn’t want you to think of it as a hotel but a home.

4.The lobby – you’ll be lead here for a welcoming drink of bubbly when you arrive and take a moment to sit down and marvel at this marble wonder with domed ceiling. International designers flock here for inspiration – Rolex modelled a watch face on the design.

Taj umaid palace lobby fisheye view

5.The elevator – just off the lobby, manned by a uniformed butler and including a cushioned banquette.

6.The indoor pool -subterranean, circular, art deco and flanked by steamer chairs. Need we say more.

7.The outdoor pool – with a view of the impressive Mehrangarh Fort in the distance.

Taj Umaid swimming pool with Fort

8.The gardens – vast and ornamental. And home to several strutting peacocks.

Umaid Bhawan Palace/Jodhpur/India

9.The restaurants – choose between the outdoor terrace of Pillars with a stunning view of the gardens and Fort, both flood lit at night or lavish Risala (which also has a pretty terrace). Or don’t – you can opt for either menu (European or Indian) at both restaurants.

Taj Umaid Pillars restaurant

10.The service – attentive without being obtrusive. And the only hotel we’ve stayed at where we were asked what they could improve – the answer is nothing.

http://www.taj.tajhotels.com

 

 

 

The Only Way to See the Taj Mahal

Oberoi view from balcony

If like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge you’re planning a visit to the Taj Mahal, there’s only one way to do it in style and that’s by staying at the Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra.

Not only does this glamorous, film set of a resort have a bird’s eye view of the iconic monument from most of its rooms and terraces, it’s also the only hotel in Agra to have private access via golf buggy right up to the gates.

http://www.oberoihotels.com

William & Kate’s hotel in Mumbai

Taj Mumbai exterior

Lucky Will and Kate staying at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. Chopstix thoroughly enjoyed its stay at this grand, colonial hotel overlooking the water and the iconic Gate of India.

Inside does not disappoint: the lobby leads through to a courtyard dominated by a large circular swimming pool. Throughout the day, the colonnaded cafe hums with the throng of Mumbai’s gilded youth. And the space really comes into its own in the evening when the pool and stunning surrounding architecture is flood lit.

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You’ll want to book a room in the historic wing to get a real sense of the grandeur. Plus the striking staircase that leads to the historic rooms.

There’s a vast choice of restaurants including Wasabi by Morimoto and the top floor Souk that overlooks the Gate of India.

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And then there’s the shopping – a whole arcade of carefully curated objects to buy right inside your hotel. We could go on, but please do book and see for yourself.

https://taj.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj-mahal-palace-mumbai/

Friday Feeling

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A private dining experience at Alila Villas Soori (sigh).

http://www.alilahotels.com/soori

The Nomadic Chef

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The prayer bowl at the entrance is a sign that Adrift by acclaimed US chef David Myers isn’t simply an American restaurant. A glance at the menu brings confirmation: the dishes and ingredients are part Californian and part Asian with a leaning towards Japanese. The eagle eyed may also spot a robata grill in the open kitchen but more of that later.

With his ponytail, beard and pendants, Myers looks both LA surfer (he lives in Los Angeles where he previously ran several renowned restaurants) and Southeast Asian traveller. The prayer bowl is a nod to the fact that he likes to meditate and the menu’s trip around the South Pacific reflects his love of travel – especially to this part of the world.

Read more

I’m Chanel, Fly Me

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The Chanel airport pop up has landed at Pedder on Scotts, Singapore. On from today until April 3rd. Catch it if you can.

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Finding Bliss in Bali

Alila Villas Soori, Bali

Alila Villas Soori, Bali

We’ve been sitting on this one for a while. In truth, we really didn’t want to tell you about it. When we visit somewhere so special, we don’t always want the secret to be out. But then again it would be a shame if you never heard about Alila Villa Soori on Bali.

Tucked away on the quiet west coast of the island, an hour’s (luxury) car ride from the airport, if you’re seeking the packed beaches and bars of Bali, this is not for you. If however you’re looking for peace, pampering, great food and a gorgeous spa this is the spot.

Read more

Meet Designer of the Year – Andre Fu

Andre Fu at The Upper House, Hong Kong

Andre Fu at The Upper House, Hong Kong

The third edition of Maison & Objet Asia takes place in Singapore next week and Andre Fu has been named Designer of the Year MO Asia. Here’s a look back at when Chopstix met him in Hong Kong:

Next time you are in The Upper House, Hong Kong, you may notice an elegantly dressed young man quietly observing the scene. For Andre Fu, the founder of AFSO Designs and the visionary behind this boutique hotel likes to pop in occasionally to check that his creation is working.

Read more

Diamonds are a Movie Star’s Best Friend

The stunning dresses were over shadowed by the proliferation of diamonds on show at last night’s Oscars. Including Julianne Moore – in Chopstix’s favourite gown of the evening by Chanel – and Jennifer Lawrence wearing Chopard.

attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

Julianne Moore attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. Earrings by Chopard.

attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

Jennifer Lawrence attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. Necklace by Chopard.

Firm Friends – what is it about Les Amis?

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Cheryl Koh and Sebastien Lepinoy at Les Amis, Singapore

 

[UPDATE: Les Amis was awarded two Michelin stars in the inaugural Singapore guide on July 21st 2016].

With Les Amis in Singapore listed as Asia’s 12th Best Restaurant last night and Cheryl Koh announced as Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2016, here’s a look at the restaurant’s heritage:

Fans of French fine dining restaurant Cepage in Hong Kong will still be able to enjoy the cooking of head chef Sebastien Lepinoy and pastry chef Cheryl Koh even though the Michelin starred restaurant is now closed. They’ll just have to visit Singapore.

The culinary pair have been lured to the Lion City to head up Cepage’s sister establishment Les Amis. Both restaurants share the same enticing formula of sophisticated food and slick service mixed with an unstuffy atmosphere; a recipe that has made Les Amis as popular with food writers in the region as it is with regular customers.

Read more

First look at the Amanemu

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The latest Aman hotel, the Amanemu hot spring resort, will open tomorrow in Shima, Japan.

http://www.aman.com

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Victoria Beckham Hot Foots it to Hong Kong

Victoria Beckham at New York fashion week

Victoria Beckham at New York fashion week

Victoria Beckham’s first store in Asia, and her second worldwide, will open in Hong Kong at The Landmark building on March 18th.

Victoria Beckham A/W 2016

Victoria Beckham A/W 2016

Utterly, Flutterly Lovely

Valentino Net a Porter

Valentino at Net a Porter

We are all a flutter at this beautiful butterfly utility jacket by Valentino – just the jacket for Chopstix’s upcoming safari.

Luxe Living

Alila Villas Soori

Alila Villas Soori

Private dining experience at The Soori Estate, Alila Villas Soori, Bali.

http://www.alilahotels.com/soori

Ode to Odette

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Odette restaurant, Singapore

Julien Royer, formerly head chef of the acclaimed Jaan, now has his own restaurant in the form of Odette, a bread roll’s throw away from his alma mater, within Singapore’s stunning new National Gallery.

Odette is named in homage to Royer’s grandmother. And the family theme continues as the dreamy design is down to artist Dawn Ng – wife of the restaurant’s co owner, Wee Teng Wen of the Lo and Behold group – in conjunction with Universal Design Studio.

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The specially designed open kitchen at Odette

With its romantic, cream interiors, Odette is the White Swan to Lo and Behold stablemate, Black Swan nearby in the CBD. But back to the food.

Royer is continuing to mix classical French with modern techniques in his new home. Some of his greatest hits from Jaan are on the menu: Mushroom “tea”; 55 mins Onsen Egg; Heirloom Beetroot Variation; and Hay Smoked Pigeon.

In it’s new incarnation though the Pigeon is served two ways: the breast cooked sous vide then grilled and the leg cooked for six hours. And the Onsen Eggs are smoked on a bed of pines – foraged by the chef’s father and sent over from France (another family link).

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Julien Royer Chef de Cuisine Odette

Royer has also added some new creations such as the standouts Hokkaido Uni with Apple, Mussel and Caviar and Trout with Miso Glazed Kurobuta Pork.

The welcome champagne trolley includes Chartogne-Taillet rose, Henri Giraud for Odette and Krug – said to be Royer’s favourite.

Desserts, by pastry chef Nicolas Vergnole, are also impressive including Confit Victoria Pineapple (below): toasted coconut ice cream, banana cake, passionfruit coulis, tapioca and Kaffir lime.

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Royer and his team are clearly shooting for a few Michelin stars when the Singapore Guide launches later this year.

[UPDATE: Odette was awarded two stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore on July 21st 2016].

http://www.odetterestaurant.com

 

Love, Cartier: The Cartier Love bracelet

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Cartier Love bracelet

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

http://www.cartier.com

 

Two Tasting Menus for Valentine’s

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Scallops for two at Bacchanalia

Sunday is when some top restaurants take a well deserved break but with Valentine’s falling on the day of rest this year, two of Singapore’s finest are opening their doors.

Bacchanalia is offering a seven course menu at S$150 pp with a free glass of champagne while the Tippling Club has a 14 course menu at S$350 pp – S$400 with champagne and wine pairings.

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Tom yum with tempura coriander at Tippling Club

With Ivan Brehm at Bacchanalia and Ryan Clift at Tippling Club being the most innovative chefs in the city, this certainly won’t be a dull date.

http://www.bacchanalia.asia
http://www.tipplingclub.com

Most Romantic Hotels in the UK

Lucknam Park

Lucknam Park

 

Lucknam Park, Wiltshire – For Jane Austen Lovers

Lucknam Park is the perfect country house hotel: neither stuffily chintzy nor brought incongruously up to date with over-designed styling, it’s a mix of old world good looks, modern comforts, friendly service and fabulous food.

Once you’ve driven up the mile long, tree-flanked avenue to the splendid Palladian house, indulge in a traditional afternoon tea (scones with clotted cream and homemade jam) in the beautiful drawing room with views over the parkland. Then set off on the hour-long walk along he estate’s perimeter wall, or horsey types can head for the hotel’s impressive equestrian centre – just enough fresh air and exercise to have you hungry again for dinner

The Michelin-starred Park restaurant, headed up by chef Hywel Jones, is pure Jane Austen, all chandeliers, swagged curtains and bow windows. The food here is on the elaborate side but it’s never a case of style over substance.

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Lucknam Park

Then there’s the spa. Ah – the spa, a super slick surprise behind the main house. Swim in the indoor pool complete with roaring fireplace (yes, you read that correctly), loll about in the hot rooms and outdoor hydro pool and try a treatment using herbs from the hotel’s vegetable garden. Bath, Austen’s stomping ground, is only six miles away but with so much to occupy you at Lucknam who knows if you’ll make it there.

wwww.lucknampark.co.uk

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The Old Swan

The Old Swan, Minster Lovell – For Log Fire Lovers

Imagine the ideal country inn and you’ll picture The Old Swan. Exposed beams and brick, flagstone floors, log fires, cosy nooks, inviting bar… this is a wonderful weekend retreat in the Cotswolds countryside.

When it comes to eating, choose between the more formal restaurant with vaulted ceiling and rich wool tapestries or the pub like but equally appealing dining room.

Old Swan & Minster Mill

Old Swan

Settle down by the fire for a nightcap (the snug is for residents only) before climbing the wooden stairs to one of the most comfortable beds you’ve ever slept in.

Bring your hiking boots as there are walks aplenty almost from the front door.

http://www.oldswanandminstermill.com

Gilpin Lake House

Gilpin Lake House

Gilpin Lake House, Cumbria – For Water Lovers

Staying at the lake House feels like steoppping into your own home – albeit with a number of staff at hand. With just six bedrooms and overlooking a private tarn, the house is intimate and relaxed. Part of that comes from the comfortable interiors but also from the personable service.

Tea is laid out every afternoon in the conservatory, where the very decent breakfast is served too. Dinner is over at Gilpin Lodge, the renowned hotel and restaurant owned by the same family. Its a few minute away but a driver is provided.

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Gilpin Lake House

Walks in the rugged countryside are de rigour. Afterwards there’s the Lake House’s indoor pool, sauna and outdoor hot tub to enjoy as well as a massage room overlooking the lake.

http://www.gilpinlodge.co.uk

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Ynyshir Hall

Ynyshir Hall, Powys – For Royalty Lovers

Queen Victoria’s former country residence in Wales has been revamped into a luxurious small hotel by convivial couple Rob and Joan Reen.

Artist Rob’s striking paintings adorn the cosy bedrooms and chic dining room. A wealth of local produce is showcased in the Michelin starred restaurant including meat from the excellent village butcher, fish from nearby Borth and herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden. But the menu is anything but provincial.

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Ynyshir Hall

Outside of the comfortable cocoon of the hotel with its sumptuous fabrics and lush colours, there are some stunning walks in this pretty corner of Wales. Either around the Dovey estuary where Ynyshir Hall nestles or a more strenuous hill climb – you may even spot local resident Robert Plant of Stairway to Heaven fame.

http://www.ynyshir-hall.co.uk

We Heart the Plaza Athenee

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The Plaza Athenee will always have a special place in Chopstix’s heart as the scene of not only a special birthday (thanks for the cake Monsieur Ducasse!) but also mes engagement. A thoroughly fitting place for Valentine’s then. Who could resist those crimson red awnings?

https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/paris/hotel-plaza-athenee/

Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris

Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris

Monkeying Around

DVF monkey

Still searching for a simian gift for Chinese New Year? This monkey key chain by our favourite fashion diva DVF could do the trick.

Best Boutique Hotels in Singapore

Naumi

Rooftop bar and pool at Naumi

Naumi
Naumi’s draw is its hideaway feel. The hotel sports a very intimate yet ultra-luxe feel, with soft lighting, designer furnishings, high thread count sheets, and Apple TV. While the standard rooms are compact they are cleverly designed so don’t feel cramped.

Or splash out for a suite which come in two designs one inspired to Coco Chanel in tasteful monochrome, the other a homage to Andy Warhol with a more in your face pop art theme.

Naumi

Chanel inspired room at Naumi

The rooftop swimming pool, complete with cabana recliners and cocoon couches, is a hidden gem accessible only to guests. The pool is tiny so you don’t really get a workout doing laps, but that’s not really the point.

41 Seah Street, Singapore, tel +65 6403 6000
 http://www.naumihotel.com

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The Salon at Hotel Vagabond

Hotel Vagabond
The newest kid on Singapore’s boutique block designed by Jacques Garcia of Hotel Costes, Paris fame. As such it’s a little bit of Paris in Singapore, or more specifically in Little India slash Kampong Glam.

Centre stage is the alluring ground floor public space, all dark lighting and red velvet drapes, comprising a bar segueing into a Salon and restaurant. At 5th Quarter restaurant, chef Drew Nocente, focuses on smoking, curing and pickling on his clever menu.

Art is predominant here from the rhino check in desk and the elephant seemingly crashing through the lobby wall to the video installations in the loos and the lift.

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Hotel Vagabond, Singapore

The 41 rooms are similarly maximalist but on the right side of taste: every space of wall crammed with pictures and richly hand painted screens.

39 Syed Alwi Road; +65 6291 6677 http://www.hotelvagabondsingapore.com

The Club, Singapore

The Club

The Club
This handsome colonial building with white façade accented by bright red shutters is found on the corner of bar and restaurant mecca, Club Street.

Fresh from a refurb, the design mixes period features with on trend Mad Men-esque retro furnishings. Think jewel coloured velvets, 60s style chairs, and dark grey and navy painted panels – reminiscent of British stately homes like Downton Abbey.

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The hotel’s hub is Mr and Mrs Maxwell, a loungey restaurant space that serves as an old day diner and local hang out spot.

Up on the roof is Tiger’s Milk, the Lion City’s first Peruvian bar. Come for the Piscos, the cerviche and the skewers.

28 Ann Siang Road, Singapore 069708 Tel: +65 6808 2188 http://www.theclub.com.sg

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Lobby at Wanderlust

Wanderlust

What happens when you bring together four homegrown creative firms and give them free reign to put together a hotel?

Each design team was given an entire floor of this former 1920s schoolhouse to transform. The result is succinctly captured in 29 unique rooms collectively known as Wanderlust.

The lobby is a wacky combination of vintage ads, shades of cement gray, wildly colored furnishings and exposed beams and air ducts for that intentionally unintentional look.

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Leaving the funkiest for last, the top Creature Comforts floor features Whimsical, split level loft rooms feature designs from monsters to typewriters (above) and spaceships.

The hotel’s Cocotte restaurant is also well regarded for rustic French food.

Wanderlust Hotel; 2 Dickson Road; +65 6396 3322 http://www.wanderlusthotel.com

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The New Majestic
With the same owner as Wanderlust, New Majestic shares plenty of the nonconformist design attitude of its sister property – this time in Chinatown.

Housed in a conservation shop house, the interiors are impeccably put together with clean lines, stark white walls and floors, and a mix of vintage and designer furniture scattered throughout.

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Aqua room at the New Majestic

Each of the 30 rooms, some with private gardens or verandahs, are custom-designed to give an individual personality. These range from oversized murals and seemingly suspended mattresses to glass-enclosed bathtub as a centerpiece. The Attic suites feature loft space beds and twin cast iron bathtubs.

There’s a slip of a lap pool in the atrium. But be warned – it features portholes that are visible in the hotel’s (modern Cantonese) restaurant.

31-37 Bukit Pasoh Road; +65 6511 4700 http://www.newmajestichotel.com

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Lobby at The South Beach

The South Beach

A new addition to Beach Road, opposite the venerable Raffles Hotel, is this Norman Foster designed showstopper with interiors by Philippe Starck.

The hotel is actually comprised of a skyscraper plus historic colonial low rises at ground level. And while there are some 650 rooms and suites, the place is overwhelmingly boutique in feel. If you judge “boutique” by ambience rather than size, and here at Chopstix we do.

Doing away with the traditional reception, you’ll be checked in at one of several freestanding desks – each one itself a work of art and overhung by a unique chandelier.

Rooms are bright and contemporary (if you like chintz, don’t book here) and the minimalist bathrooms come with Japanese style loos.

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Icing on the cake is the 18 floor sky garden with a wrap around view of Singapore’s skyline and contemporary rocking chairs from which to drink it all in. Speaking of which, there’s also a swimming pool, gym and bar with a view up here.

30 Beach Road; +65 6818 1888 http://www.thesouthbeach.com.sg

Author! Author!

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The historic Author’s Wing of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok reopens next week including a refresh of the stunning Author’s Lounge (above). Chopstix can’t wait to see what they’ve done with the place.

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Love All

Caroline-Wozniacki-Stella-McCartney-AO

The Australian Open 2016 Women’s Final today may involve Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber but the winner in Chopstix’s eyes is Caroline Wozniacki for wearing this gorgeous Stella McCartney for Adidas tennis dress.

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