Understated flair, untamed fare – The Ledbury in London

The Ledbury cover photo

Experiencing The Ledbury in London is like taking a hike in the wild. For one, traveling there takes you out of Zone 1 and into raw Westbourne Park (or Notting Hill, depending on which line you’re taking), where the streets are mercifully quiet and the grass in the gardens of the low-rise housing developments is untrimmed. For another, the typically cheery London weather (read: rainy with biting winds) made my girlfriend K and I look like a pair of inept hipster hunter-gatherers after the brisk walk from the tube station to Ledbury Road. Then there was the food itself; each of the eight courses on our lunch tasting menu took us on a sojourn, past bubbling rivers, through pungent loam, into the very heart of some unnamed countryside. Continue Reading →

Cheeky fare: Le Sergent Recruteur in Paris

Le Sergent Recruteur egg

“Foie gras is boring,” were the epigrammatic words of Antonin Bonnet before my dinner at Le Sergent Recruteur in Paris. Or at least, that’s what I think he said; it’s hard to recall bits of conversation after being plied with bubbly and Riesling. But it would be completely in keeping with the chef’s cavalier demeanor, and with the feel of this lively new place, which served up some of the most playful cuisine of my weeklong stay in the city. Continue Reading →

Postcard from Italy (okay, not really) – Bocca di Lupo in London

Bocca di Lupo, a delightful casual Italian eatery in London's theatre district

I’ve just come back from a two-week holiday in London and Paris, during which I ate until I started hallucinating, and drank more wine than I had in the last twelve months combined.  It was, as you can imagine, a completely indulgent vacation of hedonistic proportions, and a blow to my wallet from which it may never recover (hence justifying my purchase of a pretty new wallet from a luxury men’s store near Portobello market). Over this and my next couple of posts, I’ll share some of the more memorable, and hopefully less well-known, restaurants I visited, starting with Bocca di Lupo, a casual pan-Italian joint in London’s theater district.
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Sushi Mitsuya and chef Ryosuke Harada – exciting newcomers to Singapore’s sushi scene

Sushi Mitsuya Ryosuke Harada

As a sushi fetishist, I’ve been rather jaded by the recent flux of new sushiya – it’s all too easy nowadays to offer the ‘freshest’ toro and ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ uni, in an ‘authentic’ edomae setting. But the imminent opening of one Sushi Mitsuya, and the arrival of one of the most inspiring shokunin I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, has my fullest attention. Over the course of two lunches during the restaurant’s soft opening in February, I experienced a maturity and obstinate passion absent from other more glamorous sushi bars here. Quite simply, I fell in love. Continue Reading →

Welcome back, chef: Lunch at Nicolas Le Restaurant

I first met chef Nicolas Joanny during a quietly remarkable dinner at his eponymous restaurant earlier this year. His wasn’t the ‘best’ meal I’ve had in Singapore, but it was certainly one of the most earnest – more than anything, I remember chef Nicolas hunched over a counter at his open kitchen, putting the finishing touches on the evening’s courses before personally bringing them to our table. Here was a chef who wasn’t afraid to be in the thick of the action, a chef whose cuisine I wanted to explore. Continue Reading →

Seafood voodoo – Set lunch at Gattopardo

My family’s been going to Gattopardo for two years now, and I still can’t figure out why the place is never crowded. It surely can’t be the quality – chef Lino Sauro, in my opinion, serves some of the most balls-to-the-wall Italian food in the city, with achingly fresh seafood and a technique that I can only describe as Sicilian voodoo. Some diners might be scared away, I guess, by the restaurant’s hermit-esque location in the Hotel Fort Canning, or by the prices, which are a slight notch above those at other Italian heavyweights such as Pasta Brava. I’d like to persuade these people to make the journey up Fort Canning Park to try Gattopardo’s set lunch, the perfect gateway into the restaurant’s gut-busting cuisine. Continue Reading →

Siem Reap, Cambodia – a refreshing new resort and simple, comforting food

I’m embarrassed to admit that my travel experience in Southeast Asia is almost nonexistent. Having lived and holidayed in North and South America, various parts of Europe, and even Japan and Korea, it seems like I simply forgot to explore my own backyard – which, given the beautiful photos and pieces of travel writing I’ve seen from friends who have been to the region, is a huge shame. Which is why I decided to fly to historical Siem Reap in Cambodia over the recent long weekend. My girlfriend K had been anxious to visit the magnificent Khmer temples of the sprawling Angkor archaeological park, and I wanted to find out more about the country’s cuisine. Both of us came back happy campers. Continue Reading →

Seasonal simplicity: Lunch at JAAN and a conversation with chef Julien Royer

My girlfriend K has been a wonderful companion on my journey through the restaurant scene here in Singapore as well as in New York, where we lived for close to three years. Pescatarian by choice, she also lived in Paris for a year, and, as a result, never fails to remind me that when it comes to food, the French, quite simply, do it better. It isn’t just about the razor-sharp techniques of the chefs there, she explains, but also about their commitment to fresh and quality produce, which makes something as simple as a summer salad – or even a baguette from a nondescript boulangerie – taste brilliant.

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