Best Tonkatsu in Toyko? at Maisen in Shibuya

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I have been interested – perhaps obsessed is a better word – with Japanese food for many years now. There is something that is at once minimalist and at the same time luxurious about the cuisine. Japanese cooking emphasises simple and elegant preparations that highlight the unique flavour profiles of the ingredients – rather than the more Western technique of trying to “elevate” dishes with complex sauces. The simplicity and sheer sincerity of Japanese cooking wins for me every time. For example, the Japanese will, with unwavering confidence, put a single piece of pork on a plate with a side of plain shredded cabbage and serve it to you….just like that…because it is in itself pork perfection. Continue Reading →

Five quirky and cool must-dos when in Tokyo

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Tokyo might be my favorite city in the world. It’s got an amazing mix of world class food, an incredible culture, a rich history and well…lots of quirky and cool things to see and do. Of course when you go to Tokyo, you should go to Shibuya and see the famous crossing, have yakitori and a beer on the street, buy electronics in Akihabara, etc… but there might be some items you should consider adding to your list of must-do things when visiting Tokyo. Continue Reading →

Sawadee ka! Rules of etiquette When travelling in Thailand

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As far as many Asian countries go for visiting foreigners, Thailand is certainly among the most relaxed with regard to customs and rules. Having been a top destination for tourism for over 60 years, Thailand is known for its warm hospitality and uniquely welcoming ways. However, that is not to say that anything goes. While the Thai customs may not be as fixed or rigid as Japanese or Chinese, there are still some big DO’s and DON’Ts to be mindful of when traveling, greeting and eating in Thailand. Continue Reading →

3 Italian sauces you should never buy at the supermarket….

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….because you can make them quickly and easily at home, and oh so much better. I remember when I first started to cook and I used to doctor up jarred tomato sauce with herbs and such. I felt very clever about making it “better” – until my mother said, hey, basically you can use plain old tomatoes and make a REAL sauce doing very nearly the same steps. A mind blowing food moment for a teenager – cooking is… easy?!? Continue Reading →

5 Best Weekend Brunches in Shanghai, China

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Brunch has always been a tradition for me. From the early days after university, after a too late night out – we used to go to a place called Joe’s in NYC and get these amazing Belgian waffles.  And then later when I was married…just a relaxed way to ease into the day after a lazy morning. In Istanbul we used to go to grand old hotels and enjoy the luxurious brunch spreads of various cheeses, olives and breads.  And nowadays in Shanghai, it’s become a traditional as well because it is a common time where everyone can get together no matter what stage of life…a mixture of singles, families and such. And while brunch is about gathering together to share a meal, let’s not forget the most important part – the FOOD!

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7 Rules of Etiquette When Eating & Traveling in China

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I have been traveling to China for ten years and living here for three. I hear a lot of visitors and / or newcomers talk about how “bad manners” are among the Chinese people. Well, I would posit that these are not “bad” but instead, just different rules of etiquette. Continue Reading →

Ten Rules of etiquette for every traveler to Japan

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As cultures go, Japan must be one of the most unique in the world. Sharing very little in common with the rest of Asia and certainly even less with the West, it can be incredibly idiosyncratic. Furthermore, being one of the more formal cultures left in today’s modern world, it can also be intimidating…here, I’d like to share a cheat sheet on the rules and etiquette one should know when in Japan. Continue Reading →