If you live in Shanghai, or have visited often, there is no doubt you have heard of Willy and his popular Spanish tapas restaurant El Willy. Formerly located in the French Concession in an old villa, but now on the glamorous Bund waterfront strand, El Willy is a warm and welcoming place (just like Willy). It’s also very well recognised, having won numerous accolades in local Shanghai media and is also listed in the top 100 Restaurants in the Miele Guide.
It was my son A’s sixth birthday a month ago, and as a treat, the family took a trip down to Margaret River, Perth to celebrate the occasion. He requested to take an excursion to the famous Busselton Jetty on his birthday itself, so the 2km tram ride out to sea was extra special for him. It was a windy and damp day, and after the jetty trip, we were all hungry and in need of some serious warming up. So we hit More Café, a quaint spot in the heart of Busselton town, and was drawn in by the inviting smell of fresh coffee and the wide variety rustic and colourful bakes on their counter.
The perpetual hipster label may make proper foodies fairly skeptical of the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood, but there’s at least one restaurant worth visiting. Owned by Tippling Club’s award-winning chef Ryan Clift, Open Door Policy was one of the first establishments to shake up sleepy Yong Siak Street. The two-year-old restaurant is still constantly full, with guests returning for its rustic bistro classics with a contemporary twist. I chat with Head Chef Daniele Sperindio, who dishes on being a chef in Singapore and why camera-welding patrons don’t bother him – at least, not anymore.
Having sampled some amazing modern tapas restaurants in Spain, Japan and Singapore over the years, I confess that I am rather partial to this genre. Tapas is a celebration of life with its cacophony of colours and tastes – all enjoyed in a casual and energetic setting. BAM! on Tras Street met all these key benchmarks and then some. With such an explosive name, my expectations were, ahem, loaded.
Since are so many choices when dining in Tokyo, why do I keep coming back to something so simple like Yakitori? Yakitori is ostensibly the most basic of foods – meats and vegetables, grilled on a stick. Many cultures have something similar like Thai moo ping (grilled pork on a stick) or Turkish kofte (grilled lamb kebabs) but I would argue that the Japanese version of a meal on a stick is by far the best. The Japanese obsession with detail elevates even the simplest of dishes and yakitori is no exception. As such, whenever I am in Tokyo I am perpetually on the hunt for a new yakitori place to try.
It’s no secret that my wife and I are big fans of Chef Willin Low and the Modern Singaporean food he’s been pioneering for the past 9 years through his restaurant Wild Rocket. Fans of Willin’s, including us, were rather distraught last year when he announced he was closing down this flagship eatery in search of a new location. After a few months of looking around, however, he decided that his original location on Mount Emily Hill was better than anything he’d seen. And so, instead of moving, he renovated the old space, re-opening with a brand new look last week, and with the very notable addition of a dining bar, at which Willin has begun to serve a new 8 course degustation menu.
There are some friends who you simply trust explicitly when it comes to food recommendations. My friend L is one such person. So when she raved about the best steamboat meal she’d ever had, and added the caveat that she had been introduced to this gastronomic revelation by none other than Wong Ah Yoke, chief food critic of The Straits Times, the main English newspaper here in Singapore, I knew it was something I had to try for myself. And soon.
Prawns – Courtesy of Urbane Restaurant
There has been a flourishing in South East Queensland food scene. Gorgeous, bountiful local produce, which there’s never been a shortage of, is making its ways to the creative, able hands of extraordinary chefs, and to the tables of some tremendous restaurants.
One of my favorite places to eat, on past trips to Perth was Harvest, a wonderful laid-back space in North Freemantle. Brunch at Harvest was a must on many a visit. Sadly, Harvest closed down in 2013. So, when I heard that owner Clint Nolan had opened a new place, this time in Northbridge, I marked it down as one of our possible must-try restaurants for our March 2014 trip. And then, later, when I started reading some of the early reviews and blog posts about Pleased to Meet You, it quickly became the one restaurant in Perth that I knew I simply had to try.