Traffic jams, snaking taxi queues, trains that break down, and buses that travel at snail’s pace. Do you feel trapped in the daily grind with no means of escape? Have you ever wished you could just get into your car – a cute Volkswagen bus, perhaps – and go away to the most remote corners of the world?
Once in a while, we want to get away from Life, smell the flowers and, STOP to breathe.
There is time and space to dream dangerously and make mistakes.
Live Life in the slow lane.
Let’s go away together.
5 Utterances You Will Inevitably Make When You Visit Dallas Restaurant & Bar at Suntec City Sky Garden
Unpretentious food in a cosy environment … Denise Li can’t wait to go back.
While I first knew about Dallas Restaurant & Bar because of the numerous times I’ve walked by its first outlet at Boat Quay, I’ve never actually tried the food till now. I’m not sure why … I think it’s the outlet’s close proximity to what I call the “bloke bars” at the beginning of the Boat Quay stretch that never compelled me to walk in. Well shame on me for judging a book by its cover, because the food served here is pretty damn good. The restaurant has opened its second outlet at Suntec City Sky Garden, and if you would like to enjoy your meal without raucous shouts and cheers whenever a BPL or rugby match is playing, this is the outlet you should visit.
I stopped by for a tasting a few weeks ago, and found myself so impressed that I couldn’t help but say the following things out loud …
1. When you first walk into the restaurant … “Wah, damn chio!”
High ceilings, polished hardwood floors, leather upholstered chairs … This place looks classy but still has an accessible, welcoming vibe. With daylight streaming in through its wall-to-ceiling windows, grab a seat by the window during the day if you want to take the best possible pics of your food – because we all know a meal didn’t happen unless you post droolworthy pics on Instagram ;). At night, the restaurant has an intimate ambience that makes it perfect for a date. There’s also a small area that can be closed off for small celebrations such as wedding solemnisations.
2. When you peruse the extensive alcohol menu … “Lim ah, lim!”
There is a good enough selection of beers – both on tap and in bottles – to satisfy any beer fan, and you can choose one in eight wines to enjoy by the glass, with prices starting from $13. Most of the wines you’ll find here are from some very good vineyards in Australia and New Zealand, including Vasse Felix and Oyster Bay. The cocktail list is small, but well-curated, with old-time favourites such as Margarita, White Russian, and Dark ‘n’ Stormy. During happy hour from 11am – 8pm, house wines and spirits go for $12++, while you can enjoy Stella Artois on San Miguel on tap for $14++.
3. When these starters arrive at your table … “Mpfwugh”
(Cos you’re too busy stuffing your face, obviously)
Both varieties of tacos at Dallas are a must-try. The Snapper Fish Tacos ($22 for 3; $8 for every additional piece) contains a fresh piece of snapper coated in a light batter and then deep-fried. It’s accompanied by a delish homemade pineapple chutney, then drizzled with Chipotle mayo and garnished with strips of baby radish. So many flavours that it’s definitely a party in your mouth!
For a more sinful option, try the Crispy Pork Belly Tacos ($14 for 3; $5 for every additional piece). Served with guacamole and aioli, we also liked how pickled Spanish onions and fresh jalapeno helped alleviate the heaviness of this dish.
4. When you finally see this amazing platter for yourself … “Wah lau eh!”
Carnivores will find Dallas to be heaven on earth. The Dallas meat platter – $70 for two pax or $130 for four – comes with four succulent meats, including: Grilled Australian lamb cutlets; Pork ribs either marinated in a tangy sweet berry glaze or fiery BBQ sauce before being slow-cooked for two hours; Rotisserie chicken that’s been marinated in a special sauce overnight before being finished off with a dry chilli rub, then roasted for three hours; and prime rib steak (cooked to medium-rare, of course). All that, plus a generous serving of roasted potatoes.
The meats were faultlessly prepared, and we liked that the lamb cutlets didn’t taste or smell gamey at all.
7 Signs You Desperately Need A Vacation
Need a break? You’re not alone.
In our insanely-paced society, it seems impossible to ever get away. You badly want a holiday but you also feel a deep sense of guilt about leaving your work behind. It seems like every time you plan for a vacation, yet another big project comes up and you have to scrap your plans. However, with careful planning and open communication with your co-workers, going on that much-needed vacation is not impossible.
But first, how do you tell if you’re due for a break?
1. You find yourself spacing out in your office cubicle every, oh, 20 minutes or so.
2. You hit “Refresh” on airline booking pages more times than you care to admit.
3. You spend hours looking through old vacation photos on Facebook and Instagram.
4. You email tour operators in a variety of exotic locations, dreaming of the day when you can finally up and leave.
5. Whenever friends or co-workers talk about their recent vacations, it takes every ounce of self-restraint not to burst into a flood of tears.
6. Right now, the only consolation you have is Happy Hour.
7. You’ve found yourself nodding along to every single point on this post.
Seriously though, if you find yourself identifying with more than three of these points, you’re due for a vacation. It doesn’t even have to be a long trip to somewhere exotic. Even a short break in a neighbouring country could be all you need to clear your head and recharge your batteries.
Go on, you deserve it!
This Scandinavian Destination Should Be On Your Travel Bucket List
And there’s more to it than the Northern Lights.
Mention “Scandinavia” and the first attraction you’d probably think of is the Northern Lights. But the region has so much more to offer besides the Aurora Borealis, and definitely still worth visiting even after the Aurora Borealis dims.
You might not have heard of Narvik in Northern Norway, but it’s been hailed as the next big Arctic travel destination. Polar Park, home to a pack of Arctic wolves, has just opened up a new lodge within its enclosure, giving you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to interact with these majestic creatures.
Dances with wolves
Designed in the style of a modern Norwegian farmhouse, the lodge can accommodate up to 10 guests. Wolves freely roam outside of the lodge, and there will be a guide accompanying guests throughout their stay to teach them more about these animals.
The Polar Park is the most northerly wildlife park, lying 72km from the harbour town of Narvik. Besides wolves, the park is home to other native Arctic animals such as wolverines, Arctic foxes, bears, lynx, and reindeer.
Besides observing the animals in their natural habitats, the Wolf Kiss experience will let get up close and personal with the animals. And if thoughts of Leonardo DiCaprio’s mangled body after being mauled by a bear in The Revenant are now running through your mind – don’t worry. These wolves have been socialised and have grown up around humans, and if you’re lucky, they may even greet you by licking your face.
Light up your world
Combine this unforgettable experience with another – Lights at the Lodge. This will take you from Narvik town on a gondola ride high into Narvikfjellet (Narvik Mountain) to another lodge, where you can watch the Northern Lights overlooking the port town of Narvik and the fjord beyond. Going high up into the mountain takes you to the darker skies away from light pollution to better view the Aurora.
The newly renovated lodge itself is far from basic. Split into two floors, the top floor has a refreshments bar and space for the guide to tell visitors more about the Aurora, while the downstairs area is designed specially for viewing the Aurora. There are also platforms outside to allow visitors to better take pictures.
If the weather does not allow for the gondola ride, you’ll be taken to another lodge halfway up the mountain to search for the Aurora.
A four day, three night itinerary to Narvik, northern Norway, with Off the Map Travel costs from £2299, based on 4 travelling, excluding flights. This includes all transfers, a night at the new Wolf Lodge with dinner and a guide, a Wolf Kiss to meet the wolves face-to-face, B&B accommodation for two nights in a 4* hotel with Northern Lights hunting from its sky bar, a fjord boat trip to search for local wildlife and experience the region from the water, and a new Lights at The Lodge Aurora hunt up the Narvik Mountain (Narvikfjellet). Visit the website for more information about visiting Narvik.
Authors and Bloggers of Goaway
She can’t sit still. Doesn’t sleep well either. But, Debs has found the one thing that’ll help her mind switch off – baking. There’s nothing she likes better than just focusing her energy on getting a cake or a pie to turn out right. With this newfound passion, she has made it a point to bring back interesting ingredients whenever she travels, so she can use them in her desserts. She names Tokachi of Hokkaido in Japan as one of her favourite places.
She may have been born and bred in Singapore, but Denise considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and needs to make a yearly pilgrimage there to maintain her sanity. Competitive by nature, she enjoys combat sports and is currently obsessed with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which she picked up just under a year ago. To no one’s surprise, the country currently at the top of her travel bucket list is Brazil.
Ask Terry anything to do with sports, and he will likely have an answer. A loyal Chelsea F.C. supporter, it’s no wonder his No. 1 dream is to set foot in Stamford Bridge, home ground of the football club, in Fulham, London. Few things get this optimist down, but when they do, he goes for a long run to clear his mind. To Terry, running serves as a powerful reminder that no matter how tough the journey is, you have to keep on going – and you will make it.
Drew is a geek – about work, about music, about coffee and beer and about travel. His skinny frame is due to a bout of amoebic dysentery he caught during a holiday in India – he’s never regained the weight lost although he eats like a teenager. He currently splits his time between Indonesia and Singapore – while maintaining a gigantic beard.
With wanderlust flowing in her veins, Lili has always had grand dreams of travelling the world, escaping to exotic locales and experiencing different cultures. Whenever Life gets too much for her, she reaches straight for her earphones to tune out the world. More than just a temporary distraction, music has a profound way of taking her to places that stir the soul.
For as long as she can remember, Vanessa has always wanted to escape to a place where no one knows her. But because that’s not always possible, she often retreats into the world of books and pop culture. When she does get to travel, she prefers going off the beaten track and back to nature. Some of her best memories include napping in a treehouse in Laos and cycling across padi fields in Bali.
Eat And Drink Like A Pro: A Guide To Tasting Trails In Perth’s Swan Valley
Perth is home to some of the best tasting trails and you won’t have to travel far to find them. By Rachael De Foe
Beyond the better known Margaret River trail, Swan Valley is fast becoming the region’s destination for drink and food lovers everywhere. Just 25 minutes away from the city centre and lined with 40 world-class wineries, six breweries, two distilleries, a cidery, meadery and countless gourmet artisan foods, it’s hard to know where to even begin!
If you’re thinking of taking your taste buds on holiday, here’s a few tips to help you max out your visit to F&B paradise.
Look out for the local highlights
Wines from the area are absolutely a must-try and with good reason too. Swan Valley fields experience little rain and plenty of sun, making it the ideal place to host exceptional wines such as Shiraz, Chenin Blanc, Verdelho and Cabernet varieties.
For fans of sweeter alcohols, long and hot summers mean grapes are treated to extra ripening time, creating the ultra-high sugar levels needed to make rare liqueurs and fortifieds. From bigger vineyards such as Sandalford Winery, to cosier family-run estates like Pinelli Wines, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Ask for tasting notes
To appreciate certain drinks, such as wines, craft beers and ciders, it helps to know which flavours to take note of. And while tasting will always have a subjective element to it (our sense of smell and taste is often tied to what our palate is used to), having a description in front of you can be a good way to guide your experience.
Thankfully, many of the stops in Swan Valley will have a set of tasting notes to accommodate both new and practised palates, so it doesn’t hurt to ask! If you’re looking for more of a verbal walk-through, have a chat to the person hosting your session, they’ll be more than happy to share a thing or two!
“What you taste in Swan Valley, stays in Swan Valley”
When it comes to some local gems, this really is the case! Although most craft breweries and cideries do have bottles you can take home, there are some specials that won’t last the plane ride.
This is because craft beer and cider specialists like Feral Brewing Co and Funk Cider take pride in making beverages that are either unpasteurised or without preservatives for a healthier and tastier alternative. What often results is a one-of-a-kind drink which takes surprising twists on traditional flavour profiles. Other breweries may also have seasonal one-off batches so do keep an eye out.
Stop over for some delicious bites
Another great thing about Swan Valley is that you can find some of the freshest produce in the backyard of many wineries. So when planning your trip, make sure to consider where you might like to grab a bite too. As a bonus, eateries like Houghton Wines’ restaurant have outdoor tables so you can enjoy a lovely view of the vineyard as you tuck into your lunch.
If you’re out till dinner time, it’s also worth visiting Fillaudeau’s Café Restaurant. Trained to cook classical French cuisine, Head Chef Manu Fillaudeau runs a homely kitchen with an emphasis on making everything from scratch and showcasing local produce – whether it’s locally grown vegetables, Rottnest Island scallops or Western Australian Steak – in his recipes. On a warm night, ask for a table outdoors to dine under a sky full of stars.
Join a masterclass and pick up a few skills of your own
Want to bring back a souvenir that’ll last? Why not try a masterclass! Many of the Valley’s viniculture, chocolate making and artisanal experts hold interactive classes to give you a chance to hone in on their craft, hear the stories behind their passion and most importantly, pick up some tricks of the trade.
For a unique experience, check out The Cheese Barrel at Olive Farm for a hands-on workshop with The Cheese Maker, Tanya Baretto, who’ll teach you a thing or two about making your own delicious dairy treat and how to pair it with a glass of wine or bubbly.
Want to put your taste buds to the test? Jetstar flies up to three times daily between Singapore and Perth with one way promotional fares starting from S$109, all inclusive. Visit www.jetstar.com for more details.
Muse Amuse Is Your Oasis From The Blistering Heat
The multi-concept establishment is filled with innovative twists on Asian cuisine. Look out for their snazzy cocktails too!
If you’re seeking shelter from the unforgiving heat this past week, take refuge in Muse Amuse. Consisting of a restaurant, bar, lounge-cum-event space, and even a roof garden, this integrated establishment is a tranquil refuge from the torpid weather. Not far off from Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown MRT stations, you’ll be right at home once you step into this two-month old collective.
The minimalist-designed establishment has a chic, yet homely feel.
Its front section – Muse – is a minimalist styled restaurant serving up Mod-Asian sharing plates. With its space available for hire, the restaurant also accommodates event launches, work events, and private parties.
Walker further in, and you’ll find Amuse. Here, you can grab a tipple or two!
Order a coffee and head upstairs to the cool lounge that’s available to all patrons.
As you walk further inside – and through an old-school shophouse airwell – you’ll find yourself in Amuse, the establishment’s bar, which leads out to the Ann Siang Hill and Club Street area. Open from 3pm onwards, the bar is a haunt among white-collar ‘Shentonites’ aplenty. Upstairs, you’ll find a tranquil lounge that’s available for all patrons to use. Just order a cup of coffee, and the staff will serve it as you work or read!
Experimental, Yet Recognisable Dishes @ Muse
Asian fusion was the name of the game, as we tucked into some of the most prettily plated wares for the afternoon. They are served in sharing plates, so take that special someone or your best friends out on this epicurean journey.
Fancy steak tartare with a twist? Try some Tartaro, $18, to savour the freshness of its grain-fed Wagyu. The dish is tossed in sesame oil and layered with chopped Korean honey pears and red chilli. We thought its raw egg yolk balanced really well with the grit of finely diced pears. If you’re someone who only eats beef that’s thoroughly cooked, fret not. You’ll surprise yourself when you chew on this delicate mince which blends effortlessly with the medley of ingredients. It’s even garnished with herbs that are grown in Muse Amuse’s very own roof garden!
‘A’ for aesthetics, is what we say for the Royal Ratchaphruek, $12. Shaped like a bloom, this ratatoullie-inspired creation is steeped in tom yum broth. The ultra-thin flaps of lotus root, sweet potato, zucchini, eggplant, carrot and potato are baked to bring out its natural sweetness without drying it to a crisp. It gorgeously unfurls into the shallow pool of broth like a river lotus. It’s high on visuals and high on taste- that’s for sure.For desserts, we tried the curiously delectable Gula Melaka Panna Cotta with Umami Sea Urchin, $12. Now, this might initially seem like an odd combination, but we were surprised by how well the briny sea urchin matched with creamy, lush pudding. To best enjoy this, consume both the sea urchin and pudding in a single spoonful at the same time.
Asian-Inspired Cocktails @ Amuse
Need some respite from the heart? Savour in these cool glasses of cocktail from Amuse. And we’re not just talking about any ol’ cocktail. Created by resident mixologist Isz Valentino, these happy juices make use of Asian ingredients and cooking techniques for a one-of-a-kind flavour profile.
The Tom Yum Bloody Mary, $25, gets a special shout-out from us. Arguably, this is Bloody Mary’s secret sister of another Asian mother. The family resemblance is there – its salt-covered rim, spicy flavours, and the comforting dashes of vodka.
What sets this creation apart, however, is its tom yum broth base that replaces tomato juice. It’s also stirred with lemongrass, lime leaves, and chilli padi to give it a real kick. Spicy without being overpowering, we recommend pairing this cocktail with the Royal Ratchaphruek.
Muse Amuse, 289 South Bridge Road. Muse open Mon – Sat, 12pm – 12mn. Amuse open Mon – Sat, 3pm till late. Both closed on Sundays. Tel: 8500 0588.
5 Local Experiences To Liven Up Your Perth Vacay
There’s a lot more to Perth than you think! By Rachael De Foe
Before heading to Perth, I had no idea just how much there was to do. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a convert. For those wondering what I’m talking about, here are five recommendations to really max out your trip down under.
1. Experience history in the present
You won’t have to look far to experience the past. In Perth’s historic heart, you’ll find the iconic State Buildings – formerly known as the Lands, Titles and Treasury – which have been restored to retain its mid 19th century architecture and repurposed to breathe new life into the city’s past.
Today, the hub houses an urban space for the public with an array of dining, retail, arts, lounging and entertainment experiences. If you’re planning to make a stay of it, check out the luxury hotel, COMO The Treasury, that’s home to 48 elegant rooms featuring the original high ceilings, cornices and balconies of the former building.
2. Bike around Rottnest Island and snap that famous quokka selfie
If you’re looking for a fun day trip, Rottnest Island or “Rotto” as locals call it, makes for an incredible city escape. It’s a short ferry ride from Perth with the Rottnest Express and if you’re lucky, you’ll even spot dolphins in the water.
Once you’ve reached the island, make sure to rent a bike because cycling around Rotto is one of the best ways to see its picturesque coastline! Along the way, you’ll discover jaw-dropping sights like the crystal blue beaches, famous pink lake, lighthouses and much, much more. For those who are keen for a dip in the ocean make sure to wear your swimmers. And while you’re at it, why not rent a snorkel too!
Also, don’t forget to say hi to the locals… the quokkas that is! These little fur-friends can only be found in Western Australia and are all over the island. About the size of a rabbit, quokkas are muppet-like marsupials with a hop like a kangaroo. They’re known for their cheery temperament and being photogenic so if you were thinking of grabbing a snap, they won’t be bothered if you bend down for a selfie. Just make sure not to touch or feed them and of course, to respect their personal space.
3. Instead of your usual meal, head out for a progressive dinner experience
Unlike your typical sit-down meal, progressive dinners involve having your entrées, mains and desserts in different locations and eateries. That’s right – finally a way to try the city’s most mouth-watering dishes all in one night! It’s a perfect way to eat while seeing the city on foot, and is most suited for groups of friends or families.
One of my favourite dinners was with Megan Yazdani who founded the Fremantle Food Tours after a spark of inspiration during her travels. Our evening began just 30 minutes out of Perth in the famous port city of Fremantle with nibbles from a local deli, followed by a trek to taste the many eclectic dishes mapped out for dinner and finally with dessert overlooking a nearby pier.
4. Visit the beach, even if you don’t have your swimmersAsk any Perth-sider and they’ll be quick to tell you that a beach visit is a must. Even when the weather gets a little chilly, there are lots of reasons to visit the seaside. Whether it be for a Sunday laze, a sunset jog with your pup, or a picnic with friends, it’s worth setting aside some time for a visit to the coast.
Cottesloe and City Beach are both close to the CBD and a favourite with locals. Once you’re done, I also recommend checking out the boutique stores and seafront cafes which are usually a quick stroll away.
5. Try local produce in a different way
It’s no secret that some of the freshest ingredients can be found Australia. But what’s the best way to try it? Well, lately in Perth, what’s popular among locals is integrating homegrown produce into recipes from other cultures.
One dining space doing this in a special way is The Hummus Club. Founded by Australian-Lebanese couple, Ziad and Kaitlin Zammar, this restaurant places a big emphasis on supporting local. Dishes like its namesake are cooked by using homegrown ingredients – such as Western Australian chickpeas, lemon juice from the Swan Valley and locally grown herbs and veggies – in traditionally Middle Eastern recipes.
But perhaps what’s most impressive, is that The Hummus Club is the result of a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign to transform a market stall into a brick and mortar establishment. Inside, the walls have been decorated by Tunisian calligraphy artist Karim Jabbari to feature the names of all their campaign backers in Arabic on one side, and on the other, a beautiful Middle Eastern poem!
Social Media Is Ruining How We Travel
If Instagram did not show people that we have travelled, have we really travelled?
Now that everyone is realising the power of Facebook’s echo chamber, it seems like the right time to bring up this topic: Is social media an accurate reflection of the content you should consume OR is social media simply feeding you only what you want to read and see?
I believe more and more people are leaning towards the latter and, I’m glad this is happening. For one, I hope more of us will start to get away from Facebook for our daily news and opinion editorials. Second, I hope this ushers a new age of what it means to be a “social media influencer”. Finally, I hope brands and advertisers will understand that success on Facebook doesn’t necessarily translate into success in the bigger scheme of things; you are hitting out at the same crowd over and over, and failing to see that the world is so much more than Facebook (and Instagram).
Instagram is the culprit
Moving on from politics, I would like to, today, talk about how social media and the “stars” that shine so brightly on it are ruining travel from everyone else.
Our idea of what a vacation should be like has been warped. And this is no thanks to social media platforms like Instagram.
How is it that suddenly everyone’s idea of taking a holiday snap is them looking away, looking contemplative, DESPITE knowing that a camera is pointing in their face exactly 2 feet away? How is it that it’s become more important to take a picture of you lounging in your new bikini by your hotel’s swimming pool than visiting the museum or checking out the local market?
Instagram has redefined how we should be telling our travel stories. And the quality is deplorable.
It is less about going somewhere and more about showing people that you are, again, going somewhere. Cue shots of aeroplane wings and boarding passes (additional points if you are flying Business or First).
It is less about the place and more about how your clothes look against a certain wall.
It is less about the people and more about how they fit in as “props” in your Instagram shot.
It is less about enriching your mind and more about triggering envy in your followers.
In short, social media has made us shallow, superficial, and selfish travellers.
Social media is feeding us the wrong messages about what it means to live a life well-lived
If you’ve seen the Netflix series “Black Mirror”, you may recall the second episode of the first season where in the future, everyone is being compelled to consume (AND REACT TO) entertainment that is, as the protagonist puts it, “Fake fodder”. And this is how things are becoming on social media now.
“Fake fodder” that’s being passed off as spontaneous and authentic are being lapped up by a willing audience eager to live vicariously through their chosen Instagram celebrities.
“Fake fodder” are outfits that have been painstakingly planned for that perfect picture, yet in reality hardly a practical choice for an itinerary that involves walking and sweating. “Fake fodder” is beautiful photography that reveals little or nothing about the history or the life of the locals … these “fake fodder” are planting unreal notions of what it means to go somewhere and experience the place, culture, food, and people.
Most importantly, such highly choreographed content is making everyone wonder why their lives can’t be like that. Why can’t they get their act together and plan a wardrobe befitting of Bali’s beautiful beaches? Why can’t they get their husbands to co-operate just enough to help them take that “lost in the moment” picture? Why can’t they ever find the luggage space for more shoes and accessories?
In short, in our quest to create that enviable Instagram feed, we have lost sight of what it really means to travel. The consequence is often a bunch of insensitive, ignorant tourists who care more about their pictures than the history of the place they are visiting. Instead of enriching themselves and the lives of those who have so generously hosted them, they rob the place of its identity and strip it down to just a backdrop that complements the OOTD.
Social media is ruining the way we travel because we have come to believe that the Likes our photos get affirm our worth as human beings. We are no longer secure in just knowing we have visited some place new and learnt something new. We now all have the ridiculous need to “amplify” our own experience through Instagram in the hope that we might become “influencers” ourselves and “inspire” others to follow in our footsteps. It’s no longer enough for us to know we have travelled. If Instagram doesn’t have a record of it, we may as well have stayed home.
Make These 3 Restaurants Your New Hangout Spots!
With new interior concepts and lip smacking menus to boot, ditch your usual hangout spots for these restaurants!
Are you bored of the same ol’ meeting spots? Mix things up in the coming week! Ranging from gorgeous furnishings that luxe up your dining experience to delectable menu items, pencil in a date with friends, family or colleagues at one of these restaurants.
For some Asian fusion, visit… Cé La Vi.
Executive Chef Joseph Sergentakis unveils a one-of-a-kind treat, featuring the best of Asia in a single menu. Relish in the succulent Scallop & Oyster Ceviche for a refreshing seafood delight. More of a meat lover? Tuck into the Cast-Iron Roasted Rangers Valley “Black Market” Ribeye. Plus, a swanky new interior completes your luxe dining experience. Here, Cé La Vi fits the bill to a tee. The restaurant’s Asian-inspired decor takes you from the lush jungles of Bali to the majestic ruins of Cambodia as you dine. It’s a perfect match for your best-in-Asia feast.
Cé La Vi, Marina Bay Sands, 1 Bayfront Ave. For reservations, call 6508 2188.
For Halal-Thai offerings, head to… Blue Jasmine @ Park Hotel Farrer Park.
Already missing your previous trip to Bangkok? At Blue Jasmine, you’ll get to relive your culinary highlights thanks to its menu of authentic Thai recipes. Open since mid May, the restaurant offers crowd-pleasing favourites such as the Crispy Seabass ($28) and Beef Green Curry ($24). Most of its dishes come in sharing portions, so be sure to round up your friends with the biggest appetites!
If you’re looking for classic Thai desserts, you won’t be disappointed either. We recommend the Mango & Blue Jasmine Sticky Rice ($14) that’s every bit a visual and gastronomical treat. On top of that, its Halal certification makes this an ideal spot for friends to break fast during the month of Ramadan.
Blue Jasmine, Level 5 Park Hotel Farrer Park, 10 Farrer Park Station Rd. Open 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6 – 10pm. For reservations, call 6824 8851 or e-mail [email protected]
For burgers galore … try Coriander Leaf Grill.
Sometimes, a juicy burger just hits the spot. Located at Ann Siang Road, this restaurant is a haven from the chaos you’d associate the CBD area with. Try their Charcoal Grilled Black Angus Burger ($23) if you’re looking for something hearty. We couldn’t get enough of their in-house mustard sauce, that really tied together the caramel and smoky flavours of the meat patty. Tipple lovers, don’t fret – you’ll get to enjoy Coriander Leaf Grill’s bespoke cocktails and beers on tap, as you soak up the charming streets of Ann Siang.
The Best Street Food Destination In Southeast Asia … According to Luke Nguyen
Spoiler: He really, really loves KL, especially Quality Hotel.
Luke Nguyen wears many hats. Not only is he a chef and owner of several restaurants in Australia, including Red Lantern, he’s also the author of four cookbooks, runs culinary discovery trips to Vietnam and Cambodia, and hosts travel and cooking TV shows, like the popular Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam.
Nguyen’s background is a fascinating one. He was born in 1978 in a refugee camp in Bangkok, after his parents fled Vietnam as refugees. Thereafter, his family moved to Sydney, Australia, and he grew up in an area called Cabramatta, which was home to many other Vietnamese boat refugees. “Growing up in a strong Vietnamese culture and environment meant we always had access to great fish markets, butcheries, grocery stores, and bakeries. The Vietnamese – and Asian – culture has been ingrained in me from a young age. When I travel back to Vietnam and the rest of Asia, I feel like I’m at home, he says.”
Go Away spoke to him during a regional phone conference just before the premiere of his new TV series, Luke Nguyen’s Street Food Asia, to find out just why he’s obsessed with street food from this region.
On his fascination with street food
“Street food is the real food of the country you’re in; the core of its cuisine. It’s not just about the food itself, but of the whole experience of standing on the street eating … That’s how you get a sense of where you are, that sense of history behind the country, and how you get the chance to meet and converse with locals.”
On his most memorable dining experience filming Luke Nguyen’s Street Food Asia
“I really, really enjoyed Kuala Lumpur. On one of the days that I was there, I woke up very early to go to Imbi Market. I arrived there at around 6.45am and was still half asleep when I met my friend there. But then I entered this busy space, with people everywhere, and it felt like there was this big food festival going on … and it was 7 in the morning! I had to best popiah there, some beautiful freshly baked custard egg tarts, and washed it all down with a cup of kopi. Needless to say, I was wide awake after that! That experience really gave me a sense of how people dine in KL.
I also enjoyed my visit to Brickfields (KL’s Little India). There were stalls selling Indian fried snacks, but there were also some Chinese stalls alongside them selling banana fritters, ice kacang and the like, and the stalls also had a huge Chinese clientele. To me, that was an interesting aspect of the culture to see.
Imbi Market is located along Jalan Kijang, next to Pudu Plaza Hotel.
Brickfields is located from Jalan Travers to Jalan Tun Sambanthan.
On the strangest food he’s eaten on his travels
“I must admit, there’ve been things I’ve really struggled to eat, but I try everything at the end of the day. The one thing that required a lot of guts to try was live coconut worms (a Vietnamese street food). They were really big and kind of just wriggling around. I think if you’re in a country, and people eat a certain food on an every day basis, you should try that food at least once. So, no, there’s really nothing in this world I wouldn’t eat!”
On why street food influences the dishes he serves at his restaurants
“I have several restaurants in Australia, and about to open one in Vietnam and in Hong Kong. All of the concepts are influenced by my street food travels. Street food vendors have been preparing that particular dish for generations, so they’ve really got the flavours down. Of course, I do it a little bit differently at my restaurants, by using premium ingredients such as Wagyu beef, kurobuta pork, and organic vegetables, but the flavours of the street food I’ve tried lies at the core of these dishes.”
On the five ingredients he’s bring with him to a deserted island
“Fish sauce, garlic, chilli, aromatics such as lemongrass and galangal, and fresh green herbs like coriander and mint. I could make quite a nice meal with root vegetables and seafood with these ingredients!”
On the scariest kitchen disaster he’s ever experienced
Growing up, my parents owned a restaurant in the area I lived and my father had started a master stock – a stock that is kept alive every day, and where its flavour is enhanced by the ingredients that are continually added to it. This stock was more than 10 years old by the time I opened my own restaurant, Red Lantern, in Sydney. Before my father sold his restaurant, my father gave me his master stock before he sold his restaurant, so I could continue to keep it alive at Red Lantern.
One day, I was training an apprentice and was showing him how to cook chicken and whole ducks in the master stock. After we hung up the birds, I turned around and saw that he was pouring this precious stock away! Luckily, only about a third was gone. But my heart dropped at that moment because it took a decade of love and passion to create the amazing flavour of this stock. Thankfully, we salvaged most of it!”