On a continent where great food is a given, it’s easy to eat well with next to no restaurant research.
Stumble into any busy hole in the wall and you’ll likely find yourself slurping on a rich bowl of soupy noodles or chowing down some wok-friend local favourites. And if you’re looking for more than sustenance, you’ll find it in Asia too. Check out these 5 restaurants where the flavours are bold and the dining experiences wildly memorable. Leave the tight trousers at home.
The El Bulli of Singapore
Up on the 70th floor of Swissotel The Stamford, the views alone at JAAN make this modern European restaurant worth a visit. Take them in before the amuse bouches start to arrive – from there on out you’ll be deliciously distracted from the epic cityscape by a series of divine produce-driven dishes, the standout of which being a sort of heavenly textures of tomato. Recognised for handpicking and grooming global culinary stars, JAAN is headed up by Chef Kirk Westaway, a young Brit dubbed as the next Ferran Adrià. Recently awarded its first Michelin Star, we suspect there’ll be one or two more in the pipeline any day now, its also ranked 44th, Asia’s 50th best restaurant 2018 (sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna.)
Bo Innovation, Hong Kong
Hong Kong Local cuisine gone Michelin molecular
In a city where food is basically a religion, 3 Michelin Star Bo Innovation is God Almighty. The “X-Treme” Chinese cuisine served up here is nothing less than art in itself, attracting appreciators with their DSLRs and mega lenses from far and wide. Headed up by Alvin Leung Jr., an engineer-turned-culinary genius, expect all the foams, powders and mad creations of a true scientist with all the inspired flavours of a genuinely innovative chef. A meal here is a gastronomic journey in the very heart of Hong Kong.
Japan’s most soul-soothing bowl of ramen
Hailed as the best ramen in the world by Forbes Magazine, Ichiran is all about unfussy tonkatsu ramen, prepared to perfection and exactly to your taste. Don’t be put off by the swaths of ramen worshipers that queue around the block – what you’ll be waiting in line for is a real-life noodle nirvana. Avoid peak meal times and use the wait to carefully consider your ramen preferences – you’ll have a questionnaire to fill out covering everything from noodle firmness to richness of broth. Once you’re in, you’ll have your own personal cubicle to slurp away without a distraction in the world.
A journey through modern Indian cuisine in 25 emojis
Named No.1 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for three consecutive years, there’s rightfully a whole lot of hype around Gaggan. Here creativity is the name of the game, with Chef Anand Gaggan reinventing Indian cuisine time and time again through his ever-changing tasting menu. You’ll be going in blind at Gaggan with just a list of 25 emojis to help you guess each dish. Only after a colourful journey of bite-sized courses including ‘magic’ mushrooms, Indian sushi and sea urchin ice cream will you finally be presented with a full description of what you’ve just eaten. Set to officially close its doors in 2020 as Chef Gaggan heads to Japan on a new culinary adventure, you’d better visit soon.
Tapas Molecular Bar, Tokyo
A feast for the imagination
Food for fuel? Not at the Tapas Molecular Bar in the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. Here food is pure entertainment. Gather around a sushi-style bar seating only 8 intrigued diners at a time for an edible show delivered by just a few charismatic chefs. None of these ~20 tapas sized courses are what they seem – every surreal bite is mind and taste bud boggling. This isn’t a restaurant for deep romantic chats – you’ll be fully engrossed in the spectacle playing out before you and getting stuck in with all manner of tools, putting the finishing touches to your own spectacular dishes. This interactive experience is quite the unforgettable evening in Tokyo.