February 18, 2017

Bangkok 2017 day 1: the most anticipated dinner of the year?

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I'm blessed to be able to call Gaggan Anand a friend.  I've been a big fan of his cuisine since first getting a taste of it about 2½ years ago, and my fondness has only increased with my visit to his restaurant last year.  He's been extremely nice to me both in person and over social media, and I'm very grateful for his kindness.

I always knew that I would take Hello Kitty to Gaggan on this trip, but when I found out via Instagram posts from the two chefs that Hasegawa Zaiyu (長谷川在佑) from Den (傳) was going a 4-hands dinner with Gaggan in Bangkok, it didn't take me long to ask my friend to save seats for Hello Kitty and I at this special collaboration.  And since the Great One was gonna be in town at the same time, we decided to go to the special event together.

I had never had the pleasure of dining at Den, but given all the glowing reviews from the Great One and plenty of other friends, it's been on my list of places to hit in Tokyo for some time.  This would be somewhat of a preview...

Bangkok 2017 day 1: sweet tom yum

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After ending my self-imposed exile from Thailand last year, I'm back in Bangkok for a few more days to explore the dining scene.  This time Hello Kitty and I are meeting up with friends from all over the world, and we started by meeting a friend for lunch right after we landed.

My friend has spent a significant amount of time over the last few months eating around Asia, and actually has just finished organizing a tour of Thai restaurants in Bangkok.  When he suggested that we meet at Pe Aor (ร้านพี่อ้อ), I didn't hesitate to say "Yes" - despite not being a great fan of the classic Thai dish of tom yum goong (ต้มยำกุ้ง).

February 13, 2017

A lifetime of achievements

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I had the honor of being invited to dinner tonight at 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, to celebrate the occasion of Chef Umberto Bombana being the recipient of the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award for Asia in 2017.  Chef Bombana has been a well-known personality in Hong Kong for the last two decades that I've been in town, and he's helped put Hong Kong on the global dining map - in part due to the white truffle feasts at his restaurants - so this is an award that I feel is well-deserved.

Chef Bombana made a very short speech thanking his supporters, and asked us to enjoy our dinner. I had no doubt that we would!  But first, a little aperitif...

Mattia Vezzola Costaripa Brut - very easy to drink.  A little floral, a hint of minerals, and a little toasty.

February 12, 2017

Bali hop 2017 day 3: Balinese pig

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We dragged ourselves out of bed at an ungodly hour for a second day in a row, as we were getting room service breakfast delivered before we head out for a droning session.  Only thing was... the rain from last night never stopped, and the skies were still dripping at 6 a.m.  Damn.

Of course, room service arrived on time, and we asked our butler to lay out the spread on the daybed under the gazebo.  While the weather was crap, we could at least enjoy the morning breeze and listen to the rain while we ate.  Out of the available breakfast sets, we chose the continental breakfast with its basket of viennoiserie, as well as the Indonesian breakfast for soto ayam and mie goreng - which was changed from the original nasi goreng.

February 11, 2017

Bali hop 2017 day 2: dinner on the rocks, part 2

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We had a 6 p.m. reservation for dinner at Rock Bar at the Ayana Resorts and Spa, so I had to rush back from checking out droning sites around Pura Uluwatu.  Thankfully Hello Kitty already went back to the resort after our disappointing lunch, and she managed to show up for our reservation on time.

By the time I dropped off my gear at our villa and rushed over by buggy, there was a big group of people without reservations lining up to try to get in.  Thankfully we were villa guests and had priority privileges, and had the foresight to book a few days before we arrived.  As I rushed down the cliff, I ended up at what turned out to be the wrong part of Rock Bar - thanks to directions from a staff.  Hello Kitty was nowhere to be found, and as it turned out Ayana had expanded this bar significantly to accommodate more guests due to the popularity of the place... so I was a little frustrated at having to run around looking for her.

Thankfully, though, she had complained to the staff for having seated her next to an annoyingly boisterous family from Mainland China.  Today being the 15th of the Lunar New Year and all, Bali (as well as this resort) was overrun by Chinese guests.  After requesting for a change, she was moved to a table right next to the DJ booth on the elevated platform in the middle of the bar.  This area has one of the best views for sunset, and apparently was available only to guests staying in villas.  So we counted ourselves pretty lucky.

I think the platform only accommodates five partitioned booths around the DJ, plus two tables to the side.  Very exclusive and private.  As we were seated at our table, a young couple from Mainland China left their booth and the guy got down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend.  A sunset proposal by the sea.  How romantic!


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