Celebrating Sakura at Sake no Hana

The cherry blossom or sakura is much revered in Japan. Each spring, as the pretty pink flowers engulf cherry trees throughout the Japanese islands, the evening news includes a blossom report, tagging the towns and cities where the blossoms have appeared, until the entire map of Japan, from Okinawa in the south to Hokkaido in the far…

Chinese New Year at Hakkasan

Rose Petal Martini The Year of the Sheep is already blooming for me. Not only have I devoured a ten-course New Year’s menu at Hakkasan Group’s HKK in the City, I have also been spoiled with another multi-course extravaganza at Hakkasan’s flagship restaurant in Hanway Place. Even better, we were there for Chinese New Year’s…

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Celebrating the Year of the Sheep at HKK, PART II

Jasmine tea smoked poussin Moving on from the previous five courses in our ten course culinary tour of China at HKK, we would now try jasmine tea smoked poussin. The Anhui area, located inland from Shanghai, is known for its tea and wild herbs, both of which were incorporated into this recipe, along with more black truffle, creating a…

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Celebrating the Year of the Sheep at HKK, PART I

Raise the red lantern, for it’s nearly time to welcome in the Chinese New Year. February 19 will see the dawn of the Year of the Sheep, an animal known in China for being calm and kind, qualities attributed to people born under this sign. At London restaurant HKK, part of the Hakkasan stable, Head Chef Tong…

A Very Bombay Lunchbox

Bombay Lunchbox is a compact cookbook, filled to the brim with sweet and savoury tiffin recipes and the sort of photography that makes the reader’s tummy rumble and feet itch. When I received it for review, I was unprepared for how this little book would make me feel once I turned the first few pages. The illustrations…

The Shangri La of healthy breakfasts

This is a breakfast that works with a diet: inspired by the healthy breakfast menu at the Shangri La hotel in Singapore. The field mushrooms are filled with low-fat cream cheese (I use Philadelphia light with chives), then sprinkled with low-fat olive oil and a little parmesan cheese and popped into the oven at 180C…

Smoked Salmon at the Hotel Metropole, Hanoi

Smoked salmon is so easy to get wrong. Buy the over-farmed or rapid-cure variety and you may find yourself pulling bits of bland stringy stuff out of your teeth, wondering whatever happened to the true taste of the smoked salmon of yesteryear. Get it right, from a fine farmer of happy salmon and the situation flips on its head; silken folds…

Riverside Terrace, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Bangkok

Bangkok is a city of the river that dissects it: the Chao Praya River, or River of Kings, is the main route for water traffic of all types imaginable, from ferries zipping commuters from bank to bank, to barges laden with cargo and the plentiful longtails a.k.a. water taxis. In many respects this river embodies the spirit of Bangkok, feeding it,…

Pho Lights My Fire

If you’re Vietnamese and you don’t like Pho, there’s definitely something wrong with your genetic make up. Pronounced ‘FUH’, pho is Vietnam’s national dish and the thought of that single syllable makes my stomach grumble with longing. Pho’s concept is simple: make a fully-balanced meal fit into a single bowl. The main components are rice noodles, broth and…

Where Epic finds she cannot bear her seatmate/s on Eva Air

When Monsieur booked our flights to Bangkok a couple of years ago, he chose Eva Air. “Eva who?” I asked, somewhat concerned that there existed an airline I hadn’t yet heard of. “They’re Taiwan’s national carrier,” he explained, as if it were common knowledge, which it probably was to everyone else in the world, but…

The Dwellers of Descending Dragon Bay

As the Vietnamese crow flies, Ha Long Bay looks like a short enough distance from Hanoi (170km), but when you take into account the intermittent traffic and terrible roads en route, it takes a good four hours to get there, one way. Monsieur and I weren’t to be dissuaded from visiting this UNESCO World Heritage…

A Vietnamese Lesson in Crossing the Road

(Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City) Monsieur and I had seen how dense Hanoi traffic was and we’d had a brief lesson on how to cross the road from the caring concierge at the Metropole Hotel. Now we just had to do it. Easier said than done. You see, the traffic just keeps coming. It…