Le Du, Bangkok – 2016

ThiTid Tassanakajohn, more easily known as Chef Ton, is the creative force behind two of the most exciting restaurants in Bangkok, Thailand. Two and half years ago he opened Le Du, which translates from the Thai as ‘season’, in the Bang Rak suburb of the capital. And then only a few months ago he oversaw the transformation of a building that used to house an advertising agency in the residential suburb of Sukhumvit into the ultra-modern BaaGaDin, which translates as ‘selling food from a picnic blanket’ (photo courtesy of Exgave). Ton’s diversification…






Eating out on the Cape – part 2

See also the first part of Nick’s guide to restaurants in South Africa’s spectacular wine country.  Perhaps the most fascinating meal of all during my week in South Africa last January took place at one of the longest-established wineries and was prepared by Tillie Collins, obviously still in her cooking prime at the age of 65. The Delheim farm was founded by the Sperling family on strong paternalistic lines (it supports 13 families other than the founders). Its Garden restaurant is relatively simple in design but is well shaded and with splendid…






Eating out on the Cape – part 1

This is the first half of a two-part free report.  There are several striking similarities between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, the neighbouring vineyard areas of South Africa, and the verdant slopes of the Napa and Sonoma valleys in California. All are within an easy drive of a major international airport, Cape Town and San Francisco, respectively. All are stunningly beautiful with perhaps Franschhoek the most impressive of all thanks to the dramatic range of mountains that surround it and the fact that mixed fruit farming is still practised here, with the…






Only in Dubai

This is a version of an article also published in the Financial Times. I readily accepted the invitation to be a speaker at GRIF, the recent Global Restaurant Invitation Forum, in Dubai. It had been more than a decade since I had last visited this city and during this period Dubai, thanks to its rapidly increasing tourist numbers and location as a halfway house for those travelling around the world, has been an attractive second home for chefs and those keen to franchise their restaurants. As a result there was…






Tibet on a plate

This article was also published in the Financial Times. See alsothis account of a fascinating wine project in the same area.  Although the Frenchman standing in front of me was talking about two of my favourite topics, food and wine, I was not paying too much attention to what he was saying. Instead, my focus was entirely fixed on what was taking place behind him through the large window of the hotel’s restaurant. It was dusk and the final rays of sunshine were falling on what was unquestionably the most…






Teochew and seafood in Singapore

This article was also published in the Financial Times. My final meal after a two-day stay in Singapore was the ritual breakfast of chicken rice, steamed rice cakes and a mug of ‘kopi gao’, the local coffee made with condensed milk, at the hawker stalls in the Tiang Barhu market. And by then I was in a position to pass on two restaurant recommendations to two locals I had met over dinner shortly after we arrived. The first was to Sharanjit Leyl, the region’s long-time, highly respected BBC business correspondent….






Eat out like a local in Shanghai

This article was also published in the Financial Times. As the blossoming magnolia trees herald spring in Shanghai, the army of ex-pats who have come from afar to further their careers in this extraordinary city indulge in a more altruistic pastime: discussing where those who are just passing through can experience their adopted city’s most authentic food. Around the Glamour Bar at M on the Bund were two Americans, a Frenchman and Michelle Garnaut, the Australian restaurateur who established this gem in 1999. I had proposed a return trip to…






Duddell’s does it in Hong Kong

This article was also published in the Financial Times. As I walked into the M Bar on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong at 6.45 pm, I spotted my friend sitting at a corner table, glass of Krug champagne by his side. A minute later I was reaching for my notebook and pen. This had nothing to what had been said but with what I had just witnessed. On realising that what I needed was a Bloody Mary to stave off jet lag, my friend…






Beijing duck for the Year of the Horse

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   It was while researching this article that I finally realised why I have such enthusiasm for really good Chinese food. It is not so much its variety; the colours on show; the manner in which Chinese chefs manage to extract such strong flavours from even the most bland ingredients; or even the dexterity required to chop so many ingredients so finely to produce a finished Chinese dish. I now know that it was my first trip to Hong Kong and…






Brooks of Melbourne

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   Gerald Diffey, wearing a dapper grey suit, stood by the striking white marble bar and surveyed the dining room of Brooks as it began to fill. This is the restaurant he opened six months ago in the centre of Melbourne, Australia, with his partners Mario Di Ienno and chef Nicolas Poelaert. When the music stopped, he turned on his heel, lifted the lid of the record player, flipped the record like an old-fashioned DJ, and swiftly turned back to ensure…