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…






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…






Happy New Year of the Snake

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Singapore recently provided even more contrasts and surprises than usual. There was the humid heat interspersed with downpours that even my home town of Manchester would have been proud of. But as a result of all the rain, I was to meet a taxi driver whose 60 years living there had meant learning three different national anthems – British, then Malay and finally Singapore’s own. There was the obligatory early morning trip to Tiong Bahru with its wet market and, above,…






At home in Hong Kong

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Hong Kong presents a particular professional challenge: it is the city in the world where I am least likely to see a menu and, as a consequence, least likely to order a single dish. And all this happens because I try to do the very best for my readers. The dates fixed, emails wing their way. My Chinese friends know that they are my conduit to insider restaurant knowledge and soon every meal is arranged. At this stage I still seem…






Eating out in Hong Kong

This article was also published in the Financial Times. As we climbed the stairs to the first floor of the Lei Garden restaurant in Mongkok on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, a branch of this business that has been famous for its dim sum for over 20 years, all the sights and sounds of this distinctive style of lunchtime eating seemed to coalesce. There was the noise generated by the numerous happy customers as they ate. There were the commands the waitresses were passing to the kitchen and their…






Eating out in Singapore

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Of all the many informants around the world who have kindly helped me seek out the most fascinating food, no-one has fulfilled this role more assiduously than wine importer Alan Wong in Singapore. He not only offered to meet us at Changi airport, but en route to our hotel explained how he had spent the previous week trying out different hawker stalls in search of the most authentic bak chor mee, pork noodle soup, to show me. Three hours later, in…