TASTE

the latest food and drink news from the region

TRENDY TAPAS

Following the international tapas trend, the people from Cambodia’s Foreign Correspondents Club and hugely popular Pacharan Tapas & Bodega in Phnom Penh have turned their sights on Vietnam and opened a sister restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. Dressed in flamenco flair, with vaulted arches and copper tiles, the bar offers an impressive range of imported Spanish cheeses and hams, paellas and other favourite tapas items. 97 Hai Ba Trung, Ho Chi Minh City, tel +84 (0)8 825-6024, www.fcccambodia.com

A STAR IN THE NORTH

Stop by Mira Terrace at the new Sofitel Riverside Chiang Mai and delve into Chef Suwit’s local northern cuisine. Tracing its roots from the Lanna kingdom that once inhabited the verdant green hills around Chiang Mai, northern cuisine uses more herbs and less coconut milk than typical food from Bangkok, says Chef Suwit.

Overlooking the River Ping and hotel pool, Mira Terrace serves delicacies such as naem tong, a local sausage of smoked pork and chilli; gaeng hung lay, a spicy rich pork curry; and the delectable nam prik ong, fresh vegetables served with a piquant bolognaise-style sauce. 33 Changklan Road, Chiang Mai, tel +66 (0)2 5399-9333, www.sofitel.com/asia

RETOX AT REBAR

Swing out to the lounge sounds of a jazz trio at the new Indigo Pearl resort’s Rebar in Phuket. the look is industrial chic – think recycled wooden floors and polished concrete pillars – and the open-air tapas bar serves tasty finger food.

Team a zesty mojito or two with the likes of spicy calamari with garlic-chilli aioli and baby octopus with candied shallots, all accompanied by sparkling views over the Andaman Sea. Nai Yang Beach, Phuket, tel +66 (0)76 327006, www.indigo-pearl.com

KHMER KITCHENS

Learn the art of Khmer cooking at Frits Mulder’s (of the waterfront Frizz Restaurant, www.frizz-restaurant.com) Cambodian Cooking Class.

Overlooking the Mekong river, classes reinvent dishes from the country’s ancient past, many of which have disappeared from standard restaurant menus in Cambodia.

Discover how to make the national dish amok (coconut fish steamed in banana leaves) and add zing to dishes with out chilli, using the indispensable prahok (fermented fish sauce) and kroeung (a blend of lemongrass, galangal, rhizome, turmeric, garlic and fish sauce).

Chilli is served as a side dish instead, mixed with fish sauce, garlic and peanuts. the cooking school operates classes daily except Sunday, beginning with a tour of the local fruit and vegetable market, and includes lunch. www.cambodia-cooking-class.com

BIG BAND BAR

Move like Dean Martin at the Bellini Room, the latest outlet to open at St James Power Station, Singapore’s revamped 1927 coal station on the Harbour Front. Interiors are swathed in an eccentric brew of wallpapers sliding into a curved wooden bar in the centre of the room, while the swing bar features the foot-tapping tunes of a seven-piece big band. St James Power Station, 3 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore, tel +65 6270-7676, www.belliniroom.sg

SINGAPORE SUPPERS

Nobody does food (or is obsessed with food) like Singapore. the tiny island nation is a melting pot of Asian flavours and dishes drawn from neighbouring cultures, including Malay, Indonesian, Indian, and Hokkien, to name a few.

First printed in 1979, Wendy Hutton’s classic Singapore Food offers a great way to learn more about the local dining scene and has just undergone a revamp by publishers Marshall Cavendish.

the book traces the island’s unique culinary history, illustrating how different cultural flavours have mingled and influenced each other, before showcasing the nation’s most loved dishes – including Nyonya crab and pork ball soup (bakwan kepiting), Penang-style laksa and Hainanese chicken rice (below).

Available from all good book shops in Singapore or online at www.marshallcavendish.com/genref

BANGKOK CHOC

the jury is out – chocolate is good for you. Yes, the food most oft en associated with sin is now apparently beneficial to your health, possessing antioxidant properties that lower blood pressure and also reduce the risks of heart disease and cancer.

Celebrating the good news is Kakao – Bangkok’s first true chocolate shop. Forget those unpalatable palm oil varieties, this new café offers a range of over 30 treats made with real Belgium chocolate and lots of mouth-watering cocoa. Choose from the likes of frozen mousse brownie and orange vanilla hazelnut crunch (below) or just a mug of simple, plain hot chocolate. Sukhumvit Soi 24, Bangkok, tel + 66 (0)2 661-1766, www.kakaocafe.com

A MAZE-ING PLACE

Adding to Chiang Mai’s burgeoning food scene, MAZE Café recently opened near Chiang Mai Ram Hospital, on one of the city’s busiest streets. Post-modern chintzy chic, the two-storey building offers a serene escape from the urban bustle. Choose from boththai and European offerings for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with live DJs on the weekends. 12/2 Boonruangrit Road, Chiang Mai, tel +66 (0)53 894879, www.mazecafe.com

TIME FOR T.

JinR is the classical musician turned restaurateur – and consequently chef – and inspiration behind Beijing’s illustrious lifestyle centre/restaurants GREEN T. HOUSE. Once dubbed China’s hottest new chef, she recently opened the doors to a brand-new outlet on Hong Kong Island.

How would you describe your style?
I would say “modern Chinese”. Many elements are based on tradition but with a contemporary infusion that reflects today’s China.

What is the new GREEN T. HOUSE’s concept?
It’s similar to the two outlets in Beijing, and following the tradition of tea in Chinese culture.

I incorporate the elements of this philosophy – tranquillity, peace and inspiration – not only into the design and concept, but also cuisine, tea, art and music. It’s a place to come and be inspired.

What about the food?
the food is modern Chinese based on traditional Chinese cooking methods. I have worked closely with our chef in Hong Kong, Alan Yu, who has the culinary experience and background to make extremely exciting new takes on our cuisine.

Can diners also expect a tune or two from you?
I am known to play improvisations on the yang qin, so it could very well happen.

What was the last really great thing you ate?
A delicious, perfectly ripe, juicy apple! I always enjoy pure and natural foods the most.

GREEN T. HOUSE Hong Kong, 208 the Arcade, 100 Cyberport Road, tel +852 2989-6036