My food adventures is always an easy starting point to reflect on the year, especially since I post about my life via the food I eat on Instagram so often.
Covering corners around the world in 2017
Last year, I wrote about the 10 favourite restaurants I tried in 2017. It was my goal that year to travel to more “new places”. At the end of the year, with such a diverse list of restaurant experiences, I was happy to check this off the list.
The top three highlights that year included my (still) ultimate favourite meal at Tapisco in Lisbon, a tasting menu that felt like a show at World’s No.5 Best, Central, in Lima, and the Best Char Siu you’ll ever have at Bing Sheng in Guangzhou.
Recommendations from a diverse MBA class at INSEAD in 2018
I continued to travel across different continents in 2018. This time I was lucky to have added input from true locals in each and every country. I met almost 500 people from over 70 different nationalities during my MBA at INSEAD this year. With that, came a privilege I never even dreamt of: I got personal recommendations on every single trip I took this year. In fact, every item on this list was initially a recommendation from friends.
1. Fiskebar (Antwerp, Belgium)
Two of my Belgian foodie friends recommended Fiskebar in Antwerp, claiming that they had the best shrimp croquettes – indeed these were hands down the best croquettes I’ve had in my life. A delicately crispy exterior is a given, but the inside was incredibly creamy, with a perfectly strong dose of shrimp flavours.
Read more about Fiskebar, as it was also featured as one of the 5 Highlights for Foodies in Belgium.
2. Birds of a Feather (Singapore)
Singapore is pretty well known for its impressive food scene, but that often refers to the local dishes, especially at Hawker Centres. Did you know that Singapore is home to the cheapest One-star Michelin star spot? You can get a dish for SGD2.5 – that’s about USD1.8! Apart from Hawker Chan, here’s my short list of local favourites in Singapore.
But during my 6-month stint in Singapore, I also discovered some excellent restaurants. Birds of a Feather became my favourite restaurant for its creative “east and west” combinations. Think Spicy Oriental Bolognaise, with a touch of Sichuan peppercorn-spice. Here are 12 other Best Restaurants and Cocktail Bars in Singapore.
3. Le Meurice by Alain Ducasse (Paris)
Le Meurice by Alain Ducasse has Three Michelin Stars. In spite of our extremely high expectations, we were still thoroughly impressed by every element of this intricate experience. After my short 4-month stay in France this year, I must conclude that Three Michelin Star restaurants in Paris (where the stars originate) have exceptionally higher standards. Check out the full article on my fine dining experience at Le Meurice by Alain Ducasse.
4. Plow (San Fransisco)
It’s a challenge to avoid gaining 6lbs if you’re travelling to San Francisco. We had numerous impressive meals, with some dinner favourites being Liholiho Yacht Club and Nopa. But the one thing I’ll never forget is the most perfect buttermilk biscuit from our brunch at Plow. The biscuit had perfectly crispy toasted edge with a moist interior – it’s a butter bomb worth every calorie.
Overall this is also a highly recommended spot for brunch. Their signature “The Plow” features the most satisfying brunch combo, with eggs, crispy potatoes, bacon (or sausage) and lemon ricotta pancakes. We shared these food photos to our local friends who recommended the spot, and they proceeded to revisit literally an hour later!
5. Mozaic (Ubud/Bali, Indonesia)
Ubud is the more quiet side of Bali, about 1.5 hours drive away. So I was surprised when one of our local friends talked about the fine dining spot Mozaic, as one of the highlights in Ubud. Both the food and service quality at Mozaic was excellent. It’s in line with what you’d usually only see in large cities with fierce culinary competition.
6. Baron (Beirut, Lebanon)
Baron was another unforgettable meal of the year. Some menu items sounded so simple, like “carrots”. But the chef brings out the best of each ingredient. There’s a strong focus on excellent quality produce, carefully interesting combinations and great execution. That’s why it was a one-of-a-kind dining experience in Lebanon for us.
7. Coya (London)
During my trip to South America last year, I fell in love with Peruvian food and discovered the indisputably excellent food available in Lima. The experience also made me super picky about ceviches. Thankfully I made it to Coya – a Peruvian/Nikkei restaurant recommended by a number of friends. They have an interesting range of dishes; the Arroz Nikkei (cod fish rice) is unmissable. It’s definitely my favourite Peruvian-style restaurant outside of Lima.
8. Trullo (London)
Google’s description of Trullo was particularly apt. We completely agree that they sport confidently unfussy Italian cooking. With the focus on simple ingredients, cozy ambience and faultless service, it was a perfect place for a low key date night. On top of that, our meal was extremely reasonably priced, coming up to about GBP40 per person, including wine. It’s definitely a place I’ll be taking visitors to London with me soon. Check out the full review of Trullo.
9. Cafe Winkel (Amsterdam)
When I dragged a group of 8 people to Cafe Winkel, only to turn up to a queue of about almost 20 people, I was a little nervous. Everyone walks out with a tray of multiple Apple Pies. I had this spot saved before I even had any plans to visit Amsterdam, so I had to queue. While it’s hard not to love any apple pie, this one was executed well. I loved the extremely crunchy baked top. Plus, it also wasn’t overly sweet either.
10. Frederic Cassel (Fontainebleau, France)
Fontainebleau is about an hour outside of Paris and was where I completed my MBA at INSEAD this year. Our European classmates always complained about how hard it was to find good bread in Asia. I finally understood when I moved to France.
While baguettes are almost always pretty amazing anywhere you go in France, the croissants from Frederic Cassel were exceptional. They were so intricately flakey. I personally loved them even more than some of the highly recommended places in Paris. The little town of Fontainebleau is unlikely going to be a top destination for most. But if you ever find yourself in this town, make sure you get their pain au chocolat and mille feuille. Dardonville is another recommended bakery here.
Where was your best dining experience in 2018?
Share your experiences in the comments below!