9 Culinary Experiences Across Asia for Food Aficionados

With leisure travel picking up again across the globe, now is the best time to pack your suitcases and check in for a stay at these luxury hotels in Asia — where a relaxing vacation and the best gastronomic experiences the region has to offer, await.

Alma Resort Pays Tribute to Vietnam’s Sidewalk Culture

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In homage to the Vietnamese pastime of sipping-brews-on-pavement, Alma has launched Cam Ranh’s most happening venue, Chill’s Snack & Bar. Open 5pm-10pm daily, the street-style venue is anchored by two American-style food trucks near the resort’s vast amphitheater. The menu features popular street beverages such as Vietnamese coffee, fresh fruit juice, and milk tea. Signature coffees are coconut coffee and coffee with fresh milk and tapioca pearls.

Chill’s serves cocktails such as ‘Amphitheater Sunset’ with tequila, orange, grenadine, crème de cassis and lime. The likes of seafood pizza, fruit, shrimp salad, meat sandwiches, cheese sticks and lemongrass chicken feet are written up on the menu board daily. Entertainment includes nightly movies screened under the stars, live music, fire twirlers and flair bartenders.

Meliá Chiang Mai Offers an Array of Exciting Dining Offerings

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A Sunday brunch with fresh seafood on ice, buffet dinner replete with a paella cooking station, and mojito menu with a Spanish and Thai spin are among Meliá Chiang Mai’s new dining offerings from 1 July to 30 September. Staged on the first and last Sunday of the month, ‘Brunch del Domingo’ features Spanish, Mediterranean and Thai offerings including charcuterie, chilled prawns, Mediterranean salads and a live cooking station.

Highlights of “¡Es viernes!” international dinner buffet, held on the first and last Friday night of the month, include tapas and pinchos, and live cooking of gambas al ajillo and grilled river prawns. The mojito menu adds wild berries, passionfruit, pineapple, watermelon and lemongrass to the cocktail’s traditional ingredients. 

Immerse in the Local Culture at Azerai Resorts

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Azerai has launched a new experiences menu with a strong culinary focus to help immerse guests in the local culture at the brand’s three resorts in Vietnam: Azerai La Residence, Hue in the former imperial capital, Azerai Can Tho in the Mekong Delta, and the beachfront Azerai Ke Ga Bay.

At Azerai La Residence, Hue, the resort’s new Perfume River boat offers a “Private Dinner Cruise” featuring fine Vietnamese and Western cuisine. At Azerai Can Tho, “Romance Under the Banyan Tree” features a lantern-lit, five-course meal for two. And at Azerai Ke Ga Bay, the “Monastery and Iconic Fruit of Binh Thuan” includes stops at an exotic dragon fruit farm, Ta Cu Mountain, and local salt fields.

An Omakase Dining Experience at Tanah Gajah, a Resort By Hadiprana in Bali

With any meal the conversation can be just as important as the culinary offering – especially when Chef Dean’s involved. The seasoned Singaporean chef, who has been guiding Tanah Gajah’s culinary direction for over a decade, infuses his personality into all his delectable dishes. With his Omakase Dining Experience at The Tempayan, guests get to see more of the chef than just the magic he creates on each plate.

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Omakase, which translates as a meal of dishes selected by the chef, ensures that the five-course menu he offers uses only the freshest seasonal ingredients, while also giving guests the opportunity to learn about local produce and dishes. The experience also includes a guided tour of Chef Dean’s passion project, the resort’s expansive organic garden. The cost is IDR 750,000 ++ (USD50) per person. 

French Fine Dining at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi


Le Beaulieu, the award-winning modern French fine dining restaurant at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, and its refined al fresco extension La Terrasse have celebrated their reopening following an extensive seven-month refurbishment. With an elegant and sophisticated new design, alongside renowned French gastronomy and a wide selection of wines, the signature restaurant at Metropole Hanoi ties together the hotel’s 120-year-old storied past with a contemporary new look that manages to meld the opulent, the classical and the modern in a single scheme that’s long on white, gold and heathery blue-grays. Operating in its current space since 1901, Le Beaulieu is believed to be the oldest continually operating restaurant in Vietnam. And now, after this renovation, the newest.

Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh unveils its latest menus

Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital’s newest international branded hotel, is leading the charge as the city’s culinary scene picks up pace following the pandemic. Opened in 2021, the property has gained an exalted reputation for dining through its range of exciting outlets. Two of these — all-day-dining outlet The Market Cafe Restaurant and Lounge and signature venue FiveFive Rooftop — have recently unveiled new menus.


FiveFive focuses on fresh, sustainable seafood and local produce. Highlights of its new menu include a delectable set dinner featuring dishes like Kampot crab on toast and seared Hokkaido scallops. The Market Cafe Restaurant and Lounge, meanwhile, is reupping courtesy of items such as sustainably sourced Dover sole with brown butter and capers and a selection of plant-based dishes.

Banyan Tree Samui Welcomes Aficionados of Thai Cuisine


Banyan Tree’s signature restaurant, Saffron, has initiated a Thai Tasting Menu, ideal for those on the island who wish to introduce friends and family to Thai classic cuisine in a luxurious ambience. Overlooking the sapphire sea from an exquisite venue above the resort, Saffron’s newest menu features an array of favorites: from appetizers of por pai pho (crabmeat spring rolls in a mango salad) and mieng som-o (pomelo, cashews, coconut & ginger wrapped in betel leaves and topped with a tamarind sauce) to entreés of grilled salmon in galangal and lemongrass or a sizzling plate of roasted peppered pork spare ribs. Dessert is the ever-popular dish of mango in sticky rice and coconut. Price is 1,800 THB (USD50) nett per person. Open daily 6pm – 11pm. For reservations, call +66 077 915 333 or email:

A New Chef and New Menu at SOL By Meliá Phu Quoc in Vietnam

SOL By Meliã Phu Quoc is embracing new beginnings with Spanish chef, Sergio Nieto Garces, joining as executive chef. Garces will bring more Spanish flair to the oceanfront resort elevating OLA Beach Club to the pinnacle of Spanish gastronomy on the island. In July OLA Beach Club will launch a new menu, inspired by Garces’ own fascinating culinary journey.


The talented chef trained under some of Spain’s foremost culinary experts, including Martin Berasategui, who holds 12 Michelin stars – the most of any Spanish chef. In Madrid, he worked as executive chef of Jose Luis group, opening branches in Marrakech and Tokyo. At SOL’s OLA Beach Club Garces will serve up contemporary Spanish cuisine. Highlights from the new menu include Andalusian style marinated chicken paella and creative vegan fare like almond soup with smoked beetroot tartare. 

Palace Hotel Tokyo Blooms for Tenth Anniversary

To celebrate Palace Hotel Tokyo’s tenth anniversary this year the Forbes Five Star property is going back to its roots. For the summer the hotel’s popular bars will be serving up “Blooming,” a new cocktail inspired by its original Triple One (1-1-1) cocktail, which first debuted in the hotel’s opening year.


The new blend mixes Palace Hotel Tokyo’s signature 1-1-1 sake by Hakkaisan, Yuzu liqueur, Lillet Blanc, and Sakura liqueur to deliver a clear, sharp taste with a flowery Japanese aroma. The limited-time cocktail will be on offer at Palace Hotel Tokyo’s Royal Bar, an old world-style cigar bar with the most comprehensive Japanese whiskey selection in the city, and the chic Lounge Bar Prive, where guests can take in views of the Imperial Palace gardens by day and the surrounding city skyline by night. 


10 Reasons To Visit Vogue Lounge, Kuala Lumpur

When Vogue Lounge opened its doors in Kuala Lumpur back in September 2019, it was the talk of the town for months. Celebrities, socialites, fashionistas and curious members of the public flocked to the establishment, where they were treated to a chic dining experience embodying the luxurious lifestyle synonymous with fashion bible Vogue.

Vogue Lounge

2020 has been a year filled with unprecedented challenges, and after a brief hiatus, Vogue Lounge Kuala Lumpur is once again ready to welcome guests with exceptional cuisine and an extensive drinks list served in an elegant ambience. A visit will make for the perfect year-end treat: so here are 10 reasons why you should.

It’s THE place to be seen

Vogue Lounge KL

More than just your average restaurant, Vogue Lounge embodies the Vogue lifestyle, which means high end couture, style and sophistication. As the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, Vogue Lounge KL joins a list of branded properties worldwide, including Vogue Cafes in Moscow, Porto, Kiev, Riyadh and Beijing, Vogue Restaurant in Istanbul and GQ Bar in Berlin – reflecting Kuala Lumpur’s status as a cosmopolitan city with a sophisticated crowd. It was the official lounge for Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week Digital 2020 from 11 to 13 November 2020.


It Offers A Fresh, New Dining Experience

A4 Japanese Wagyu
A4 Japanese wagyu

The newly conceptualised menu is a reflection of Eurasian and Asian-Med fusion fine dining with Japanese and French influence. Some of the signature dishes which are must-tries include Hokkaido Sea Urchin (Carrot Puree, Dashi Jelly, Seaweed Melba, Mentaiko Cream); A4 Japanese Wagyu (Broiled Ribeye, White Onions, Baby Leek, Porcini Powder, Black Garlic Jus) and Souffle (Ginger Souffle, White Chocolate, Coconut, Lime Zest).

Hokkaido Sea Urchin
Hokkaido Sea Urchin

The Drinks Are Impressive

Those looking for a tipple will find that Vogue Lounge offers an extensive array. Kick off the evening with VOGUE Signature Cocktails such as Tokyo Fizz (Whiskey, Umeshu, Earl Grey Syrup), or Dark Moon (Vodka, Espresso, DOM Benedictine). For a good white wine, there’s Jean-March Brocard Chabilis Grand Cru ‘Les Clos’ 2016 – a complex Chardonnay with a soft mouthfeel, well-integrated acidity and a long finish.

Tokyo Fizz
Tokyo Fizz

Red wine lovers will appreciate Red Granja Remelluri Gran Reserva 2009 Rioja Biodynamic. This Rioja Red Blend consists of a complex layers of dried red fruit, prunes, coffee, cedar, herbs on the nose. The palate is, even more giving with pronounced flavours and wonderfully balanced structure, and a long finish. Bubbly enthusiasts are not left out: order a Collard Picard Cuvée Dom Picard Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc NV for a light and fresh nose with lemon, apricot, white peach, faint floral and honey notes.

They Have An Outstanding Head Chef

Chef Steve Arifin

New Zealand-born, Australian-raised Head Chef Steve Arifin is responsible for the creation of the eclectic yet classy brand new menu. Highly experienced in Euro-Asian cuisine, he gained his qualifications from the Canberra Institute of Technlogy in Culinary Art, and has extensive work experience in several prestigious fine dining restaurants in Southeast Asia and Europe.

There’s An In-House Wine Expert

Nikola Maksic

Not sure about which wine to taste? Vogue Lounge KL has Nikola Maksic, who hails from Serbia and holds a Master’s degree in Hospitality from the University of Novi Sad. A certified Wine Sommelier Level 3 and mixologist, he honed his experience while working in Europe and on cruise ships.

It’s Private and Exclusive

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Sprawled over 18,500 square feet on the 38th floor and rooftop of Menara Suezcap, you’ll be hardpressed to find a posher place than this. The lounge area is perfect for intimate conversations, but for more privacy and comfort, there’s also the V Room which can cater up to 16 guests. For an unparalleled, exclusive dining experience, arrange for the preparation of an ad hoc degustation menu.

It’s Made For Instagram

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You’ll never run out of Instagram-able moments here: every corner has been thoughtfully designed to exude a distinctive style. From the VOGUE magazine covers neatly framed against the wall to the lofty, high floor-to-ceiling glass windows, LED platform cum runway and ultra-chic powder rooms, the decor is befitting of the establishment’s Vogue label.

The View Is Unbeatable

Rooftop Bar

Want to feel on top of the world? Vogue KL has some of the best views. Come during sunset hour for gorgeous sights of the Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya skyline from the rooftop, as you sip on signature cocktails against the artistic backdrop of murals by multidisciplinary artist Thomas Powell.

It’s the Ideal Place For Special Occasions


Any celebration or event – be it a first date, a romantic rendezvous, wedding anniversary or birthday – will feel extra special at The Vogue Lounge, not only because of the classy ambience and impeccable food, but also the highly personalized service and meticulous attention to detail.

Safety First

The establishment adheres strictly to safety protocols and recommended standard operating procedures to ensure that guests can dine in and enjoy the experience at ease. Social distancing measures, temperature checks and limited capacity dining will also ensure that the dining experience is safe, comfortable and undisturbed.


The Vogue Lounge is located at Level 38, Menara SuezCap 1, KL Gateway, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South,59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Opening hours are from Mondays to Saturdays, 5pm to 12am (last order for restaurant at 9:30pm and bar food at 11pm). Closed on Sundays.

For reservations, WhatsApp +60168466552; call +60327711530/1531; or


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A Meaty Affair @ Butcher’s Block, Raffles Singapore

Offering some of the world’s finest cuts of meats with a wood-fire-focused dining experience. Butcher’s Block – a buzzing specialty meat restaurant – opened its doors last month to round off the stellar F&B outlets at the revamped Raffles Arcade in Singapore.

Butcher's Block - Restaurant Interior


Expect a convivial evening as soon as you step into the restaurant’s stylish adorned interior, which features cobalt blue hues, complementary dark wood panelling and bold brass furnishing and accents.

There’s a glass cooler aptly named The Vault, displaying fine cuts of meats right next to the Open Kitchen, where guests can watch the chefs in action. Adding to the visual appeal is The Library, an exposed wine cellar that houses more than 200 different wine labels, including a good selection of natural wines. For guests who prefer privacy, two private dining rooms, each seating eight persons, are available.

Remy Lefebvre, Chef de Cuisine at Butcher's Block, Raffles Singapore

Presented by Chef de Cuisine Remy Lefebvre, the Butcher’s Block menu is a culmination of his professional culinary experiences across his 16 years of cooking in Qatar, Spain, Grand Cayman among other locales. He favours the time-honoured methods of curing, ageing, fermenting and cooking with wood fire.



The age-old craft of wood fire cooking requires technical skill and employs a variety of techniques, such as smoking, grilling and slow cooking in embers, to impart distinct flavours and aromas that appeal to one’s primal cravings. Meat is not the only thing on the curated a la carte menu – there’s also delectable seafood and vegetables prepared to perfection.

For a unique dining experience, the OAK (One of A Kind) Table offers a fun, theatrical way to experience the cuisine. Only available on Fridays and Saturdays, the OAK Table features off-the-menu delights that are only revealed on the evening itself.

Cecina de Leon

The menu allows Chef Remy to deliver table side interaction, showcasing special cuts often in limited quantities – whether a small batch of prized beef or even a whole fish dry-aged to achieve remarkable umami notes.


Completing the experience is a line-up of one bubbly and three wines, selected by the Raffles sommelier team and offered all at once for guests to be able to taste with every dish to discover their own preferences. Priced at SGD398++ per guest, the OAK Table accommodates just eight guests who will be seated at the three-metre long communal table in the middle of Butcher’s Block with an unadulterated view of the action in the kitchen.


#02-02 to #02-07, Raffles Arcade, 328 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 188719

Opening Hours: 6:00pm–10:00pm
Restaurant capacity: 44(2 Private Rooms of 8 persons each)

*Photos courtesy of Directions Group Inc Pte Ltd


Lunch With A View @ Nobu Kuala Lumpur

Commanding an awesome view of Kuala Lumpur right next to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, Nobu Kuala Lumpur is popular with the business lunch crowd, as well as discerning diners looking for a memorable dining experience with friends and loved ones.


I recently got to try out their ‘Noon at Nobu’ lunch offerings, created by Executive Chef Philip Leong. It did not disappoint. Featuring an array of decadent meals and combinations, the menu includes set lunches, prix fixe menus, bento boxes, hot and cold dishes as well as soups, noodles and desserts. Diners can expect the freshest ingredients, as well as Nobu’s signature Japanese style with Peruvian influences.


To start off, we had an appetiser from the cold menu: Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna (RM38). Fried to golden perfection, the cubes of rice were crunchy, bite-sized and the perfect accompaniment to the creamy, spicy tuna.

Next, we tried some items from the prix-fixe menu (RM168++), which comprises an appetiser, main course and dessert. It also comes with miso soup and green tea.


(APPETISER) Butter Lettuce Salad Dry Miso – fresh leafy vegetables tossed in a savoury-sweet dressing – perfect for those who prefer something light and refreshing.



(APPETISER) One of Nobu’s signature dishes, New Style Sashimi is a palate pleaser in both flavour and texture. The fish slices are slightly cooked on the edges, thanks to the hot oil and dressing that is poured over it just before serving.

There’s an interesting story about how Chef Nobu Masuhitsa, celebrity chef and owner of the Nobu restaurants, came up with the dish. Apparently a guest once declined a meal of sashimi after it was served to the table, citing that she didn’t like raw food. Chef Nobu took it back to the kitchen, heated some oil and poured it over the sides so that the fish would be cooked on the edges, without disrupting the original dish’s presentation. This ‘New Style’ sashimi proved to be so popular it became a permanent item on the menu.


(APPETISER) Nobu’s Peruvian influence shines through the Seafood Ceviche, a salad of fresh and juicy seafood and greens.


(APPETISER) My personal favourite is the Umami Chicken Kara-age; a fitting name for perfectly fried boneless chicken that is juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside.


(MAIN) Mushroom Toban Yaki – An amalgamation of mushrooms, served in a claypot for maximum flavour. It was good but it was not my favourite, as there was a slightly bitter note to the sauce.


(MAIN) Shrimp with Spicy Garlic boasts sweet and sizable shrimps tossed in a spicy garlic sauce for an extra kick.


(MAIN) The Grilled Chicken Truffle Teriyaki is another winner, elevating the humble but versatile meat into a gourmet experience. Despite being lean, with very little fat, the chicken retained its moisture and tenderness, which makes it a great protein to bring out the full flavours of the smoky, earthy truffle sauce. Rounding up the dish are lightly grilled vegetables.


(MAIN) Red meat lovers will enjoy the Beef Tenderloin.  


Aside from the pre-fixe menu, Nobu KL also offers set lunches which are served with with miso soup, salad, tempura, nobu biscuits and green tea. Vegans can opt for the Cauliflower Steak with Corn Salsa, while pescatarians can choose a beautifully presented sushi and sashimi spread of tuna, ebi (shrimp) and salmon, among others. Lunch sets range from RM58++ to RM145++. 



Nobu biscuits and macaroons.


Presentation and taste are both key when it comes to Nobu’s exquisite bento boxes (RM175++), which are as pretty as they are tasty. Diners will get signature Nobu dishes such as the refreshing Sashimi Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing, fresh assorted sushi, crispy Rock Shrimp Tempura with Butter Ponzu, Nobu’s signature Black Cod Miso and aromatic Vegetable Spicy Garlic with Rice. If there is one item that you MUST have in this set, it’s the Black Cod Miso, which is basted with a miso glaze for that perfect savoury sweet, umami flavour.


Coming to desserts, which can be ordered ala carte or part of the prix fixe menu, we have the Yogurt Sub Zero, a creamy and lightly sour concoction of fresh berries, raspberry sauce, sesame crisp and yogurt ice-cream served in stone bowls.


The Banana Harumaki – featuring a Banana Spring Roll, Shiso Leaf, Dulce De Leche, Passionfruit Sauce and White Sesame Ice Cream.



Wash everything down with a Japanese Whisky Cappuccino, with Coffee Creme Brulee, Cocoa Cumble, Vanilla Ice Cream and Japanese Whisky Foam.

*Note: There is a smart casual dress code for entry. Ripped jeans, round collared tees, shorts, tank tops and flip flops are not allowed. Children below the age of 12 are only allowed on the premises on weekends and public holidays.

For reservations and inquiries, call 03-2164 5084 or Whatsapp 019 389 5085.


Menara 3 Petronas, Persiaran KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening hours: (daily) 12 – 2PM, 6 – 10.30PM



We Dined While Dangling 150 Feet In The Air @ Lounge In The Sky Kuala Lumpur

Food with a view is always good, especially if it’s the Kuala Lumpur skyline (one of the prettiest in Southeast Asia, IMO). But forget rooftop bars. How would you like to be seated on a platform raised 150 feet into the air by a crane, with nothing but a couple of straps to keep you from falling? If that appeals to your inner adrenaline junkie, then Lounge In The Sky should be right up your alley.

Following the success of Dinner In The Sky , Lounge In The Sky was launched several months ago at TREC KL, offering a different experience for diners. I went for DITS several years ago (blog post here) and it was both fun and scary due to my acrophobia. Still, I was pretty excited to go on something similar again.

That being said, LITS is notably different from DITS in that you get a) smaller, more intimate tables of four, rather than DITS’ large table configuration where everyone is seated facing the chefs in the middle of the platform; and b) live entertainment where a performer will serenade you with tunes as you try not to look below lol.


CEO of 2Spicy Entertainment Arvin Randhawa speaking to the media before we were hoisted up for our session


There was a slight drizzle, but we were finally okayed for lift off. Crew members were on hand to make sure that everyone was properly secured into the seats. The straps felt like the ones you get on roller coaster rides, which kind of limit your movements, but it’s a necessary safety measure. We were allowed to bring our phones and cameras up, but larger bags had to be stowed in storage lockers below.

As the platform was raised, I sneaked a glance down (it’s hard not to) and felt a little weak in the knees to see how fast the ground was receding from view. It also didn’t help that the platform was rotating, so one minute I was facing one side and the next I was looking at the Twin Towers in the distance.

FYI 150 feet is equivalent to about 12 to 15 storeys high!


Twin towers shrouded in a light mist in the distance; KL traffic below. The position of my seat made it difficult to get a good overall shot of the skyline, but the view was awesome.


The platform had four ‘catwalks’ so that staff could serve us dishes. We started off with a caviar-topped appetiser and a cocktail.


LITS offers several different packages, including standard, business and first class. On the menu of our standard session (RM199) was prawn ceviche with yuzu cream, bonito flakes and fried oba leaf; mushroom fricasse with chive cream and fried shallots; and for dessert, lemon meringue tart with rose cream and chocolate pearls. Everything was excellent, but being a fan of mushroom, I especially liked the mushroom fricasse and its savoury, crumbly pastry shell.


The highlight of the night for me was when the lights were dimmed to a deep blue, and our performer for the night serenaded us with sultry tunes. The slight drizzle and the view of Kuala Lumpur in the evening created a romantic, magical atmosphere – something that no rooftop bar can emulate.

Each LITS session lasts about 40 minutes – and even though I enjoyed it, I was glad to have two feet on solid ground again!

For bookings and menus, visit



*PS: I am so proud of N, who decided to tag along despite his overwhelming fear of heights (it’s so extreme he does not even walk near the barriers at shopping malls). I told him multiple times before we went up that it was absolutely okay if he didn’t want to go, but he went anyway. I could see how frightened he was from the way he gripped the table as we ascended. He was stiff and made minimal movements throughout the entire 40 minutes we were up in the air, but he got through it nonetheless. ❤ Well done bibi.


I’ve never been to TREC, so N and I wandered around in search of food. The dishes served on LITS were tasty but we weren’t expecting just canapes so we came on an empty stomach. We ended up getting instant noodles afterwards (lol) but not before getting some great shots of TREC. #mood






Food Review: SPG by Bijan

Discerning KL-ites will have dined at (or at least, heard of) Bijan, the grand dame of refined Malay cuisine in Kuala Lumpur. Tucked in the quiet, affluent neighbourhood of Bukit Ceylon, the cosy establishment is surrounded by lush greenery, with lots of wood and traditional elements like batik in a contemporary setting.

Now, the team has come up with an original venture: SPG by Bijan. A playful take on the colloquial term ‘Sarong Party Girl’ (Asian girl who prefers dating white men), the tapas bar and grill is housed in a bungalow, and is accessible from Bijan through an adjoining doorway.


Where Bijan is elegant and refined, SPG is fun, chic and stylish. Floral motifs abound, as is the lush greenery of its sister eatery, alongside hand-printed tiles, batik motifs and mural walls that lend it a nostalgic feel.





The menu is Malay / Asian with a twist, and the Asian-inspired cocktails offer something for both adventurous palates and lovers of classics. If you’re feeling brave, try their signature Stinkini (martini + dry vermouth + savoury notes of pickled petai) – we could literally smell it as soon as it came to the table. Other signatures include the cheekily named Yellow Fever (gin, turmeric, honey and tonic water), and Cocojito (lime, white rum, coconut water, mint leaves). There’s something for the teetotalers too, like Bluepea Tonic (honey, lemon, bluepea flower).


It’s all about sharing with SPG’s range of ‘Malaysian tapas’. To start things off, a basket of fries celup – crispy thin cut fries served with anchovy mayo and salted egg yolk dip. They were extremely addictive, especially with the creamy, salty anchovy mayo.


Keropok-kerepek: assortment of crackers with sambal dip


One of the restaurant’s signature tapas is the Ah-Ran-Sini (after the Italian arancini). These deep fried golden balls of rice are stuffed with the flavours of nasi lemak, with a hearty sambal and anchovy centre.


The Pais Barramundi grilled parcel of barramundi with banana leather, turmeric, spices and coconut – was a clever and modern interpretation of traditional flavours. I especially liked the banana leather, which had a beautiful texture, packed with the natural sweetness of banana. It went well with the light saltiness of the grilled barramundi.


Presentation for the Ayam Limau Purut & Roti Jala Tiffin was exquisite, brought to the table in adorable tiffin carriers. The chicken curry was perfectly spiced – not too spicy but with just enough kick, and the fluffy roti jala (literally net bread – hence the shape) was great for soaking up the delicious curry.


Jackfruit Rendang Bao is a perfect substitute for meat. The stringy texture of jackfruit is very similar to meat, and when cooked rendang-style, tastes almost like beef – all wrapped in pillowy-soft mantou buns.


Lidah & Sambal – braised, tender ox tongue; pan-seared and served with sambal hitam. It was my first time having ox tongue. The texture was somewhat grainy and dense, but not unpleasant, and there was no offal-like taste.


We were feeling pretty stuffed at this point, but there were still several dishes to go. The grilled calamari, served with sambal belacan, was simple but tasty, with a slight char. There was also flame-grilled duck and chicken skewers. 


Pan-seared black pomfret with coconut and galangal sauce. I like how the fish was completely deboned for easy eating, so every bite was just fresh, juicy fish. The coconut and galangal sauce was like the Thai tom ka gai dish; creamy but not cloying.


Grilled Lamb Loin


And for dessert, Bananas Over Bananas – Homemade banana ice cream with smokey caramelised banana and dehydrated banana cone.

We were spoiled by the crew at SPG, so by the time we rolled (yes, rolled) out of the restaurant everyone was well and truly full and satisfied. The food, ambience and service were excellent, and the innovative approach to Malay cuisine is great.


3A, Jalan Ceylon, Bukit Ceylon, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 12pm – 12am (daily)

Reservations: 03-2022 3575


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Review: Doot Doot Doot @ Jackalope Hotel, Mornington Peninsula

Our next stop in our Mornington Peninsula adventure brings us to the Jackalope Hotel, a luxury accommodation in Merrick’s North, an hour’s drive away from Melbourne. The hotel’s modern, industrial design is in stark contrast to the surrounding vineyards and farmlands, but it is this very element of fusion that permeates throughout the establishment. Greeting visitors at the entrance? A giant statue of a mythical rabbit with antelope horns, called the Jackalope.



We venture in for a quick tour of the premises, which are equally quirky. The bar area exudes Alice-in-Wonderland vibes, with gold drapes on its couches and modern art pieces like busts forming part of the decor. The ceiling’s neon lights juxtaposed against the black wall create an illusion of floating in space.


Laze on the decks by the 30-metre heated infinity pool, which faces the vineyards. On a quiet day, the pool is as still as a mirror, reflecting the blue skies above.


With cool neon strips providing light in otherwise dark corridors, the Jackalope’s hallways are worthy of being a set for a neo-noir film.

A stay in one of its spacious rooms will set you back (a steep) AUD650, but it is worth it when you can sip on wine as you lounge in your bathtub with the windows open, taking in beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.


We are ushered in the hotel’s contemporary fine dining restaurant, where its ceiling is a 10,000-strong rippling sea of lightbulbs. If the Jackalope was a single mythical entity, then Doot Doot Doot is a pack of them – which is also what the restaurant is named after. Funny name aside (I’m imagining a conversation where people go ‘Hey, lunch plans?’ ‘Yeah, let’s go to Doot Doot Doot?’), the menu is innovative and contemporary, drawing from fresh and seasonal ingredients.






Doot Doot Doot offers a degustation menu (ie small, fine dining portions), so if you’re expecting rack of lamb or something substantial like steak, look elsewhere.

Our first course consisted of heirloom tomatoes, peach, burrata in umeboshi vinaigrette. Heirloom tomatoes are generally sweeter than regular tomatoes. Paired off with the tart flavours of the peach and umeboshi, as well as the creaminess of the burrata, and you get a well-balanced, light and refreshing dish.


Flinders mussels with some brown butter emulsion, finger lime and seaweed powder were served in their shells ‘on the rocks’, which made for seriously addictive finger food. On another sharing plate, the molluscs were deep fried and served on chips like open-faced tacos.


Prawn, carrot butter, sake roe and shell powder was next, garnished with tiny little flowers from the restaurant’s herb garden. Sweet and springy, the shrimp’s flavours were accentuated by the creamy carrot butter and sake roe.


Snapper, eggplant pickle, beach herbs and lemongrass reminded me very much of the Asian cooking I am used to back in Malaysia. Firm but supple, the fish flaked on the tongue, slowly releasing the savoury flavours it had absorbed from the broth it was served in.


Rounding off the meal, dessert was Blackberry, violet cream, beet juice and cacao nibs, a wonderful medley of textures and nuanced flavours. The dish was more sour than sweet, but I actually preferred this over something like cake or ice cream.

Dining at Doot Doot Doot will cost you (about AUD400 for 2 pax), but the service and food is on par with fine-dining establishments in the city, and you get nice views of the vineyards to boot. If you’re staying at Jackalope for the night, this will be a nice add-on to the entire experience.


166 Balnarring Rd, Merricks North VIC 3926, Australia

Open for lunch and dinner

Phone: +61 3 5931 2500 

or book via


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Food Review: Lesa, Melbourne

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. If I had to choose a place to live (other than KL), Melbourne would definitely be on top of the list. Why? Aside from a thriving arts and culture scene, they’ve also got awesome coffee. And of course, food. Australians in general are big on food and wine, but Melbourne is on another level. Not only is the scene one of the world’s most sophisticated, you literally cannot find food that sucks here, lol. Or at least not any that I’ve tried.

Enter Lesa, upstairs from another popular resto, Embla, along Russel Street. Ascend a dark and narrow staircase to find a cosy spot that is contemporary and slightly reserved; not too casual but not intimidating either. Rough, brick walls are complemented by sleek wooden furniture, the large glass windows allowing for plenty of sunlight to filter in during the day. It’s the perfect place for intimate dinner dates or a long lunch with business associates and/or friends – preferably with a glass of wine from their extensive list.


Our four-course menu kicked off with Fermented potato flatbread, shiitake and macadamia. Fluffy with a crisp crust, the bread was elevated to new heights with the macadamia cream and the rich earthiness of the shiitake oil.


Next was Spanner Crab, Floratina Tomatoes, Pine Nut & Laurel, a delightful combination of flavours pairing the natural sweetness of the carb with the tartness of the tomatoes, the slight bitter sharpness of the laurel and pine nut. Being a big fan of seafood, this was right up my alley!


My favourite of the lot was the third course: Lamb rump, chocolate capsicum, garlic and almond. Chocolate capsicum sounds like a crazy combination, but it worked surprisingly well – it was almost like eating a mild and chewy sweet. The lamb was the star of the show – perfectly pink and succulent, with just the right balance of lean and fat.



Sides of roast potato and reine de glace iceberg, rocket and hazelnut. Now people who know me know I’m not a big fan of vegetables, but these were so fresh and nicely dressed that it had me going for seconds.




Last but not least was the innovative Roast potato parfait, chocolate, sourdough, lemongrass. This is one of those non-sweet desserts that do just as well as an ending to the meal; loved the creamy texture of the parfait and the fragrant notes of lemongrass.

Originality is definitely Lesa’s strong suit; the dishes are creative and put together in ways that many other restaurants will not even dare to go near with a ten-foot pole. Presentation can appear sparse, but what really matters here is flavour.


level 1/122 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Phone: +61 3 9935 9838

Business hours: Wed & Sat (dinner service only – 5.30PM – 11PM), Thurs & Fri (lunch and dinner, 12 – 3PM, 5.30 – 11PM). Closed from Sun – Tues.