From the tranquil landscapes of Bali to the bustling streets of Phnom Penh, Asia offers a myriad of mouthwatering culinary experiences that are not to be missed. Here’s a look at some favorite hotels that go above and beyond to serve the most delicious versions of local specialties.
Southern Thai specialty woos diners
Visitors to Thailand never cease to be amazed by the abundant variety of flavors in such healthy homemade recipes, and nowhere more so than in the southern provinces, famous for their aromatic herbs, coconut soups and super-spicy sauces. Banyan Tree’s signature appetizer at both its southern beach resorts, Banyan Tree Samui and Banyan Tree Krabi, is a deliciously embellished dish called Khong Wang Ruam, a delicate combination of crisp rice noodle-wrapped prawn, grilled tender chicken breast in satay sauce, and fried floppy sea bass rice noodle rolls, accompanied by a tangy pomelo salad with tamarind sauce. A mouthwatering explosion of flavors is guaranteed.
Trisara plays the squid game to perfection
The abundant seascapes around Phuket are plumbed to stellar effect at Seafood at Trisara, an al fresco dining showpiece at Trisara. At the restaurant, seafood from around the so-called “Pearl of the Andaman” and other southern provinces in Thailand is combined with elevated cooking techniques to create an array of fiery delights. One of these is pla meuk phad dum, where fresh squid is wok-fried in its own ink with garlic and black pepper. The result is a rich, moreish creation where the soft, tender meat of the squid is lifted by aromatic garlic and pepper spice. It’s the perfect local dish to enjoy under a blanket of stars with the Andaman Sea just a few meters away.
Contemporary Lanna cuisine embraces sustainability
Contemporary Lanna (Northern Thai) dishes that embrace sustainability are served at Meliá Chiang Mai’s 21st floor Mai Restaurant and Bar as part of its ‘360° Cuisine’ concept. In a nod to Chiang Mai’s ubiquitous khao soi curry, ‘Pappardelle Soi Neur’, features fresh homemade pappardelle with creamy khao soi curry sauce and slices of seared Australian beef sirloin, served with homemade pickled vegetables and chili oil. In keeping with the hotel’s mission to use as much of every ingredient possible, the restaurant makes the pappardelle fresh on every order. The chili paste is homemade and incorporates every part of each ingredient possible including chili, shallot, garlic, galangal, coriander root and more. Oil is extracted from the sirloin’s leftover fat trimmings to make chili oil.
Local lobsters from ‘Lobster Island’ win over diners
Scenic Cam Ranh’s Binh Ba Island is also known as Lobster Island for very good reason; its sweet, tender Binh Ba lobster. A delicacy that’s won over many a diner at Alma’s beachfront restaurant Atlantis, ever so close to the waters of Binh Ba Island, Binh Ba lobster is the star of the menu in the “Chef’s special baked lobster platter with cheese and garlic”. In a different approach to typically grilling a lobster over a charcoal fire with salt and pepper seasoning, two halves of a 600-gram lobster are instead baked, albeit blanketed in garlic butter and cheese, with the savory garlic butter credited for enhancing the sweetness of the lobster meat. The baked lobster is accompanied by a mixed garden salad and potatoes to round off the platter.
Beef wrapped in wild betel leaves among ‘Mama’s Cooking’ favorites
‘Bò nướng lá lốt’ is one of the centuries-old recipes handed down the generations that half a dozen mothers of The Anam Cam Ranh’s staff serve guests as if they are cooking for their own families. Rolled up like edible cigars and grilled, bò nướng lá lốt’ comprises coarsely ground beef wrapped in wild betel leaves (lá lốt), that are heart-shaped with a mild peppery taste, and flavored with garlic, shallots, lemongrass and turmeric and fish sauce. The beef wrapped in the piper lolot leaves are complemented with rice paper, vermicelli rice noodles, plenty of fresh, zesty herbs and salad and further fish sauce for dipping, packing a pleasant punch on the senses. Mama’s Cooking is held every Friday night at cooking stations at the resort’s Lang Viet Restaurant that overlooks Long Beach.
Bare-chested men whet appetite for royal Balinese dinner
Few pre-dinner shows are as compelling as the Kecak Dance at Tanah Gajah, a Resort by Hadiprana. In a torch-lit shrine, dozens of bare-chested men in black-checked skirts keep up a heady chant while others reenact scenes from the Ramayana. The traditional performance sets the stage for a meal that, like the show, will echo in each guest’s memory for years to come. The performance is followed by a three-course family-style Royal Balinese dinner at The Tempayan restaurant, amid the rice paddies of Ubud. One must-try dish from the feast that is presented is Tum Bebek, which consists of perfectly-seasoned minced duck wrapped and served in banana leaves. Prices start from IDR 785,000++ for the full course, which includes a welcome drink to enjoy during the performance and dinner afterwards.
Elevated Amok curry in Cambodia’s capital
Restaurant Le Royal, the acclaimed fine dining venue at the 90-year-old Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh, spotlights both authentic Royal Khmer cuisine and modern Khmer gastronomy in a menu that changes monthly. Khmer cuisine’s tantalizing mix of chilis—similar to neighboring Thailand—and fresh herbs—like neighboring Vietnam—create a taste profile that’s at once familiar and strikingly unique. One of Cambodia’s most popular national dishes, amok fish curry, is subtly reimagined at Restaurant Le Royal, where the chefs substitute fresh scallops for fish in a traditional Amok reduction, and serve it alongside baby bok choy, river fish and curry cake. The result is an elevated take on a perennial favorite. Restaurant Le Royal operates from Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays) for dinner only from 6pm onward. For reservations or inquiries, please contact 023 981 888 or email email@example.com.