This post is slightly late. I had wanted to share this in January, but I was so caught up with work and travelling last month that I did not have the chance to sit down and review my year of eating.
I had many exceptional meals last year, which makes it difficult to pick my ten favourite dining experiences. As I reflected back on the places that I have eaten at over the last 12 months, the meals that left an impression and came to mind were because of the company. The best meals are often not the ones at expensive and fanciful restaurants, but the ones that you share with good friends.
Here are the ten best meals that I had in 2012.
When you are visiting Sydney, a visit to Bourke Street Bakery should be on the top of your list of things to do. It is a neighbourhood joint where locals meet their friends for coffee; or drop by to grab some pastries for breakfast. Everything that we had at Bourke Street Bakery was fantastic. In particular, the chocolate tart was the best that I have had in my life.
633 Bourke Street
Surry Hills, Sydney NSW 2010
Tel: (02) 9699 1011
Black Coffee Lyrics is one of the best kept secrets in Gold Coast. It is not difficult to understand why it is so popular. The restaurant and cocktail bar is an “insider” spot for coffee and good food. It has a kick-ass vibe – artsy, cosy and very very cool. In short, the sort of underground cafe for those “in the know” to hang out.
I had a fabulous meal there, and I think you will love it too. This is definitely a must-visit place if you are in Gold Coast.
60/3131 Surfers Paradise Blvd
Level 2 Centre Arcade
Surfers Paradise QLD 4217, Australia
Tel: (07) 0218 9437
There are many restaurants serving brunch, but most of them are only mediocre. Club Street Social – located at Gemmil Lane, a quiet corner off Club Street – is definitely not one of them. I am not afraid to say that it is one of the best, if not the best brunch place in town. Trust me, that is no small praise.
With great, affordable food and cocktails served in a classy environment, I have no doubt that Club Street Social is the new “IT” restaurant in Singapore. It already has plenty of fans, so plan a trip this weekend.
5 Gemmill Lane, off Club Street
Tel: +65 6225 5043
De Ji Dai Pai Dong
This meal at De Ji Dai Pai Dong in Sha Tin, Hong Kong is not fancy, nor is it particularly fantastic. What it is, however, is a simple, cheap and delicious meal. The roasted pigeons were terrific, and so were the other dishes that we had. If you ever find yourself in Hong Kong, you must have a meal at a local Dai Pai Dong.
My partner and I had our first meal in Rome at Ditirambo, and it was one of our favourite restaurants in the Eternal City. Upon stepping in, you see tables of Italian families and couples, you hear Italian ringing everywhere. Dining among the company of locals added to the experience. The menu presented a selection of good Italian food at very humble prices. I would definitely drop by Ditirambo every time I am in Rome.
Piazza della Cancelleria
74, 00186 Rome, Italy
Tel: +39 06 687 1626
2012 will go down in history as the year of Spanish tapas. New tapas eateries are opening every month, and in Singapore, a city full of amazing restaurants, it really takes something outstanding to make me sit up and take notice.
I have been to Foodbar Dada a few times, and I have nothing but praise for them. They use fresh produce, well-seasoned with good quality olive oil, maldon sea salt, and expertly-cooked in Josper grill.
60 Robertson Quay
Tel: +65 6735 7738
One of the best meals that I had in 2011 was at Jaan Restaurant Swissotel. I am happy to tell you that it has also made it to this list for 2012. I went back to JAAN and I had a spectacular meal – Chef Julien Royer did it again. For me, Jaan is one of the best restaurants in Singapore.
2 Stamford Road
70F Swissotel The Stamford, Singapore
Tel: +65 6431 5670
The two meals that I had at Momofuku Ssam Bar and Momofuku Noodle Bar might not be the best I had in New York, but they were special as I am a big fan of David Chang and what he has done in the culinary world. I was really happy to be able to finally have the chance to eat at his restaurants. This alone is a reason substantial enough for me to include it as one of my best meals in 2012.
Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Ave New York
Tel: +1 212 254 3500
Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Ave New York
Tel: +1 212 777 7773
Mandarin Grill is a 1 Michelin Star restaurant at Mandarin Oriental, one of the best hotels in Hong Kong. The lunch that I had there was amazing. A-m-a-z-i-n-g.
Having fun is an often over-looked part of fine dining. So it is really nice to know that the chefs at Mandarin Grill are enjoying playing with their food, and at the same time, we get to have fun while we eat. Case in point: the flower pot salad in the first photo of this post. I’d definitely recommend Mandarin Grill if you want to splurge on a good meal in Hong Kong.
5 Connaught Road, Central
Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2522 0111
Trattoria Milanese is an institution in Milan. It is where locals and tourists enjoy good traditional Milanese cuisine in a fine dining setting. We sampled two of the classic dishes: the Risotto Alla Milanese, a saffron-flavoured risotto; and the Cotoletta, a fried breaded veal cutlet. Both dishes were terrific.
Via Santa Marta, 11, 20123 Milan, Italy
Tel:+39 02 8645 1991
Also read: my 10 Best Meals of 2011.