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8 Culinary Hubs of Excellence in Asia

In the realm of culinary exploration, certain destinations stand out as beacons of gastronomic excellence. These are the hallowed halls where the art of dining is elevated to new heights, captivating the senses and transporting diners on a journey of flavors. Let us embark on a thoughtful exploration of the 8 sought-after venues for the discerning gastronome.

1. IZAKAYA by OKU: Fusion of Tradition and Modernity

IZAKAYA by OKU is the signature Japanese restaurant at The Apurva Kempinski Bali, an internationally renowned five-star resort on the southern slopes of Nusa Dua. Inspired by traditional Japanese izakayas—places where people gather for meals and drinks after work—this contemporary restaurant offers a unique blend of culinary diversity and locally sourced ingredients.

The open kitchen concept lets guests watch the chefs in action, led by Japanese master Chef Shunji Hasegawa. The culinary team creates innovative dishes rooted in tradition, showcasing their skill and dedication to quality in every bite.


Known for more than just its food, IZAKAYA by OKU also features creative mixologists who entertain guests with unique fusions of traditional Japanese and modern Western liquors. Their artistry adds to the overall dining experience, making it a true gastronomic haven.


Experience the culinary mastery firsthand as skilled chefs craft dishes that tantalize the taste buds, from the crispy Oku Karaage, featuring succulent black chicken thigh infused with lime and sichimi, to the indulgent Truffle Gyu Don, boasting roasted Australian wagyu M7+ on a bed of rice with confit onions, truffle sauce, and a perfectly cooked onsen egg. Don’t miss the Karasumi Pasta Ikura, a delightful blend of cold angel hair pasta, ikura, bottarga, and truffle kombu sauce. Complementing these culinary delights is the expertly crafted cocktail selection by resident mixologists, ensuring a gastronomic experience that truly captivates all the senses.



2. The Triệu Institute: Championing Female Bartending Talent

The Triệu Institute in Ho Chi Minh redefines Vietnam’s drinking scene by championing female talent and inclusivity. This all-women-run bar, partnered with Lady Trieu Gin, focuses on female leadership—a rarity in the typically male-dominated bar industry. Lady Trieu’s ideals of progressiveness, inclusivity, and feminism became key pillars of their identity early in their journey.

At The Triệu Institute, guests can enjoy expertly crafted cocktails and a welcoming atmosphere that celebrates female empowerment. The venue’s dedication to promoting female talent and inclusivity makes it a standout destination in Ho Chi Minh’s vibrant bar scene.




3. Dara Cuisine Phuket and the Sky Observatory: A Celestial Culinary Journey

Dara, meaning ‘star’ in Thai, pays homage to Thailand’s culinary heritage and maritime legacy. Situated at the Sky Observatory’s Ash dome deck, it offers patrons an extraordinary experience combining celestial observation with a gastronomic journey through the flavors of Thailand and Royal Thai cuisine. Under the guidance of Head Chef Supakarn (Hong) Lienpanich, Dara Cuisine Phuket presents a menu that beautifully captures the essence of Thai cuisine, infusing traditional recipes with innovative interpretations.

From the tender Moohong Phuket pork belly to the aromatic Khao Soi curry noodle soup, each dish is meticulously crafted to highlight the richness of regional ingredients and culinary techniques. The menu also features creative twists on northeastern delicacies, such as the Kob Thod Nam Pla with crispy frog legs and the Nam Tok Nuea Ko Kun showcasing Korat wagyu beef. For those with a sweet tooth, indulgent treats like the goat cheese and honey ice cream paired with Krabi cashew praline offer a delightful conclusion to the culinary journey.



4. Tamba: Vibrant Flavors of West Africa

Tamba in Singapore’s lively Duxton neighborhood showcases the vibrant flavors of West Africa. Since its launch in March 2024, Tamba has become a favorite spot for those craving authentic West African cuisine. With a blend of luxury and homeliness, the restaurant offers a warm atmosphere under its thatched roof. From classics like Jollof Rice to Chef Darren’s innovative dishes, each meal is a sensory delight. Highlights include succulent Sakura chicken and the signature Suya skewers. Tamba invites guests on a flavorful journey through West Africa’s culinary heritage.



5. L’Atelier by Cyril Kongo: A Creative Lifestyle Destination

L’Atelier by Cyril Kongo at The Apurva Kempinski Bali is an elevated lounge and bar that seamlessly combines Kongo’s lifestyle with stunning ocean views, expertly crafted Mediterranean tapas, premium cigars, ultimate spirits, and live entertainment. This avant-garde destination offers a unique blend of culinary excellence and artistic ambiance, making it a haven for those seeking a sophisticated and immersive dining experience.


World-class graffiti artist Cyril Kongo has transformed L’Atelier into an immersive atelier. Alongside the newly launched working studio, Kongo’s vibrant graffiti art adorns the outdoor terrace, turning an ordinary al fresco space into a spectacular, vibrant façade. His meticulous attention to detail and love for cigars are evident in the pre-selection of the world’s premium Cuban cigars available at L’Atelier.


The venue also boasts an impressive selection of exotic high-end champagnes, whiskies, and fine wines, adding to the luxurious atmosphere. With a DJ and piano performance in the background, guests can enjoy a sophisticated and relaxing evening at L’Atelier by Cyril Kongo.




6. Cedric Grolet at Como Orchard: Exquisite Pastry Creations

Cédric Grolet’s first eponymous pâtisserie in Asia, located at Como Orchard, offers a range of modern creations inspired by Southeast Asia’s fruits and flowers. As one of the world’s most acclaimed pastry chefs, Cédric Grolet brings his expertise and artistic vision to this elegant venue.


The monochromatic space, adorned with motifs of fruits and flowers, provides a serene and sophisticated setting for enjoying pastries, sandwiches, and an exclusive tea menu. The décor pays homage to Grolet’s hyperrealistic creations, creating an immersive experience that delights both the eyes and the palate.

Guests at Cedric Grolet at Como Orchard can indulge in a variety of exquisite pastries, each crafted with meticulous attention to detail. The combination of traditional techniques and innovative flavors sets this pâtisserie apart, making it a must-visit destination for pastry lovers.



7. Gordon Ramsay Bar & Grill: British Sophistication in Kuala Lumpur

Gordon Ramsay Bar & Grill at Sunway Resort Hotel debuted in Malaysia in 2022, marking the arrival of the world-famous Masterchef America celebrity chef. Since then, it has become one of Kuala Lumpur’s top spots for lunches, dinners, or intimate events. The venue exudes British sophistication, adorned with black and white photos of 1960s icons and offering breathtaking views of the Sunway Lagoon through its floor-to-ceiling windows. Diners can indulge in a new lunchtime menu featuring luxurious European dishes, including bone marrow with beef tartare, shaved truffle & quail’s egg, and classic fish pie with lemon & herb mash and smoked cod Scotch eggs. Chef Ramsay’s iconic beef Wellington is a highlight, along with the option to savor a spectacular 600g Angus beef Chateaubriand steak in the evening. With three elegant private dining rooms available, Gordon Ramsay Bar & Grill provides a refined and memorable dining experience suitable for any occasion.



8. Sora Bar: Sky-High Mixology

Perched on level 37 in Phnom Penh, Sora Bar offers a mixology experience like no other. This high-energy cocktail enclave features a vividly illustrative and progressive menu, with 12 nuanced cocktails that honor Cambodian native ingredients and are influenced by Japanese mythology and stories.

The outdoor deck boasts expansive vistas of the Cambodian capital, providing a stunning backdrop for an evening of sophisticated cocktails and vibrant conversation. Sora Bar’s unique blend of cultural influences and innovative mixology make it a must-visit destination for cocktail enthusiasts. (Gaby Nareswari/HET)

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