All The Chic Restaurants Around The World To Dine At This 2020
Image: Instagram @hakai
What’s the next big cuisine trend? Native Maori ingredients given a fine dining spin. Trailblazing chef Monique Fiso begun the campaign to elevate Maori cuisine when she appeared on Netflix’s big The Final Table. While she didn’t win, the young Maori-Samoan won global gourmands over with her creative spin on not so typical New Zealand ingredients like titi (a native bird), kiekie (a Fall fruit), and for added sustainability points, created new supply chains for them. Her first permanent restaurant, an intimate 30-seater in Wellington, is frequently booked out (diners are advised to book 12 weeks in advance, they’re currently taking bookings till May 2020) and offers three different set menus (six, eight or ten courses). No two menus are ever the same and all are themed around Maori and Polynesian ingredients. A piece of Maori’s rich mythical history is also presented with every dish, leaving diners with much food for thought.
Long before the cool kids were coo-ing over eateries growing or foraging for micro herbs, there was Helena. Located in the port city of Caesarea, mid-way between Tel Aviv and Haifa, the contemporary Levantian restaurant helmed by chef Amos Sionhas been curating the best ingredients from his neighbours for years: sea fennel from nearby fields, figs from the area, ice lettuce for their version of a ceasar salad. While there’s an a la carte menu, there’s a six-plate tasting menu (only into its second installation) of Sion’s sea-foraged flavored creations running through till Spring 2020. On the menu are dishes like a saltbush leaf fish tartare and brown buttered scallops with crisp sea argula. At just US$120 for two people including dessert, could you really pass on this chance to taste dishes that are literally out of this world?
Pick and Cheese, London
Image: Instagram @thecheesebarldn
How’s this fromage lovers, Pick and Cheese at the new Seven Dials Market in London’s West End allows you to pick from 25 different cheeses (all sourced from around the UK like Yorkshire Pecorino and Cornish Gouda) off a 40m-long conveyor belt, each paired with a specific condiment. Taking cues from fast sushi restaurants, the plates are colour coded according to price and the condiments vary. If you prefer your homework done for you, there’s a cheese flight with pre-selected small producer cheeses. Bookings are accepted only for groups of 4-6 people, so get there early, or expect to stand in queue.
Restaurant Nolla, Helsinki
Image: Instagram @restaurantnolla
At Restaurant Nolla, your meal is served with a doggy bag of house made compost. Don’t worry, they serve it to you only after you’re done eating. A zero waste concept that’s so determined to stick to their branding, they don’t have a trash can in the kitchen. Using locally sourced ingredients – except for the olive oil and wine – even their suppliers have been cajoled to trim their daily waste and deliver produce in wooden crates. The four or six-course menu, unsurprisingly, follows the season and is themed around vegetables and fish that can be used whole; like a whitefish with cabbage and pea cream. Beverage pairings (small wine producers and craft beer) can also be arranged for.
Star hunters will be gunning for a spot at Tokyo’s 60-seat Esterre (the name translates as Mother Earth), the latest eatery from legendary French chef Alain Ducasse. The multi-starred chef’s love for nature shines through the menu where grains, fruits and vegetables like chickpeas, mushrooms and leeks have been given a starring role, and not just treated as a side dish. Its location within the historic Palace Hotel is particularly fitting – this was the first hotel to bring French cuisine to the Japanese capital more than 50 years ago.
The first independent restaurant by Korean chef Jae Lee, the cool East Village space is not short on Instagrammable details – although you really should be there for the K-style bar grub – there’s a mural by the artist RAZO, a sculptural collage towards the back of the space, and a karaoke-style (of course) bathroom. What’s making the ‘grams already is his dry-aged double cheeseburger with kimchi mayo, which is as tasty as it is sloppy. If you miss out – because it’s served only from 5-7pm daily – there’s more to graze on: Spam fried rice with octopus and extra rich bone marrow butter, cheese rice cakes with beef, are just some of the other highlights.
Image: Instagram @freaberlin
While the words ‘zero waste’, ‘sustainable’, ‘vegan’ gets bandied around far too frequently these days Berlin restaurant Frea walks the talk. Here, everything is made in-house, from the pasta to the kombucha, down to the hazelbut butter. Then there’s the restaurant itself: tables made from old oak beams, a 15kg art piece, lampshades made of mycelium. Another plus? Despite having a kitchen with chefs who’ve worked in Michelin-star restaurants, main courses are priced under 15 euros, making this an affordable dining experience for all.
Damian, Los Angeles
Sometime in 2020, the hottest new eatery will be Damian, a restaurant concept that seasoned Mexican foodies will find familiar. From the same team (Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes, the latter was named the World’s Best Female Chef by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2019) behind modern Mexican restaurants Pujol (Mexico City) and Cosme (New York), this California produce-driven restaurant in the Arts District will pack in the crowds with its mezcal bar, elevated tacos and buzzy vibe. While the menu is still being finalised, know that many of the dishes will showcase California’s prized produce and the mole will be a divine Mexi-Cali blend of flavours and flair.
Koral Restaurant, Bali
It’s kitsch but pretty. The latest addition to Bali’s dining scene is the Koral Restaurant, the first underwater dining venue at the new The Apurva Kempinsi in Nusa Dua. Inspired by the Majapahit empire, the floor features chic black and white tiles, a perfect foil to the shiny glass tunnel structure. The menu veers towards sophisticated modern cuisine with a touch of local ingredients: stuffed fresh caught prawns with spiced dabu-dabu (a type of chilli found in Manado cuisine) salsa, blue crab appetiser with slices of Granny Smith’s apple, crispy jicama and caviar. There’s also a four-course degustation menu (Koral Experience) for 950,000 rupiah (S$94.10, wine pairing optional). Whatever you decide on, just know there’s over 80 species of aquatic life to gape at.
Romanian cuisine is on the up-and-up and one name to remember is Alexandru Dumitru. Winner of 2019’s Gault & Millau Romania Chef of the Year, the head chef at Bucharest’s Bistro Ateneu is also a big supporter of the country’s farm-to-table movement. There, the menu – a mash-up of French and Romanian cuisine – proffers unusual dishes like smoked Doftana River trout and a Mangaliţa pork belly with Transylvanian truffles, all that served in a historic building close to Bucharest’s neoclassical Athenaeum concert hall.