Clooney – Auckland, New Zealand

Clooney. A name that for many Aucklanders likely conjures up images of a long-standing, industrial-glam, fine dining restaurant on Sale Street. For those residing outside of Auckland however, the only Clooney they’re likely to be familiar with is better known for assisting patients in the emergency department and orchestrating casino heists. Somehow I think Jacob Kear’s arrival at Clooney is going to go a… Read More

+ The Grove Auckland Review

The Grove – Auckland, New Zealand

The Grove is every bit a legend on the Auckland scene. Not only has it consistently been at the pointy end of every list in town for as many years as I can remember, but it’s also been New Zealand’s Noma or El Bulli of sorts – in that it’s been the training ground that has spawned many of New Zealand’s most renown chefs…. Read More

+ Fine Dining Myths Debunked by Zoe Bowker

Fine Dining Myths Debunked

The term ‘fine dining’ has come under a lot of fire lately. Everyone seems to be scrambling to define their restaurant as anything but. Why are restaurants now scared of being labelled ‘fine dining’? Is it because the general population are intimidated by the old school notion of fine dining, without realising what it really means today? In my eyes, it’s a term to… Read More

The W Hotel – Bangkok, Thailand

Ok, so the W is a brand we know (mostly) what to expect of – bright colours, reflective surfaces, interesting art, rooms named after superlatives. The W Bangkok doesn’t disappoint on any of those fronts. The colour du jour at W BKK is royal purple, and the theme is Muay-Thai-gone-clubbing. Think giant sequined boxing gloves adorning the beds (which read appropriately, ‘Lights’ and ‘Out’), fighting… Read More

+ Tucks and Bao Newmarket Auckland Review

Tucks and Bao – Newmarket, Auckland

Having read some good things about this new eatery, it’s Newmarket location made it the perfect location at which to catch up with local friends on my most recent trip to Auckland. I previously worked just up the road from this venue, and knew it’s previous occupants well – I still remember Market Kitchen’s stellar eye fillet, celeriac and watercress dish fondly. I have… Read More

Gaggan – The Emoji Menu Feb ’17

  Gaggan. He’s a superstar of the culinary world…a bit like Madonna and Britney, the first name is all you need. It’s my second time to Gaggan’s eponymous restaurant (read here for the first), and after hearing that his new menu consists of 25 emojis, it’s safe to say I’m pretty excited – not just because I’m fond of peppering my communications with said… Read More

+ Cibo Auckland New Zealand Restaurant Review

Lunch at Cibo – Parnell, Auckland

There’s just something about Cibo. It’s not easy to find, tucked away on a back street in the city fringe. Sure, it sits hidden amongst high-end furniture stores (mostly patronised by Interior Designers on the Eastern Suburbs dime), a fab French market (La Cigale), a fab wine shop (Caro’s) and offices, but you wouldn’t know it’s there unless you know it’s there. Despite its lack… Read More

Cassia – Auckland, New Zealand

You only need one reason to book a table at Cassia, and that reason is Sid Sahrawat. Cuisine NZ’s Chef of the Year 2016 and the man behind one of New Zealand’s most lauded restaurants (and a personal favourite of mine), SIDART, is lending his magic touch to Indian cuisine and the results are even better than I expected. Actually, of course I should have… Read More

Fu He Hui * – Shanghai, China

Part of the acclaimed Fu group and a rising star on on Asia’s 50 Best list, Fu He Hui (‘Fortune and Intelligence’) was to me an enigma shrouded in mystery. Coming in at no. 18 on the list in 2016, the vegetarian Shanghainese restaurant of the Fu group keeps the secrets of it’s success close to it’s chest. No website, no online menu…let’s just say… Read More

+ Review of Gaggan Bangkok Asia's 50 Best Restaurants

Gaggan – Bangkok, Thailand

Why are the good ones so hard to write about? That’s what I find myself asking as I finally put fingers to keyboard to finish my review of Gaggan, one of the restaurants I visited while in Bangkok after #50BestTalksAsia. Is it because it’s so hard to find words that do the food justice? I think that’s a big part of it. I’m also realising… Read More

Namaaz Dining – Jakarta, Indonesia

I’ve pondered long and hard how to start this review off. How to convey to you how much I loved this dining experience. How to explain in words how special this restaurant is, how special this chef is. How to make you want to travel to Jakarta (not exactly the world’s most hospitable city just FYI) just to taste the molecular Indonesian cuisine I’m… Read More

+ Botanist Shanghai Review

Botanist – Shanghai, China

  When we arrived to take our seat at the bar, Botanist was abuzz with local cocktail connoisseurs checking out what Shanghai’s newest purveyor has to offer. Let me tell you – Shanghai knows a thing or two about cocktails, and takes it’s mixed concoctions very, very seriously. Botanist is a prime example of this, with a very lengthy, very complex cocktail menu that takes some… Read More

+ The Commune Social Shanghai Review

The Commune Social – Shanghai, China

With this being my second trip to Shanghai, I knew I couldn’t depart the city again without sampling one of the local outposts of Jason Atherton’s global restaurant empire. Having attended the soft launch of Jason’s Dubai venue, Marina Social, I had pretty high expectations for what The Commune Social would be dishing up. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. Definitely a relaxed affair, The Commune Social… Read More

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Skye Bar – Jakarta, Indonesia

If there’s one thing I love in this life, it’s a good rooftop bar. Or really, a great rooftop bar. Turns out, rather unexpectedly, Skye Bar is one of them. I say unexpectedly – well, first, have you visited Jakarta? It’s a crazy tangle of roads that exist in a constant state of gridlock, un-walkable sidewalks, smog that blocks the sun and metal detectors… Read More

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Masu – Auckland, New Zealand

Nic Watt’s Masu at Sky City Grand has been bestowed with plenty of accolades over the years, including Metro’s Restaurant of the Year 2014, and currently holds two Cuisine Good Food chef hats. To be honest, I was never sure whether it would live up to the hype – pre-launch it even had it’s own TV series highlighting Chef Nic Watt’s Japanese cooking and recipes…. Read More

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Blue Breeze Inn – Auckland, New Zealand

Occupying prime spot in the Ponsonby Central complex, Blue Breeze Inn is another stunner from the Mark Wallbank/Chef Che Barrington stable. If you’ve dined at any of their other restaurants, you’ll know the kind of food they serve up – big, bold Asian flavours with some good heat and a touch of sweetness. Accompanied by a little Kiwi attitude, of course. This is one… Read More

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The Store, Britomart – Auckland, New Zealand

I have to admit, in the past the very breakfast/brunch focused menu at The Store hasn’t been able to entice me – but as today that was exactly what we were looking for, it ticked the box. Nestled in between Sass & Bide and Lululemon, this is a yummy mummy haunt and a good choice for a Britomart refuel. Owned by the Hip Group,… Read More

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The French Cafe – Auckland, New Zealand

One of Auckland’s most iconic restaurants, The French Cafe has been stamping it’s mark on the Auckland fine dining for over ten years. Hidden away in a corner of the Auckland outer CBD where one would not expect to find such a high end establishment, the blacked out windows give little indication of what lies inside. Winner of Best Fine Dining, Best Chef and… Read More

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Batch Vineyard – Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand

Being told Batch (soon to be rebranded as Thomas) occupies one of the highest spots on the island, commanding great views of the city and valleys of the island itself, we took the car on a mission to track it down. If you don’t have a car, Batch also offers a return transfer service from Matiatia ferry terminal – check their website for current… Read More

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Woodpecker Hill – Auckland, New Zealand

The newest addition to restaurant maven Mark Wallbank and Chef Che Barrington’s portfolio of incredibly successful partnerships, Woodpecker Hill more than holds it’s own alongside it’s stablemates, the Ponsonby institutions that are Moo Chow Chow and Blue Breeze Inn. Any of the three makes for a fantastic choice of dining venue – just to prove it, today Woodpecker Hill made it a trifecta of admissions to the 2016… Read More

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Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin – Bangkok, Thailand

It was a bit of a toss up as to whether we were going to make Sra Bua a stop on our crowded Bangkok dining itinerary. Having made the Asia’s 50 Best list in 2014 but not appearing since, we took a leap of faith and booked in dinner as I’d read their specialty is molecular Thai – something I’d never seen done anywhere… Read More

Sky Bar – Bangkok, Thailand

Here’s one you might have seen before – if you’ve seen The Hangover 2 that is. You’re certainly reminded that this venue is film worthy, even before you’ve stepped into the lift to deliver you to this Bangkok famous rooftop bar (they proudly display pull up banners boasting their film set fame). That alone should send off warning bells… Arriving at the Iebua State… Read More

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The Siam – Bangkok, Thailand

Nestled on the Chao Praya riverside away from the hustle and bustle of the Bangkok central shopping and business district, The Siam is the perfect way to enjoy Bangkok in five star style. Actually, it’s more like six. The Siam is a property that gently unfolds as you discover it’s beauty – it’s nooks and crannies, stunning garden spaces and amazing artifacts. It’s as… Read More

+ 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana Shanghai

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana – Shanghai, China

The sister restaurant of the three Michelin starred Hong Kong venue of the same name, Otto e Mezzo kept popping up on my Shanghai to do list. As I’d skipped the HK version on my last visit, I was eager to take the opportunity to try the Shanghai incarnation – so I snuck in a visit enroute to my flight home to Dubai. This meant… Read More

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Din Tai Fung – World Financial Centre, Shanghai, China

  For those of you who are new to DTF – let me tell you, it’s an obsession. From your first bamboo steamer of Xiao Long Bao, (or XLB) – you’ll be hooked. These delicate parcels of meat and soup broth are like manna from heaven. Add the requisite ginger, soy and vinegar dipping mix and they are truly one of life’s pleasures. If… Read More

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Lost Heaven – Shanghai, China

Situated in a lovely yet unassuming villa set amongst what seems like bridal parlour alley, we eagerly descended upon Lost Heaven Shanghai, ravenous and ready to experience delicious Yunnan food. Lost Heaven specializes in ‘Yunnan Folk Cuisine’ – according to the internet, it features influences from Mongolian, Tibetan, Szechuan and Northern Thai cuisines. To my tastebuds, Thai/Chinese fusion really sums up the flavours on offer here. This beautiful… Read More

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HaiDiLao Hotpot – Shanghai, China

HaiDiLao Hotpot – a chain often talked about as you can get manicures, massages and play board games while you wait for a table. Sadly we got a table straight away…the only time in my life where I will say that was a shame! We ventured to the HaiDiLao branch near Tianzifang as we planned to do some shopping there (cool place, but we… Read More

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El Willy – Shanghai, China

Spanish food in Shanghai? WTF you might say, well I did! No matter how many times this place popped up in recommendations, I put it to the bottom of my list. Finding myself with a solo dining day to spare and running out of places to try, I figured why not give El Willy a go. Recently El Willy (the flagship of the group,… Read More

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Late Night Street Noodles – Shanghai, China

Now, this is one I can’t give you an address for….it’s a chance-upon-it kinda thing. But that’s what makes it even better, right? We came back from a night out in need of wine…#travellerproblems. Despite it being about 2 degrees and raining, we decided we’d go out for a stroll to find the nearest Family Mart – they sell wine! Unsurprisingly, you’ll find Jacob’s… Read More

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Yang’s (Fry) Dumplings – Shanghai, China

Yang’s Dumplings. A must visit. It’s pretty much the McDonald’s of Shanghai, but instead of burgers they serve the iconic Shanghainese soup dumpling, the shengjianbao. Local name 上海小杨生煎(黄河路店) Local address 黄浦区黄河路97号 Yellow trays, plastic booth seating, and no toilets. Doesn’t sound like something you’d go out of your way for – and well, you won’t have to go too far, as there are several dotted around… Read More

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Jia Jia Tang Bao – Shanghai, China

Jia Jia Tang Bao is a name that pops up again and again in lists of Shanghai’s best Xiao Long Bao – though this seems a subject of much passionate debate. Local name 上海佳家汤包(黄河路店) Huanghe Lu (Near Nanjing Xilu). Local address 黄浦区黄河路90号 Jia Jia Tang Bao is a small, no-frills local eatery that serves only XLB. No fancy tables, menus or decor here – get in, eat the good stuff,… Read More