Foodie chefs share their travel plans

Planning to eat your way through your next holiday? The Sunday Times speaks to four foodies about their gourmet travel plans this year

A version of this article was first published in the December 2015 issue of The Life magazine, which is available free from The Straits Times Star E-books app for iPad and Android devices.

Pintxos and cider

IGNATIUS CHAN, 52, owner of Iggy's at The Hilton Hotel. The restaurant is ranked No. 18 on the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list 2015

I will be in Burgundy, France, and San Sebastian, Spain, for my annual spring barrel tasting of the 2015 vintage. I will be travelling with Uma Uma Ramen Fukuoka's Japanese president Masahiko Teshima, who is a consummate wine lover and fellow Burgundy fanatic.

In San Sebastian, I look forward to experiencing Mugaritz's (Aldura Aldea, 20, 20100 Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, tel: +34-943-522-455, www.mugaritz. com/en/) new seasonal menu, and will be catching up with our Spanish chef friends - Mugaritz's chef-owner Andoni Luis Aduriz, and Juan Mari and Elena Arzak of modern Basque restaurant Arzak.

I look forward to eating at the many pintxo (bar snacks) bars, especially La Cuchara de San Telmo (www.facebook.com/La-Cuchara-de-San- Telmo-248266237271/), and waiting for the fishing boats to return to the coastal town of Pasaia and eating whatever comes off the boat.

I'll have my favourite burger at Va Bene (Boulevard Zumardia, 14, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa), which is known for its good burgers. Then I will go for lunch at Alorrenea Sagardotegia Cider House (tel: +34-943-336-999, www.alorrenea.com) for a truly Basque experience - sipping cider directly from the huge barrels and eating local delicacies such as chuleta (pork chops), kokotxa (the flesh under a fish's jaw) and bacalao (dried salt cod).

If I'm lucky, chef Aduriz will cook me a meal in one of the oldest members-only dining clubs, Sociedad Baso-Extea (www.basoetxea.es/).


Foie gras vodka

JANICE WONG, 32, chef-owner of 2am: dessertbar at Holland Village and Cobo House by 2am: dessertbar in Hong Kong

As my eponymous shop is opening on April 15 in Shinjuku, I will be travelling to Tokyo with my team of chefs for a press conference and training.

I hope to eat at one-Michelin-starred Jimbocho Den (101-0051 2-2-32 Jimbocho, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, tel: 03-3222-3978, www.jimbochoden.com/en/), as I love the uni dishes, signature garden vegetable salad and claypot wagyu. Meals there are always unforgettable and full of surprises.

Code Name Mixology (3-14-3 Akasaka, 2F, Minato-ku, Tokyo, tel: +81-3-6459-1129) is one of my favourite bars in Tokyo, as its owner and head bartender Shuzo Nagumo does amazing bespoke off-menu cocktails, especially his signatures such as foie gras vodka and blue cheese martini.

I will also dine at Nihonryori RyuGin (Side Roppongi Building, Ground Floor 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-0032, www.nihonryori-ryugin.com/en/) to get inspiration and try the winter and spring menus.

While winter can be brutal in Tokyo, the seasonal menus are definitely something to look forward to.


Blood sausages

ANTHONY YEOH, 34, head chef of Restaurant Cocotte at 2 Dickson Road

In April or May, I plan to go to France as I haven't been there in a few years.

I seldom eat at the usual "best of" lists or Michelin-starred places. I prefer the more rustic and "regular" places that the locals eat at. It's the best way to get to know the culture without falling into too many tourists traps.

When I land in Paris, I will head to Le Pere Claude (51, Avenue de la Motte-Picquet, 75015 Paris, www.lepereclaude.fr/en/) for the boudin noir (blood sausages). Then I will head to Provence by train to enjoy the spring produce and specialities of the region.

In Marseille, I want to get my hands on an authentic bouillabaisse (Provencal fish stew) from Chez Fonfon (140 rue du Vallon des Auffes 13007 Marseille, tel: +33-491-521-438, www.chez-fonfon.com/en/) and Restaurant Chez Michel (6 rue des Catalans 13007 Marseille, www.restaurant-michel-13.fr/). These were recommended by my friends.

I plan to stay in a gite (French for holiday homes for rent) so that I can stock up on the regional specialities at the farmer's markets and cook inexpensive meals. There's something instinctive that kicks in when I walk into the town square and see tables of fruits, vegetables, poultry, cheeses and huge blocks of butter.

I had the best tarts of my life (both savoury and sweet) in Bergerac, east of Bordeaux, in a small shop that opens only for lunch. It is run by a little old woman. There was something magical in the tarts that I never found anywhere else, not even in those from famed Parisian patisseries.


Oysters with flowers

GAN GUO YI, 31, co-owner of bars Jigger and Pony, Gibson and The Flagship, as well as Sugarhall grill and seafood restaurant Humpback

My husband Indra Kantono and I are planning a trip to Hong Kong, as the food and beverage scene continues to burst at the seams with great new bars and restaurants.

I'm excited to check out Vea Restaurant and Lounge (29 & 30/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central, tel: +852-2711-8639, www.vea.hk), which opened in November last year. The modern French restaurant is helmed by chef Vicky Cheng and mixologist Antonio Lai, who has been making some of the best drinks in Hong Kong at bars such as Quinary, The Envoy and Ori-Gin.

Next on my list is MIC Kitchen (The Restaurant Space, G/F, AIA Kowloon Tower, Landmark East, 100 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, tel: +852-3758-2239, http://mickitchen.com.hk/), the one-Michelin-starred offshoot of celebrity chef Alvin Leung's Bo Innovation.

We met MIC Kitchen's chef de cuisine Chris Keung at a friend's wedding in Thailand and were really charmed by his down-to-earth personality. We love good food but often prefer a laid-back dining room to a fine-dining set-up, so we think MIC Kitchen will suit us.

We think of oyster bar The Walrus (64 Staunton Street, Central, www.thewalrus.hk) as Humpback's Hong Kong cousin. We have just seen its Valentine's Day oyster adorned with edible flowers and, no question, it's a must-go.

For my caffeine boost, we'll head to The Cupping Room (Shop LG/F, 299 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan, tel: +852-2799-3398 www.facebook.com/Cupping RoomHK/), arguably the best place to get a coffee fix.

Before midnight, we'll be on standby at The Pontiac (13 Old Bailey Street, tel: +852-2521-3855, https://www.facebook.com/thepontiac/) for its midnight special. This dive bar is run by award-winning bartender Beckaly Franks of European-style tavern Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon. He moved to Hong Kong and has full control of The Pontiac's programme and we know for sure it will be a legendary night.

For this year's cold winter, Son Tung Kee Hot Pot (5/F, Podium Plaza, 5 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui) is my all-time favourite. The beef is beautifully marbled and the fish and prawn paste really fresh.

  • A version of this story first appeared in the December 2015 issue of The Life e-magazine in The Straits Times Star E-books app, with the headline "Foodie destinations".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 14, 2016, with the headline 'FOODIE DESTINATIONS '. Print Edition | Subscribe