My Best of the Year post takes time to complete. I go through all the meals of the past year and make a short list of the places that really impressed me with an unforgettable meal. It doesn't have to be a fancy restaurant, it's all about the food and the experience.
Since 2011 was a year of travel for me, there were many restaurants to choose from. New places were discovered - Bangkok and Beijing, some revisited - Sydney and San Francisco, along with the usuals - Singapore, Las Vegas and Manila and of course I explored my island home - Bali - as well. After much deliberation and elimination, and in no particular order, here are my best gourmet experiences of 2011.
|BEST IN THE PHILIPPINES|
|BEST IN SOUTHEAST ASIA|
In Singapore, where I was almost every six weeks, my cousin took me to Ippudo where we had a fantastic noodle lunch - flavorful broth, al dente ramen, chunky pork belly - everything was good.
Two new places we visited this year were Bangkok and Beijing. In Bangkok, I had my first taste of the real flavors of Thai cuisine. I tried many types of Thai food and enjoyed most of them but it was chef David Thompson's fine dining take on classic Thai street food at Nahm that left me with a clear idea of how sophisticated Thai food is.
In Beijing, we had the best Beijing duck (aka Peking duck) I've ever tasted at Made in China - extra crispy non-fatty skin with either sugar for dipping (a novelty!) or the traditional Hoisin-pancake-scallion-cucumber roll. And it wasn't just the duck, the other dishes were also outstanding and it was the best Chinese meal I'd had all year.
|BEST IN THE AMERICAS|
Finally to North America, first at our usual stop in Las Vegas where we had a superb tapas meal at Jaleo where it felt like we were back in Spain. It was great to see the quality of Spanish food so lovingly recreated at chef Jose Andres' hip and happening tapas restaurant. We also revisited our favorite city - San Francisco - so many lovely memories from past visits and so long since our last encounter in 2004. Dinner at RN74 was impressive - cool concept, fantastic Burgundy wines, packed with a mixed crowd and best of all, the food was really good - simple classic dishes made of incredible ingredients which is what San Francisco is all about.
Last but not least, we go back to breakfast where I just have to mention the best coffee I've had all year (lots of close seconds - Sambalatte in Las Vegas, bills in Sydney and Liberica in Jakarta) but this one topped my list and made my mornings better - Blue Bottle Coffee. The coffee was prepared with so much love and they took their time getting it right which just goes to show that after all these years, San Francisco's foodie ways haven't changed, it's only gotten better. And with that I look forward to another year of eating and traveling. I hope that 2012 will be as food-filled as 2011 was. Happy Gourmet Travels!