Pack your appetite and your sense of adventure, and put your intermittent fasting regimen on hold, at least for the weekend. At these dining destinations, there’s always something new and intriguing on the table. Here’s a taste of what to expect.
Playful and inventive fine-dining
Thai chefs are getting curiouser than ever. They’re questioning, reinterpreting and dissecting Thai food, all while employing dazzling techniques for Michelin-worthy plates. Thailand’s fine-dining experiences used to be the exclusive domain of Western food, but lots of groundbreaking places are popping up all over Bangkok to give a spin on perennial classics, like this bite-sized tomyum from Small Dinner Club. “We pull apart, question and reimagine Thai cuisine, with hopes to create new expectations not just for Thai food, but for food in general,” says Chef Sareen Rojanametin of Small Dinner Club.
Despite the upscale and reservation-only nature of these chef’s tables, the atmosphere at these lavish gastronomic journeys are also less stuffy — for the most part, it’s come as you are and get ready to learn from and interact with the chefs. Besides new-ish Bangkok staples such as Potong, Seasoning 36 and Wana Yook, cutting-edge chefs from other provinces have also done kitchen takeovers, like Samuay & Sons from Udon Thani at Siri Sala. At this exquisite private Thai villa, you can taste regional cuisine all in the setting of a glamorous, wooden Thai home. Destination dining will be worth the trek, because never before have forest plants or fermented fish been so fancy. —Parisa Pichitmarn
Breakfast-to-dinner Indian classics
If you’ve never thought of this South Indian city as a dining destination beyond its famed Biryani, you’re in for a treat. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic chaos, Hyderabad landed on PETA’s 2019 Most Vegan-Friendly Cities list, as well as UNESCO’s Creative City of Gastronomy list, giving you two very good reasons to plan a visit.
Embark on a culinary tour by visiting the iconic Charminar at sunrise. Take in the views of this 430-year -old heritage monument while sipping on a hot cup of Irani chai at Nimrah Cafe and Bakery. Then head over to the nearby Mozamjahi Market and its bylanes, to dig into delicious varieties of crispy dosa for breakfast at the famous Ram ki Bandi, followed by scoops of handmade ice cream at the adjacent Famous Ice Cream.
Grab lunch at Adaa, tucked away inside a 19th-century Nizam residence perched 2,000 feet above the city on a hillock, and now refurbished as Taj Falaknuma Palace. Chef Sajesh Nair follows the time-honored cooking style of the Nizam’s Khansama (royal cooks) here, and recommends Ameer Khuwani Biryani (made with raw, marinated mutton cooked between layers of rice) and Zimarkand Shikampuri Kebab for vegetarians.
In the evening, unwind with a fine eight-course dinner at Once Upon A Time at the Hotel Green Park featuring Hyderabadi dishes given a delectable contemporary spin by Chef Vignesh. —Meenakshi J