There is nothing quite like a glass of champagne to make you feel glamorous and sophisticated. Being a glamorous and sophisticated girl, I’m always quaffing a bottle or two, as my Instagram account will attest. One place I have always wanted to visit in London is the Champagne bar located in St Pancras train station, and as luck would have it I was in the area and had plans to meet up with two of my oldest friends(that I met in Korea) and thought that Searcy’s would be the perfect setting for the reunion.
Searcy’s is located inside of St Pancras / Kings Cross Station. Boasting the title of ‘Europe’s longest champagne bar’ the 98m space is truly breathtaking. The magnificent location allows panoramic views of the entire station terminal, showcasing the glorious wrought iron and glass ceiling overhead. The are twelve banquettes that line the length of bar, each adorned with art deco and a ‘press for champagne’ button that ensures you never need to get up to refill your glass. The place has a real retro luxe vibe going on, and you cant help but feel utterly decadent while sipping your bubbles.
Unsurprisingly the menu has a great selection of champagnes and sparkling wines, with the cheapest one starting at just under £10 a glass, making it affordable even if your budget is more akin to the £3 Asti Spumante from Aldi. After perusing the menu I decided to treat my friend to bottle of the English Grey Friars – Rose Brut which was a very reasonable £65 for the bottle. Made from Pinot Noir it was a very drinkable with notes of strawberries and cream and the most delightful blush hue. It was hard to believe that the grapes were grown only 25 miles away in Surrey. Nestled in our booth, we took soothing sips of our champs, while busy commuters ran to catch their trains below us. It was quite the contradiction. If you are feeling peckish the adjoining restaurant has a rather nice menu and an incredibly beautiful gold leaf ceiling, unfortunately we had another train to catch so couldn’t partake, However if you have the time I’m sure it is well worth stopping by.
Seary’s is located at the Grand Terrace, Upper Concourse, St Pancras International Station, King’s Cross St. Pancras, London, N1C 4QL. To get there take the tube to King’s Cross station or a train to St Pancras and take the escalator up to the second floor. It is above all luxury glass fronted shops. For more information or to make a reservation you can call them on 0207 870 9900 or visit their website.
If you have been following my foodie adventures, you’ll know that I took an amazing trip to Borneo a few weeks ago, but I also found time to live it up in Hong Kong! Hong Kong is one of my favourite food capitals in the entire world. It just has everything I could want and more, namely Chinese and British food. This wondrous city is a pure treasure trove of delicious goodies. For anyone who is travelling there and looking for some damn delicious things to eat then this list should help guide you.
1. Char Siu Pork Bun – Tim Ho wan is renowned for their fantastic char siu pork buns, probably because they are one of the worlds cheapest Michelin starred foods (18HKD for 3). I never miss an opportunity to eat them so we put them top of the list of things to try. We arrived on bank holiday Monday and the queue to get a table was absolutely insane, luckily as seasoned eaters at this place we knew we could order a take out order which was ready in less than 10 minutes. The IFC Mall where we got ours has plenty of places to sit outside so grab your order to go and have yourself a picnic.
2. Wonton Noodles – There nothing like a good bowl of noodle soup and Maks in Central is a great place to get one. We tried the shrimp wanton noodle soup and the fried noodles topped with pork in a slightly sweet and spicy bbq sauce, they were so good I wanted to lick the bowl clean, and cheap as hell too (around 60HKD) for a quick and delicious lunch.
3. Xiao Long Bao – Obviously dim sum is a must in Hong Kong, but my favourite of all the different dumplings in the world are Xiao Long Bao (aka Shanghai Soup Dumplings). Some of the best are found at Crystal Jade. And although they are traditionally from Shanghai, Hong Kong has some pretty good ones too. I’m sure there are better ones out there but I have always preferred Crystal Jade over Din Tai Fung. We ordered a couple portions of the original which were filled with the most delicious flavourful soup. There are plenty of other dishes to try on the menu too.
4.Char Siu – I already covered char siu pork buns but you really need to have it as a main course too. In Central there are dozens of restaurants with meat in the windows all with Michelin stars offering lunch plates for around $60HKD a piece which include a fabulous Hong Kong lemon ice tea. I love that tea so much I nearly gave it a place on its own. The melt in the mouth meat is typically served with rice or noodles and some bok choi, and if you are lucky a bowl of soup. Don’t be afraid if they have no menus in English on the outside, they will almost always have one inside.
5. Egg Tart -These little eggy custard tarts can be found in bakeries all over the city and cost next to nothing (8HKD). We ate a variety of different ones including a green tea and chocolate variety, though it’s best to stick with the classic. Be warned though they are incredibly addictive so make sure you get yourself a couple.
6. Champagne Brunch – If there is one thing that Hong Kong knows how to do well, it’s a champagne brunch. Virtually every restaurant in the city offers up a free flow package from as little 200HKD (25,000 KRW) for free flow wine, cocktails and champagne. It’s not called Sunday Funday for nothing, right? We enjoyed an extra special one at 2 Michelin starred restaurant Duddells to celebrate my birthday. Ours cost 750HKD per person which included unlimited dim dim sum, Chinese food, champagne and cocktails on their fabulous roof top terrace. But there are hundreds of other place to try throughout the city.
7. Roast Goose – Roast goose can be found hanging in the windows of many a meat shop, but the golden and crispiest goose in the city is found at Kam’s Roast Goose in Wan Chai. The place is exceedingly popular thanks to its Michelin star. We went for lunch and were able to get a set including goose over rice, a bowl of soup, a side dish and delicious and refreshing lemon ice tea for 75HKD which is about 10,000 won. One of the cheapest Michelin starred lunches ever! They also have a variety of different roast meats on the menu, the char siu came a very close second.
8. Egg Waffle – I guess Hong Kongers really love eggs in their desserts. You’ve tried the egg tart, now it is time to try the egg waffle. These little things are the absolute cutest. I stumbled across an adorable one when walking around Wan Chai, but I am told that other much more pimped out versions filled with ice cream can be found elsewhere in the city like at Oddies in Central.
9. Sweet & Sour Pork – By far and away one of my absolute favourite dishes in the words. In fact if I was on death row and I was having my last meal, this would be on my menu for damn sure. I love the lurid orange sweet and sour sauce, and the crispy chunks of battered meat, served with a pile of egg fried rice and I am pretty much in heaven. I didn’t get to eat nearly as much of this dish than I was planning but this one came from 2 starred Duddells, so I certainly got the cream of the crop.
10. British Food – Hong Kong has a huge population of Brits making it a great place to get some good old British fare, I mean they have proper M&S Food Halls! So what better place to get yourself a roast dinner than Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen. We indulged in their fabulous lamb & beef roast, which came with all you can eat roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, veg, and gravy for 350 HKD. This really was epic, it was even better than my mum’s(sorry Mum), I was so happy. We also added an all you can drink element to the meal where we supped on free flow champagne, and Bloody Mary’s which were some of the best I have ever had.
If you have been reading this blog regularly and following me on Instagram and YouTube then you’ll be well aware that I have been living it up In Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. While we enjoyed a sumptuous stay at the beautiful Rasa Ria Resort, we also enjoyed a few days in the city. We were lucky enough to be offered a stay at the brand spanking new Hilton Hotel. This place is so new you can still smell the paint, it has only been open for just a few short months but is already one of the hottest hotels in town.
The team at the Hilton hooked us up with the most fabulous one bedroom suite. It was awesome, this place was even bigger than my apartment back in Seoul. There was a gigantic bed, double sink bathroom with a bath and a shower, dressing room, living room with two TV’s, office, dining room, and a guest bathroom. Like seriously, it kinda made me wish we had friends to invite over and show off to. had there been more of the two of us it would have been a great spot to host a party.
After the most relaxing night sleeping in our incredibly big King sized bed, we headed down to try the breakfast. Although I do enjoy the elegance of a private breakfast, we decided to have breakfast in the main restaurant Urban Kitchen instead of the club lounge, as my greedy self just couldn’t resist seeing what was on offer at the breakfast buffet. I have eaten at a hell of a lot of hotel buffets and this one was pretty epic. There was a killer baked goods section with everything you could want and more, including sprinkled, pink, Homer Simpson style donuts! There were also fresh fruits, juices and smoothies, cereal, yogurt, deli meats, cheese and salads, a western breakfast hot style buffet which included eggs to order, as well as an Asian hot section which is where I spent most of my time. Nothing makes me happier than eating spring rolls, fried noodles, and curry for breakfast. Honestly it was kind of amazing how many different dishes were there, I can’t imagine ever getting bored. I also loved the fact that they included local dishes within the menu too, it was nice to see another sota station, clearly these fresh bowls of noodle soup are the go to breakfast in Borneo.
One of the hotels best features is the fabulous roof top pool. The pool is surrounded by lovely comfy sun beds for you to laze the day away on. There are also tonnes of sumptuous sofas and day beds in the shade for those who burn easily (I’m looking at you TFB). As well as the beautiful pool, the rooftop has a pretty incredible view, in fact it was so hard to peel ourselves away for lunch we ended up ordering a couple of burgers from the restaurant and staying put. Food and drinks delivered to my daybed, that really is living the dream as far as I’m concerned. As well as the pool, the hotel also boasts a big ass gym and sauna. Not that I would ever use it for anything other than picking up free bottles of water, but I appreciate having it there.
On our first night we enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Rooftop Bar & Grill. We were pretty knackered from all the travelling we had done, so decided to get dinner in the hotel. The menu has a very Australian feel about it with lots of surf and turf like options. I decided to try Sabah Green Tailed Lobster (98MYR) which was served with buttered mushrooms, mixed salad, fired courgette flowers and pea puree. I never turn down lobster, when given the chance to eat it, and I really loved the way it was served with pureed peas. It was like an uber posh fish and chips. TFB true to form got himself a big ass steak. The 350g Black Angus (220MYR) if I’m not mistaken. The steak was served with proper fat chips, which I have longed for them ever since. Our dinner ended with a chocolate brownie with popping candy and celebrity sighting (sort of). At the next table was Dereck of The Holidaze, another travel blogger and perpetual nomad who filled us in on all his Borneo adventures. What a night!
As we were staying in a one bed suite we had access to the exclusive Executive Club lounge. As an executive business woman who does important executive business it is always nice to have a special place to do that. The open plan kitchen is stocked with free drinks and snacks for you to enjoy until your heart is content, however the party really gets started between 5pm-7pm as they offer free cocktails and canapes too. It’s a great way to unwind after a hard day of eating and lying by the pool. It was not my first time enjoying this kind of service but boy did we get our money worth (not that we paid, but you get the idea). I relaxed over Moscow Mules while my beloved enjoyed a refreshing beer or six. There was also a well stocked pre-dinner dining section. The food was different each night but some of the most memorable items were dumplings, curry, fried rice and noodles, as well as a dazzling array of mini cakes and desserts. You could easily skip dinner and fill up here if you liked, though as a diligent and hard working food blogger, I would never skip a meal.
Overall I can’t recommend this hotel enough, if you are looking for a luxurious stay in the city that wont break the bank then this is it. The location is fabulous (next door to the famous Welcome Seafood restaurant), and it’s close to the airport if you have an early or late flight. If you have the funds then I would definitely recommend upgrading to the club level, especially if you eat and drink as much as we do. Rooms start at 400 MYR per night. For more information or to book a room please visit the hotel website.
Sometimes my life is fabulously chic, and these past few days have been one of those occasions. I was lucky enough to be invited to come and stay at the spectacular Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort in Sabah, Borneo earlier this week. Borneo has always been at the top of my list for places to visit, and when I saw where we would be staying I couldn’t book my plane ticket fast enough. There are half a dozen airlines that fly directly from Seoul, making it just a hop, skip, and a jump away. The resort has been open for 20 years, and at this stage has virtually every amenity you could imagine. Private beach, golf course, two pools, gym, a nature reserve, and a spa just to name a few.
We stayed in the very beautiful Ocean wing, where every room comes with an oversized outdoor bathtub on the balcony. The room itself was very spacious, with a gigantic bed big enough for four, a twin-sinked bathroom, a walk in wardrobe, and of course the aforementioned tub on the giant balcony. Guests staying in the Ocean wing are treated to a complimentary fruit/snack platter and minibar, which was stocked with beers and soft drinks for you to enjoy until your heart is content. Ocean Wing guests also get to enjoy a complimentary cocktail and canape hour down in the courtyard, which we of course partook in too and sampled a very nice tropical cocktail as well as some local snacks. It’s so nice to be able to unwind with a few drinks without worrying abut the cost, so this was a real plus point for us. The most luxurious feature of the room is probably the “indulgence” bath on your very own balcony, with a choice of rose petals, bubbles, or bath salts (once for free and 50MYR for additional baths). We had a very romantic bubble bath at sunset, which was just the thing to refresh us after a long day of sight seeing.
Our day started with breakfast at Oceano restaurant, which offers up the standard hotel buffet fare, along with an a la carte menu with items such as Eggs Benedict, frittatas, and local specialty nasi goreng. The nasi goreng was especially good, as were the made to order omelettes. Honestly i don’t think there was anything that you could want that wasn’t available. TFB particularly enjoyed the deli meats and cheese and tended to have a charcuterie to begin his day, while I was thrilled to find a juicer, and a huge array of fresh fruits and vegetables to pack in some vitamins alongside my Eggs Benedict, pastries, and fried rice.
One of my goals when I travel is to eat as much of the local food as possible, however when I get home, a lot of the time the delicious treats I have been stuffing my self with are unavailable to me, which is where a cooking class comes in. Learning to cook from local chefs gives a real insight into the food culture of an area, as you can really see what gets put into the dishes that you have enjoyed. In our class with Chef Chiew we learned to make the famous butter Prawns, using the gigantic tiger prawns found locally. I have never seen anything like these before, they were bigger than a babies arm! We also whipped up the Tuaran Mee, which is a local specialty noodle dish, and the chef added some satay as it’s one of my favourite dishes. All of the food was fantastic and the only thing that could compete for my attention was the breathtaking view of the ocean as we sat at our beach side table.
One of the activities that was arranged for us as part of our stay was a boat trip along the Mengkabong river(156 MYR per person). The river is the home of the Bajaus tribe, a lot of whom still live in traditional wooden houses built on the water. The saltwater river is home to an abundance of sea creatures, from which the Bajaus fishermen earn their livings. In particular mud crabs, tiger prawns and oysters can be found there. The river itself is peaceful and calm, and there is a real sense of calm isolation once you reach some of the narrower, mangrove surrounded, stretches of the river. We were then taken to the water village to sample some local coffee and a kind of fried cake made from rice flour, water, and brown sugar. The coffee was very sweet, and the fried cakes were tasty. The trip ended with us returning to our crab traps, which we had set up on the way out, to inspect our catch. As luck would have it, we had caught a couple of small mud crabs, and a solitary jellyfish, all of which we returned to the murky, muddy depths to be caught another day. This trip was a real highlight for me, it would not have been something that I would ordinarily arrange to do, as I tend to lean more towards food themed activities, however I was pleasantly surprised with the trip along the tranquil river, and highly recommend it, if you get a chance.
The property has maybe half a dozen restaurants within its grounds, but we opted to try the Japanese Teppanyaki-Kozan. For those unfamiliar with Teppanyaki, it is the style of cooking where a chef prepares your dishes in front of you on an iron grill, the teppan. This tends to be one of the more fun and interactive styles of dining, as you can build up a rapport with your chef as they prepare a selection of delicious treats for your enjoyment. At Kozan, there are several different set menus available, as well as the option to order a la carte. Given my aversion to fishy fish, I picked the more land based Akita set(159 MYR), whereas TFB went for the more mixed Kozan set(295 MYR). Out of all of the dishes we got to try from the two set menus, the standout was the Fois Gras. It was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth without having too much of the oiliness sometimes associated with fois gras. We also loved our steaks, which were still pink in the middle and melt in the mouth despite the epic flames that engulfed them during one of the tricks. Our chef Ben, was entertaining throughout our dinner, and while he didn’t quite manage to succeed in performing his egg trick, he did however put smiles on our faces with his stories.
The resort is located on a large plot of land, part of which is a nature reserve. On one of our mornings we got up at the ungodly hour of 6am to hike up to the top of the nature reserve for breakfast (98 MYR per person or 498 per couple with a bottle of champagne). Very un-fatgirl-like, I know, but it was a thousand percent worth it. Our friendly guide Sabinus led us up the trail, pointing out various interesting plants,as well as the tree snakes that we needed to be wary of. The hike, while not being longer than 30 mins, was definitely enough to work up a good sweat, especially in the tropical heat, so when we were greeted by a cool breeze at the top of the path, it was with palpable relief. A light breakfast of fruit and pastries had been laid out for us, and we sat down to eat with a view of the majestic Mount Kinabalu away in the distance, and the Bornean coastline stretching away to the horizon. Honestly it was incredibly humbling to be able to enjoy the stunning scenery in such an exclusive way, this is one for the bucket list for sure.
After our morning hike, and a second breakfast back at Oceano…, we wandered down to the beach-side pavilion for the combo massage. This was combo reflexology massage(239 MYR) for the back, shoulders, and feet, and I can honestly say it was one of the best massages I have had, and I’ve had about a thousand. Lying out next to the sea and having all the tension massaged away was exactly what I needed and the state of bliss stayed with us for the rest of the day.
Having enjoyed breakfast in the Oceano restaurant each day, it seemed fitting to go and have a look at what is on the actual menu throughout the day. Rather than order something from the menu, the head chef, Luca, came out and said he would make us “something”, which is always fun. We ended up trying several dishes, some familiar, some not so much. We started with a take on one of our favourite salads, the caprese. As you can see above the juice from the tomatoes had been made into a kind of jelly which sat atop a a huge ball of fresh mozzarella. The star dish for me was probably Chef Luca’s incredible gnocchi, it was so soft it was like a cloud was melting in my mouth. The meal ended with the tiramisu, which was a novel spin on the classic Italian dessert. The dish is made a la minute, with biscuits, cream, and two kinds of meringue. A shot of espresso is then poured over the dish at the table, before being quickly absorbed by the biscuits. This method results in the tiramisu having a real punch of flavour, and the coffee meringue on top added a balancing crunch. This was a fabulous meal to end our stay, and we left with full bellies.
Although our time at the stunning Rasa Ria was all too short, it was incredibly sweet and I cannot recommend this place enough.The staff were truly wonderful, and every last person we encountered went out of their way to make sure we were taken care of. This culminated in them gathering together to sing a farewell song as we departed, which was the perfect touch to say goodbye. If you are looking to get away from it all and indulge yourself it is the perfect location, and if you are in the mood to get out there and really explore Borneo it is perfect for that too. Rooms in the ocean wing average 1400 MYR per night. For more details about the resort or to make a booking please visit their website.
Last weekend was the Korea Travel Expo at COEX mall. The four day event gave visitors the chance to learn everything there is to know about travel within Korea. Each of the 9 provinces, and various travel related organisations hosted booths, so they were able to show off the beauty that the land of the morning calm has to offer.
Like most of the expos held at COEX, the exhibition was gigantic, with several hundred different kiosks offering information and interactive experiences. One of our favourites was this pottery making station from Ulsan. Visitors were welcomed to make their own cups and vases, which they were then able to take home. They brought the wheel to help promote their pottery festival which happens in May.
Another popular booth was the perfume making from Namhae province. For 3,000 won per person you could your own perfume from all the different fragrance notes they had available. I’ve never made my own perfume before so this was lots of fun. and now I have my own fantastic fragrance,
One of the largest sections of the event was the edible one, which is of course where I spent most of my time. Almost every area of the country offered up a chance to buy the traditional dishes they are most famous for. There was wine from GyeongSang Buk-do, Kimchi from Yeosu, along with dried octopus, cheese, grains, pickled and dried fish, and the famous Jeju chocolate.
I have visited most of the different provinces over my years in korea, but there are always new and exciting places to discover. For such a small country there are so many different things to see and do, and having an event like this was the perfect way to find out more about them.
The event has finished for this year, but if you would like to visit or set up your own booth at the next one you can find more information on the Travel Expo website (Korean only) or visit their facebook page.
Whenever I take a trip to another country, I always make a point of booking myself and TFB in for a cooking class. As well as tasting the national dishes, I also love to see the ingredients and cooking techniques that are used in making them. I always feel that I learn so much from these experience, as well as getting a chance to add a couple of new dishes to my repertoire. In Siem Reap we were lucky enough to be invited to take part in the cooking class operated by the stunningly beautiful Phum Baitang resort. (more…)
If you have been following my Instagram account then you will know that for the past week or so I’ve been living in up in Cambodia. I have have spent the past week and half eating everything in site while sunning myself in the gorgeous Pavillion D’Orient Hotel in Siem Reap. If you’ve never visited the home of Angkor Wat before, then you should know that this place is filled to the brim with all kinds of delicious treats and that Khmer cuisine has been seriously over looked in favour of its neighbours’. The best part about Cambodian food is that it is insanely affordable, everything is at most a third of the price that it is in Seoul, if not cheaper. So for that alone it makes the perfect holiday destination.
1 – Fire Ants – When researching what to eat in Siem Reap, I came across many recommendations for Marum Restaurant which is a profit free place dedicated to helping the local community by training their staff how to cook. One of their most famous dishes is the Spicy Beef with Fire Ants ($6.60), a delicious stir fried beef dish which is strewn with crispy ants. This dish was scrumptious and I wasn’t at all creeped out eating ants, you can have it by itself or add a side of rice to make it a meal. They also have a fab happy hour from 4pm-7pm which we took full advantage of while enjoying their lovely garden setting.
2 – Noodle Soup – I adore a big bowl of noodle soup which regular readers will know about from my tonkotsu ramen obsession. The Khmer noodle soup is slightly different from its other Asian counterparts but no less delicious. A huge bowl of tasty broth is filled with thick handmade noodles and garnished with fresh herbs, chillies and lime. This particular bowl was served as part of the breakfast at the 60s inspired Viroth Hotel. The meatballs inside were a bit on the strange side, but he noodles were incredible and I happily scarfed down a bowl each morning.
3 – Lok Lak– Beef Lok lak is one of Cambodias most famous dishes, and you will see it on virtually every menu in the city. The beef dish comes served with salad for you to eat alongside the meat. The meal is then either rounded our with rice or with french fries. This dish is from Our favourite cheap eatery The Red Angkor. A brother and sister team own the place and always give a warm welcome while serving incredibly tasty food at rock bottom prices. Nothing on the menu costs over $4 and this Lok Lak was a mere $2.50 they also offer 50 cent beers which pretty much guaranteed that we visited the place frequently throughout our trip.
4 – BBQ Skewers – Another dish that you must try in Cambodia is their BBQ. Not that different to the style we have here in Korea, but the meat selection is usually a wee bit more adventerous. We unfortunately didn’t have time to to make it a meal and have the full shebang but we did enjoy these fantastic Beef Skewers ($3) at the Khmer Grill. Yes, that’s right, they were a dollar a piece. The chunks of beef were sandwiched between slices of carrot, onion and paprika, cooked on the outdoor bbq and served with a lime and pepper dip. Suffice to say, it was three dollars very well spent!
5 – Amok Curry – The amok curry is probably the other most famed Cambodian dish. We tried a couple of varieties during the course of our trip, including one served in a coconut. The curry itself is very mild, and those who enjoy Thai curries may want to amp up the flavour a little. This is a version that we made in our cooking class at Phum Baitang which was filled with the snake fish we had bought at the local market. Again this is a dish you can expect to see on menus everywhere, there are also versions with chicken and pork if you don’t like fish.
6 – Fresh Juice & Smoothies – Cambodia is filled to the brim with delicious fresh fruits and veggies, you only need to take a look around the local markets to see the bounty of fresh produce available and many of the newer western restaurants are taking advantage of this to make refreshing fruit juices and smoothies. We came across several Balinese-type, healthy places which along with drinks had a variety of dishes catering to vegans, vegetarians and those with dietary restrictions. The juices at ARTillery Cafe were some of our favourites, and it was conveniently located right next to our hotel. Pictured is the Ginger Aid and Mango Madness ( both $3).
7 – Chicken cashew – We enjoyed this dish in virtually every restaurant we went to, as it is a pretty much a favourite of mine and TFBs in South East Asia. The cream of the crop of these cashew chicken dishes was at the New Leaf Eatery for $6. Other than the Red Angkor this was probably our favourite place to eat. It’s another non profit restaurant and the food was just incredible. It was one of the few places we ate western food too, their steak baguette was knock out and well worth a try if you are in the mood for a sandwich.
8 – Frog – Kermit and his loved ones are a pretty popular dish on the menus of Khmer cuisine, and find them cooked in a variety of different ways. We tried this spicy stir fried version at the Khmer Grill ($3), but you can also get them deep fried. This was my first time eating frog, and I have to say it’s just a lot like a tiny chicken wing. If you really want to go crazy, some of the street stalls serve tarantula, cockroach, lizard, and snakes for 50 cents a piece. I couldn’t bring myself to try them though, it made be shudder every time I gazed upon those deep fried cockroaches. I know that’s lame as hell for a food blogger but I just didn’t have the stomach for it.
9 – Rice Soup (Bawbaw) – Of all the new dishes that I tried the Bawbaw was probably top of my list. Similar to the Khmer noodles, the broth is full of rice, rice noodles, meal and veggies. It is a little similar to Vietnamese pho, but in a totally different way. The broth is so simple and clean, yet studded with flavour. If I was feeling sick this would be my absolute go to soup. At our beautiful hotel Pavillion D’Orient they served this bowl of magical goodness for breakfast though they also had it on their restaurant menu for ($5) and it is an absolute must try.
10 – Angkor Beer & Nuts – You cant leave Cambodia without trying the local beer and there are two varieties, Angkor beer and Cambodia beer, TFB preferred the Angkor and I tend to agree with him. The beers can be purchased for as little as 50 cents on draft and about 60 cents a can in the supermarket. When buying a beer in a bar you’ll also be given a bowl full of nuts that are seasoned with chili, lime leaves and garlic. Those babies are insanely addictive and I even took to buying extra beers just so I could eat the nuts. I am going to have to have a go at recreating these myself because I have already eaten my way through the humble supply I bought before I left. If anyone is in Cambodia right now, I’ll love you forever if you bring me back a bag or two!
I’m writing to you today, not from the grizzly cold and snowy weather of Seoul, but in the glorious sunshine of Seam Reap, Cambodia. Nice work if you can get it right? I was invited to stay at the beautiful boutique resort of Pavillion D’Orient Hotel. An absolute gem of a place in a tropical paradise of never ending sunshine. I sit writing upon one of their wonderfully comfortable sun loungers gazing across a tranquil blue pool, a cold Angkor beer sitting beside me along side a bowl of deliciously addictive lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf seasoned nuts. Honestly life couldn’t be better right now.
We began our stay by taking the overnight flight operated by Eastar Jet direct from Seoul, Incheon to Siem Reap airport. Due to a slight delay thanks to the snow we arrived late, but as we had booked our visas online we were swiftly through immigration and on to our awaiting driver, who was arranged on a complimentary basis for all guests making the process that much easier.
Knowing that our room was to be comped, we were eager to see our room, and were thrilled to find out that we had been upgraded to a suite which was absolutely fantastic. A huge king sized bed, day bed, seating area, larger balcony and gigantic rain shower. Everything about about the room was fantastic. Including a lovely basket of fresh fruit which was replenished daily, music to my fruit eating ears. The room prices start from $70 per night and include a one way airport transfer.
Our first breakfast we awoke quite early thanks to the 2 hour time difference. Breakfast runs from 6am-12pm, so no need to worry if you are a late riser or getting up bright and early to visit the temples. The breakfast is half buffet and half a la carte. Every morning we were delivered a glass of sweet and delicious tropical smoothie and a pot of homemade yogurt. We then helped ourselves to fruit, pastries, homemade jams and tea and coffee.
Our hot selections were brought to the table, the western breakfast was a particular favourite of ours with fried eggs, bacon, and toast, we were on holiday after all! However the real star of the show for me was the local cuisine, fried rice, and rice soup (bawbaw) which I fell in love with. The only way I could describe it is that it has similar flavours to pho but is also completely different. I had a bowl every day. The best thing about breakfast is that you could have it in bed for only an extra $2 per person! Most hotels charge you through the roof for this service so it was such a pleasant surprise.
The restaurant is open until 10pm each night and also serves lunch, dinner and plenty of cocktails. On our lazy days we took full advantage of it enjoying many a drink by the side of the pool. As with breakfast the food was again fantastic they had a nice mix of local dishes and western favourites with nothing costing more than $6 and all deliverable to your room for no extra charge. We tended to stick with the local cuisine and couldn’t get enough of their cashew chicken and fried noodles. The Pina Coladas weren’t bad either!
There are two pools in the hotel, so you should have no problems finding a shady sun lounger if you are looking to get out of the sun. There are also several large day beds and a communal seating area in which to enjoy a few drinks with the other guests if you want to socialize. There is also an in-house spa, the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing massage after trekking around the temples of Angkor Wat, and trust me you are going to need one.
The town center is just a short tuk tuk ride away, and drivers are always on stand by or can be booked and take you in for a mere $2. It was nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of the popular nightlife area and being slightly further out made sure our sleep was never interrupted. The hotel also provided us with a tuk tuk driver for the whole day to take us out to the temples for $18. He was very knowledgeable about all the best sots to hit and which order to best avoid the crowds. I don’t think we could have managed without him.
Honestly I could recommend this hotel enough, the staff and the food and the luxurious garden surroundings were fantastic. We have stayed in many luxurious resorts over the years but this one was hard to beat as it had such a personal touch. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again upon my return to Siem Reap, nothing was too much trouble for the staff and we were always greeted with a smile. If you are looking for 5 star service on a 3 star budget then this is the place to stay.
Pavillion D’Orient is located at Road no 60 (rd to Angkor), after Psah Leu market, Siem Reap, Kingdom Cambodia. Room rates start from $70 and include daily breakfast for 2 people, and a one way airport transfer when booked directly with the hotel. For more information please visit their website.
As you may well know I just got back from a trip home, and on that visit I spent a few days in my old stomping ground, London. Not only was I desperate to catch up with old friends, I also had a very important lunch engagement at Cut at 45 Park Lane. Now as much as I enjoy the good life, I’m not on Park Lane as often as I would like, so I was thrilled when the restaurant part of the Dorchester Collection invited me to try Wolfgang Puck’s award winning steakhouse, Cut. I’ve been dying to try one of Wolfy’s steaks for forever, in fact it was on my list of must eats when I visited NYC last year, but alas it was a little out of my price range. (more…)
This trip has certainly seen a lot of stops, and one of our favourites has been the Emerald Isle where my beloved TFB hails from. The land of leprechauns, pots of gold, U2, and drunkards has won my girlish heart thanks to the friendly people and fabulous food and drink. Dublin is a city that I have truly fallen for and I can’t wait for our next trip so we can explore the culinary landscape further. Now this is in no way a definitive list, feel free to comment below to let me know what I missed. But if you are heading to the fair city be sure to try a few of these. (more…)