Celebrate the last month of the decade with these epicurean delights
Those keen to explore the mesmerising world of ramen won’t find a better place than Japan’s Ramen Expo, which happens over four consecutive weekends (including Fridays) throughout December. Held at Expo Commemoration Park (commonly known as Banpakukoen) in Osaka, the Expo will feature up to 40 vendors from Japan’s most popular ramen regions, with each weekend hosting different groups of ramen masters cooking up their specialities at the park. The festival is best explored with a group of friends to sample the different ramen styles from Hokkaido, Osaka, Tokyo, Oita and more.
From the pioneers of refined Malay dining in Kuala Lumpur comes an original venture: SPG by Bijan. A playful interpretation of the colloquial term “Sarong Party Girl”, the tapas bar and grill is located in the attached bungalow next to Bijan restaurant, and is accessible via an adjoining doorway. Expect exceptional food and exotic cocktails, served in an elegant and chic atmosphere with hand-printed tiles, floral batik motifs and mural walls that lend it a nostalgic feel.
The menu features a plethora of Asian-inspired signature cocktails, like the Stinkini, featuring martini, dry vermouth and savoury notes of pickled petai; and the cheeky Yellow Fever, infused with gin, turmeric, honey and tonic water. Snack on Malaysian tapas with a twist, such as the addictive signature treat, the Ah Ran Sini (after the Italian arancini) – deep fried rice balls stuffed with the flavours of nasi lemak – or the Muhibbahger, made with fluffy Chinese bao, Indian cucumber raita sauce, and tender, juicy pieces of ayam percik.
Spanish cuisine comes to Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur in the form of The Tapas Discovery, a menu specially curated by the hotel’s new Executive Chef, Filippo Abisso. More than your regular tapas selection, the menu carries a heavy influence from the chef’s Italian heritage. The discovery begins with a serving of Tuna Tartare paired with homemade avocado guacamole, shallots, capers and crushed pistachios, followed by Beef Carpaccio or Burrata with Beef Bresaola, made with two- to three-month-aged beef. The stars of the menu are a selection of Saganaki Prawns, a Greek dish of seared prawns with feta cheese, tomato and herbs sauce, or Wagyu & Foie Gras Mini Burger. The tapas menu ends with a selection of either Chocolate Pecan Brownie or the traditional Italian fried pastry, chiacchiere. The Tapas menu is available at the hotel’s Altitude restaurant.
Singapore’s dining scene has another star-studded addition with the opening of Alain Ducasse’s restaurant at the 122-year-old Bar & Billiard Room in the iconic Raffles Singapore. A fitting addition to the revered landmark, BBR by Alain Ducasse is a modern Mediterranean restaurant serving cold-cut meats, seafood and pizzas from the kitchen helmed by Chef de Cuisine, Louis Pacquelin, who has worked with Ducasse for many years. Appetisers to go for include classics like Pulpo a la Gallega, tender grilled octopus dressed with paprika and olive oil; Riviera Salad, served with tuna belly and crispy chicken pancake; and Pissaladiere, an onion and anchovy tart. For signature mains, order the Cataplana de Marisco, a filling shrimp and shellfish stew, and Langosta a la Menorquina, where lobster is served in its shell together with tomatoes, bell peppers, fennel and bisque. Meat-lovers aren’t left out, with the Lomo a la Brasa, a grilled striploin steak served with a tantalising green sweet bell pepper sauce being the recommended choice. If you’ve room for dessert, have the Pizzetta al Cioccolato, a delectable dark and milk chocolate pizza, and Tiger Story, a serving of signature vanilla entremets.
A Fan-Tassie Time
Celebrate the year-end with the freshest air, food and music at Taste of Tasmania, Australia’s biggest and longest-running food and wine festival. Held at Princes Wharf, Salamanca Place, the summer party starts from 28 December to 3 January, and features over 70 artisanal food vendors, as well as 65 artists performing across five stages to make sure it’s one big party on the island.
Participating food stalls to watch for include Tasmania Sea Urchin Dumplings; Eliza’s Restaurant, serving her famous signature smoked paprika and coconut crumbed Tassie mushrooms with aioli; Taylor & Smith Distilling Co, an independently owned local micro-distillery serving small batch gin; and palawa kipli, Tasmania’s only Aboriginal street food business, which serves up sustainable dishes using native produce, from wallabies and local indigenous herbs to crickets.