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Mr. Harper's Travel Guide

The immensity of Asia is rivaled only by the vastness of the cultural and natural riches to be found there. Now, it is ever more possible for visitors to explore these treasures in luxury and style. Today, new hotels and resorts offer international standards of ...

The immensity of Asia is rivaled only by the vastness of the cultural and natural riches to be found there. Now, it is ever more possible for visitors to explore these treasures in luxury and style. Today, new hotels and resorts offer international standards of service and amenities in previously remote destinations such as the exotic Indian state of Rajasthan and the picturesque northern hill country of Thailand. Scarcely a month passes without another upscale property opening in Vietnam, a land in the midst of a sustained economic boom. Even tiny Bhutan in the eastern Himalayas, once the definition of inaccessibility, can now be explored in considerable comfort, thanks to a network of Amanresorts lodges across the country. And who would have dreamed a decade ago that nominally communist China would now have city hotels to rival those in Tokyo and Singapore, as well as refined resorts able to compete with the best that Bali has to offer?

bird icon Recommended Luxury Hotels in Asia

All Andrew Harper-recommended hotels offer impeccable accommodations and high levels of personal service. Only the best of the best make our list, so we rate them on a scale from bird icon 90 to 100.
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Best Restaurants in Asia

A charming if slightly run-down “heritage” hotel, the Samode Haveli has an exceptionally pretty dining room with dark wood furniture, crystal chandeliers, marble floors and old oil paintings. Outside, a delightful terrace overlooking the gardens is a serene place for a relaxing lunch after a hectic morning’s sightseeing. The Rajasthani thali (a platter with numerous small dishes) is delicious.

Near Jorawar Singh Gate Gangapole Jaipur http://www.samode.com/samodehaveli/?page_id=13

Young chef Malcolm Lee is on a mission to modernize the Peranakan cooking that is Singapore’s soul food. Also known as Nyonya or Straits Chinese, this cuisine is an intriguing blend of Chinese ingredients with the spices and techniques of the Malaysian and Indonesian kitchens. Though the dining room is rather nondescript, Lee’s cooking is superb, including dishes such as ayam buah keluak, beef short ribs in a pungent black sauce made from the nuts of the Pangium edule tree native to the mangrove swamps of Southeast Asia. Other dishes not to miss include the yellow coconut crab curry flavored with turmeric, galangal and kaffir lime leaf; and the buah keluak ice cream made with Valrhona chocolate on a bed of salted caramel. Closed Sunday.

331 New Bridge Road 01-03 Dorsett Residences Singapore US$60 http://www.candlenut.com.sg/

Always noted for its superb seafood but previously hard to recommend because of its hole-in-the-wall décor, this restaurant has spruced itself up with improved lighting and much better furniture. The seafood is impeccably fresh and draws an impressive cross section of the great and good of Mumbai. Among the dishes worth considering are the crab in butter with pepper and garlic, and a classic chicken tikka masala. Also look for the excellent gassi, spicy fish curries done with coconut, curry leaves, ginger, chili and garlic.

8-B Cawasji Patel Street Mumbai US$30 http://www.maheshlunchhome.com/

If you’ve ever been intrigued by dishes such as bird’s nest soup or abalone, this is the place to try them. But you don’t have to confine yourself to exotica. You’ll also find other marvelous dishes such as barbecued roast suckling pig, crisp-fried chicken, baked stuffed crab and marinated chicken with spring onions and garlic. Certainly, the cuisine outshines the prosaic décor. Because of its renown, the restaurant is always full, and if you are not a regular, the service can be indifferent. 

35-45 Johnston Road Wanchai Hong Kong US$90 http://fooklammoon-grp.com/en

The views of the harbor alone make this place worth a visit, but the food is exceptional, as well. The executive chef, Lau Yiu Fai, has earned two Michelin stars for his renditions of Cantonese cuisine. With more than 27 years in the kitchen, he creates dishes such as lobster with spicy salt and barbecued suckling pig, and wok-fried wagyu beef with black garlic and herbs. 

InterContinental Hong Kong 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon Hong Kong https://hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com/dining/yan_toh_heen.php

Run by the owners of the Seven Terraces hotel, this casual all-day restaurant serves an eclectic menu that runs from ciabatta chicken to Asian dishes such as Malay rice salad with spiced fried chicken. Don’t miss the caramelized banana fritters.

Muntri Mews 77 Muntri Street George Town http://www.muntrimews.com/web/mewscafe01.htm?no_redirect=true

Located in the Colaba district, Indigo is the brainchild of restaurateur/chef Rahul Akerkar, who has worked at several Manhattan restaurants. Reflecting his Mumbai birth and his international experience, the menu is eclectic and lively. Thus, you may find dishes such as a cauliflower and green garlic velouté with curried cauliflower beignets and vanilla foam, and rack of New Zealand lamb with green tea risotto and miso eggplant, all with a wakame emulsion. 

4 Mandlik Road Colaba Mumbai US$50 http://foodindigo.com/

The Tokyo branch of a classic Kyoto restaurant (which is more than 100 years old), this enchanting place brings a taste of the ancient capital to the modern metropolis with stone paths, bamboo groves and glowing lanterns. The cuisine comes from the classic tradition of kaiseki, small courses presented on exquisite serving pieces. The menu is wholly dependent on the availability of ingredients. To dine here is a complete gastronomic and aesthetic experience. 

6-13-8 Akasaka Minato-ku Tokyo US$125-US$165 http://kikunoi.jp

This spectacular restaurant has extraordinary views of Victoria Harbour. The cuisine is that of north China adapted for modern ingredients and techniques. Start with the delicious pork belly thinly sliced with cucumber in a chili-garlic sauce. Also consider the crispy deboned lamb chops, a house specialty; braised beef rib wrapped in lotus leaves; and soft-shell crabs in a red chili sauce. Window seats are at a premium, so book through your hotel concierge. 

One Peking Road, 28th Floor Kowloon Hong Kong US$120 http://hutong.com.hk/

This simple but spotless little restaurant serves the best Lao food in town, and it is an ideal place to discover an Asian cuisine that remains little known. try the sampler platter to start and then the lemongrass stuffed with ground pork and herbs. For those who develop a taste for Lao food, which is often deliciously tangy and a little smoky, the café offers cooking classes.

Bat Vat Sene Kingkitsarath Road Luang Prabang http://www.tamarindlaos.com/

A prime location in Bangkok means being on the Chao Phraya River, and this lovely restaurant has one of the choicest riverfront spots of all — almost directly across from the Grand Palace. Once home to a Thai woman of consequence, the house has been transformed by her daughter into an inviting place with a large river terrace. The menu features classic Thai dishes, and I particularly recommend the selection of house hors d’oeuvres — deep- fried shrimp with rice noodles, a zesty chicken salad in a crisp pastry dish, and vegetarian spring rolls with a dash of mint and a chili sauce. Supatra’s version of the classic shrimp soup with lemongrass is perfect. And the green curry with chicken has an ideal balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet that are the hallmarks of the Thai kitchen.

266 Soi Wat Rakhang Arunamarin Road Bangkok US$55 http://www.supatrariverhouse.net/

This stylish café is a good place for a fast, casual meal. Excellent breakfasts, afternoon high tea, and dishes such as homemade lamb sausage with couscous and warm feta-cheese dressing, and steamed apple-and-macadamia-nut pudding.

153-155 Beach Street George Town http://chinahouse.com.my/

In a city that abounds with great sushi restaurants, this is arguably the best. (There are several branches of Kyubey in Tokyo, but this, the original, is the place to go.) Diners sit at a magnificent counter hewn from a single piece of hinoki (Japanese cypress) and order the world’s most pristine seafood: tuna belly, mackerel, prawns, yellowtail, eel and sea urchin. Don’t miss the house specialty, chirashi, which is vinegar-seasoned rice topped with two layers of fish. Closed Sunday.

8-7-6 Ginza Chuo-ku Tokyo US$125-US$250. http://www.kyubey.jp/

Run by two longtime French expats, this stylish café-restaurant with a charming colonial atmosphere, friendly service and excellent food is just as good for an iced coffee and a slice of mango-pineapple- apple tart after an afternoon of sightseeing as it is for lunch or dinner. The menu features both French and Lao dishes, and among the standouts are the wild-boar terrine, the lamb shank braised with cardamom, and the superb Laotian salads — don’t miss the kranab pa, fish stuffed with ground pork and local herbs and grilled in a banana leaf.

Ban Vat Nong Luang Prabang Dinner for two, US$120. http://www.elephant-restau.com/FR/Elephant-Intro.html

Although the interior of this restaurant in the Western District is somewhat spare, the staff are welcoming and the dim sum are terrific. Try the steamed fresh shrimp dumplings, deep-fried pork dumplings with five-spice herbs, and chicken poached in dark soy sauce. 

Shop A 84-90 Bonham Strand Hong Kong US$35 http://www.timskitchen.com.hk/

Occupying a charming old French villa, this Vietnamese restaurant has a friendly, English-speaking staff and a very good wine list. Start with a Vietnamese-style salad or two — maybe hearts of palm with pork and shrimp, or water lily and lotus sprouts with chicken — then try dishes such as chicken sautéed with lemongrass and shrimp in a passion fruit sauce.

3/5 Hoang Sa Ward Dakao Ho Chi Minh http://may-cloud.com

Chinatown is one of Singapore’s most atmospheric neighborhoods and is also the location of the city’s best brasserie, Luke’s, a perfect choice for an easygoing meal of comfort food in a romantic dining room with white tile walls and brass lamps. Start with oysters that Bostonian owner/chef Travis Masiero imports from New England or with the spicy tuna tartare, then tuck into a steak au poivre with rosemary-seasoned french fries. Nice wine list, stylish crowd and very good service. 

20 Gemmill Lane Singapore US$130 http://www.lukes.com.sg/

This Bangkok favorite occupies a converted house that offers a traditional Thai atmosphere. The menu covers a wide range of dishes, and the curries, especially those with seafood, are excellent. Try the stir-fried tiger prawns with cashews, ginkgo nuts and roasted chili. The level of spice intensity can be adjusted to suit your palate. Unlike many upscale Thai restaurants in the city, the Thais themselves patronize this one, so it is always full, and reservations are essential. 

69 South Sathorn Road Bangkok US$60 http://www.baan-khanitha.com/

Despite its unpromising name, the chefs at this hotel restaurant in Mui Ne employ locally sourced ingredients to make it a fine address for Vietnamese cuisine. Tables on a shaded terrace overlook the beach and the South China Sea.

Mia Resort 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street Mui Ne http://www.miamuine.com

Set in a lovely old building, this restaurant features a pleasing mix of classic and contemporary Thai food (some might know the restaurant from its branch in London). On the far-ranging menu, you can choose from dishes such as lamb with massaman curry paste in coconut milk, tamarind juice, palm sugar, sweet purple potatoes, roasted peanuts and cashew nuts; grilled spare ribs with organic honey and Thai herbs from the Royal Project Farm; and stir-fried tiger prawns with Blue Elephant black pepper sauce and olive oil garnished with chopped coriander leaves. 

233 South Sathorn Road Bangkok US$65 http://www.blueelephant.com/bangkok/

The best-known Taj hotel in Jaipur is, of course, the Rambagh Palace, but the group also has a second property, the Jai Mahal Palace. There, the Indian restaurant, Cinnamon, serves delicious dishes from the Punjab, as well as classic Mughal cuisine.

Jacob Road Civil Lines Jaipur http://www.tajhotels.com/food-and-wine/jai-mahal-palace-jaipur/cinnamon/default.html

One of the most charming and consistently highly rated restaurants in Singapore celebrated its 20th birthday last year with a new chef, Frenchman Sebastien Lepinoy, who spent 17 years in Joël Robuchon’s kitchens. Lepinoy’s forte is applying classic French techniques to Asian ingredients with dazzling results such as his seared scallops with teriyaki sauce, foie gras and freshwater eel; and roasted Challans duck with mushrooms and Tellicherry pepper sauce. 

1 Scotts Road 01-16 Shaw Centre Singapore US$195-US$325 http://www.lesamis.com.sg/

This is the first restaurant by hometown chef Vineet Bhatia, who enjoyed great success in London with two Michelin-starred restaurants. Housed in The Oberoi hotel, the room is done to recall an emperor’s palace, with gold ceilings and backlit screens, plus the modern addition of a large window looking into the kitchen. Bhatia describes the cuisine as “evolved Indian food,” so you may see starters like Achari prawns, chili-garlic scallops and a potato-pea mash, and main courses such as lamb marinated overnight in Indian spices; and grilled ginger-chili lobster with curry leaf broccoli and spiced cocoa powder. 

The Oberoi Nariman Point Mumbai US$120 http://www.oberoihotels.com/hotels-in-mumbai/restaurants.aspx

This fine restaurant in the Kowloon Shangri-La hotel provides an elegant setting for superb food. Order the menu of the chef’s signature dishes, which comes with optional wine pairings. Among the most memorable offerings: barbecued suckling pig and crispy lobster with oatmeal; braised beef short ribs with pear and whiskey; and black cod with fried rice and sakura shrimp. 

Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel 64 Mody Road, Kowloon Hong Kong US$205 http://www.shangri-la.com/hongkong/kowloonshangrila/dining/restaurants/shang-palace/

This is the elegant sister restaurant of Sir David Tang’s China Club. Here, you will enjoy cooking that updates Chinese classics. Look for dishes such as honey-glazed barbecue pork; wok-fried prawns with mashed ginger, chili and crispy garlic; and steamed chicken with Yunnan ham and black mushrooms.

9 Queen's Road, Central Shop 222, The Galleria US$70 http://www.islandtang.com/

In a city that knows and loves Chinese food better than any outside of China, this long-running place is a local favorite, the regulars flocking for seafood dishes such as steamed turbot, and frogs’ legs cooked with deeply reduced chicken stock. Only open for dinner, it’s a noisy, fun spot that’s a great place for an excellent off-the-cuff meal — which is why it’s a favorite of so many of Singapore’s top chefs. 

55 Tiong Bahru Road 01-59 Singapore US$40

This busy restaurant is widely considered to have the best Chinese kitchen in George Town. Try dishes such as stir-fried shio bak (roasted pork belly), chicken with turmeric and chiles, and braised duck with oysters. Cash only.

18 Lebuh Carnarvon George Town https://www.facebook.com/TekSenRestaurant/

If there is such a thing as pedigreed tofu, this is where to find it. The restaurant opened in 1691, since when it has supplied tofu to the Imperial Family. Try dishes such as hiryozu, deep-fried tofu mixed with roasted sesame seeds and chopped vegetables; or kake-joyu-dofu, tofu served in a soy broth with chicken and shiitake mushrooms. There is a limited number of non-tofu dishes such as sashimi, and yakitori skewers of chicken. The setting is lovely, with a tranquil garden and small waterfall. Closed Monday.

2-15-10 Negishi Taito-ku Tokyo US$60

Established in 1933, this authentic dim sum restaurant has wooden booths, ceiling fans and stained-glass windows. Waiters in white coats pass by with laden trolleys, or you can select from the menu in English. The service can be brusque, but the dim sum are very good. 

24-26 Stanley Street, Central Hong Kong US$35

Here, the menu presents the cuisine of Beijing and northern China. Look for dishes such as wheat noodles in a black bean sauce, and of course, Peking duck. If you are in the mood for poultry other than duck, consider the beggar’s chicken, which is one of my favorite Chinese dishes, or the poached chicken garnished with spicy peanuts. Also very good are the dumplings, which come stuffed with prawns, pork or mushrooms. 

Grand Hyatt Beijing 1 East Changan Avenue Beijing US$100 http://beijing.grand.hyatt.com/en/hotel/dining/MadeinChina.html

This contemporary restaurant with a streamlined modern décor and traditional woodwork design is set on the 31st floor of a new commercial complex in the Oshiage district. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the space with natural light and offer dramatic views of the world’s largest communications tower, the Tokyo Skytree. Creative Italian multicourse menus created by chef Masayuki Okuda employ fresh organic ingredients primarily from nearby farms. Expect starters such as crisp white asparagus with a squid, garlic and tomato ratatouille; sweet tomatoes with dollops of house-made ricotta cheese over a bed of angel hair pasta; and foie gras with raw onions drizzled with olive oil over a pea purée. Main courses run to dishes such as Hokkaido shrimp with sea bream roe, and roasted lamb paired with a layered potato cake.

31st Floor, Tokyo Solamachi 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku Tokyo http://www.kurkku.jp/lasoraseed/

With its memorable views of the Forbidden City, this restaurant draws an enthusiastic crowd for its straightforward yet delicious food. Overseeing all is Australian restaurateur Michelle Garnaut, whose portfolio also includes M on the Bund in Shanghai. With local ingredients incorporated into the Western preparations, look for dishes such as a fragrant fish broth finished with prawns, green asparagus and lemon verbena; crab soufflé baked in filo pastry on a rich lobster sauce; or crispy suckling pig served with boulangère potatoes, stuffed cabbage rolls and a rich pork sauce. 

3/F, 2 Qianmen Pedestrian Street Beijing US$90 http://www.m-restaurantgroup.com/capitalm/

One of the most atmospheric restaurants in the city, Spice Market is a marvelous stage set that recreates a traditional Thai spice shop, with burlap sacks, glass jars, ceramic pots and aged wooden shelves. The menu features dishes from all over the country. Some of the standouts are deep-fried spring rolls with crab meat, roasted duck in a red curry with coconut milk, and steamed sea bass with chili and lime. Each evening, there are demonstrations in the art of fruit carving.

155 Rajadamri Road Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok US$75 http://www.fourseasons.com/bangkok/dining/restaurants/spice_market/

Decorated in a palette of soft colors punctuated by a series of dramatic paintings and specially commissioned ceramic sculptures, this justly celebrated restaurant is noted for its Cantonese dishes and delicious dim sum. Highlights from the menu include sautéed minced pork with pork skin and black beans, baked fresh prawns in a sweetened preserved plum sauce, and spotted garoupa with Yunnan ham in a chicken and pumpkin sauce. While rooted solidly in tradition, this refined cooking offers a whole new level of invention.

281 Gloucester Road, Central The Excelsior Hotel, Causeway Bay Hong Kong US$70 http://www.mandarinoriental.com/excelsior/dining/yee_tung_heen/

This superb restaurant occupies the first floor and expansive terrace of a beautiful pavilion with elements of Thai and Western design. Likewise, chef Ian Kittichai melds Thai techniques and ingredients with Western concepts. Because much of the cooking is market driven, the menu changes regularly. But you will often find the chef’s specialties such as massaman curry with lamb shank, and a delicious jasmine flower flan. 

4 Soi Sri Aksorn Chua Ploeng Road Bangkok US$75 http://www.issaya.com/issaya-index.php

Located close to the Forbidden City, this restaurant occupies a restored gray-brick courtyard house that blends harmoniously with the surrounding neighborhood. Its interior, however, is an intriguing amalgam of modernist white walls, glass accents and dramatic contemporary Chinese paintings. The innovative menu combines Asian and Western elements. This makes for an eclectic mix that includes dishes such as juniper-scented duck breast in a fig glaze; toasted almond and roasted garlic soup with steamed crab and white grapes; char-grilled wagyu flatiron steak with baby vegetables and a caper-anchovy jam; apricot-stuffed saddle of lamb with green peas, pearl barley and a carrot-Riesling reduction; and for dessert, a sensual lavender crème caramel with sesame meusli. The impressive wine list — a real standout in the city — has more than 600 bottles.

95 Donghuamen Avenue Beijing US$80 http://www.courtyardbeijing.com/courtyard.html

Housed in a former temple dating back more than 600 years (and which at various points has been a print shop and a TV factory), TRB is one of the most in-demand restaurants in the capital. The food is European, with dishes such as seared pigeon with foie gras pistachio croutons, or all-day braised short rib with caramelized carrots. The Franco-centric wine list is strong on Bordeaux and Burgundies. 

23 Shatan Beijie Beijing US$85 http://www.trb-cn.com/restaurant/

Working in collaboration with star chef Chiang (see below), Australian pit master Dave Pynt has turned Singapore into a serious barbecue town with the superb meat, fowl and seafood he cooks on his multiple grills and massive, hand-built woodburning oven. Closed Sunday and Monday.

20 Teck Lim Road Singapore US$40. http://www.burntends.com.sg/home/

Chef David Thompson is the author of the encyclopedic “Thai Food” and “Thai Street Food.” He also opened the first Thai restaurant to earn a Michelin star, nahm at The Halkin hotel in London. Here in Bangkok, he builds on that success with dishes such as coconut and chicken soup with deep-fried garlic, green mango and chili; minced prawn and cucumber salad; and a sublime curry of coconut and turmeric with blue swimmer crab and calamansi lime. 

Metropolitan by COMO 27 South Sathorn Road Bangkok US$70 http://www.comohotels.com/metropolitanbangkok/dining/nahm

It is hard to believe that this thriving restaurant began as a little shop selling roast goose. Goose is still the house specialty, but signature dishes now include shredded pork in a chili sauce, and baked crab in a black bean sauce. This place is completely authentic. 

32-40 Wellington Street, Central Hong Kong US$70 http://www.yungkee.com.hk/

Jean-Georges Vongerichten is consistently successful with Asian-inspired dishes: I think of his lamented Thai-inspired Vong and ever-popular Spice Market, both in New York. Here he is ensconced in Three on the Bund, a 1916 Beaux Arts building redesigned by Michael Graves in 2004, which reinvigorated the Bund with the Shanghai Gallery of Art, an Evian Spa and seven floors of shops. At Jean-Georges, the intimate, clubby atmosphere and attentive staff approach perfection, especially when paired with the famous chef’s impeccable Asian-fusion offerings: ribbons of tuna, avocado, spicy radish and ginger marinade; steamed tiger prawns, carrot juice, melon and wasabi; and red snapper crusted with nuts and seeds, all in a sweet-and-sour jus. 

4F, 3 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Road Shanghai US$110 http://www.jean-georges.com/restaurants/china/shanghai/jean-georges/

As China’s economy continues to surge, a new breed of savvy restaurateurs has taken advantage of the hunger for stylish places on the part of the newly wealthy. This is the Beijing offshoot of a successful Shanghai restaurant. The setting centers on a traditional courtyard with a lotus pond in the city’s financial district. Look for dishes such as braised dried seafood in a golden broth, braised Japanese abalone in oyster sauce, and braised fish maw with winter melon in an abalone sauce.

Xi Cheng District, Financial Street No. 23A Beijing US$95

Much of the best food in Vietnam is not to be found in the formal surroundings asso- ciated with gastronomy in the West. If you prefer such familiar comforts, this address is not for you. Adventurous diners, however, will be rewarded at this simple restaurant set on an open-air roadside terrace. Run by a charming Vietnamese woman who speaks good English, it specializes in seafood, including delicious sautéed crab and squid; the wild pork casserole is excellent, too. Ask the front desk at the Anantara Mui Ne to make a reservation.

Lo Z1, Z2, Z3 Khu Tttm Bac, Phan Thiet

Taiwanese-born André Chiang spent years working in France before deciding to open his eponymous restaurant in a chic shophouse on the edge of Chinatown. It has since become the table that many consider to be the best in Singapore. Chiang has a mastery of European and Asian kitchens and a remarkable palate, which explains the provenance of the intriguing dishes that comprise his tasting menus. Offerings evolve, but run to dishes such as warm foie gras jelly with black truffle coulis, and lightly seared swordfish with grilled buckwheat, Brussels sprouts, pickled onions, apple granita and tomato consommé jelly. Reserve weeks ahead to experience this superb high-wire gastronomy. Closed Monday.

41 Bukit Pasoh Road Singapore US$250 http://restaurantandre.com/

Numerous Tokyo chefs have taken on the challenge of molecular cooking — a food science that tries to make practical use of the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients — not always with happy results. Here is one who has succeeded. Seiji Yamamoto trained in classical Japanese cuisine, but then branched out into more modern techniques. The result is exquisite food offered in the traditional kaiseki style. Closed Sunday.

7-17-24 Roppongi Minato-ku Tokyo US$225. http://www.nihonryori-ryugin.com/en/

The design of this atmospheric restaurant is meant to summon the spirit of the northwestern frontier. The dramatic two-story interior has an impressive beamed ceiling and features large urns and old oil lanterns. The cooking emphasizes kebabs and tandoori dishes. Try the chicken green masala, whole chicken breast coated with mild coconut and coriander chutney, basted with whipped egg whites and seared until crisp; or the tandoori raan, tender leg of baby lamb marinated with Khyber spices and cooked in a clay oven. 

145 Mahatma Gandhi Road Fort Mumbai US$35 http://www.khyberrestaurant.com/

Awarded two Michelin stars only five months after its opening in 2012, this gourmet kaiseki restaurant has only eight counter seats and one four-person table. Owner/ chef Hidetsugu Okamoto trained at two-star Wakuden in Kyoto and three-star Yukimura in Tokyo and offers unconventional dishes that combine unexpected ingredients, textures and flavors. Ever-changing menus may include abalone accompanied by grilled vegetables and fish roe sauce; fresh mackerel with sea bream roe, purple cabbage mousse and fragrant maitake mushroom; and thin turnip noodles in a light cod milt soup. Dessert could be a refreshing grapefruit and coconut sorbet with red beans, or a ginger warabi-mochi (a jelly-like confection) wrapped in bamboo leaf. 

5F Daini Ginza Column Building 8-3-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku Tokyo US$180.

I am extremely fond of Indian food, and, over the years, have come to enjoy highly spiced dishes. But there comes a point in every trip when a European menu seems an appealing prospect. Bar Palladio in the Hotel Narain Niwas Palace is the creation of Barbara Miolini, an Italian/Swiss expatriate. The exquisite peacock-blue tented interior by Dutch designer Marie-Anne Oudejans provides a wonderfully exotic setting for classic Italian dishes such as fettuccine al funghi, penne all’arrabbiata, pumpkin ravioli and, of course, tiramisu. The eight garden pavilions should be reserved in advance.

Kanota Bagh Narain Singh Road Jaipur http://www.bar-palladio.com/

Located on fashionable Dong Khoi Street, this offbeat shop in an old factory contains a lunchroom that is perfect for light meals, with delicious salads, quiches, tarts and fruit smoothies. As rents rise, the handicraft emporiums that once made central Saigon a great place to shop are being replaced by international brand names. L’Usine is a happy exception to this march of the luxury labels, selling everything from water hyacinth- scented candles to Vietnamese housewares. A fine place to browse for gifts, it is just steps away from both the Park Hyatt Saigon and the Caravelle Hotel.

151 Dong Khoi Street Ho Chi Minh http://lusinespace.com

This stylish restaurant sits atop the historic 1921 Nissin Shipping Building, which gives it superb views of the Huangpu River and the Pudong business district. In this sister restaurant to the well-regarded Capital M in Beijing, you will find standouts such as smoked duck breast over peppery cress with pink pomelo and roasted hazelnuts; French chicken filled with crayfish mousse finished with more crayfish, fresh tarragon cream, braised leeks and baby carrots; and slowly baked salt-encased leg of lamb with potato salad, green beans, broccolini and salsa verde.

7/F, 5 The Bund Shanghai US$80 http://www.m-restaurantgroup.com/mbund/

If you’re ready for a break from Chinese fare, try this place, with its European menu. The chef here, Australian Phillip Taylor, hails from Sydney’s Altitude Restaurant. Look for dishes such as the risotto with creamed mushroom duxelles, abalone mushrooms and shaved Parmesan; halibut in orange butter with squid ink, creamed leeks, spinach and brandade; and an Australian Black Angus tenderloin with beets and a coffee sauce. There is an impressive number of wines by the glass.

1 Jianguomenwai Avenue China World Hotel, Second Floor Beijing US$80 http://www.shangri-la.com/beijing/chinaworld/dining/restaurants/aria/

The elegant restaurant at the Seven Terraces hotel specializes in Peranakan cooking, including dishes such as minced chicken with herbs wrapped in lettuce, grilled snapper, and pandan-leaf crème brûlée. Excellent wine list and very good service. Dinner only. Reservations essential.

Stewart Lane George Town http://www.seventerraces.com/web/dining01.htm

When you finally succumb to the urge for Peking duck, try here. The restaurant may not have the longest pedigree or the most colorful location, but the duck is peerless. Supposedly, the chefs have a secret cooking method that reduces the bird’s fattiness. Whether they do or not, the product is incomparably delicious. Reservations are essential. 

3 Tuanjiehu Beikou Beijing US$45 http://www.dadongdadong.com/

At first glance, the appearance of this popular restaurant might surprise you — it is set in a Spanish-style mansion that dates to the 1930s. While the décor of dark wood and colorful tiles is not usually associated with fine Chinese cooking, that is what the kitchen delivers. You’ll find appetizers such as tea-smoked eggs and sweet lotus roots. Look also for deep-fried shrimp in wasabi sauce, luscious braised Shanghai pork belly, and pork dumplings filled with broth. 

375 Zhenning Lu Shanghai US$75

Located in what was once the French Concession, this lively restaurant occupies a striking two-story space that retains some of the art deco touches that characterize the landmark Jin Jiang Hotel, of which it is a part. The menu abounds with creative takes on Shanghai cooking, as well as classic Chinese dishes. Look for the deconstructed version of Peking duck with foie gras. The shrimp dishes are notably good and the dumplings are standouts. 

59 Mao Ming South Road Shanghai US$90 http://www.jinlu-china.com/index1.html

Tempura requires real finesse to be successful. It is deceptively simple — batter-dipped pieces of meat, fish and vegetable are deep-fried — but the batter must be made so that it branches out and creates a filigree of lacy strands. Tenmatsu has proved over many decades that it has mastered the formula to perfection. 

1-8-2 Muromachi Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku Tokyo Set menus, US$45-US$80 http://www.tenmatsu.com/

This elegant colonial house was built on a pepper plantation that was once owned by Captain Francis Light, the founder of George Town. It’s a stylish and relaxing place for dinner, with a mostly Western menu that runs to dish such as truffled chicken terrine, and smoked salmon fillet with horseradish and tomato chutney.

250 Jalan Air Itam George Town http://suffolkhouse.com.my/

Having been in business for more than 65 years, Niros is a Jaipur institution, popular with locals and visitors alike. The ambience is casual and the décor is scarcely the last word in chic, but the North Indian and tandoori cuisine is consistently excellent. For those who are tiring of chicken jhal frezi and bhuna gosht, there is an extensive Chinese menu.

Mirza Ismail Road Jaipur http://www.nirosindia.com/

Inspired by working with David Thompson at nahm in London (see below), Duangporn Songvisava and Dylan Jones opened this restaurant dedicated to preserving the traditions of Thai cooking. There are three set menus — with the somewhat annoying proviso that you can’t switch courses — featuring dishes such as stir-fried pork red curry with kaffir lime leaves and beans, and coconut-based soup of sustainable seafood with a hint of turmeric. Closed Monday.

24 Soi Sukhumvit 53 Bangkok US$55 - US$75 http://www.bolan.co.th/2014/

A newcomer, The Table has quickly established itself as a Mumbai favorite. With a stylish duplex interior, the restaurant embodies a global aesthetic also reflected in the menu. The chef is Alex Sanchez, who has long experience in the San Francisco and the greater Bay Area at highly regarded places such as La Folie and The French Laundry. Look for dishes such as red-wine risotto with king oyster mushrooms, shrimp dumplings in a spicy ginger broth with scallion oil, and butter-poached suckling goat with a ragout of five lentils, butternut squash purée and pomegranate jus. Indian? No. Delicious? Yes. 

Kalapesi Trust Building Apollo Bunder Marg, Colaba Mumbai US$35 http://www.thetable.in/
SIMILAR REGIONS TO Worldwide //  Asia

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