For a less mainstream dining experience – and one outside a hotel – try IndoChine Waterfront at the Asian Civilisations Museum. It’s located in the most romantic setting in town, with lovely views of the river; has an amazing décor with oriental antiques and modern furniture; and its Vietnamese-Laotian-Cambodian-French fusion cuisine is just gorgeous. Things to try: seafood galangal soup, black pepper beef, grilled scallops and basil chicken. The service can be slipshod but the food’s good enough to forgive them. After dinner, stop by the adjacent Bar Opiume; a super-stylish spot that's popular for cocktails and celebrity sightings.
Asian Civilisations Museum, The Historic District, 1 Empress Place
Two great Chinese restaurants are Hua Ting – in the Orchard Hotel – and Iggy’s – inside the Regent Hotel. Both have won a host of international awards. The former specialises in rare Cantonese dishes - bird's nest, preserved egg, fish maw and other dried seafood may sound hideous but they’re actually delicious. The latter has a German chef and his mastery of the art of Chinese cooking is impressive – his sea scallop topped with foie gras purée and yuzu juice is divine.
Hua Ting, 442 Orchard Road, Singapore
Iggy's, 1 Cuscaden Road 249715, Singapore
An icon for Singapore is the ultra-hygienic eating stalls. Nowhere else in the world do they have such hawker food stalls with freshly cooked foods of all kinds - for example, chilli crabs, shark's fin soup, mee goreng, fish head curry and many more. You can even get a fantastically cooked steak to your liking, or oysters with eggs all cooked in front of you within minutes. All ingredients are fresh and very hygienic - carefully and strictly monitored by the Singapore government.
The best place for lunch or dinner with an exotic feel is Newton Place Hawker Centre, where it's easy to park and even easier to get a cab. It is only a stone's throw from Orchard Road (Singapore's famous shopping street). If you are feeling a bit peckish at 1am Newton is the place to go for some Taiwan porridge which is served from 9pm till 3am at their Coffee Lounge. The Goodwood Park hotel is one of the oldest on the islandand is considered a national monument to the British colonisation of Singapore dating back to 1900. It is splendid for business and families alike. If you would like something to do, go to East Coast beach where you will see a number of seafood restaurants on the beach - about eight of them side by side to choose from.
If you are feeling more adventurous go on a boat ride to the Indonesian Island of Batan for the day from the Pier - right in the financial district. You can obtain the timetable of departure times from the tourist board - it is pretty reasonable. Serangoon (Singapore's little India), where you can find lots of Indian cafes and restaurants, has excellent Indian food where you can also find the famous 'teh tarik' (literal meaning is 'tea pulled'). It is sweet milky tea that is cooled down by pouring tea from one glass to another from about two or three feet apart depending on the skills of each waiter.
Whilst at Serangoon go to MUSTAFA's shopping centre. It is the Indian version of Debenhams but you will find almost everything exotic there and pretty reasonably priced. Whilst there also visit Tekka Market. It is the first wet market in Singapore where you will find more hawkers' stalls, shopping and local restaurants. It really is fascinating.
It is very very safe as crime is low and the people are very sophisticated and highly educated. You can find almost anything in Singapore. It is a multicultural country and more and more westerners are opting to live and work there, and they are well catered for.
If you fancy a bit of waterskiing go to Ponggol (along the coast) and hire out a boat - they will offer an instructor/driver with the hire of the boat with the gear (at a fee of course). You certainly do not have to worry about the weather. Fancy some original Malay satay - then the Esplanade is the place to go to. Depending on the time of the year you may even be lucky enough to get some Malay entertainment along the way. Want to hit the nightclubs but don't know which ones? There are about 20 nightclubs from samba to R&B, disco, blues, jazz, Chinese etc. all side by side at the World Trade Centre (or rather right next to it). They are open seven nights a week and some close at 5am. If you fancy a blues night out then try The Crazy Elephant at Clarke Quay, where you can sample a lychee martini. How exotic is that! I could go on - just do a bit of research or ask around at your hotel concierge and they will tell you. I am sure you will be spoilt...
Please be aware that no chewing of gum is allowed in Singapore and travellers are not allowed to bring in more than a cigarette packet of 20s into Singapore or there is a hefty fine.
If you fly on Singapore Airlines to Asia or Sydney, then you will probably be eligible for a free Singapore stopover. You can also make use of a number of benefits offered by Singapore Airlines, such as discounted accommodation, special offers on shopping and food as well as a free shuttle bus up and down Singapore's famous Orchard road.
If you are feeling pretty brave or have lost all sense of smell, then why not try durian fruit on your trip to Asia. This soft yellow fruit is considered quite tasty (well why else would anyone eat it) but it is most famous for its strong and pungent smell. Note, public transport systems will not allow you to board with this fruit! If you can get over the smell, then you discover a soft creamy texture with a unique taste (just try holding your breath whilst swallowing). Buy pre-prepared durian from market stalls and eat with caution!
More details online en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durian
Singapore's Mandarin Oriental is a destination in itself. Located on the waterfront, this premium property benefits from high quality rooms, delicate decor and an excellent breakfast buffet. Singapore's Mandarin Oriental differs from other hotels in this luxury chain in that it is a lot cheaper than others in Hong Kong or Japan. My recommendation would be to go for the breakfast buffet. A huge selection of Western and Asian cuisines will delight all taste buds. Many visitors come to the hotel just for the breakfast itself. Try out some local favourites including the fresh dim sum, congee (rice porridge) and freshly baked pastries.
Singaporeans can be brusque but they will warm to you if you take an interest in their fantastic food. We seemed to be eating round the clock when we were there. Kopi Tiams (coffee shops) open until the wee hours and it's not uncommon to go out for a meal after a midnight film in Singapore.
Singaporeans often greet each other by asking "Have you eaten?" and you will endear yourself to the locals by enquiring if they have had their "makan" (food) as well. We visited a great restaurant called The Rice Table, where Indonesian Dutch rijsttafel was served. There'll be no awkward silences because everyone is too busy stuffing their faces with the never-ending stream of satay, otak, and curries that arrive. The moment one dish is finished, just ask for another at no extra charge. And the price is incredibly reasonable.
The Rice Table. 360 Orchard Rd., #02-09/10 International Building Tel: 65/6835-3783Lunch set S$15 (US$9.80/£5.05); dinner set S$23 (US$15/£7.65)
I've pulled together some of my top tips for Shanghai - I've categorised each tip into time periods so that you can pick and choose depending on how much free time you've got.
0-2 hours: Avoid! Bund Tourist Tunnel - 10 minutes
Crossing the Bund can be done by boat, car or underground, but don't waste your time on the rather retro (read tacky) Bund Tourist Tunnel. The name is apt as only tourists would be crazy enough to spend their money on a underground fair ride that is more likely to cause an epileptic shock than any degree of amusement. It is however, the quickest way to cross the river if you are on the banks on the Bund (and it's rush hour so the tunnel is blocked). Give a try... if you really must.
Xian dan di - 1-2 hours
Ironically housed in the former offices of the Communist party, this beautiful refurbished part of town could be accused of being rather faux in terms of its connection with real China life... but it's there and it exists and it is part of Shanghai ex-pat life. The clean streets, the trendy restaurants and the outrageous prices probably tell you that you are in a place for tourists and expats, however, it's worth a look around and for a pitstop.
Go to Starbucks - 30 mins to 1 hour
I kid you not, some would accuse me of sacrilege but there is a reason... please bear with me. A lot of the Starbucks in the city benefit from sitting in the most prestigious and ideally located positions in the city for great panoramic views. My personal recommendation would be the Starbucks situated on the East bank of the river overlooking the Bund just opposite the Shangri-La hotel. Grab yourself a Chinese tea and watch the sunset over the river. The glowing fuzz of the city ahead will warm you before you retreat to your hotel.
Enjoy drinks over the Bund - 1-2 hours
A visit to Shanghai will not be complete without a visit to the historic 'Bund' district, the colonial waterside developed on the west bank of the Huangpu River. Many of the bars/restaurants (I recommend 'M on the Bund' - www.m-restaurantgroup.com/) offer expansive views over the Bund and the tall skyscrapers in the Pudong district. The food's not bad either! English and Chinese menus are available. Other nearby highlights include the old HSBC building (no longer housing HSBC) and Huangpu Park.
Stroll along Nanjing Road (to buy the other half a gift) -
Home to Shanghai's main shopping street so be prepared to be greeted by tens of thousands of people. The shops range from the local to international with department stores dotted along the way. Be sure to stop by one of the many snack stores to take on board some of the delicious buns or dumplings that make China famous. Be sure you check the custom regulations for transporting goods though, be particularly careful with any foodstuffs.
Enjoy a river cruise along Huangpu River - 1-3 hours
One observation you will undoubtedly make whilst travelling in Shanghai is that the river is bustling with life. Container ships, tankers, passenger boats all zip up and down the river at a hectic speed. Board a river cruise boat from the ferry terminal at the south of the Bund district. Here you will be able to enjoy a one, two or even three hour river cruise. Take care though... Shanghai like many other Chinese cities is prone to a spot of smog. Try and pick a clear day. Try Huangpu River Cruise (239 Second Eastern Zhong Shan Road, Shanghai - tel +86 21 6374 4461). Nearest station - Wai Tan
Sleep in the clouds - 8 hours
Nope, I'm not talking about your business class flat bed on the way back home, I'm talking about the ever impressive Grand Hyatt Shanghai. Based in Pudong it's close to the financial centre and closer to the airport. Ask for a room overlooking the Pearl TV tower or over the park.
Any visit to Shanghai would not be complete without tasting the famous Shanghai dumpling (Xiaolongbao). These delicious dumplings are also know as soup dumplings, as the dumplings are filled with (often piping hot) soup. There are different versions to the dumpling but most are filled with pork and soup. It is typically served with vinegar, ginger and soy sauce.The most famous dumpling shop is in Nanxiang Mantou Dian in Shanghai where up to 30 minute queues can snake through this pretty historic site.
Nanxiang Mantou Dian, Shanghai
Ask your hotel to write down the address in Chinese. All hotels (plus locals) will know what you are talking about!
The understated Wallsé in the West Village is a great location - first-class food (with a Michelin star to boot) and an atmosphere that's convivial without being uncivilised. And once that's over, drinks a block away at the Spotted Pig are always nice.
344 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014 www.wallserestaurant.com
Great Asian restaurant steeped in New York cool, where you have a good chance of clapping your eyes on a genuine A-lister. Food, music and service all first class at quite reasonable prices. Amazing Kobe beef [again, reasonable prices], which is brought to your table with a steaming bowl of Miso soup, which you place the beef in to cook. A very imaginative cocktail menu, which includes the classy looking and tasty Nirvana. An all round great experience!
Madison Ave and 58th St. Manhattan
This restaurant is amazing. It is a mixture of American and Thai food. The best choice of vegetarian and vegan meals in a non-veggie restaurant I've ever seen. Everyone I have taken there has agreed. It is alway the first place I head for in New York.
RICE - Elizabeth Street between Bleeker and Houston and another one on the corner of Lexington and 27th or 28th Street.
Manhattan is blessed with all manner of vertiginous drinking establishments. 230 on Fifth however, possesses a number of features which distinguish it as a great place to take in a drink and some views whilst on business. Its central location opposite Madison Square Park means every famous New York skyscraper, brimming with decades of successful deals, loom over you. The smart dress code means you can take an important client there with confidence and the great Malaysian-themed menu means you can avoid the pitfalls and potential embarrassment to colleagues of drinking on an empty stomach. In addition, besides an enormous outdoor terrace, the fancifully decorated interior offers some outstanding vistas even on a chilly winter's evening. Highly recommended.
230 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York, NY, 10001. Nearest Subway: 23rd St (R,W)
When coming from London to NYC it'd be rude not to stay in The London, just to be able to confuse people back home. Lovely new hotel on W54th and 7th, perfectly located for an early morning jog round Central Park before meetings in the day, and real handy for 5th Avenue shopping and Broadway shows. Friendly staff and probably the best concierge in town. They also have Gordon Ramsey's restaurant there, and he does room service... so stick it on expenses and have a real treat.
West 54th St New York
A little hidden gem in Greenwich Village is Prune, a cosy neighbourhood restaurant that does the best brunch in New York, perfect for a Sunday morning in the city (yes some of us go there at weekends for business as well!) I've taken clients to this place a few times, and they're always impressed, as it feels like you really know the area, and feels like a real part of New York. It does get VERY busy for Sunday brunch so the earlier the better (I've arrived there before at midday on a Sunday to be told it was a 2 hour wait) - the wait however is worth it. This tiny little restaurant has a huge list of bloody marys and a delightful selection of brunch items which'll knock your socks off. I'm a big fan of their pear pancake. A little New York experience which may be small in stature but is huge on taste.
www.prunerestaurant.com54 E 1st St
Here are a few vegetarian restaurants in Manhattan that I've found worth the visit. Hangawi is a rather upmarket Korean restaurant serving only vegetarian food. The 'Emperor's Feast' is $35/person, but worth every penny (sorry, cent). The Chennai Garden is a vegetarian Indian restaurant specialising in South Indian food. I've taken numerous non-veggies there and no-one has ever complained. Good value for money, too.
Candle Cafe is a mostly vegan bistro on the Upper East Side. Very reasonably priced, although it can get crowded. Great veggie burgers and sandwiches.
Junior's in Brookyln, New York (Corner of Flatbush Avenue Extension and DeKalb Avenue) is home to the original 'New York Style' cheesecake. Famous worldwide, if you are in the area, it's definitely worth a visit. After all, where better to get New York style cheesecake than in New York!
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