Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh

RAFFLES HOTEL LE ROYAL PHNOM PENH

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh was built for luxury, and for years has been THE premier hotel in the Cambodian capital. The colonial design of the hotel – an artistic combination of Khmer, art deco and French influences – has instilled it with a sense of gracious elegance. The hotel opened in 1929, and since then it has been the ‘go-to’ hotel for many famous guests. It was once the only place that the Cambodian Royal Family would invite their foreign dignitaries to stay at, including the former American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1967.

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh - London Food Blog

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh is located a short distance from the city centre, across the road from the American embassy. This landmark luxury hotel offers easy access to the Central Market and the local sights of Wat Phnom, the Royal Palace and the National Museum. Other must dos in Phnom Penh include the “Killing Fields” memorials, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Museum, both of which offer much insight into the genocide during the years of the Pol Pot regime. These are also easily accessible by tuk-tuk or taxi from the hotel.

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh - London Food Blog

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh

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St James Court, A Taj Hotel

ST JAMES COURT HOTEL, A TAJ HOTEL – AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 TASTES

Last week I attended a preview evening of the ‘Around the World in 80 Tastes’ experience (£100 per person) at the gorgeous St James Court, A Taj Hotel on Buckingham Palace Gate. The experience takes you through a culinary journey of four of the different restaurants in the hotel with tasting plates paired with matching wines. We began our evening with a Laurent Perrier Champagne flight paired with canapés in the St James Courtyard of the hotel, an idyllic outdoor dining space surrounded by the world’s largest Shakespearean frieze. It’s a gorgeous al fresco spot, little known about. So spread the world as it’s a lovely spot for a drink and deserves greater recognition.

For our champagne flight we had (from right to left) the Laurent-Perrier Brut, Cuvée Rosé and the Vintage 2004 with scallops and avocado, smoked salmon and ratatouille. The champagnes were delectable and the canapés were fairly tasty.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Canapes

St James Court Hotel – Canapes

Next we moved to Bistro 51 where a contemporary European menu is served. I recently dined at Bistro 51 where I had a mixed experience. You can read about that meal here. As part of this ‘Around the World in 80 Tastes’ culinary journey, we had a trio of starters including stir-fried chicken with bell peppers, sesame-crusted tuna with pink grapefruit and beetroot gazpacho with feta crumble. The tuna was smart and very tasty, and nicely flavoured with some soy sauce and sesame seeds. The gazpacho was good but could have done with a little more feta for a better balance between sweet and savoury. The chicken didn’t work and wasn’t that appetising. To accompany the starters was an Argentinian Septima Malbec.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Starters at Bistro

St James Court Hotel – Starters at Bistro

Next we moved to Quilon, an Indian One Michelin Star Restaurant which was the highlight of the evening. Here we enjoyed some pepper shrimp, crab cake, lentil fish, grilled scallop and the Quilon signature fish curry of halibut simmered in coconut, chilli and raw mango sauce. All of these were delicious and perfectly prepared. My particular favourites were the lentil fish as it was beautifully moist and succulent and the fish curry as its flavour was delightful. The tasting plate was accompanied by some Malabar paratha which was outstanding for it was wonderfully light and flaky. The accompanying wine was a Chapel Down Flint Dry.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Tasting plate at Quilon

St James Court Hotel – Tasting plate at Quilon

From Quilon we moved to Kona, a newly opened restaurant at The St James Court Hotel that serves contemporary dishes prepared using locally sourced, sustainable and organic ingredients. It’s a beautiful, modern looking restaurant, and here we tried the Sussex lamb cooked two ways, as a cannon and Bolognese. The lamb was served with aubergine caviar, polenta, wild roquette pesto and confit eggplant. This was respectable, tasty cooking, although I would have preferred the cannon to more medium rare. The accompanying wines included an Albarino Davila.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Lamb dish at Kona

St James Court Hotel – Lamb dish at Kona

To finish, we had a dessert platter of calvados marinated apple on a walnut and pecan crumble, chocolate ganache and a deconstructed lemon meringue pie and poppy streusel, all of which were nicely done.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Dessert plate

St James Court Hotel – Dessert plate

“Around the World in 80 Tastes’ was great fun as it offered lots of different flavour sensations, and I can see this as a good date night option if you want to impress someone with a taste of something a little different. Without doubt, the highlight was the food at Michelin starred Quilon. The food at the other outlets held up well too, and overall £100 was a reasonable price to pay when you take into account the champagnes and the pairing wines.

Website: http://www.stjamescourthotel.co.uk/

Summary Information:

Overall experience rating: 3.5/5

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Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao – Phou Savanh Restaurant

BELMOND LA RESIDENCE PHOU VAO –
PHOU SAVANH RESTAURANT

Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao is a beautiful luxury resort and spa located in Luang Prabang, Laos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The resort is located on Phou Vao hill, about two kilometres from the centre of Luang Prabang, and is set within three hectares of lush gardens and greenery. Its hill top location means that guests are afforded with views of the surrounding hills and Mount Phou Si, Luang Prabang’s sacred hill upon where there is a Buddhist Temple. Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao combines a French colonial style with Laotian touches to create the ultimate sense of classical luxury and comfort. It’s a gorgeous part of the world and incredibly intimate and tranquil, making for a very romantic setting for dinner.

Phou Savanh is the restaurant at Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao and is wonderfully comfortably and spacious. It has high ceilings and open doorways that give it an airy feel. Executive Chef Walter Andreini hails from Brussels but also spent 14 years running his own restaurant in Koh Samui. Consequently, the restaurant is a blend of east meets west, with both an Asian and a more classical French menu. The Asian menu itself is a fusion of inspirations, drawing on dishes from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, all cooked with a European touch.

There is both indoor and outdoor seating at Phou Savanh, and adjacent to the restaurant is the Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao’s Champa Bar. Both the restaurant and the bar look out onto the resort’s infinity pool, which in turn merges with a view of Luang Prabang’s beautiful green treetops and Mount Phou Si. It made for a spectacular spot to knock back some cocktails which we duly did. We tried the Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao’s signature cocktail of ‘Simply Laos’ which consisted of Lao-Lao (a Laotian rice whisky), hibiscus flower, honey and lime (USD$9.50), and a Laojito (USD$9.50) with Lao-Lao, lemongrass, mint, lime and sugar over crushed ice. Both were really delicious and refreshing.

La Résidence Phou Vao - London Food Blog - Cocktails

La Résidence Phou Vao – Cocktails

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JW Marriott Bangkok

In Bangkok I stayed at the JW Marriott Hotel, a 5-star hotel aimed at both family and business travellers. Located at 4 Sukhumvit Road, JW Marriott Bangkok provides easy access to the bars and restaurants in the Sukhumvit area and the shopping areas of MBK Shopping Mall and Siam Paragon Shopping Centre. The hotel is well situated within the transport network and is just a short walk from its closest BTS station (Ploenchit).

JW Marriott Bangkok resonates with charm and has a strong Thai theme running through its décor, especially in the large and elegant lounge bar and lobby areas. As for the rooms, my deluxe room was smart and comfortably furnished with dark wood furniture, a flat-screen TV, mod-cons and soundproof walls.

JW Marriott Bangkok - London Food Blog - Deluxe Room

JW Marriott Bangkok – Deluxe Room

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Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – The China House

MANDARIN ORIENTAL BANGKOK – THE CHINA HOUSE

The China House is the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok’s in-house Cantonese Chinese restaurant. The design is inspired by Shanghai’s art deco period and is decorated in an opulent old-world style with dark wood furnishings and atmospheric low lighting. It’s a classy restaurant and features dim sum as well as a series of Cantonese dishes interpreted in a contemporary style.

On Tuesdays to Saturdays The China House offers an unlimited all you-can-eat dim sum menu (1,080THB net – £20). What was a surprise was that there was not only dim sum, but that you could choose from a buffet counter as well as order off an a la carte menu. This all-you-can eat brunch menu at The China House was fabulous and incredibly good value as well.

We headed for the buffet first and I thought the buffet dishes were excellent. We tried a selection of goodies including drunken chicken, fresh prawns, jellyfish, all of which were delicious. Also fabulous was the Chinese roast pork belly. This really was sensational, with the crackling being superbly crunchy. It was a little fatty but the fat was what made it so tasty. There was also some roast duck, but we didn’t try this as the pork looked better.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Buffet selection

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Buffet selection

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Roast pork

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Roast pork

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The Siam Hotel, Bangkok – Chon Thai Restaurant

THE SIAM HOTEL, BANGKOK – CHON THAI RESTAURANT

During our visit to Bangkok we had dinner at the Chon Thai Restaurant at The Siam Hotel one night, a luxurious, super-stylish, uber-romantic riverside retreat located right on the Chao Phraya River. It had been our intention to take the free shuttle boats provided by the hotel to get to The Siam Hotel. What a way that would have been to arrive! Sadly and despite the fact we were in a taxi, we weren’t able to make the pier on time to catch the shuttle. Bangkok traffic is notorious for being horrific during peak hours and we managed to experience this first hand.

So we took a taxi directly to the hotel instead. But if the downside was missing the shuttle, the upside was that we arrived at the front entrance of the hotel instead. This allowed us the opportunity of walking our way through the incredibly glamorous Siam Hotel, gaping at all the elegant antiques and artworks, before finally making our way to the Chon Restaurant which is located on the pier at the back of the hotel. The Siam Hotel is one classy oasis, sumptuously decorated in a jazzy art deco style. It oozes with refinement and makes for a seductive escape from the craziness that is Bangkok. If I wanted a place to stay for a romantic getaway, The Siam Hotel would be it.

We began our evening sitting on the pier, looking out onto the river as the sunset. Here we enjoyed a glass of champagne and some lovely small bites from the bar menu such as salt and pepper squid (330THB – £6), satay chicken (350TBH – £3.50) and minced pork fritters (300THB – £5.50). All were delicious with the squid being tender and with a light crunchy batter. The chicken came with a scrumptious peanut sauce and the pork fritters were flavoursome, with a squeeze of lime providing the right touch of acidity.

The Siam Hotel - London Food Blog - River views

The Siam Hotel – River views

Moving into the restaurant, we started with a tom yum goong soup (450TBH – £8.40) which was delicious with a sweet intoxicating flavour. The soup was well balanced, with just the right amount of heat and spice. It was also sweet, but not too sweet, and simply put, was perfectly done.

The Siam Hotel – London Food Blog - Tom yum goong

The Siam Hotel – Tom yum goong

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Lone Pine Hotel – Penang, Malaysia

LONE PINE HOTEL

After our stay at The Eastern & Oriental Hotel we ventured up to the beaches at Batu Ferringhi, which is located on the northern coastline of Penang Island and about a half an hour drive from George Town. There, we stayed at The Lone Pine Hotel, the sister hotel to The Eastern & Oriental Hotel. The hotel first opened in 1948 and was the first hotel to be established on the beaches of Batu Ferringhi. Lone Pine is a beach resort boasting of a quintessential seaside character and is very comfortable with a relaxed, laid-back energy. It caters well for those looking for a well-equipped four-star standard beachside hotel versus high-end luxury. The hotel boasts of a full range of contemporary comforts with a swimming pool, a wellness spa, a fully-equipped gymnasium, a business centre as well as meeting rooms. There is also a games room, two restaurants and a bar. There is complimentary wifi throughout the hotel, although this worked better in the lobby and not so well in our room.

Lone Pine Hotel - London food blog

Lone Pine Hotel

Lone Pine Hotel - London Food Blog

Lone Pine Hotel

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Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang, Malaysia

EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL, PENANG

Penang is known as both the foodie capital of Malaysia and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So it was with much anticipation that we visited this vibrant island, to both sample its food diversity and relish its many cultural and historical offerings. In Penang we first stayed at the luxurious Eastern & Oriental Hotel. Located in Penang’s old town, George Town, the hotel is minutes away from Penang’s food and shopping strips, the financial district and all of Penang’s main cultural destinations.

In its early days when Penang served as an outpost of the East India Company, the island drew in a variety of travellers ranging from merchants to missionaries that made the arduous route from London to Singapore, a journey that generally took about four long months. But it was not until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 that travel to Asia took on another dimension, with writers, actors and the rich from Europe and America all making the trip to Asia to see what the oriental world had to offer. And with this new breed of affluent travellers, the demand for luxury hotels flourished.

And so The Eastern & Oriental Hotel was founded in 1885 by the Sarkies Brothers, the same brothers who were also instrumental in the construction of the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The Eastern & Oriental is a tale of two halves. There are two wings to the hotel, first, the traditional Heritage Wing, and the second, the ultra modern Victory Annex. The Heritage Wing evokes a sense of tradition, one that is filled with old, colonial charm. The Heritage Wing maintains many of its original features such as the spacious domed lobby and a grand marbled floor corridor. It’s where many old time traditions have been kept such as the doorman in khaki shorts, knee-high socks and pith-helmets, and the gentlemen at reception with their bow ties and slicked back hair. The Eastern & Oriental Hotel is a popular spot for weddings, and the Heritage Wing truly makes for the perfect backdrop for that all-important wedding photo.

Eastern & Oriental Hotel - London Food Blog

Eastern & Oriental Hotel

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