6 Reasons to Visit Québec City (at Least Once in Your Lifetime)

6 Reasons to Visit Québec City (at Least Once in Your Lifetime)

Along the Eastern coast of Canada lies Québec City, a place rooted in its distinctly rich French-Canadian heritage. Founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608, Québec City has retained much, if not all, of its French influence.

Walking around the city, surrounded by classical French architecture and people speaking in French, can be a surreal experience as you try to remind yourself you’re in Cananda, not France.   

Besides the beautiful French architecture, historical sites like the ramparts that were erected as a defense mechanism against potential external British incursions continue to stand tall today. These walls make Québec City the only North American city to still have such fortresses. 

Québec City embodies a rich European culture and heritage, one that is found outside the European continent. It’s hard-pressed not to feel the weight of history, when it is so distinctly imprinted in the cobblestone streets you walk, and in the walls around you.

Offering a completely different experience to the many cities in North America, Québec City  is sure to satisfy. Here are 6 highlights of the city to help you get the most out of your visit. 

1.  Enjoy Rich French Colonial History 

Owing to the significant French presence dating back to the 17th century, the province of Québec has been and is still currently a predominantly French-speaking community, as well with French being the provincial language of the capital city of Québec 

Le Château de Frontenac happens to be not only the poster child of the entire city of Québec, but also of the legacy of French colonial history. Inaugurated in 1893, Château Frontenac majestically sits over old Québec, or Vieux Québec, overlooking the beautiful Saint Lawrence River.  

Right in the vicinity of Château Frontenac is Quartier Petit Champlain, the small but oldest commercial zone in all of North America. Located in the charming Vieux Québec, Petit Champlain street is probably one of the most magical and beautiful streets. Come wintertime, when layers of snow sparsely coat the tile roofs and completely cover the streets, Vieux Québec transforms into a winter wonderland. 

2. Marvel at Amazing Architecture 

Architecture could very well be the most tangible manifestation of an extension of culture and history. Perhaps out of a desire to imprint their influence on society, or as a way to ground themselves in an otherwise foreign territory, the French were eager to export their architectural wonders to their colonies.

So, it isn’t surprising to see monumental French architecture in Québec City. A national historic site of Canada, the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec was built in 1647 and is the most important Catholic church in the Québec province. The oldest church in all Canada, Québec City’s Notre-Dame features an iconic neo classical façade and stained-glass windows that have been signature of Catholic churches around the world.   

Located in a sector of historically uniform chain of buildings, the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec is the historical and religious heart of Québec City 

3. Bask in Breath-taking Natural Beauty 

While the main city centre offers a host of beautiful architecture (both old and new), the surrounding region of Québec City has some stunning natural landscape for those who get overwhelmed by the immensity of the city.  

Montmorency Falls is a stunning waterfall that plunges from even higher than the much more famous Niagara, and being only minutes from downtown Québec City, it’s a can’t-miss scenic spot for any traveller.   

The Falls is a historic site that can be experienced in a myriad of ways. Walk across the suspension bridge or go down the 478-step staircase that leads right to a viewing platform at the bottom of the waterfall for a splendid view of the rushing waters.

If you want a more exhilarating ride and a novel way to experience a waterfall, there’s a zipline that stretches right across it. Feel the rush of the wind and drizzle of the waterfall on your face as you zip across the cascade of water, landing near the La Baronne observation deck.  

4. Have Fun At The World Famous Carnaval de Québec 

As Québec City morphs into a winter wonderland, hype drums up with the city expecting the onset of the most important event of every year to Québecers. The Carnaval de Québec, a historic winter carnival with origins that began in 1894, is one of the world’s most famous winter carnivals.  

An annual event that takes place during the heart of winter usually from end January to early February, the Carnaval de Québec was created with a heartwarming intention: to warm the hearts of a population that faced the dastardly harsh winters. Spanning over 17 days, the Quebec Winter Carnival has a slew of activities that range from ice sculpture workshops, canoe racing, parades, and even winter wrestling.  

5. Stay in an Ice Hotel  

If the Québec Winter Carnival isn’t enough to convince you to visit during winter, this next one just might do the trick. Québec City’s Hôtel de Glace has got to be hands-down one of the coolest experiences you can ever have.  

The only ice hotel in North America, the Hôtel de Glace is open from the winter months of January to March and features an exclusive selection of 44 roomsBuilt using 500 tons of ice and 40,000 tons of snow, this hotel provides a truly Nordic accommodation experience. Rooms hover around -5°C but there are plenty of amenities to keep you warm and snuggly such as insulating sheets, hot tubs, and saunas under the stars.  

Every reservation of the rooms at the ice hotel will come with a reservation at Hôtel Valcartier where you can leave your luggage and take showers. From sipping cocktails in ice glasses to staying in a room crafted entirely by ice and snow, Hôtel de Glace is an accommodation like no other.  

6. Explore World-class Museums and Galleries  

Québec City is entrenched with such a rich culture and history spanning over thousands of years that it is only natural the city has excellent and world-class museums and art galleries 

ThMusée de la Civilisation is one of Canada’s most visited museums, garnering close to 14 million visitors every year. Stepping inside, it’s easy to see why with its visually impactful interior that will wow you before you even view any of the exhibits. The museum’s permanent exhibitions of “People of Quebec: Then and Now” and “This Is Our Story” focuses on telling an enriching, educational, and sensitively curated story on the Aboriginals. With content and exhibits that discuss contemporary issues, there’s always something fresh to see at thMusée de la Civilisation 

If art is more your style, the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is the institution you’ll find spending most of your day in. The only art institution that is dedicated to Québec art, it houses over 38,000 works on the history of Québec art ranging from the 17th century to present day. There are four main pavilions that showcase various forms of art like contemporary to modern, and even historical. The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is a great way to put your cultural hat on and immerse yourself in the beauty that surrounds you.  

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Top 8 Insta-famous Architecture in Singapore to See (and Shoot)

Top 8 Insta-famous Architecture in Singapore to See (and Shoot)

We are often captivated by architecture that are grand and imposing, if not ones that simply confound the mind. M.C. Escher’s mind-boggling artwork has bamboozled people all over the world and even served as the inspiration for the main lobby of the Zhongshuge Bookstore in Chongqing, China.  

The Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic, best elucidates the idea that monumental architectures were not built to blend in, they were made to stand out. 

Likewise on our sunny little island, you can find some truly unique buildings that have garnered somewhat of a following on Instagram. Here’s our pick of the top 8 most interesting and Insta-genic architecture in Singapore. 

1. The Interlace  

The Interlace looks like a massive real-life manifestation of a younger kid’s imagination while playing with Lego.  

Designed by German Architect, Ole Scheeren and OMAthe Interlace is an upmarket condominium that features rectangular blocks irregularly stacked upon one another, creating a web of crisscrossing blocks that make up a whole.  

The Interlace truly pushes the boundaries and challenges the idea that communal living spaces should merely consist of single towering blocks, as we have so commonly seen as the typical configuration in the neighbourhoods of Singapore.  

Though it’s a private condominiumthe Interlace is an intriguing example of what residential projects could look like, private or otherwise. 

Address

180 Depot Road, Singapore 109684

2. DUO Tower 

The youngest on this list, Duo Tower is yet another brainchild of Ole ScheerenA twin-tower concept along Beach Road in the heart of Bugis, the Duo Tower adds to the rich architectural landscape in the area.  

Featuring a concave-curved, all glass façade, the DUO Tower eschews the rigidity that so many skyscrapers that grace the skyline of Singapore adoptsUsing a honeycomb pattern made of metal brise-soleil that blankets the entire surface of the towers, it aids the building reduce heat gain inside by deflecting the sunlight.  

It’s not all concept and design for the DUO Tower, as it is a highly functional, multipurpose space that consists of offices, a hotel, retail galleries, and residential accommodations. The DUO Tower is the latest in a line of futuristic buildings that are popping up in Singapore.   

Address

3 Fraser St, DUO Tower, Singapore 189352

3. Golden Mile Complex  

The Golden Mile Complex is embroiled in the same tricky debate that surrounds the Pearl Bank Apartment  to conserve or tear down? It is no doubt part of Singapore’s architectural history, and with that also comes along a façade that is so old that it may not (some say)conform to the futuristic skyline of Singapore today 

To many local architects and heritage specialists, however, both these iconic structures represent visionary architecture of their time, leaving an indelible impact on Singapore’s built-up landscape in the 20th century. 

Completed in 1973, the Golden Mile Complex looks like a giant typewriter that dropped from the sky, a “stepped-back terrace” form that was a first of its kind in SingaporeConsisting of 16 floors, the Complex is a mix of some 400 shops, 200 offices, and 70 apartments. In August of 2018, the building was announced to be en bloc, which means Singapore will soon lose one of its iconic and historic architecture.  

Address

5001 Beach Rd, Singapore 199588

4. ArtScience Museum 

The ArtScience Museum lies at the tip of the Bayfront boulevard, looking like a lotus flower blooming by the bay. The museum may look like it cannot hold much of any works, let alone an entire gallery, but it hides an entire labyrinth of galleries and exhibits below the surface.  

The first museum of its kind in Singapore, the ArtScience Museum dedicates its galleries to the exploration of the contact zone between art and science, two seemingly opposing concepts and ideas. Since it’s opening in 2011, the museum has housed major exhibitions featuring the likes of illustrious painters and scientists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh, and M.C. Escher.  

The white lotus façade is one that many will recognise, but the interior of the museum is no slouch. The stunning visual galleries within the museum make for a great Instagram photo-op as you get awed by the myriad of lights and creative displays.  

Address

6 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018974

5. The Esplanade

Affectionally dubbed “the Durian” by many Singaporeans, the Esplanade is to Singapore what the Sydney Opera House is to Sydney, Australia. The Sydney Opera House was built back in 1973 in a bid to turn Sydney into the cultural capital of Australia. Much in the same way, the Esplanade was built with the intention to propel Singapore as the cultural capital of Asia. 

The design of the Esplanade was controversial, to say the least, with people insisting the building looked like a “marshmallow blob” amongst other monikers. The 7,000 triangular aluminium “spikes” that give the appearance of a durian are more than just mere façade or form.  

While the Esplanade is well-known for its design, the facilities within is what makes the Esplanade truly shine. Both the 2000-seat Theatre and the 1600-seaConcert Hall were designed and built to cater to the demands of Asian arts performance, and especially those of the traditional arts. The Concert Hall, in particular, was designed by late respected acoustician Russell Johnson to be able to adjust and tune for a wide range of performances from Western rock music to classical recitals, making it one of the best concert halls in the world.  

Address

1 Esplanade Dr, Singapore 038981

6. Parkview Square

Many know it as the “Gotham Square” for its resemblance to Gotham City from the DC Comics. Parkview Square is the art deco skyscraper of Singapore that stands tall along Beach Road, just in front of the DUO Tower.  

The courtyard of Parkview Square is reminiscent of the open piazzas of Italy that are adorned with numerous ornate statues. At Parkview Square, you can find the statues of world-renowned philosophers and figures from Plato to Sun Yat Sen.  

Behind its quiet but sturdy façade are tenants that includes the Honorary Consulate of Oman, and the embassies of the United Arab Emirates, Austria, and Mongolia. Enter the building and you’ll find a majestic lobby that houses ATLAS Bar. A three-storey wine chiller will most likely be the first thing that captures your attention. Waitresses can be seen every now and then “flying” up to retrieve wine bottles and delivering them as if plucked from the sanctuary of heaven. 

 Address

600 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 188778

7. The Fullerton Hotel 

The oldest of all buildings on this list, the Fullerton Hotel is as historic as they come. Before it was the Fullerton Hotel, it was the General Post Office Building, and even before that it was Fort Fullerton.  

The history of this site and building cannot be understated, it was once the Fullerton Building, named after Robert Fullerton, the first governor of the Straits Settlements. Conceived as part of the centennial celebrations in 1919this massive classical-styled architecture reflected the belief and confidence of the colonialists when it was constructed in 1928. 

Since then, the Fullerton site has seen the fall of the British Empire and the heated rallies of Post-World War II as Singapore marched to full self-governance. Its historic significance is nearly unmatched and was gazetted as a national monument in 2015.  

Address

1 Fullerton Square, Singapore 049178

8. Marina Bay Sands 

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel is fast becoming the number 1 architectural silhouette of Singapore, plastered on postcards everywhere and photographed by almost everyone 

Part of the ambitious waterfront and casino resort project, Marina Bay Sands was designed by world-renowned Israeli born architect Moshe Safdie who has also since designed Jewel Changi. With three, 55-storey towers propping up an elongated SkyPark that features an infinity pool, it is a façade that has drawn raves amongst many locals and tourists alike.  

Whether is it snapping a photo from the ground up, or taking a selfie right up at the infinity pool, any photo at the Marina Bay Sands will be sure to add something to your Instagram feed.  

Address

10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956

Top image by Zac Ong on Unsplash.

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Roll Your Own Sushi at Nonono in Osaka

Japanese cuisine, strange and inscrutable as it can be, is nevertheless universally beloved. Case in point – sushi. Who would have thought that vinegar, rice and raw fish would end up a such a winning combination, producing a sublime symphony of taste that is at once decadent, wholesome and satisfying?

So masterful is the dish that people actually pay good money for the experience of watching a 30-year veteran of the craft preparing and serving the carefully hand-pressed pieces. According to whisphered accounts from those fortunate enough to be friends with the 1%, a proper sushi ceremony is a once-a-lifetime experience, akin to taking a dip in a virgin sea, to be reborn on pillowy clouds.

Ok see, this is what happens when you’re forced to use your imagination to make a living. But fortunately for us (and the true-blue sushi fans), there’s a restaurant in Osaka you can go to for a bonafide roll-your-own-sushi experience. And at down-to-earth prices too!

Near the famous Kuromon Market in Osaka, there lies a rather nondescript shop with a simple noren (traditional Japanese curtain) hanging on the storefront. Located in the Osaka Nihonbashi area, Nonono Hand-rolled Sushi offers a truly unique dining experience. It is here that you get to hand-roll your own sushi, with the freedom to customise and innovate with various fresh sashimi and vegetables to create your very own sushi roll.

As you enter Nonono, you’ll immediately notice a chef preparing platters filled with a smorgasbord of beautifully coloured sashimi and ingredients.

Coming in at 3,240 yen per set, each set features fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, Japanese tempura, and fresh sashimi from the local markets.

Each set comes with high-quality white rice from the Nara Prefecture, miso soup, and of course nori (seaweed) to hold it all together.  

After a short tutorial and guidance by the chef, you’re free to let your creative juices flow. Take a piece of seaweed, add a little pinch of rice, and top it off with the protein of your choice (meat, fish, or tempura).  

Here comes the fun part, when adding fruits and vegetables feel free to go wild, but do take note that some of them have their original sauces and flavour pairings which come highly recommended. 

We hear that the sake and special fruit wine pair amazingly with the sushi as well. The fruit wines are sourced from traditional farmhouses which grow their own fruits, so be sure to give them a try (520 yen per cup)! 

If you’re looking for a fun and new way to experience a time-honoured tradition, we must say Nonono Hand-rolled Sushi fits the bill to a tee.

Immerse yourself in the intricacy and charm of sushi making, having a dining experience like no other.   

At Nonono, it’s all yes, yes, yes from us.  

Address: 

1-18-4 Nihonbashi Chuou-ku Osaka-shi Osaka 

Opening Hours: 

Daily 11:30 AM to 1 PM, 5 PM to 9:30 PM 

Top image by zuke.trip via Instagram.

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7 Macau Famous Foods (And Where to Try Them)

7 Macau Famous Foods (And Where to Try Them)

With its glitzy casinos and luxurious world-class entertainment, Macau’s reputation as the ‘Vegas of Asia’ is well deserved. Once a sparsely populated collection of coastal islands, Macau is today a major resort city offering world class entertainment and glitzy casinoes on every corner. 

But Macau – the most crowded place on the planet – offers much more than just gambling. The city ranks among the world’s top tourist destinations, and in 2017 was the ninth-highest recipient of tourism revenue.  

Its history as a Portuguese colony from 1557 to 1999 plays no small part in it’s popularity. Unlike other colonies, Macau saw relatively amicable relations between the Chinese and the Portuguese, the long, peaceful co-existence allowing best of both cultures to play integral roles in shaping modern Macanese culture – in terms of food, architecture, and way of life.

To experience this unique fusion, look no further than Macanese cuisine – an intriguing blend of Southern Chinese and Portuguese cooking techniques and ingredients. The next time you’re in Macau for a run at the casinos, or simply taking a day trip from Hong Kong, don’t miss these 7 Macau famous foods. 

1. Portuguese Egg Tarts

Ask anyone who has been to Macau, any publication or blog that has researched on Macau, and I’d think they agree with me when I say you can’t have a conversation on food in Macau without mentioning Portuguese egg tarts.

The origin of the Portuguese egg tarts you can find Macau, in a mind-blowing plot twist, does not come from Portugal, well not exactly. It was British pharmacist-turned baker Andrew Stow who had first tasted Pastel de Nata (or Portuguese egg tarts) in Portugal who brought the recipe over and attempted to make a “Macau” version back in 1989.

That explains why Macau’s egg tarts resemble so closely the Pastel de Nata, and gosh are they gorgeous and delicious. I mean, just look at it — that buttery and flakey crust encasing a soft and sweet egg custard finished with an almost crème brulée top, oh one is always never enough. 

 

Where to go for Portuguese Egg Tarts

There are innumerable places that sells Portuguese egg tarts in Macau but Lord Stow’s Bakery would come out on top when it comes to one of the best the island has to offer.

Located in Coloane Village, Lord Stow’s Bakery, if you haven’t guessed already, was started by none other than Andrew Stow. The oldest and original Macau egg tarts, many consider this bakery to be the best one on the island.

With over 13,000 egg tarts churned out every day, you’re almost guaranteed to get a batch still warm from the oven. 

Address

No. 1 Rua do Tassara, Coloane Village, Macau

Opening Hours

Daily 7 AM to 10 PM

2. Almond Cookies

Continuing with sweet treats, almond cookies have since become the go-to Macau food souvenir to bring home for travellers. Macau’s almond cookies are tender and crumbly, almost melt-in-your-mouth smooth with an interspersing of small crunchy bits of almond.

The cookies are sweet with a tinge of savouriness coming from the mung bean flour that is mixed in with the almond. Get a box (or two) because once you pop one into your mouth, you’ll keep going back for more.

Where to go for Almond Cookies

Kok Kei Bakery started from a small humble cart selling peanut candy and ginger candy. It is said that their innovation of almond cookies and egg rolls were per the requests of many of their customers.

Establishing their own brick and mortar store in 1997, Kok Kei Bakery today runs a successful shop in The Venetian Macao, boasting over 300 different types of products. How far they’ve they’ve climbed since their push cart days.

Address

Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca, Macau

Opening Hours

Sunday to Thursday, 10 AM to 11 PM

Friday and Saturday, 10 AM to 12 AM

3. Pork Chop Bun

If Portuguese egg tarts are gorgeous, Macau’s pork chop buns are glorious.

Originating from the Bifana in the Porto region of Portugal, Macau’s pork chop buns feature a thick slab of pork instead of the pork slices usually seen in the Portuguese original.

A deceptively simple dish of seasoned pork chop sandwiched between toasted buns, there are two components have to be nailed down to make a pork chop bun a great one. 

First, would be toasted buns with an outer layer of crisp and a soft pillowy inside. Secondly, a well-marinated pork chop that is crispy, tender, and juicy.

Tick all the right boxes, and you have one banging sandwich.

Where to go for Pork Chop Buns

The most popular Pork Chop Bun stall would have to be the old Tai Lei Loi Kei in Taipa Village, Macau, operating for close to 60 years now. However, we’d like to bring your attention to Sei Kee Cafe nestled in Rua da Palha.

Made fresh upon release, each Pork Chop Bun is toasted to perfection and piping hot. The pork chop is succulent and tender, hitting all the right notes. Their own bottle of coffee and tea is said to pair perfectly with the pork chop buns as well. 

Some argue that it surpasses the more popular Tai Lei Loi Kei, whose buns can get quite dry. Since you’re there, why not give both a try and let us know which you prefer!

Address

G/F, Edf Cheong Son, 7-15 Patio Da Palha, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro

Opening Hours

Monday, Wednesday to Saturday 11 AM to 7 PM

Closed on Tuesday and Sunday

4. African Chicken

Trust me, I did a double take when I first heard about African chicken in Macau. It’s easy to accept Portuguese influence in Macau with it being a past colony, but the connection to Africa is bizarre at best. Wait till you find out that African chicken isn’t just another iconic dish of Macau, it is the national dish of Macau.

There are numerous origin stories, but one narrative that appears to be rooted in history follows the officers and men that were stationed at the Portuguese garrison in Macau. They were mostly from the African territories of Mozambique and Angola, and when the garrison was decommissioned, these soldiers retired and opened cafes and restaurants, serving up food that they grew to like throughout their service.

Folklore has added to the mystique of the African chicken, slowly cementing it as the national dish of Macau as the years go by.

 

Where to go for African Chicken

Essentially a Macanese take on curry chicken, African Chicken is slathered with a thick sauce made of peanut, tomato, and chilli sauce with the occasional dash of paprika. Served with bread or potatoes, this is comfort food which will induce the heaviest of food comas.

Restaurante Litoral serves up one of the best versions of African chicken. A former Portuguese outpost in the old town of Rua do Almirante Sergio, you can get a waft of the spices of the chicken even before you enter the restaurant.

Address

261 Rua do Almirante Sergio, Macao

Opening Hours

Daily 12 PM to 3 PM, 6 PM to 10:30 PM

5. Minchi

One of the most beloved dishes amongst the Macanese locals, Minchi is comfort street food at its best.

Believed to have originated from the English word “minced”, Minchi is a Macanese dish made up of seasoned ground beef and pork, served with potatoes and topped with a sunny side up egg.

 

Where to go for Minchi

There are tons of local establishments with long histories that serve up Minchi but the contemporary and hip Cafe SAB 8 near the beautiful area of Rua da Nossa Sra. do Amparo is taking the classic dish and elevating it with modern twists.

We hear it’s sublime and it’s great that places are trying to innovate signature and classic dishes (within reason of course).

Address

Patio de Chon Sau, Macao

Opening Hours

Tuesday to Sunday 12 PM to 8 PM

Closed on Mondays

6. Crab Porridge

Yet another famous dish amongst locals and tourists, crab porridge is one that tourists will make a concerted effort to try when visiting Macau.

For one, crab is not an ingredient you would associate with a humble and wholesome bowl of porridge. Congee, for many Asian countries, is a simple , fuss-free, comforting bowl of thick rice porridge. Using crab as the star of the dish takes congee into a realm that is rarely seen for many.

Where to go for Crab Porridge

From what we’ve seen, it appears to be a crime if you’re in Macau and not try the Crab Porridge from Seng Cheong Crab Porridge.

Located in the famous Taipa Village, dining at Seng Cheong is a natural course of development. There is a perpetual crowd at Seng Cheong so you’ll have to plan your day well if you want to skip the queues!

Cooked with three different types of crab, what results is a smooth and natural sweet porridge. The best thing? Seng Cheong does not skimp on the crab, so you know you’re getting your money’s worth.

Though some have found the porridge to be lacking in flavour, it nonetheless remains atop many travel guidebooks and listicles for food in Macau.

Address

No. 28-30 Rua do Cunha, Taipa Village, Macau

Opening Hours

Daily 12 PM to 11:30 PM

7. Serradura

What better way to end off a food list than with dessert?

Serradura is yet another dish that has its roots in Portuguese culture. Translated as “sawdust”, Serradura is not the most pleasant sounding dessert, but don’t let it detract you from its taste.

It got its name from the tea biscuits that are crushed super fine to resemble sawdust. Layered with cream, condensed milk, and vanilla, it’s a must-have for all the sweet-toothed out there.

Where to go for Serradura

Gelatina Mok Yi Kei is a historic brand in Macau, operating for over 80 years, so you’ll be assured that their recipe of Serradura has been well-refined over the years.

They even do an ice cream version so you can give that a try for a totally different texture and experience. We hear that their durian ice cream comes highly recommended as well!

Address

No. 9A Rua do Cunha, Taipa Village, Macau

Opening Hours

Daily 7 AM to 11 PM

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3 Places to Enjoy Kappo Cuisine in Singapore

3 Places to Enjoy Kappo Cuisine in Singapore

Before the where, let’s start with the what.

When it comes to forms of Japanese cuisine, Kaiseki and Izakaya are terms that you hear most often thrown around. Both are at the opposite ends of the Japanese culinary spectrum with the former offering an intricate and elaborate dining affair while the latter being much more casual and pub-like.

Kappo cuisine falls somewhere in between the two. Kappo is simply defined as “to cut and cook”, and is one of Japan’s most traditional forms of dining, with a small counter being all that separates you and the chef.

Both Kappo and Kaiseki employ the concept of omakase, which translates into “I’ll leave it up to you”, letting the chef prepare the menu at his whim. For some, that is a terrifying notion to have the choice of what you eat taken away from you, while forking out an exorbitant price for it no less.

Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash.

If you can overcome the idea that there’s no menu, what you actually get is an exquisite culinary experience, with the freshest seasonal food that can hardly be replicated anywhere else.

So, what exactly is the difference between the two? Kappo focuses a lot on the season’s highlights, and offers a dining experience that is much more casual, an open kitchen rooted in the chef-patron relationship. Kaiseki, on the other hand, is much more intricate, usually held in private dining rooms and often featuring a melding of art and cooking.

Kappo-style dining establishments in Singapore are as rare as they come, but not wholly non-existent, here are 3 places where you can experience this traditional Japanese experience without having to fly to Japan.

1. ESORA

The newest kid on the Kappo block, ESORA takes a fresh and modern approach to the traditional Kappo dining. Tucked in a heritage shophouse along 15 Mohamed Sultan Road, much of ESORA is still anchored on the hearty interactions between the chef and customer, a core element of Kappo dining.

Behind the counter, Chef-owner Shigeru Kozuimi will be seen busy taking his profound knowledge on Japanese culinary traditions and combining it with modern techniques such as pacojet and liquid nitrogen garnered from his immaculate experience working in Michelin-starred restaurants, most notably Tokyo’s Nihonryori RyuGin and Singapore’s Odette.

It all sounds unbelievably complex, but interestingly, Chef Kozuimi’s favourite dish is the simple and humble dashi, with his version featuring a savoury broth consisting of katsuboshi (dried, fermented skipjack tuna), bonito, and kombu (edible kelp) finished with a dusting of zest of yuzu. Though it doesn’t employ any flashy techniques, the dashi broth is full of intricate layers that speak to the chef’s skill.

What truly sets ESORA apart, however, is its tea-pairing programme, a first of its kind in Singapore. At ESORA, tea is elevated and brewed to perfection, adhering to the perfect temperatures and served in delicate stemware and champagne coupes.

ESORA takes its Kappo dining seriously, providing a holistic culinary experience that will enliven your tastebuds.

Address

15 Mohamed Sultan Rd, Singapore 238964

Opening Hours

Tuesday: 7 PM to 9 PM

Wednesday to Saturday: 12 PM to 1:30 PM, 7 PM to 9 PM

Closed on Mondays and Sundays

2. Kappo Shunsui

Kappo Shunsui is not a place many know about, let alone how to enter. Standing outside the entrance, there’s no indication that what lies behind the metallic door is a Japanese culinary delight.

Minimalistic to the extreme, all you can see is a biometric fingerprint scanner, not even any semblance of a name. Regular customers would have had their fingerprints recorded, thus, entry is easy for them at this highly exclusive restaurant. Have no fear though, all it takes is a simple ring of the doorbell to dispel all the cloak-and-dagger drama.

An intimate affair with only 19-seats, Kappo Shunsui offers Kappo-style dining with an atmosphere that is reminiscent of Kaiseki. The menu at Kappo Shunsui changes daily, highly dependent on the ingredients that Chef Nobu Nishi gets from Japan. If you want a complete experience, opt for the sake pairing programme, where the chef will recommend libations according to the menu of the day.

As if his family’s 200-year lineage of chefs wasn’t enough, Chef Nishi was schooled under legendary Chef Hideki Ishikawa, chef-owner of three star Michelin restaurant Kagurazaka Ishikawa. Get yourself acquainted with the intimate setting of Kappo Shunsui, and entrust your meal to Chef Nishi.

Address

5 Koek Rd, #04-02 Cuppage Plaza, Singapore 228796

Opening Hours

Tuesday to Sunday: 6 PM to 12 AM

Closed on Mondays

3. Takayama

Like the previous two head chefs, Chef Taro Takayama has trained under world-renowned chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants.

What is different is Chef Takayama didn’t start out wanting to be a chef, and was actually pursuing an undergraduate degree in law. Life has a way of throwing its curveball, and the lawyer-to-be had to change his career when he couldn’t pass the bar exam. It was actually a photo of a chef preparing sushi that spurred him to enter the competitive culinary world.

The restaurant takes its inspiration from shiki (the four seasons), believing in creating dishes that pull from the freshest seasonal produce. This mindset forms the backbone of crafting his daily and seasonal menu and pushing for excellence in food sustainability.

At the heart of Takayama is the epitome of Japanese hospitality: the spirit of omotenashi. It’s hard to adequately define this spirit but the word comes from a combination of “omote” which means a public face/image and “nashi” means nothing.

Together, it foregrounds the idea that service, or hospitality, honest and upright, from the bottom of the heart. Chef Takayama takes pride in his Kappo-style service, taking every chance to interact and get to know his diners, offering the best he knows to everyone he serves.

Address

6A Shenton Way, #01-09/10 OUE Downtown Gallery, Singapore 068815

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday: 12 PM to 2:30 PM, 6 PM to 10 PM

Saturday: 6:30 PM to 10 PM

Closed on Saturdays

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