For many people, the main reason to pack a suitcase and trek abroad is to see new sights. But how about discovering new tastes? There are excellent eating establishments the world over that are well worth an excursion, especially for serious foodies who are always searching for the brightest and most compelling stars of the culinary world.
Consider taking a journey to Sukiyabashi Jiro. Located in Chūō-ku ward of central Tokyo, this tiny restaurant is situated right in the city’s globally-renowned Ginza shopping hub. The modest-looking restaurant, which operates in a basement level of the Tsukamoto Sogyo Building and seats no more than 10 patrons along its counter, made headlines in 2008 when it was awarded three Michelin stars — the maximum a restaurant can receive.
The waiting list to have a meal there can last for months, as the culinary craftsmanship of legendary sushi master Jiro Ono — now 90 years old — is coveted worldwide. Ono is a traditionalist when it comes to sushi. The sushi is prepared right in front of the patrons, with seafood hand-picked fresh from the famous Tsukiji Market. That partly accounts for the steep price; for 20 exquisite pieces of Ono’s signature sushi, each person pays 30,000 yen — equivalent to about $300.
For a more affordable option, take in the numerous food stalls that compose Singapore’s elaborate “hawker food culture”. In 2016, Michelin stars were awarded to hawkers for the first time in history. Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, owned and operated by Tang Chay Sang, and Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken and Rice Noodle, which is run by Chan Hon Meng, received the prestigious honour. The former specialises in a minced pork and noodle soup known as bak chor mee; the latter serves precisely what its name suggests. These Michelin-starred options can cost connoisseurs as little as two dollars, but be ready to wait upwards of two hours, and try to avoid the lunch lines.
For some, a dining experience should be an adventure. Fäviken is located in the Åre Municipality of Järpen, Sweden, some 470 miles north of Stockholm. It’s a rural wilderness with few full-time residents, though it’s home to some of Sweden’s best ski resorts. The rustic restaurant sits on a land preserve of 20,000 acres. Some guests opt to stay overnight at the property, which features five two-person rooms as well as a sauna and teepee; others only go for supper.
Head chef Magnus Nilsson devises all the meals, taking his ingredients from local suppliers as well as from the surrounding farmlands, forests, and streams. Earlier this year, Nilsson’s quintessentially Nordic establishment earned two Michelin stars. Everyone who loves the ethic of living off the land and eating well wants to have a turn at Fäviken at least once. However, the waiting list is always a few seasons long.
Die-hard diners can also head to The Clove Club, situated in Shoreditch, London. It operates out of the old Shoreditch Town Hall, which stopped being a hub for local politics back in the 1960s and is now a hub for cultural programming; patrons can catch a performance after lunch or attend an art show before dinner.
Michelin-starred chef Isaac McHale creates his menus based on characteristic, yet atypical, British flavors and ingredients, with many influences coming from his native Scotland. Fair warning, though: patrons are required to reserve and pay for their meal well in advance — part of the restaurant’s strategy to minimize flaky no-shows. Thankfully for those non-committal foodies, the front of The Clove Club features a bar which serves snacks and cocktails.
And after all these amazing multi-course meals, where to go for a good cup of coffee? How about Truth Coffee in Cape Town, South Africa? The artisan café is set in an aged Victorian-style warehouse: cogs, gears, and a host of strange apparatuses give the shop its share of character. But it’s not all for show: the vintage cast-iron drum that looks like it could be another prop is in fact fully functional, part of the process by the which the coffee is hand-roasted.
A basic mug of their black coffee is smooth as silk, and they make a mean flat white. But their signature drinks deserve recognition too, including the Sunrise Espresso — a rich double shot of espresso with a dash of orange juice. The baristas at Truth Coffee always know best.
Written by Dillon Ramsey
Headline image of The Clove Club by Jean Cazals