It’s been a fantastic year, from trying incredible international cuisine to sampling delicious food from UK chefs right in my home town. My top ten list includes restaurants that have not only delivered fantastic food but given an incredible overall experience.
1. Sushi Sora, Tokyo, Japan
It was one of my dreams to sample truly authentic sushi in Japan and I was able to live out that dream this year. Our very first night in Japan, Mr S and I visited Sushi Sora, a restaurant in our hotel, Mandarin Oriental Tokyo.
To say I was blown away by a life changing experience would be no exaggeration. A tiny counter dining room with only around eight seats, we were up close and personal with Chef Yuji Imaizumi who has spent twenty one years perfecting his slicing skills. Every single dish on the multi-course menu was absolute heaven on the palate as the sushi is made from only the very freshest fish from trusted suppliers.
With it’s position on the 38th floor of the hotel and floor to ceiling windows, views over the capital of Japan are unparalleled.
2. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Paris
To celebrate five years of being together Mr S and I booked into three-Michelin starred Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée at Hôtel Plaza Athénée, my favourite hotel in Paris.
The dining room designed by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen with glittering chandeliers and gilded ceiling complemented by more contemporary furnishings.
The incredible menu has a focus on nature and showcases fish, vegetables and cereals so it’s healthier than your average haute cuisine. Being the restaurant of one of the world’s most starred chefs, the service is also utterly impeccable.
3. Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Cornwall, UK
My trip to Cornwall firmly cemented the county as my new favourite place for a UK break, not least because all the food that we tried was so amazing! The best restaurant that we tried was two-Michelin starred Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac. A relaxed and casual setting belies the absolutely incredible food and an eight course seafood tasting menu with the very best sustainable fish caught off the coast on Cornwall.
I was lucky enough to meet the man himself on the night and subsequently at his restaurant at The Capital Hotel in London where told me that he reads my blog now!
4. Lung King Heen, Hong Kong
Mr S absolutely loves Chinese food and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to book us into Lung King Heen when we were in Hong Kong. It’s arguably the best Chinese restaurant in the world and the first ever to receive three Michelin stars.
With Mr S’s love for duck and pancakes I made sure to order the famous dish in advance and I can safely say the version at Lung King Heen was the best I’ve ever had!
5. UMU, London
Though it opened in 2004, I paid my first visit to UMU this year for Mr S’s birthday. We were absolutely blown away by the food at the two-Michelin starred restaurant that was the most authentic Japanese food that we’d had in London.
Specialising in multi-course kaiseki dinner that are a speciality in Kyoto, our dinner here bought back amazing memories from our trip to Japan earlier in the year.
6. Osteria di Passignano, Tuscany
For the overall experience we absolutely loved Osteria di Passignano, a gorgeous Michelin-starred restaurant located at Badia a Passignano, a stunning wine estate owned by the Antinori family in Chianti. After a tour of the gorgeous vineyards and cellars on the estate, Mr S and I sat down to enjoy a five course tasting menu with wine pairings from the estate and the other vineyards owned by the family.
I absolutely love Italian food so trying dishes of this quality with the incredible wine was utterly dreamy.
7. Kikunoi, Kyoto
Our dinner at three-Michelin starred Kikunoi in Kyoto was made even more special by the fact that I’d met the chef the week before in his London restaurant and I met him again in Kyoto.
The whole experience was totally new to us as we had our own private room and a hostess who bought in course after delicious course of our Kaiseki dinner.
Everything was beautifully presented and I loved the fact that absolutely element on the plate had some sort of meaning.
8. Marcus, London
Marcus by Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley was the chosen location for Emma and my birthday otherwise known as #KiwiSpoon. Our five course meal was not only delicious but great value for a two-Michelin starred restaurant and we also had the most amazing service.
But what really made it a meal to remember was the amazing company and great friends who I’ve met through blogging.
9. Sur Mesure par Theirry Marx, Paris
Two Michelin-starred restaurant, Sur Mesure par Theirry Marx at Mandarin Oriental Paris was another of my favourites this year. The dining room is an all white cocoon providing the perfect back drop for a menu that allows for a total sensory experience.
Chef Theirry Marx concentrates on appearance, smell and taste in order to heighten the personal and emotional experience of the food.
10. &Beyond Mnemba Island
As I’ve said before not all great restaurants are about Michelin stars, they’re about overall experience which is why I’m including the ‘restaurant’ at &Beyond Mnemba Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago.
At Mnemba Island you’re greeted by the chef as soon as you step off your boat transfer and from there all your foodie needs are taken care of. The chef talks through the days menu over breakfast but everything is just a suggestion and you’re free to tailor the menu to your own needs. Lunch was usually in the restaurant area and we enjoyed a mostly seafood menu with incredibly well flavoured dishes, fresh sorbets and home made bread. The location for dinner changed every night and was always private and romantic and often with our feet in the sand!
But our very favourite food was the sushi made freshly by the chef everyday especially for us and bought to our room along with our favourite cocktails in time for sunset!
I couldn’t end a post on restaurants and dining experiences without a mention of the famous Giraffe Manor! A hotel where giraffe’s stick their head’s through the wine at breakfast and join you for afternoon tea!
Those are my top ten restaurants of 2016, what are yours?
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