Olive’s A.D. Singh heads out for a mouthful of Japanese and French cuisine in Australia; and if you are holidaying in the City of Angels, don’t miss out on these experiences
The zen of food
Last August, food entrepreneur A.D. Singh spent a fortnight in Sydney with the sole purpose of experiencing first-hand the fabulous dining options in the city. Along with wife Sabina and Olive chef Saby, they “went through 20-25 restaurants over two weeks”, many of them celebrating the very successful “modern Australian” marriage of fine Japanese and classical French cuisines. A year later, as Singh gears up for the early September launch of his first “contemporary Japanese” restaurant in Delhi, Saby says, “Sydney was a huge inspiration for AD.”
Gastronomic opera:The Sydney Harbour has some of the best restaurants in the city
Not surprisingly, two of the three Sydney restaurants Singh recommends are Japanese.
Guillaume at Bennelong
Lunch at Bennelong, the flagship restaurant at the Sydney Opera House, and a day spent walking around the beautiful harbour—a hub for restaurants, pubs and cafés—makes for a perfect day in Sydney. Guillaume does contemporary Australian cuisine with a classical French twist. We had read excellent reviews of it, of course, but even then we were blown away by the quality of the food. The crisp steamed sea bass with ginger foam, the crab ravioli and the foie gras were outstanding. As astounding is the view of the harbour from the restaurant.
If Nobu does Japanese food influenced by the West, Tetsuya Wakuda does Western food influenced by Japan. Consistently rated among the top chefs of the world, he offers a 12-course degustation menu that changes frequently. Saby, who has worked with him, though, says one dish is a constant: a slow-cooked Tasmanian ocean trout confit served with konbu (a kind of seaweed), daikon (radish) and fennel. I also remember a superb cold avocado soup. All in all, it was a very memorable dinner.
On our way out, we asked chef Tetsuya where he goes to eat Japanese food and he directed us to Azuma. It looks like a small, quaint place from the outside but seats 100 for a traditional Japanese meal. When you think about it, there’s nothing more hygienic, fresh or organic than Japanese cuisine. We didn’t order off the menu here: Tetsuya called ahead to inform them we were coming and we were treated to the most amazing array of dishes. I particularly remember the prawn teppanyaki, the steamed chicken dumplings and a fantastic bar with the continent’s largest collection of sake and shochu, a distilled spirit.
Then there was Yoshi, Neil Perry’s Rockpool, Galileo… so many places to eat at, so little time! I think my biggest takeaway, though, was the ‘less is more’ philosophy behind Japanese food, where you throw out the fussy and complicated and focus on the authentic, pared down taste of the best ingredients. That’s what I’m trying to do at my new restaurant, where Japanese meets the world.
As told to Sumana Mukherjee
3 things to do in | Los Angeles
Lunch at the Chateau Marmont (click here for picture)
If celebrity spotting is on your agenda, the chateau in West Hollywood is one of the most reliable spots that doesn’t require your name to be on the clipboard held by a woman in a size-zero dress on the other side of the velvet rope. Go on a weekday afternoon, ask for an outdoor table and keep your eye out for Meryl Streep or Mary Kate Olsen. Stick with champagne and a light salad, however: Heavier items on the menu are predictable, if a little lacklustre. You’re there to soak up old Hollywood, not garlic butter.
Hollywood Bowl(click here for picture)
Angelenos spend a large percentage of daily life slowly puttering on the 10 freeway towards the La Brea exit. Naturally, this lends a greater fear of intimacy than learning to tolerate your fellow neighbour when pushed up against his armpit on the A train headed to Brooklyn. From May through September, the Hollywood Bowl is one of the few chances you get to see the creative spirit of this city interact. A legendary venue for unforgettable performances—think Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and, lately, Rufus Wainwright and Radiohead—the Bowl is the best summer experience the city has to offer. Show up early to picnic high above Los Angeles for a sweeping view of Hollywood and beyond.
The Getty Center (click here for picture)
Perched in the Santa Monica mountains directly above the 405 freeway, The Getty Center is a curious high-art outpost. Sure, it has many Western art heavyweight works, from Van Gogh’s ‘Irises’ to Hockey’s ‘Pearblossom Hwy, #1’. Angelenos, however, are apt to say that one goes to see the architecture, not the collection. A compound-like collection of rough-hewn, travertine buildings accessible to the public only by monorail, the Getty is LA once removed, a manicured paradise that encourages slow strolls through lush garden and grassy knolls cut to Wimbledon precision.
Andrew Harmon, Journalist, Los Angeles