JAIPUR IN THE PINK

Though it is known as “the pink city“, Jaipur’s facades are more amber-colored. But within the walls of Rajasthan’s much loved capital, you’ll certainly enjoy a “la vie en rose” kind of week-end. Majesty beyond your imagination, eye candy jewels and hidden gems to fall in love with… This is India, romantic India, magical and splendid.

47 JOBNER BAGH

jobner
outdoor bed jobner

This magnificent yet simple family-run B&B is housed in a Maharaja's ancient garden property surrounded by sweet scented jasmine flowers. Mr Gujar tastefully decorated the rooms and living spaces with antiques, and you’ll be able to shop some items if you’re too lazy to hunt at the flea market. Just saying.
ASK: For the Indian breakfast. Never had such delicious paratha.
And for the Hindustan Ambassador famous car to drive around with style.
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jobner breakfast
 

FLOWER & FLEA MARKET

flower market
flea market

Now if you like spending your mornings rummaging around, the Hatwara Flea Market’s for you. That’s where you’ll find traditional Lassi glasses, vintage scissors, old photographs of Indian idols… The bustling Phool Mandi wholesale Flower Market is adjacent to it.

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WIND PALACE & CITY PALACE

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal

City Palace

City Palace

One of Jaipur’s symbols, Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds was built in 1799 by poet King Pratap Singh. Its 953 latticed windows are quite impressive.
Whereas The Royal Family still resides in the 18th century City Palace, they have opened up their homes to host a Museum.

Hawa Mahal Maps

City Palace Website
City Palace Maps

 

 

NAHARGARH FORT, AMBER FORT

Nahargargh fort

Nahargargh fort

Nahargargh fort

Nahargargh fort

From the 18th century Nahargarh Fort or Tiger fort, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the city.
Whilst Amber Fort is the iconic palace of India, its 16th century walls snaking away into the horizon could be the Indian counterpart of the great wall of China.

Nahargargh Fort Maps

Amber Fort Website
Amber Fort Maps

 

Amber Fort

Amber Fort

Amber Fort

Amber Fort

Anokhi Museum

Anokhi Museum

Situated in Amber Village, this museum housed in a beautiful restored haveli, outlines the story of the famous textiles with hand block printing demonstrations.
Anokhi Museum Website
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Taj Lake Palace

Taj Lake Palace

 

BAR PALLADIO & HOT PINK

bar palladio

After an italian meal or a drink at the stylish Bar Palladio, head over to Hot Pink, a shop by Gem Palace’s owner Munnu Kasliwaland and French jewellery designer Marie-Hélène de Taillac. Their collections are outstanding, and the place itself is worth a visit.

Bar Palladio Facebook
Hot Pink Website
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hot pink
 

MORE SHOPPING

THE GEM PALACE

Follow the path of the Royal families, Hollywood and Bollywood stars and window shop in this institution established in 1852.

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Anoothi

Their hand-poured soy wax candles are a must-buy. They come in round marble containers with cedar wood wicks. The cardamom, saffron & vanilla fragrance is incredible.

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Neerja

For the renowned glazed pottery of Jaipur.

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Theatro Dhora

Contemporary style gifts made by Indian artisans. Jewellery, clothes, lifestyle.

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DELICIOUS

VERANDAH CAFE

Located in the beautiful gardens of the Rambagh Palace Hotel, the Verandah Cafe serves the most delightful Thali in the most romantic setting.
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LAXMI MISTHAN BHANDAR

 

If you’re more into the typical local atmosphere, LMB offers authentic Rajasthani vegetarian cuisine. Don’t forget to try everything at their sweet shop.
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HANOI - TAM COC EXPRESS

How about a visit to “Ha Long Bay”. Not the usual one. Let’s go a bit far from the sea and closer to earth, where limestone mountains give way to endless rice fields and rivers. Where you can cycle for hours and find shelter in shacks tucked in the silent and stunning countryside.
And how about a pit stop in Hanoi, to grab one of those delicious Banh Mi or just stay a little longer at the house of an artist and savour vietnamese hospitality.
This way…

 

NGUYEN SHACK

Bike

This incredible hotel situated in the middle of a valley offers an ecotourism kind of experience.  A friendly team will make sure your “Bamboo bungalow off the beaten track” is well heated. Or that you have enough blankets at night (It can get really cold during winters and this is glamping…).
Their biking tour is worth the go. Toan, one of the managers will guide you through small villages, a hidden pagoda and landscapes that will unfortunately be transformed into modern residential areas in a few years.
The Huang Mua temple is just about 10 minutes walk (+ 15 minutes climbing to the summit) and gives an ideal view of Tam Coc.
ASK: For their banana flower and chicken salad.
The menu is mouthwatering and you’ll preferably eat at their restaurant, as there’s nothing nearby.
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Tam Coc view
 

TAM COC

Known as the terrestrial Ha Long Bay, this is where you’ll embark for a 1h30 small boat excursion along the Ngo Dong river. Beautiful Tam Coc, (unlike some parts of Trang An) is a natural cave site, where the National Liberation Front army used to hide during the Vietnam  war.
ASK: To go early to avoid little boats traffic jam

Tam Coc Pedalo
Tam Coc Ladies

Hanoi is about 2 hours drive from Tam Coc. And a 4 seat private car should cost around 70 USD.

 

BANH MI 25

Banh Mi 25

Crispy french baguette with handmade pâté, barbecue pork, fresh vegetables and a family secret sauce recipe. This stall made its reputation by selling one of, if not The best Banh Mi in town. Tasty, authentic and affordable street food.
ASK: Well you don’t need to ask, tea and bananas come for free.  
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MADAME HIEN

Mme Hien

Chef Didier Corlou’s restaurant is a dedication to his wife’s grandmother and “to all Vietnamese women of the past and the present”. The result is divine cuisine.
Before it became “Madame Hien”, this mid-19th century home of Hanoi’s Opera architect, later welcomed Ho Chi Min.
If you like houses full of stories, his other restaurant “la porte d’Annam” is a former presbytery once visited by Mother Teresa.
ASK: For the “Nam cuon tom va xoai” (Mango salsa with prawn, fresh spring roll), their specialty.
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LE HONG THAI HOMESTAY

Le Hong Thai Bath
Le Hong Thai Garden

 

This very very hidden gem is home to Mr Le Hong Thai, a Vietnamese painter who takes really good care of his Zen garden and has been gathering antiques throughout the years. HIs beautiful eurasian style house is a peaceful homestay, and Mr Thai will kindly light the fireplace to keep you warm.
Airbnb

 

 

La Maison d'Orient

Should you prefer to stay in the center of old Hanoi, “La Maison d’Orient” is a lovely boutique hotel with a good “Pho” soup breakfast.
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2 DAYS IN LOVELY HONG KONG

A relaxing week-end experience in bustling Hong Kong? A possible reprieve. 
Chill out on cute coffee-shop terraces, eat at affordable trendy restaurants and go shopping in a not too crowded heritage building in Sheung Wan. Or time travel back in the 1920’s in Wanchai's emblematic Blue House. 
Oh, and 30 minutes away from downtown is the strikingly beautiful Shek-O beach. Where white sand and sunbeds await you... Hear the sound of the waves already?

 

Day 1

 

Breakfast at Cafe Deadend or Lof10

Cafe Deadend

Cafe Deadend

Lof10

Lof10

Po’s Atelier & Cafe Deadend, multicultural bakery
Created by a Swedish and a Hong Konger, this French bakery with a Japanese twist serves fresh breads and pastries without additives or preservatives. Next door, Cafe Dead End  their sister coffee shop located in a narrow… dead-end street, has a menu focusing on salads, bagels and warm sandwiches.
ASK: for the Oolong fig bread at Po’s, order a drink at Cafe Deadend and enjoy your breakfast on their al fresco terrace.
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Lof10
Tucked in a residential area, not far from Po’s atelier, this beautiful and peaceful coffee shop carries this mantra : “Love what you do often” (lof10). That’s one good reason to go. The owners studied in UCLA and there’s a kind of west coast vibe in here. Second reason to go, coffee is awesome. Go early though as there’s only a few seats and a big table to share. They serve breakfast all day and dishes like korean cold noodles.
ASK: for their homemade lemonade if you already had your coffee.
FYI, if you’re more whisky than lemonade, they opened a speakeasy recently “Lof 10 Distillery”.
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Endless shopping at PMQ

This former “Private Marine Quarter” (meaning home to married junior police officers), and former government school is now a creative hub housing local design talents among coffee shops and restaurants. the residential building was revamped into shops and studios for exhibitions. There’s “the taste library”, a library dedicated to food and lifestyle (fifth floor) and Sohofama at the basement, a chinese comfort food restaurant (healthy and organic).
You could spend hours exploring the dozens and dozens of curiosities at PMQ. 
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Little Bao for lunch

Vegetarian bao

Vegetarian bao

Little Bao
Little Bao or “where Asian street food meets American diner”. Located just opposite the PMQ, this little restaurant turns traditional chinese baos into fusion cuisine burgers. From the beef one with sesame mayo and shiso to the Szechuan fried chicken one, it’s surprising and surprisingly good, but not light. The baos are small so you can taste a few. And if you’re not into “burgers”, they serve salads as well, the Sesame Caesar was good.

ASK: for “a sweet ending”. Think crispy bao matcha ice cream sandwich. 
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Tea or more at Teakha

Teakha
A little tea and cake shop where to enjoy a cuppa, cakes or brunch in a homey atmosphere. The owner Nana Chan, a former corporate lawyer has decided to follow her intuition and “see the world through a cup of tea”. Seems to have worked as a second tea house “Teakha II” has opened in Tai Ping Shan.

ASK: For the Hojicha Cheese cake. For a moment you won’t be able to distinguish tea from coffee, a delicate and puzzling pastry.
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Hojicha Cheesecake

Hojicha Cheesecake

 

Wanchai

This eclectic neighborhood, famous thanks to the renowned book and movie “The world of Suzie Wong”, is part a red light district, part a heritage building area where trendy shops and flagship have recently settled. The wet market, the Yuk Hui KungTemple and The 1922 Blue House are worth the visit. The latter houses the Hong Kong House of Stories, where a local community collects antiques and records old stories. They organize Cultural tours to discover interesting places in old Wanchai.
Maps to the Blue House
HK House of stories - website

The Blue House

The Blue House

Yuk Hui Kung

Yuk Hui Kung

Streets of Wanchai

Streets of Wanchai

 

Dinner at Dim Sum square and/or Man Mo Café

What would be a trip to Hong Kong without Dim Sum… Choose to go classic at Dim Sum Square or fusion at Man Mo Café. But first, visit the Man Mo temple area to catch a glimpse of authentic Honk Kong. And stop by the 100 year old “Yuan Heng Spice Co” shop to get your Sichuan pepper fix.

Hakao at Dim Sum Square

Hakao at Dim Sum Square

Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao at Manmo Café

Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao at Manmo Café

Dim Sum Square
Dim Sum SquareThe long queue lets you guess how good the food is. It’s better to avoid rush hours but anyway it’s worth waiting. I wouldn’t go for the xiao long bao here but more for the steamed rice rolls and the hakaos. They’re nearly perfect.

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Manmo Café
Another bad attempt at making fusion food? No no no feel reassured, one of the chefs used to work at Din Tai Fung, so the xiao long bao is delicious, even more with foie gras in it. And the ratatouille dumpling is good, if you like ratatouille. 
An interesting experience.
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Yuan Heng Spice Co

Yuan Heng Spice Co

 

Cocktails

001 - Hidden Speakeasy at Central Wet Market
In Honk Kong, I couldn’t help thinking about the atmosphere in Johnny To’s movies, and where to feel it. A deserted wet market at night? that’s close to it… A speakeasy behind a stall with a hidden door bell, that’s it, that would be my favourite bar. On top of that, it’s cosy.
ASK: For their signature cocktail, the Earl Grey Martini.
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Day 2

 

Shek O beach

The route to Shek-O beach itself is worth the journey. Driving between the hills makes you realise how green and diverse Hong Kong Island is. Then the little village of Shek-O with its temple, colourful houses and little restaurants make you feel like you’re hours away from the city. After getting lost in the narrow streets, head to the beach and choose the sunbed where you’ll spend hours watching the surfers trying to catch a wave.
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TAIWAN - TAIPEI - Bistronomic art at RAW

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image Sakura Ebi Cappellini

First, there’s a striking beautiful interior, wooden, minimalist, all in curves. Then the lovely details like the cutlery hidden inside you’re table’s secret drawer.

This tastefully designed restaurant has the atmosphere of an art gallery while it’s all about gastronomy. Or “bistronomy” more precisely, meaning affordable gastronomic french style cuisine with a Taiwanese twist. No surprise as it’s been conceptualised by famous “born in Taiwan” and “made in France” Chef André Chiang.

Creative and spontaneous, that’s how he and his local team led by Chefs Zor Tang and Alain Huang wanted RAW’s menu to sound like. Highlighting seasonal produce, what comes on your plate carry exciting names like “Uni Hokkaido Peanut Butter Peas”, “Sakura Ebi Cappellini” or “Chocolate Burnt Butter Mochi”.

Their daring mantra “Never be afraid to make mistakes” has worked as they don’t seem to have made any.  Since they first opened a year ago, Raw has become one of the most sought-after restaurants in Taipei.  

Rare are the Chefs you’d follow anywhere they settle a business. André is one of them. Singapore, check, Taipei, check, Paris, next.

image Tiny iced Pineapple Cakes
 

ASK : your way to the restroom, a must-see… Kidding aside, make sure to make your reservation early in advance. If not, you might have a chance on waiting list. Until January 10th they’ll only be serving a “best of the year menu”.

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FRANCE - WEEK-END IN MARSEILLE - MASSILIA DOLCE VITA

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image MUCEM

 

 

LA PASSARELLE

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The charm of the countryside in the heart of Marseille? Bohemian style? Possible at La Passarelle. This Meditteranean restaurant serves healthy and tasty dishes all made with organic products. Vegetable and fruit salad, grilled fish or Kefta in a big garden near a Pétanque playgroung… Here it is.

ASK : If they’re open as they close in October when it starts getting too cold. And if they’re not, you can try tapas at their bar L’Alimentation Générale.

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JOGGING

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This former butcher shop revamped as a concept store is one of a kind in Marseille. Tastefully designed, co-founded by Olivier Amsellem (photographer) and Charlotte Brunet, it curates fashion items and lifestyle products not to be found anywhere else in town.  Aesop, Olympia Le Tan, Christophe Lemaire, Opening Ceremony, Adieu Paris…

Plus, there’s a hidden charming little garden hosting events at the back.

ASK : Olivier for some tips, where to eat, where to be. He knows the city like the back of his hands.

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MAISON EMPEREUR

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Manufactures françaises

Manufactures françaises

This is too good to be true. Old fashioned but modern. Chic but affordable. The oldest hardware store in France hasn’t aged a day in two centuries. From “savon de Marseille” (soap) to “Pierrot Gourmand lollipops”, here’s where you’ll find everything. Lifestyle paradise.

ASK : How to go to “Manufactures françaises” If you’re looking for made in France products only. Part of Maison Empereur, this little shop tucked in Le panier (one of Marseille’s loveliest neighborhoods) offers what’s best.

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SUSHIQUI

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Friendly Christian Qui, former landscape architect has trained 6 months in California and learned cutting techniques in order to become the fish master he is today. So there he goes, working all by himself  behind a little bar and transforming the morning’s small-scale fishing products into delicious and creative sashimis from Marseille. Enjoy them in an intimate and relax atmosphere between some Miso soup and oysters. 12 table settings here and dinner only. 

ASK : To have a look at Christian’s vinyle collection. And let the music play.

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image Roof of la Cité Radieuse
 
image Hotel Le Corbusier
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A visit to Le Corbusier’s “Cité radieuse” is not limited to architecture lovers. Besides the MaMo (art center),  the hotel, the restaurant and a bakery, you’ll find another gem at number 318 of this incredible building people of Marseille used to call “la Maison du fada” (the crazy man’s house). In cosy “SEMIS boutique expresso” you can enjoy a cup of coffee, fresh orange juices, cookies and muffins from Coogie coffee shop and buy traditionally knitted pieces from the cool brand “Atelier Semis”. A sweet treat while shopping.

ASK : For the home made ice cream… in Marseille.

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SORMIOU

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The road that leads to Sormiou is incredible, as you can see Marseille City on one side and the calanque on the other side. This vertigo feeling has a price. In order to go by car (and avoid walking an hour), you need to book a table in one of the two restaurants. Le Château (that I recommend) or Le Lunch (on the beach but not so good). Until October.

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LES GOUDES

image La baie des singes
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Les Goudes has an easy access by car. The best way to enjoy this calanque is to rent a sunbed at the restaurant La Baie des Singes (until October). Magical.

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FRANCE - MARSEILLE - Shopping & Coffee shop - 318 cité radieuse

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A visit to Le Corbusier’s “Cité radieuse” is not limited to architecture lovers. Besides the MaMo (art center),  the hotel, the restaurant and a bakery, you’ll find another gem at number 318 of this incredible building people of Marseille used to call “la Maison du fada” (the crazy man’s house). In cosy “SEMIS boutique expresso” you can enjoy a cup of coffee, fresh orange juices, cookies and muffins from Coogie coffee shop and buy traditionally knitted pieces from the cool brand “Atelier Semis”. A sweet treat while shopping.

ASK : For the home made ice cream… in Marseille.

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FRANCE - MARSEILLE - Shopping - Jogging

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This former butcher shop revamped as a concept store is one of a kind in Marseille. Tastefully designed, co-founded by Olivier Amsellem (photographer) and Charlotte Brunet who curate fashion items and lifestyle products not to be found anywhere else in town.  Aesop, Olympia Le Tan, Christophe Lemaire, Opening Ceremony, Adieu Paris…

Plus, there’s a hidden charming little garden hosting events at the back.

ASK : Olivier for some tips, where to eat, where to be. He knows the city like the back of his hands.

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FRANCE - MARSEILLE - Shopping - Maison Empereur et Manufactures françaises

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This is too good to be true. Old fashioned but modern. Chic but affordable. The oldest hardware store in France hasn’t aged a day in two centuries. From “savon de Marseille” (soap) to “Pierrot Gourmand lollipops”, here’s where you’ll find everything. Lifestyle paradise.

ASK : How to go to “Manufactures françaises” If you’re looking for made in France products only. Part of Maison Empereur, this little shop tucked in Le panier (one of Marseille’s loveliest neighborhoods) offers what’s best.

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FRANCE - MARSEILLE - RESTAURANT -  La Passarelle

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The charm of the countryside in the heart of Marseille? Bohemian style? Possible at La Passarelle. This Meditteranean restaurant serves healthy and tasty dishes all made with organic products. Vegetable and fruit salad, grilled fish or Kefta in a big garden near a Pétanque playgroung… Here it is.

ASK : If they’re open as they close in October when it starts getting too cold. And if they’re not, you can try tapas at their bar L’Alimentation Générale.

Website

Maps

FRANCE - MARSEILLE - Restaurant - SushiQui

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Friendly Christian Qui, former landscape architect has trained 6 months in California and learned cutting techniques in order to become the fish master he is today. So there he goes, working all by himself  behind a little bar and transforming the morning’s small-scale fishing products into delicious and creative sashimis from Marseille. Enjoy them in an intimate and relax atmosphere between some Miso soup and oysters. 12 table settings here and dinner only.

ASK : To have a look at Christian’s vinyle collection. And let the music play.

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SINGAPORE - SHOP - Manifesto

This multi-label concept store is unlike any other you’ve seen so far in the city. The first thing that crosses your mind is “Where am I?”. Well basically, you’re in Walid Zaazaa’s creative mind, a world where art, architecture and fashion all come together. This French fashion designer has worked with brands like DKNY and Calvin Klein for 15 years before opening what is today the most avant-gardist and coolest store in town. More than half of the brands you’ll find here are new to Singapore. Think Gilet, Inari, Mads Norgaard or Maison Olga… And by coming here, you’d definitely save a shopping trip to Japan, Denmark or France.

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Zaazaa’s idea is to welcome everyone, “no matter if it’s to buy an affordable postcard, or to get a 300 dollars Maison Kitsuné dress”. That sounds like a lovely Manifesto.

ASK : What’s coming up. The store also aims to host events and exhibitions, Daniel Buren for example might come soon.

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image Shop lifestyle at Manifesto
image Shop fashion at Manifesto

 

 

SINGAPORE - RESTAURANT - ANDRE - Delectable

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André Chiang, born in Taiwan, had worked under French master Chefs such as Pourcel, Robuchon, Troisgros, Gagnaire… before he decided to settle in Singapore and call his restaurant home. This charming heritage house behind a welcoming little olive tree, takes you on a culinary journey and into André’s creative universe based on an “Octaphilosophy”. Unique, pure, texture, memory, salt, south, artisan and terroir.

The result is French, but different. Nouvelle cuisine, but not too much. In this place awarded best restaurant in Singapore, the meat comes from France (4 times a week), and lunch is worth the 100 dollars + you’d spend once in a while (or a lifetime) on a gastronomic restaurant.

image Veal Aspic

The daring “veal aspic” basically a deconstructed revamped “tête de veau”, would make you surprizingly ask for more brain, tongue, and other kind of offal you thought you’d never eat. Menu changes daily, but his signature dessert the “Snickers” chocolate bar (new creation each year) remains. The 2015 version is to die for.

And when André leaves you a note on a menu sheet saying “Life is about good food, good wine and lots of good friends”, it’s just delectable.

ASK: To be seated downstairs to feel the kitchen vibes.

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image Snickers 2015
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Malaysia - George Town - China House - In the name of tiramisu

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So unlikely that a Café called China House is making one of the best tiramisus you could ever eat. I had to go to Georgetown to believe it. What’s awesome about this city is that you can feast on traditional local street food in the night market, then easily enjoy a european sweet treat afterwards. In fact, China House is a cake paradise, and not only a café. 3 heritage buildings converted into 14 spaces (café, restaurants, art galleries, shops, live music…) linked by an open air courtyard. That gives you several possible excuses to go there and get your sugar fix.

ASK: For the Tiramisu, of course.

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Malaysia - George Town - Blue Mansion - Heritage Beauty

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“Blue Mansion” or “Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion” is a house that would tell incredible stories if being questionned, well if it could speak. Once the property of Asia’s wealthiest man in the 19th century, it is today one of the most interesting attractions in Penang, an illustration of the best of heritage architecture. A visit to the Blue Mansion throws you deep back in time. A time where Southeast Asia was a promising land, a time when Feng Shui was taken absolutely seriously. I wouldn’t recommend to dine as the food is “so-so” but the tour is a must-do in Penang. Even Catherine Deneuve, for a scene in the movie Indochine has been here.  Those in pursuit of true Beauty won’t be disappointed.

ASK : If there are any rooms available to spend the night… Though some people say it’s haunted. But rumors you know…

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Malaysia - George Town - Hotel - Sinkeh - Call it home

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Sinkeh (“New comer”) is some kind of treasure you’d want to keep secret. But because owner and stage director Chee Sek Thim puts 20% of the benefits into programming, meaning each guest contributes to support the Penang art scene, a hidden gem has to be unveiled.

 Re-designed to present a contemporary vision to an heritage building, this 19th century straits chinese house, tastefully revamped with wood and concrete, has nine rooms on its 1st and 2nd floor and an art working space on the ground floor. A Library and 2 open patios to chill. It’s rare to love a place so much that you’d come back to a city just for it. Sinkeh is that kind of hotel you can call home.

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ASK: To meet Sek Thim, among other stories, he’ll tell you why there are silk worm cocoons in glass jars near the entrance.

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Singapore - Sorrel - Bistronomy, as asian as possible

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We French people take bistronomy seriously. So when a restaurant, in Singapore, opens and vows to make the best of high-end bistro food with (almost) only asian products, we go like “Ok on verra”. Named after the sweet and sour herb “sorrel”, this restaurant helmed by incredibly young 24 years old executive Chef Johnston Teo has one mantra : “Good food doesn’t have to be complicated”. There are no classic asian or western dishes revamped as the game is to create something new. Think “Edamame & fromage blanc” or “Chicken with white asparagus & oyster mushrooms”. When you miss Europe but still want to eat “local”, here’s a place to go.

ASK: To be seated at the bar facing the kitchen to observe and eat.

Lunch is affordable but not hearty.

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