French haute cuisine in Macau, Mediterranean mezze in New York, European classics in Nairobi and refined beach shack seafood in Bali are just some of the options enticing global diners to new restaurants in 2018.
Here are 14 additions to the culinary must-try list for those keen to get in first at the hottest tables around the world.
1. La Rambla, Hong Kong
Few Hong Kong locations come more sought-after than the International Finance Center, right on the city’s famous Victoria Harbour.
New Spanish restaurant La Rambla has a prime IFC spot to showcase its Catalan-inspired menus and drinks program, which diners can enjoy from a 100-seat terrace with enviable views.
Chef Ferran Tadeo formerly worked at the legendary elBulli and under José Andrés, so his plates and ingredients are as authentically Spanish as they come, but also touched by innovation.
That could mean 120-day hung Galician beef direct from Barcelona’s top steakhouse Carles Tejedor, huge red carabinero shrimp, or generous paellas. Save room for delicious desserts including decadent dulce de leche.
La Rambla, 3071 IFC Mall, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2661 1161
2. The Lord Erroll, Nairobi
The Lord Erroll restaurant has been a Nairobi institution for years, but a new chef in the form of Isaac Arunga, a new staff team, a new owner (Zahra Bahlewa) and a new interior have attracted a whole new clientele.
But the plates are another. Renditions of European classics are delivered with style and aplomb.
An impeccable rack of lamb, Italian-influenced eggplant and shamelessly old-school desserts like bread and butter pudding or crêpe suzette ensure diners keep coming back for more.
The Lord Erroll, 89 Ruaka Rd, Nairobi City, Kenya; +254 721 920820
3. Benjarong, Manila
Benjarong may be a type of Thai porcelain that translates as “five colors” but it’s also the name of a Manila restaurant where chef Watcharapon Yongbanthom – also known as “Chef Ja” – crafts genuine flavors from her homeland.
She and her team can be seen at work in the open kitchen producing dishes such as see krong moo krob wan – crispy ribs with Sriracha cabbage – or more familiar classics such as the stir-fried noodle, peanut and bean sprout dish, pad Thai.
A 28-seat bar provides a vantage point for people watching, cocktails and signature Thai drinks, while the combination of Thai cuisine with renowned Filipino hospitality looks set to keep Manileños coming back for more.
Benjarong, Ground Floor, Dusit Thani Manila, Ayala Centre, 1223 Makati City Metro Manila, Philippines; +63 (02) 238 8888
4. Voyages by Alain Ducasse, Macau
French culinary titan Alain Ducasse continues to grow the footprint of his global fine-dining empire, with the latest destination set to open in Macau in the spring.
As a chef who is on the road for the majority of the year, his latest opening comes inspired by his travels, notably across Asia, for more than three decades.
Voyages at Morpheus Hotel, City of Dreams combines his unique renditions of Asian dishes alongside his own creations.
Much as you’d expect in the gaming and entertainment destination of Macau, the interiors spare no expense, with Monsieur Ducasse having direct input in every aspect of the design and execution.
Voyages sits within the Morpheus Hotel, itself a feast for the eyes thanks to its extraordinary design by the late British architect Zaha Hadid.
Voyages by Alain Ducasse, Morpheus Hotel, City of Dreams, Estrada do Istmo, Cotai, Macau; +853 8868 6688
5. Cleo, New York
Diverse cultures and cuisines have helped shape the work of chef Danny Elmaleh, who has a Moroccan father and a Japanese mother. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he worked in Japan and Italy before setting up his own restaurant.
Today, the Cleo brand of restaurants continues to expand its US footprint with the latest opening inside the Mondrian Park Avenue hotel in New York.
His largely Mediterranean-influenced plates are all about sharing and Cleo is all about social dining. That may mean tuna tartare with the vibrant lift of the Moroccan chili paste harissa, confit duck in a broth with matzo balls or Japanese wagyu steaks grilled simply but effectively over charcoal.
Cleo, Mondrian Park Avenue, 444 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10016; +1 (212) 804 8880
6. Publico, Singapore
The latest addition to Singapore’s ever-changing skyline comes in the form of The Quayside, a new dining destination boasting a number of stylish eateries sure to bring in a local and international crowd for elegant riverside dining.
Publico Ristorante opened its doors at the Intercontinental Robertson Quay in December 2017, serving a raft of Italian classics such as a signature risotto “alla milanese” with saffron, pecorino and red wine or wood-fired pizzas.
Italian executive chef Marco Turatti’s plates are complemented by a curated wine and drinks list taking in full-bodied Tuscan Chiantis to potent Negronis, thanks to Asia’s largest collection of Amaris or bitters. Classic Italian sweet treats, such as Tiramisu, are always hard to pass up for dessert.
Publico, InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay, 1 Nanson Rd, Singapore; +65 6826 5040
7. China Tang, Las Vegas
Las Vegas isn’t exactly short of dining options, but a newcomer set to fire up the woks early this year adds serious experience in Chinese cuisine to the city’s culinary portfolio.
China Tang Las Vegas at the MGM Grand is set to serve Cantonese cuisine, with influences from across China’s rich culinary map including Sichuan, Shanghai and Beijing.
Hong Kong-based Lai Sun, who own multiple Michelin-starred restaurants in Hong Kong and beyond, are responsible for the launch.
They’re bringing in executive chef Albert Au Kwok Keung, the youngest Chinese chef ever to win three Michelin stars at The Eight in Macau, to lead the kitchen. He and his team will craft classic dishes in glamorous surroundings.
China Tang, MGM Grand, 3799 S Las Vegas Blvd, NV 89109; +1 877-880-0880
8. Taihei, Phuket, Thailand
Named after the Japanese word for “peace,” Taihei enjoys a suitably tranquil setting amidst the pools and greenery of the Banyan Tree resort on the Thai vacation island of Phuket.
It’s where Kyushu-born chef Shiraishi, who has more than 40 years of experience under his belt, will craft sashimi and sushi amongst other traditional Japanese dishes.
Yakimono dishes, namely those pan-fried or grilled such as gyoza, are another menu highlight, while for guests wanting to take their knowledge further, Shirashi will share his skills in sushi-making classes.
With a maximum of just 35 diners, Taihei’s focus is set to be on personal attention and culinary discovery.
Taihei, 33/27 Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay, Amphur Talang, Phuket 83110, Thailand; +66 (0)76 372 400
9. Sensus, Dubrovnik, Croatia
With one of the finest views of the beautiful walled old town of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Sea, Sensus at the Excelsior Hotel already had much in its favor even before the plates from chef Petar Obad were added into the mix.
His interpretations of Mediterranean classics and local Croatian delicacies brings in diners as much as the Instagram-worthy backdrop.
A signature dish of ravioli with sweetbreads, truffle, prosciutto and a sauce made from Malvasija wine demonstrates the chef’s melding of flavors, ingredients and textures.
Herbs from the kitchen’s garden and local sun-ripened produce are crafted into lamb with rosemary, artichokes and onion marmalade, while “grandma’s flan” is Obad’s dessert homage to a beloved family recipe.
Sensus, Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik, Frana Supila 12, 20 000 Dubrovnik, Croatia; +385 20 353 447
10. Jean-Georges at The Connaught, London
The Connaught Hotel is one of London’s most distinguished venues thanks to its elegant Mayfair location, classic English style and service.
Its new draw is the informal dining space Jean-Georges from internationally renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
In common with his 30 global restaurants in destinations including New York, Paris and Tokyo, the menus at Jean-Georges at The Connaught are eclectic, making the most of his classical French training alongside multiple Asian influences.
His black truffle and fontina pizza is a decadent attraction, while more local flavors include the fish and chips or traditional afternoon tea.
The interiors ooze class with bespoke art and stained-glass windows, which bathe the space in light.
Jean-Georges at The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL; +44 (0)20 7499 7070
11. The Lighthouse at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
The new Four Seasons resort in the Seychelles at Desroches Island includes the relaxed but refined The Lighthouse restaurant, where grilled fish and meat and a raw seafood bar are all on offer.
As the name suggests, The Lighthouse is one of the island’s most iconic buildings and a terrace bar provides enviable Indian Ocean views for sundowner cocktails.
Despite the secluded island setting, a combination of local flavors and high-end international produce will keep well-heeled travelers coming back for more.
Lighthouse, Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island, Seychelles
12. Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire, Capella Hotel, Shanghai
Another legendary French chef with multiple Michelin stars to his name, Pierre Gagnaire recently opened his first restaurant in Mainland China at Shanghai’s elegant Capella Hotel.
While his global restaurants are known for cutting-edge innovation and creativity, at Capella the emphasis is more on beautiful renditions of simple but authentic French classics.
Chef Romain Chapel has worked with Gagnaire for years and his plates deliver impeccable flavors and textures, including beef fillet in black pepper butter or pan-seared turbot with sweet onion syrup.
The setting feels Parisian even without the impeccable breads and pastry from the on-site La Boulangerie, while Gagnaire’s reputation for breathtaking desserts is upheld.
Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire, Capella Hotel, Jian Ye Li, 480 West Jianguo Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai 200031 China
13. COMO Uma Canggu, Bali
The rich dining culture of the Indonesian island of Bali is set to be taken up a notch with the spring opening of this beach club restaurant at the luxury boutique resort COMO Uma Canggu.
Diners can expect locally sourced ingredients from across the famed vacation island with a focus on “new world cuisine.”
Billing itself as a modern take on the traditional surf shack, the all-day venue promises a mix of refinement with a laid-back feel through live acoustic musicians and DJs.
On the menu, expect local fish, quality steaks and more on the wood-fired grill with their smoky flavors, healthy and energizing vibrant salads and shared plates that are perfect after a day on the beach as the sun sets.
COMO Uma Canggu, Jalan Pantai Batu Mejan, Echo Beach, Canggu, Badung 80361, Bali, Indonesia; +62 361 302 2228
14.Galvin Dubai, Dubai
Not only are Chris and Jeff Galvin Michelin-starred chefs, they just so happen to be brothers as well. The siblings’ latest venture is in Dubai, at The Square in City Walk, the UAE’s latest dining destination.
On the menu are European flavors and dishes including “best of British,” southern French and Italian.
That may mean ceviche or tartare from the seafood bar, artisan salumi or roast meats from the wood-fired oven and grill.
More delicate renditions feature Devon crab from the UK crafted into a lasagne, or a lobster bisque.
Selected wines are sourced from vineyards that the Galvin brothers know well.
Galvin Dubai, The Square, City Walk, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; +971 4 590 5444