Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011

Wow! Last work day of the year, and what a year it's been.

Perhaps the most critical natural disaster of the year was the 8.9 earthquake which hit Japan. The earthquake caused a tsunami of epic proportions which overwhelmed Japan’s eastern coast and consequently also caused a nuclear reactor crisis in Fukushima. In the wake of the devastation, every concerned individual wanted to do what he/she can to contribute towards the cause. Ironically, the most befitting support was not to boycott produce from Japan but to continue to source from them, under tightened safety and supervision. So, while many ignoramuses were snapping up salt to reduce radiation levels (don’t ask me how), I was just busy eating. In honor of the bravery of the many Japanese involved in rescue efforts, and the many who continue to thrive in difficult circumstances, here’s my best-of Japan list for 2011. My only regret was not having the opportunity to travel there this year, but it will hopefully make it as one of my destinations in 2012.

Unless otherwise stated, all restaurants in this post are in Hong Kong.

Best Sashimi – Hana Sakazuki
Best Sushi – Kenjo
Best Ramen – Ippudo HK
Best Chicken Ramen – Torihana
Best Toro Taku Don – Sushi Hiro
Best Goya Champeru – Yakichi
Best Japanese restaurant opening – Sushi Ta-ke
Best value in Singapore – Wahiro
Best salaryman’s secret in Singapore – Inaho's Kitchen Bar

In other food news, here’s my pick for 2011.

Best down and dirty Chiu Chow – 成發潮州菜館
Best down and dirty Hakka – Kong Hing Restaurant
Best Saikung Seafood – Sing Kee Seafood Restaurant
Best truffles – 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana
Best value Italian – Gold by Harlan Goldstein
Best suckling pig – 新斗记
Best foodies’ dinner – Sijie Sichuan Dishes
Best tea-pairing dinner – Lingnan Club / Mingcha
Best Caribbean private dining – Mandy's Private Kitchen
Best desserts – Sevva
Best fine dim sum – tie between Fook Lam Moon and T'ang Court
Best old school dim sum – Very Good Restaurant
Best brunch – Gusto
Best afternoon tea – Café Causette
Best bar - 001
Best TST openings to distract me from work – Holly Brown, Yo Mama , 18 Grams

In travel news, we did manage to hit a few places this year and try new foods.

Best Macau meal – Restaurante Espaco Lisboa
Best Barcelona Tapas – Cap Pep
Best Barcelona meal – Comerc, 24
Best Carcassone meal – Restaurant Le Parc

In tennis news, Roger Federer had yet another “bad” year, unable to win any Grand Slam in a calendar year for the first time since 2002. Such has been his phenomenal dominance of the sport. Notwithstanding, he still manages a hat trick of titles, capping off the year with the ATP World Finals trophy, Bercy which he had never won in his illustrious career, and of course his hometown Basel. Unsettling as it was, for the first time it was neither Federer nor Nadal who ended the year at No. 1 but Novak Djokovic, who had an awesome season with 41 straight match wins and 3 grand slam titles. History was also made when Li Na became the first Chinese woman to win a grand slam at Roland Garros, and appropriately so on June 4, the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. Finally, my other hero Justine Henin was unable to sustain her comeback due to injuries, and had to retire a second time - Shame.

In obituaries, we lost the following people and we felt sad one way or another. Elizabeth Taylor, Steve Jobs, Seve Ballesteros, Alan Tang, Teresa Hsu and Amy Winehouse. Each individual had contributed entertainment, technology, philanthropy and/or talent in their own special way, and they will each be missed. I’m not sure many will miss Osama bin Laden, Col. Muammar Gaddafi or Kim Jong Il, and certainly some are still debating if it is even appropriate to send condolences.

Closer to home, Singapore saw 2 elections this year and the advent of social media allowed the opposition to put up much more of a credible fight. Of course, the quality of the candidates fielded was significantly more impressive. While the nation decided in polls that they should only make history in baby steps, perhaps this signals a change and the next general election ought to be nothing short of interesting. The momentum carried through a little with the Presidential Elections but again, although margins were close, it was the mainstream candidate who came through.

In entertainment, and there was not time for much, I enjoyed my first Bob Dylan concert in Beijing. It was nothing short of awesome considering Mr. D’s age. His ability to sustain a 2 hour performance with no breaks was just amazing. And it was all great music even if I couldn’t make out the lyrics! No “wow!” movies in my opinion, but the following were certainly enjoyable. "Bruce Lee: My Brother" for the nostalgia 1940s to 1960s Hong Kong brings, "非誠勿擾 II or If You Are The One II"; for a little romantic reality, and "Wuxia" for Donnie Yen and Takashi Kaneshiro.

Once again, another year to be thankful and grateful for. Thanks for reading and here’s wishing you a fantastic 2012. Eat well.

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