Restaurant News

The best dishes we ate overseas in 2016

We’ve journeyed from Botswana to Brooklyn, Japan to Java this year, and ate a lot of great things along the way. Here are some highlights from GT’s travel-writing team.

Pineapple kimchi fried rice at Baroo, Los Angeles

Amanjiwo, Borobudur, Central Java Any meal enjoyed on the terrace at Amanjiwo with direct sightlines to the glorious ninth-century temple of Borobudur is pretty special, yet the most memorable dishes are those served for resort guests in the humble home of a local man, Pak Bilal, with no views at all. A private dinner, replete with gamelan player, starts with soursop Martinis and a robust fish soup studded with green tomato. Half a dozen Javanese dishes prepared over tableside wood fires follow, among them a stand-out fiery snapper curry and stir-fried cassava leaves with lontong, the traditional rice cake steamed in banana leaves.
Amanjiwo, Borobudur, Central Java, Indonesia, HELEN ANDERSON

Flower crab with uni, Ronin, Hong Kong
I accidentally knocked this dish after my first bite, flinging it to the floor and losing the rest. I'll regret that act of clumsiness forever. Fresh, sweet local flower crab is hand-picked, served in the crab shell and dressed with so much plump sea urchin roe it should be illegal. Thankfully, it's not.
Ronin, 8 On Wo Lane, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2547 5263,

Flower crab with uni, Ronin, Hong Kong

Pineapple kimchi fried rice, Baroo, Los Angeles Some revelations and resolutions: Joe Beef entirely warrants a trip to Montréal in itself. Blanca's pasta is just stupidly good, not for Brooklyn but for anywhere, and repeat visits to Roberta's over the same weekend are perfectly justified. There was shock of the quality of the food at Idam, Alain Ducasse's restaurant at the superb Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. And Blue Hill at Stone Barns was one of the most coherent and grounded, yet giddily exciting fine-dining meals I've had in years, right down to the single-udder butter. Finding some of the best sushi anywhere upstairs at Okra in Hong Kong was a pleasant surprise, and in a year of great roast chickens, the bird at Belon in Hong Kong ruled them all. Birria at the Alcalde market was a down-payment on a return to Guadalajara to eat the rest of the town. And any morning that involves eating bissara in Fes has something going for it. But for the gourmet traveller it's the unicorns that really count, and Baroo, a deeply odd little restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard really ticks the box, combining the free commingling borderless of ideas and culture that, on a good day, 2016 still held. And chips. The pineapple-fermented kimchi on the rice is stunning enough on its own, but with a poached egg, crisp purple-potato chips, gremolata, roasted seaweed, toasted buckwheat and pineapple jalapeño salsa, it slays. Oh, and it's nine bucks. A real treat.
Baroo, 5706 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, +1 323 929 9288,

Kokoda, Castaway Island, Fiji The last place I expected to have one of the best meals of the year was Fiji, at the 50-year-old Castaway Island resort. Not a place necessarily known for its culinary flair - but it should be. I've had cured fish everywhere from Buenos Aires to Bora Bora but never the way executive sous-chef Denis Chandra prepares it at Castaway's feet-in-the-sand signature restaurant, 1808. He roasts the coconut flesh on hot rocks and then strains it through cloth to produce an intense, charry cream that's blended with lime juice to cure slivers of just-caught Spanish mackerel. It's a purist interpretation of Kokoda, Fiji's raw fish salad, nothing special at all really, and yet the silky, smoky result is very special indeed. I dream about this fish.
Castaway Island, Mamanuca Group, Fiji, +679 666 1233;

Bread, Momofuku Ko, New York The bright ideas come thick and fast at Ko's new East Village digs. Raw striped bass suspended in dashi jelly. A photogenic arrangement of sea urchin and fermented chickpea. Razor clams in pineapple dashi. But the winner? The bread course, as notable for the body of the sourdough as the tang of the butter, aged for three weeks in cheese caves in Bushwick till good and properly funky.
Momofuku Ko, 8 Extra Pl, New York, +1 212-203-8095%20203-8095), MAX VEENHUYZEN

Bread, Momofuku Ko, New York