Travel News

The Hot 100: 41-60

Food that levitates? Check. Arabian luxury digs in the Abu Dhabi desert? Check. Planking and cold-smoking? Check. It must be the Gourmet Traveller Hot 100. Restaurants of the moment, exciting new talent, emerging trends, savvy travel tips… consider this your new global hit list.

By GT Staff
41 Favourite East-meets-West moment Hong Kong-based Swire Properties, the brains behind the city's sensational Upper House hotel and Beijing's Opposite House, are taking their cutting-edge concept to Britain. Swire's newly launched Chapter Hotels offshoot has already opened The Montpellier in Cheltenham, the first of its "locally inspired" properties set in notable English cities. Expect roast Cotswold pheasant with bread sauce on the menu.
42 Top pick to pack Made with mandarin rind, atlas cedarwood and rosemary leaf, the deliciously fragrant Aesop Resurrection Rinse-Free Hand Wash, $13, comes in a travel-friendly 50ml plastic flip-top bottle and is our favourite way to stay squeaky clean on the road. Call it the new hand sanitiser.
43 Best new big apple addresses
The Chatwal may be a stone's throw from the neon fantasia of Times Square but it's a world away in spirit. This landmark 1905 building, a former hangout for Hollywood luminaries Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin, has been reinvented as an elegant art deco-inspired retreat complete with period details such as round Chinese lacquer doors and wardrobes reminiscent of vintage steamer trunks. Downtown, the opening of Mondrian has ramped up Soho's already buzz-worthy Crosby Street, while the Trump SoHo - a 391-unit tower of glass and steel - has been fitted out with Fendi Casa furnishings given the tick by Ivanka Trump. Sitting pretty in Manhattan's illustrious Midtown, the much-anticipated Setai Fifth Avenue piles on the glamour with spacious rooms, a standout spa with ice cave and hammam, and fine finishes in rosewood, onyx and gold-flecked marble.
44 Gravity, defied You've heard of science in the kitchen, but what about a superconductor on the dinner plate? That's just what South Australian chef Cole Thomas is experimenting with: making fish fly. The idea, Thomas says, is that the diner can eat the tiny amuse bouche of marinated tuna, hands-free, from mid-air: "I want the diner to have the experience of being the fish." Thomas intends the dish to become part of the menu he serves at the Hentley Farm restaurant in the Barossa when it opens to the public. Not everything on the menu, he says, will be quite so sci-fi. "Courses like the flying fish are the punctuation marks."
45 Highest beds on earth It's all too easy to be dazzled by the superlatives that tumble from the heights of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. The world's new tallest hotel is set to open atop the 490-metre, 118-floor International Commerce Centre in Kowloon. In a city defined by its skyscrapers, and where five-star is standard, the Ritz-Carlton stands out with its exceptional panoramas and, on the rooftop, the planet's highest bar, Ozone. Italian and Chinese restaurants play counterpoint to the self-explanatory Chocolate Library, where browsing is practically compulsory. An ESPA spa offers an indoor pool bordered by floor-to-ceiling windows and a view that runs "to infinity and beyond". 
46 A second act to savour Yotam Ottolenghi, darling of London's nibbling classes, is renowned for his cookbooks of colourful Mediterranean-inspired, mostly vegetarian dishes, as showcased in his London café chain - also called Ottolenghi.
But in a departure from his Aussie-style all-day cafés and takeaways, the Israeli-born chef has at last just opened his first full-blown high-end brasserie in London's Soho, called Nopi. Dishes include twice-cooked baby chicken with lemon myrtle and chilli sauce, and halibut carpaccio with samphire.
47 Best culinary use for two-by-four
Planking, cooking fish on a soaked plank over an open fire has been big in the US for years, but it's now finding fans locally. Saké chef Shaun Presland shared his love of it in the barbecuing special in the January GT, and veteran fisho John Susman deploys the technique at his Cloudy Bay Fish Co restaurants. "It's a great way to retain moisture and impart a rich, smoky flavour without having a smokehouse," says Susman. "The trick is using new cedar or elk planks soaked in a brine with sugar and salt, and keeping the skin on the salmon."
48 The hills are alive The NSW Southern Highlands equivalent of the Royal Mail Hotel? It might seem like a stretch, but Biota, a new restaurant opening in Bowral by chef James Viles, might just be worthy of the title. There's the country setting of course, but it's more the meeting of extensive kitchen gardens and the latest in kitchen tech that stirs the comparison. Shaun Quade, the Royal Mail-trained chef who scored a GT Best New Talent nomination for his pastry work at Brisbane's Urbane last year, is head chef. If his "hen's egg, potato cooked in smoked buttermilk, burnt beetroot, brassicas" is any indication, Biota will offer progressive cooking at its most unfettered. (02) 4862 2005
49 The unstoppable Maurice Terzini and Robert Marchetti Maurice Terzini has opened a number of restaurants over the years, but he says it doesn't get any easier as you go along. "We focus more on the details now," he says, "and we always try to do it a little bit better than the last one." The newest member of the family for Terzini, the man behind Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, North Bondi Italian Food, and Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons, is Neild Avenue, a new bar and Mediterranean grill he's opening with chef collaborator Robert Marchetti in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, in June.
The idea, Terzini says, "started with an indoor vineyard", a wine-focused eatery where the style of service is positioned somewhere between North Bondi frenzy and Icebergs formality, where the wine itself has been selected from the ground up to be drunk by the carafe, and where the food is fresh, summery and light enough to eat every day. Italy remains the focus for the pair, but at Neild Avenue the palette broadens to take in the coal-grilling and other traditions of Greece and Turkey. "We didn't want to do just another Italian restaurant." 10 Neild Ave, Rushcutters Bay, NSW
50 Ultimate island hideaways On a scale of one to wonderful, private islands offer the utmost bragging rights for the 21st-century traveller. Current hideaway hits include Fiji's Vomo with its wireless beach villas, sunset bar and nearby deserted isle for those seeking absolute isolation. A private jet spirits high-income holiday makers to Laucala Island, also in Fiji, where publishing magnate Malcolm Forbes has built a holiday escape. Laucala's 25 breathtaking villas are spread over a 4.5km tip of the island, just a short buggy ride from six restaurants and bars, an international-standard golf course and breezy beaches. Cambodia joins the club this month with Song Saa, a resort of 25 villas on the water, on the beach and in the rainforest in the Gulf of Thailand. In the Maldives, Banyan Tree Madivaru sleeps just 18 guests in six tented villas attended by 24-hour island hosts. Each 264-square-metre villa has a pandanus-fringed pool, twin outdoor showers and I Dream of Jeannie interiors.
51 Most intriguing new stopover The previously obscure city of Doha zoomed from zero to hero in the wake of its winning World Cup 2022 bid last year. The sudden global focus on Qatar's capital revealed an extraordinary desert boom town with cultural gems such as IM Pei's landmark Museum of Islamic Art and swank Arabian accommodation such as Ritz-Carlton's Sharq Village and Spa. And with the excellent Qatar Airways now flying direct to Doha from Melbourne, Australians have a new discovery on their doorstep.
52**Chinese province of the moment
** Cantonese: so over. Sichuan: don't make me yawn. But the great thing about Chinese food is that there's so much of it, and so many regional cuisines we barely see outside their own territories. It's only since economic liberalisation that we've even started to see the dishes of Yunnan outside the south-western province. In far-flung cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai or Beijing, Yunnanese restaurants now feed not just nostalgic émigrés, but also the culinarily curious. Signature dishes? Bamboo worms and bee larvae are certainly memorable, both very like witchetty grubs. But we prefer the way they use South East Asian herbs in the salads and stir-fries, especially in the refined and complex cooking of the Dai hill tribes. To get the real thing, you still need to travel to Yunnan, where every village has a home-style restaurant, usually in someone's front room. "Yunnan is, after all, the home of Shangri La," writes restaurateur, cookery teacher and author Tony Tan, "and qi guo ji - the delectable chicken steamed with precious herbs in a pot - is pretty close to heaven in my books."
53 Hip Tasmania For too long the butt of mainland jokes, Tasmania is laughing now that a determined change of fortune has it the star of Australian tourism. The island's invigorating walks, intense natural beauty and dreamy countryside have been enhanced by a bevy of great restaurants, high-end hotels and unique attractions. Its newest assets include eye-popping accommodation at Freycinet's Saffire and the MONA Pavilions, lavish private beach houses like The Lair and The Ocean Retreat, and memorable food experiences at Garagistes, Sweet Envy and The Agrarian Kitchen.
54 Chefs' favourite new magic powder Did you catch Mugaritz chef Andoni Aduriz performing calcium oxide hocus pocus at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival? Kym Machin at Brisbane restaurant Urbane is a local proponent of the technique. "Fossil powder contains a large component of alkali, a basic ionic salt derived from alkali metal. When added to water it creates a powerful salt bath." Plunge a baby pear into the brew and it becomes "fossilised": leathery on the exterior with a translucent, near purée-like texture inside. At Urbane those pears accompany fossilised heirloom beetroot, chèvre du Poitou goat's cheese, beetroot leaves, onion petals and honey vinaigrette. The technique, Machin says, "highlights the vegetable's true flavours."
55**Best-dressed digital**
Well-dressed iPads say a lot about their owners' devotion to digital fashions. Chanel has launched a quilted black iPad cover that costs about three times as much as the tablet itself, while Louis Vuitton's Damier Graphite number stays true to the brand's distinctive chequerboard pattern. Gucci does one in an ebony and beige diamond pattern and, not to be outdone, Oscar de la Renta and Hermès have released cases in a range of glossy leathers.
56 Most fun to be had under water
It's been a big year for water features. Off the coast of Cancun, artist Jason deCaires Taylor has created MUSA, the Museo Subacuático de Arte, where scuba-diving aesthetes can swim among 400 permanent sculptures rooted to the sea floor. Late this year, you can party under water at Niyama in the Maldives' Dhaalu Atoll, where the chic hoteliers behind Huvafen Fushi have created a nightclub under the Indian Ocean accessible only by boat. And guests at Conrad Maldives can hop aboard the hotel's three-seater submarine for a trip around Rangali Island's reefs.
57**Freshest blood at the fish market
** Not nearly as gruesome as they sound, blood cockles are bivalves with opaque, red-tinged flesh. Sourced from the clear waters of Queensland's Hervey Bay, they'll be ready for Australian tables about August when they've grown to the 27mm to 45mm range and their meat-to-shell ratio is at its most promising.
58 Best way to cool off
Adventure tourism doesn't come much more colourful than a visit to far-north Norway to ski frozen fjords under the northern lights. Snow-hounds in the know book into the extremely cosy Lyngen Lodge, about two and a half hours east of Tromsø, to join exhilarating expeditions led by English owner and powder-fiend Graham Austick. Highlights include hiking mountains to their 1200-metre peaks, strapping on skis and skiing down to a snow-covered beach… and taking a dip in the fjord. Guests' exertions are rewarded each evening with fresh-caught fish and king crab and, if they're lucky, the most spectacular natural lightshow on earth.
59 Best reason to leave the house on a Tuesday: Ben Shewry Some have unkindly dubbed it "tight-arse Tuesday", and the $90 for the Tuesday night five-course degustation at Attica does indeed represent bang for buck. But there's more to it than saving cash. A Tuesday seat represents adventure, with you as guinea pig in Ben Shewry's lab. Quail and squid ink rice cake, perhaps? Or button mushrooms with nashi and goat's milk curd. You're subject to - as the chef himself admits - unproven success and failure, so there's something of the thrill of the chase in it. Imagine being there when the next "potato cooked in the earth in which it was grown"-type classic makes its debut.
60 Favourite first class Etihad Diamond First has pioneered a blue-ribbon experience of limousine airport transfers and private suites with personal minibars, Ferragamo night bags and Poltrona Frau seats that fold down to 203cm flat beds. Inflight service extends from free-flowing Bollinger La Grande Année 2000 to superior à la carte dining. 
  • undefined: GT Staff