2016 Dining Recap


Having visited a handful of Michelin starred, World’s 50 Best and other top restaurants in Asia and Europe, 2016 was great dining year. My journey began at Hong Kong where I dined at Lung King Heen, the very first three Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in the world. Needless to say, it had an extremely high quality Cantonese food. The restaurants location on the fourth floor of the Four Season hotel boasts a panoramic view of Victoria Harbor. The two Michelin-starred Amber at Landmark Mandarin Oriental offers a terrific weekend wine lunch which consists of five courses paired with four glasses of wine. This was one of the best deals out there at 928 HKD for a restaurant at this caliber. Dinner at the L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (the only of the L’Ateliers with three Michelin stars) was also quite superb.

I waited in queue for hours at Tim Ho Wan in Sham Shui Po, which at that time was the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world (until that distinction was awarded to Singapore’s Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken in the summer of last year). The dim sum was tasty and I enjoyed every single dish that I had. Frog legs and chicken congee at Tasty Congee & Wuntun Noodle Shop in the IFC was nothing short of delicious. Even better was the chicken and fish congee at the concierge recommended Sang Kee Congee Shop in Sheung Wan. 208 Ducento Otto serves up wonderful cocktails while Angel Share Whisky Bar & Restaurant and its expansive list of whisky is a must-visit for enthusiast while in Hong Kong.

That same journey through Asia led me to Tokyo, Japan. I had my very first meal in this sprawling metropolis at RyuGin, Chef Seiji Yamamoto’s flagship restaurant which has three Michelin stars and ranked number 31 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant. The modern kaiseki that it serves is a reflection of the agricultural bounty of Japan. With each dish skillfully prepared, this was one of the best meals I’ve had. In Ginza, the Omakase at the three Michelin-starred Sushi Yoshitake did not disappoint. The fish and other seafood used in every single piece of Nagiris were extremely fresh. Sushi might be star of the show at this restaurant, but the cooked dishes were equally sublime. It was highlighted by the abalone liver sauce mixed with sushi rice which was a mind-blowing dish that still resonates in my memory.

Hideki Ishikawa is Japan’s most decorated chef/restaurateur with three restaurants under his belt totaling eight Michelin stars. He also has the distinction shared by the likes of the Robuchon’s , the Keller’s and the Ducasse’s to have two restaurants at the same with the maximum rating from the Michelin guide. At his eponymous Ishikawa, I was served a wonderful contemporary style kaiseki that shows simplicity with plenty of subtle flavors. I also visited Kohaku the other three star restaurant of Chef Ishikawa, which is located in the same area and within walking distance from each other. The kitchen is under Koji Koizumi a disciple of Chef Ishikawa. There are many of similarities between them, but the two are distinctly different at the same time. Kohaku is a more modern prepared kaiseki that incorporate foreign ingredients, which are not usually use in Japanese cuisine.

Japan is surprisingly home to one of the finest French restaurant outside of France. Others can argue that it might better than its home country due to the high quality of ingredients it uses produced by Japan. Many of the top French chefs has an outpost sprinkled throughout country, but a large number of them are concentrated in Tokyo. I had a superb tasting menu at Chef Pierre Gaganaire, Two restaurant Peirre Gagnaire Au Tokyo on the 35floor of the ANA Intercontinental, which was awarded two Michelin stars. Each plate were carefully crafted, using only the finest local ingredients. As a bonus, guests enjoyed the scenic view of the whole city as the backdrop while dining. In Roppongi Hills, I dined at Chef of the Century Joel Robochon L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Along with Paris, the Tokyo branch is one of the first L’Ateliers. Having previously gone to the Hong Kong location, these two Michelin starred restaurant are a lot more casual, yet the quality of food is equally top-notched.

Inside the train station in Ginza, resides a minuscule ramen shop called Kagari Echika, which has garnered a lot of following. They served me tasty bowl of ramen, with a broth that has a certain delightful creaminess. In Shinjuku, high above the mall of the train station is Tenichi, where I had some delicate fried tempura accompanied with fresh sashimi. While at Sushi Mamire, I was served with affordable yet enjoyable pieces of sushi and rolls. Pagliaccio Due in Shiba, is an Italian restaurant that serves pleasant dishes like the Seafood Rissotto, and the spaghetti with fish. Night caps in the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, were made lively with tunes from a funky jazz show. Soon after I feasted with the hotel famous weekend brunch. Finally, visiting Japan is not complete without trying the world famous Kobe beef. At Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511, I had a magical experience without breaking the bank. The beef was as good as advertised, and every bite was heavenly like cotton candy that melts in the mouth.

From Izakaya’s, to noodle shops, to high end kaiseki, sushi (as well as low end), and to fine French restaurants, I had the greatest time dining in Tokyo. The uncompromising use of quality ingredients in this city restaurant makes Tokyo the gastronomic capital of the world. The two weeks I spent there was simply not enough.

The next stop in my search and passion for fine dining was a short trip to Basel, Switzerland. I had the opportunity to dine at the three Michelin star, Cheval Blanc. The restaurant is located in one of Europe’s oldest hotel Le Trois Rois. Bavarian chef Pete Knogl, is in charge of the kitchen and under his leadership Cheval Blanc was elevated to culinary stardom. The tasting menu has global influences and shows the precision cooking technique of Chef Knogl. Each dish was light and has a fantastic complex combination of flavors and textures.

I couldn’t end 2016 without grazing the home front for some great eats. After all, no one can beat New York City in anything, (at least to a New Yorker that is). I had very good meals at the Upper East Side’s, The NUAA. This beautifully decorated restaurant serves refined Thai fare that’s geared towards the Western palate. Last year, I saw an onslaught of new eateries opening up in the Financial District improving the neighborhood’s restaurants scene. Among them is Eataly Downtown which opened to the public last summer. Much smaller than its older siblings in the Flatiron, this mega food market brought a slew of dining options that includes another outlet of the seafood haven, Il Pesce. The restaurant offers appetizing sustainable seafood prepared in the simplest form. As the last stop of my 2016 journey, West Village Carma Asian Tapas, served an unmatchable creative Far Eastern fare in small plate format. I enjoyed the way the kitchen recreated classic Chinese dishes, as well as using other Western ingredients that aren’t usually found in Asian cooking.

Though 2016 didn’t boast much of my hometown’s variety of eateries, it was a star studded year of dining in the international level. Overall, I would say it was great and successful year of eating. I’m looking forward to an even better 2017 where I plan to focus on New York City, its outer boroughs and state side. Hopefully, I can sprinkle few international trips here and there.

Il Pesce

Il Pesce Il Pesce
@ Eataly Downtown
101 Liberty St
New York, NY 10006
Official Site

In less than ten years mega food market Eataly has taken the world by storm, opening branches in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Currently Eataly has set up shop in New York City and Chicago, but soon, it will be expanding its reach in Los Angeles and Boston. The summer of 2016 has marked its continuous expansion by opening a second location in downtown Manhattan’s Financial District. Though not as big as the original one in the Flatiron, it occupies a sizable square footage on the third floor of the brand new skyscrapers, 4 World Trade Center. Along with the market, it boasts a wine bar, a coffee shop, a gelateria, and four restaurants that include another outlet of the sea food haven, Il Pesce.

Dining Room

Designed with counter seating in front of an open kitchen, Il Pesce also has a spacious dining area that is frequented by tourist, finance industry workers and Battery Park City residence. The space is filled with marble top tables paired with white washed wooden chairs, and floor-to-ceiling windows that look down on the World Trade Center Memorial.


A single menu covers both lunch and dinner consisting of antipasti, pasta and entrees, as well as raw items. For appetizers, the POLPO-seared octopus with gigante beans, chicory, and pickled onion was a joy to eat. The dense octopus meat was easily chewed and flavorsome. The SALMONE MARINATO-House cured salmon with pickled peppers, radish, and cucumbers had a clean and distinctive cured taste.


Excellent al den te pasta dishes like the TAGLIATELLA AL NERO DI SEPPIA CON COZZE –house made squid ink tagliatelle with mussels, garlic, white wine, chili flakes, and parsley had a very good mild saltiness, and a strong deep sea presence. The CASARECCE CON GRANCHIO – Afeltra gragnano Casarecce pasta with lump crab meat, braised leeks purée, chili flake, chives, and bread crumbs on the other hand, had hints of spiciness blended nicely with lumps of delicious crab meat.



The main course of CAPESANTE ALLA PIASTRA-Seared scallops with purple potato, grapefruit, celery salad, and pancetta vinaigrette was terrific. The scallops were beautifully complemented with strong sour acidity. The RAZZA-seared skate wing with roasted baby carrots, lemon, capers, and brown butter, where the skate was cooked in brown butter gave it a pleasant nuttiness. Enhancing the fish was sour elements on the plate. TONNO- seared yellow fin tuna with peperonata was a beautiful piece of tuna. It had wonderful seared texture and a tender reddish inner section. The tuna scrumptious flavor was fittingly accompanied by the peperonata’s sweetness. The FRITTO MISTO ALLA LIGURE-ASSORTED FRIED SEAFOOD LIGUR-IAN STYLE was extremely fresh and delicately crispy. This was an oceanic delight to have.



Il Pesce’s uncomplicated cooking produces dishes that are both appetizing and satisfying. The freshness of the seafood brightened with layers of acidity, sourness and hints of spiciness can be tasted in every plate.
The casual atmosphere of the restaurant were matched with informal and friendly service. The staff has very good knowledge of the food and wine that it serves.

In the last five years, New York City has witnessed the rise of gourmet food market with quality places to eat in them, and there’s no signs of slowing down as more openings are stated in the future. Eataly was at the forefront of this movement when it opened in 2010. It’s newer and smaller downtown location have restaurants such as Il Pesce that are capable of delivering well-made food.

SHO Shaun Hergatt

*This venue is now closed.

The 2nd floor of the ultra luxurious The Setai Condominium located in the middle of the Financial District is home to Michelin star restaurant, SHO Shaun Hergatt, named after the Executive Chef/Owner Shaun Hergatt. In 2009 it was one of the most ambitious restaurants daring to open during the height of the recession. This fine dining establishment caters to the Wall Street elite “Gordon Gekko” types which justifies the “greed is good” description of the restaurant’s atmosphere by Sam Sifton of the NY Times.

SHO Shaun Hergatt’s luxurious lobby sets the tone and anticipation for what’s to come. The elevator door opens on the 2nd floor to a space with dimly lit red lights. Immediately guests are greeted by the hostess’ table with the restaurant’s “O” shaped logo hanging above. Guests are first ushered into “The Pearl Room” lounge/waiting area of this multi room restaurant. The Asian aesthetics of the space is fused with a sleek modern design. A long glassy black colored bar with dark wooden walls display top of the line liquors. Cozy sofas are available throughout the room for lounging while sipping pre-dinner drinks. The Pearl Room is also ideal for a casual dining since the main dining rooms enforce a dress code.





In order to get to the main dining room guests must pass through a hallway with a glass enclosed wine rack that also serves as a wall. There are 2 main dining rooms where a wall of vertical slatted wood serves as a separator between the rooms. There is another lounge in the main dining room that is equipped with its own bar and can be closed off. The ambiance in the dining rooms is modern elegant and luxurious with red velvet walls and wooden floors, while Asian accent are seen throughout. A serene dining atmosphere is provided with the white linen covered tables, dark brown leather seats and soft lighting – lights hang over the table perfectly allowing guests to admire the Zen-like precision of the chef’s the dishes. An open kitchen enclosed in floor to ceiling glass walls is showcased in the dining room where guests can witness Chef Hergatt directing his crew like a maestro conducting his orchestra.



Chef Hergatt’s technique, attention to detail and use of Asian ingredients blended with luxurious food elements is gastronomic beauty. I’ve been to SHO Shaun Hergatt several times, for drinks and dinner. At dinnertime the restaurant only serves a $75 three course prix-fix menu (it also offers a six course tasting menu for $125), but it’s more like a six course meal once amouse-bouche and a pre-dessert dish are added. I’ve tasted several dishes here, among the appetizers: the 64 Knoll Krest Egg with Santa Barbara Sea Urchin and the Gold Leaf and White Asparagus Panna Cotta with Kaviari Caviar and Chilled Green Asparagus Emulsion. Both were very delicious, the caviar tastes very good with white asparagus. For entrée I’ve had the Crispy Scaled Amadai with Edamame, Scallion Oil and Cilantro flower and Sous Vide Veal Tenderloin made with Grilled Burdock, Hon Semiji. Both dishes were great but the sous vide veal, which was cooked to perfection, stood out. The veal was tender and juicy, every bite was amazing. I’m not a huge red meat eater, but this dish was so delicious. The desserts were as good as the rest of the meal. The restaurant has a great wine list that goes well with every dish. In house concoctions are also great, especially the Blooodhound.





I’ve always had a great experience at SHO Shaun Hergatt, whether I was there for dinner or just drinks, the service is consistent. The bartenders are always engaging and the servers and hostess are very pleasant and accommodating. One of my colleagues stated that this restaurant can be intimidating with all the power players from Wall St., but the staff and the service creates a welcoming atmosphere for all guests.

Overall, SHO Shaun Hergatt is a magnificent restaurant and I highly recommend it. The restaurant is well deserving of a Michelin Star and it’s other accolades received (Esquire Magazine 2009 best New Restaurant and a 2 star rating from the NY Times to name a few.) Make a reservation and you won’t be disappointed by the way request the table next to open kitchen for a great dining experience.

SHO Shaun Hergatt
40 Broad St
New York, NY 10004
(212) 809-3993
Official Site

Wall and Water



Wall and Water
@ the Andaz Hotel
75 Wall st.
New York NY 10005
Official site

*This venue is now closed.

While walking along Water and Wall Street I discovered Wall and Water Restaurant, contemporary American cuisine in the heart of the Financial District. Although the entrance is located on Pearl St., the restaurant is actually above the lobby of the Andaz Hotel. When my friend and I arrived for dinner we had to pass through Bar Seven Five (a pretty cool looking bar) and go up a marble staircase to the restaurant. A huge marble table that mimics a kitchen center table is the first sight you will encounter. Situated at the center of the restaurant, the table showcased a variety of fresh sea food. I was impressed with overall décor; contemporary, simple and stylish. The layout was designed for comfort with nicely spaced tables and chairs allowing for diners to have the right amount of intimate space. The interior was designed by David Rockwell’s Rockwell Group the same group that designed NOBU TriBeCa and NOBU 57. I like the open space dining room which gives you a view of the action in the open kitchen. I requested to be seated near the kitchen to witness the chef prepare our meals. Pretty cool stuff!!!

Wall and Water uses seasonal ingredients that are grown from local Hudson Valley farms. We both opted for the chef family style tasting menu ($95.) which consisted of 4 courses with wine pairings ($63. without wines pairings.) We let the chef perform his magic and prepare a meal that he designed just for us. We were not disappointed. The ingredients were very fresh and the servings were large enough to share. The presentation was simple and the food was very tasty. The $95 price tag for the chef tasting menu was actually a bargain in NYC.

The staff was very friendly and the service was great. Our server was very knowledgeable and attentive. The chef de cuisine was also very friendly. Before he prepared our food he came over and introduced himself and asked for us if we had any dietary preferences or restrictions. Throughout the dinner he came by our table multiple times to chat and to make sure everything was ok. The Executive Chef Maximo Lopez May would be pleased to know that he has a very good chef de cuisine running the show.

The bar and restaurant had a generally good atmosphere. The crowd was the typical men in business suits from Wall Street, out of town business travelers and some locals catching a break to relax from the grind.

Although the Financial District is not typically known as a dining destination, but with restaurants like Cipriani, the Michellin star SHO by Shaun Hergartt, the Financial District might become more than just a place where people go to work. A bit premature to be compared with TriBeCa or the West Village dining scene, lower Manhattan has a few great restaurants worth taking the downtown hike – Wall and Water is one of them. I would recommend Wall and Water to anyone. Great atmosphere, stylish décor, amazing service and good food are the makings of a very good restaurant.