Florilege Tokyo
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Florilege (Tokyo, Japan)

On this most recent trip to Japan, Florilege was the choice for our lone fine dining meal in the country. The Michelin two-star restaurant, ranked 59th best in the world, was opened in 2009 by Hiroyasu Kawate after cooking at well-known Quintessance.

One of the unique aspects of the restaurant is that the vast majority of the seats surround an open kitchen. Diners are able to watch all of the action, and dishes are served directly by the cooks.

black cod @ SingleThread
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SingleThread (Healdsburg, CA)

SingleThread is one of the up-and-coming fine dining restaurants in the greater Bay Area. Opened at the end of 2016, it has garnered two Michelin stars, 4 stars from the SF Chronicle and was recently named a ‘One to Watch’ by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants team. Chef Kyle Connaughton and wife Katina run this restaurant, which is part of the inn and farm that they also operate. The cuisine here is a blend of Japanese and Californian; tickets were $295 each, gratuity-inclusive.

miyazaki wagyu beef @ Amber HK
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Amber (Hong Kong)

Amber is a two Michelin starred restaurant at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental. Currently ranked #24 in the world’s 50 best restaurants list, it’s one of the most highly-regarded Western restaurants in Hong Kong. Here, chef Richard Ekkebus cooks modern French cuisine incorporating plenty of seasonal Asian ingredients. Given the vast majority of my meals in town have been Chinese, I elected to have one non-Asian lunch.

The restaurant offers a weekday lunch set menu of 3 of 4 courses (USD $76, $125), as well as a lunch degustation menu of 4 or 6 courses ($164, $189). The items on the degustation menu sounded much more interesting, so I opted for the 4-courser.

dim sum @ Lung King Heen
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Lung King Heen (Hong Kong) [2]

Lung King Heen is a three Michelin starred restaurant in Hong Kong. It was the first Chinese restaurant to be awarded that distinction in 2009 and is still one of the most notable Cantonese fine dining establishments in the city. I’ve been here once for dim sum and had a good meal; this would be my first dinner visit.

While a tasting menu is available, we opted for a la carte focusing mostly on items noted as a ‘chef’s recommendation’ on the menu.

ha gow & yan toh heen
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Yan Toh Heen (Hong Kong)

Yan Toh Heen is a two Michelin star restaurant inside Hong Kong’s Intercontinental Hotel. The restaurant serves upscale Chinese cuisine featuring dim sum for lunch. I’ve had two upscale dim sum lunches in Hong Kong in a prior visit (Lung King Heen and T’ang Court), but this would be my first time here. The restaurant is located on the ground level of the hotel featuring plenty of harbor views.

koji short rib @ mume
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Mume (Taipei, Taiwan)

Mume, opened in 2014, is part of a wave of western-influenced restaurants to open in Taipei. The three chefs behind the restaurant have global backgrounds, having worked at Noma (Copenhagen), Quay (Sydney) and Per Se (New York) between them. They blend these techniques and influences with local Taiwanese ingredients to create an altogether different type of cuisine.

The menu is a la carte, divided into a few sections. Snacks are about $10, small plates range $16-20 and larger plates are $30-40. To create a meal for two, we ordered a handful of items from across each section.

short rib at mourad
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Mourad (San Francisco, CA)

Mourad opened at the beginning of 2015, Mourad Lahlou’s follow up to Michelin-starred Aziza. Like Aziza, Mourad has also garnered a Michelin star for its Moroccan cuisine albeit in much more glamorous digs. The SoMa location features a large, open dining room and very high celings – it’s a beautiful space.

The impetus for this dinner was my grandmother’s birthday. An eight course tasting menu is available ($155) but we went the a la carte route for our party of six. Ordering a la carte allowed us to order a couple of the large format family-style plates that the restaurant has become known for.

sourdough dumpling tsar nicolai caviar, seaweeds
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Lazy Bear (San Francisco, CA)

Lazy Bear is one of San Francisco’s most unique dining experiences. The restaurant began as an underground supper club in chef David Barzelay’s home; it was wildly successful and became one of the toughest seats in town. The success led to this brick-and-mortar location in 2014. Two Michelin stars later, the restaurant is still going strong.

The evening begins with cocktail hour on the second floor mezzanine. Guests are invited to mingle, sip on a cocktail, and enjoy a few small bites. After cocktail hour, dinner shifts downstairs where there are two large 40-seat communal tables. An open kitchen anchors one end of the tables, providing a close look at the food as it’s being prepared.

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