So in my years of culinary work and travel I have developed a bit of a bitter skin. The hype out there nowadays can cause someone like me to retreat to the confines of my grill and wine fridge- never to go out and eat again simply because the media has just made EVERYTHING so damn AMAZING and PHENOMENAL…..exhausting. Anyway….last year I took Mrs Bitter Chef to Paris before I signed on with Hakkasan full time. We knocked off 10 *’s in a week ending at Ducasse’s rebrand of his Paris flagship. In a word, well, beyond words….I just did not think a high end restaurant experience could still move me to awe and disbelief. Thankfully, my bitter self sweetened and I had one of the best food experiences of my life. The langoustines and caviar is probably the best plate of food I’ve ever had, the rouget with liver sauce gave the finger to all the posers and the cauliflower studded with black truffles encased in brioche and carved table side…well you get the idea. Thank you Chef for keeping style and grace alive and well, albeit for a price!

So you enter the market, walk to the back right corner and seek this place out. The bowl of noodles is simple. Duck meat braised in master stock, rice noodles, a touch of chile and cori-ander. Add a cold beer or fresh young coconut and for 3$ you have entered a version of culi-nary heaven….simple, to the point, perfect….

So this was the market that I shopped at for myself as well as where I would go with my sous chefs to find new products to cook. It was right down the street from the Park Hyatt and took some getting used to after 2 years in Japan. That being said, I did always manage to find great, seasonal produce, excellent pork, occasionally great seafood and all the Chinese condiments you could ever hope to experiment with.

Well my fave food market is Tsukiji in Tokyo. Fish is my favorite thing to eat and cook and the character of this market is just so fascinating. My first trip there was the day after I landed for my post at the Grand Hyatt in Roppongi. I did the tour with Tetsuya Wakuda….pretty stellar huh. Over the years I have been able to tour the market around 30 times and always would see countless new ingredients. Then there is the food…..oh my the food! ramen, grilled eel, fresh soy milk, crab tomago, tempura udon and of course endless sushi and sashimi. Its a shame that the old market will be closing its door this year but nothing lasts forever. I am truly grateful that I have gotten to experience this culinary gem. Arigato gozaimasu!

Not much in the way of “local” food but all the support people have brought their respective traditions to this piece of coastal sand. Fantastic Indian, Persian, Lebanese and Egyptian food. Wild sparrows braised in fresh pomegranate juice-incredible…

The diversity of climates and products left me speechless-18k foot peaks, rain forests and a rugged coast leaves for much discovery.

The food here is ancient and the techniques some of the most complex of any cuisine. We owe so much to this part of the world for what would we be without corn or chiles. Go here and eat and you will forever leave behind the insipid tastes of Mexican food that has been dumbed down for soft palates.

Amazing cultural integrity for a country who has been over run and occupied by external forces for so many years. This cuisine is one of the most powerful in the world-not for the faint of heart. Seoul is one of the coolest cities out there-go and winter, eat lots of chiles and pork!

Penang is my favorite street food city in the world. The mash up of cultures here is something to behold-Chinese, Nonya, Indigenous, Thai, Euroean, Indian etc. all seem to be getting along. Culinary traditions are some of the most in depth and complex in the world.

Once you go to this country and begin to study its history you will see that much of what Asia believes and eats has roots in this nation. Ankor Wat should be a requirement for all travelers. Food is interesting and vastly different than its neighbors. In a word-wonderful!