The best food critics are probably those who prepare gastronomic feasts themselves. Town&Country gathers seven chefs who have commanded attention for their culinary ingenuity in cities like Paris, New York Singapore, Manila, and more to compile the ultimate guide on Michelin-starred spots and hole-in-the-wall finds. You’ll be hard-pressed to find better suggestions of where to take your appetite, should you find yourself in the cities these talented chefs have called home. Evidently, they take their eating just as seriously as their cooking—and our travel eating lists are all the meatier for it.
Aaron has lived in Paris since 2004, whipping up splendid French cuisine tinged with flavors from Southeast Asia at renowned restaurants like Eric Briffard’s Les Elysees, Antoine Westermann’s Drouant, and William Ledeuil’s Ze Kitchen Galerie before heading the kitchen at Restaurant Pan.
1. Restaurant Le Comptoir du Relais
I make it a point to bring visiting friends to this traditional bistrot of hearty French food at its simplest. It's run by renowned chef Yves Camdeborde, who serves top-quality food at this spot on the ground floor of his hotel. Pricing is affordable and with a great selection of wine, like a typical Morgon that goes well with its pork confit dish with lentils. The lines are always long, but fear not, as you can wait for your turn next door at its tapas place aptly called L'Avant Comptoir. 5-7, Carrefour de l'Odéon, Paris; +33.144.270.750; hotel-parisrelais- saint-germain.com
Amuse bouches from Le Comptoir
2. Restaurant Astrance
Known as the smallest three-star Michelin restaurant in town, this is without a doubt my favorite gastronomic restaurant in Paris. The restaurant can accommodate about 25 lucky diners in a small but inviting space, with high ceilings that divide the salle into two spaces, allowing diners in the mezzanine to see the ballet-like service from downstairs. Here, I tasted the most delicate mackerel cooked to perfection, studded with roasted buckwheat, garnished with aubergines cooked in miso, and topped with oyster leaves; roast duck with cherry compote and fresh cherries; and an amazing sabayon of poultry egg flavored with jasmine. 4 Rue Beethoven, Paris; +33.140.508.440; astrancerestaurant.com
Chef Akrame Benallal has worked at renowned restaurants like elBulli and Pierre Gagnaire, and although these restaurants are known for molecular cuisine, Akrame's style is more restrained. He just produces some pretty wonderful food. Roast duck with wild strawberries and house gastro ketchup; poached foie gras in a haddock broth with fresh herbs, and shaved raw fennel; pan-seared red mullet with a quinoa/ wild rice crust. 19 Rue Lauriston, Paris; +33.140.671.116
Amuse bouches from Akrame
NOEL DE LA RAMA
Noel has lived in New York City since attending the Culinary Institute of America and the French Culinary Institute in SoHo, making impressive rounds of New York society and corporate kitchens as a personal chef and caterer in Manhattan.
Enjoy small shared plates, a Frenchinspired menu, and great atmosphere at this charming gastroteque in the West Village. 42 Grove Street, West Village, New York; ilovebuvette.com
The outside view of Buvette
A New York classic, this intimate French restaurant has excellent tasting menus and a beautiful setting. David Bouley is my all-time favorite chef in New York City, and you may meet him by reserving the Chef’s Pass, a private multimedia dining experience at the restaurant. 163 Duane Street, New York; +1.212.964.2525; bouleynyc.com
3. Eleven Madison Park
This three-starred Michelin restaurant headed by Swiss executive chef David Humm offers restrained and elegant modern cuisine in a converted bank space. 11 Madison Avenue, New York; +1.212.889.0905; elevenmadisonpark.com
The view from Eleven Madison Park
The executive chef of Cirkulo, Azuthai, MilkyWay and Tsukiji Restaurants, and the Director for Education at Les Toques Blanches Philippines lets us in on his favorite gastronomic haunts in Manila.
1. Summer Palace
Best dim sum without flying to Hong Kong. I wish it was in Makati. 2/F Tower Wing, EDSA Shangri-La Hotel, Mandaluyong; 633.8888 local 2777; shangri-la.com/manila
This place is so beautiful that you’ll want to stay for lunch and dinner. Purok 138, Barangay Neogan, Tagaytay City; 046.413.0975; antoniosrestaurant.ph
Classic bistro food made with a sincere heart. It always has veal! Net One Center, Bonifacio Global City; 815.8801
After stints at the Michelin-rated El Celler de Can Roca and elBulli and Sofitel’s Fever Luxe Lounge, to name a few, Chele has moved on to his own project at Vask at Bonifacio Global City, where he demonstrates his mastery and innovation of Basque cuisine.
The best meals I have ever had in my life were here. It’s in the middle of the countryside, so the chefs use plenty of herbs and flowers to give aroma to their dishes. It is a place that you don’t go to to fill your stomach but to fill your soul. You must research about Mugaritz and its philosophy to understand the experience it offers—a real feast of the senses one can savor for hours. Aldura Aldea 20, 20100 Renteria, Pais Vasco, Spain; +34.943.522.455; mugaritz.com
Poultry Royale from Mugaritz
Behind this restaurant is a man who has helped changed much in today’s cuisine. Michel Bras started with the organic-natural movement that is now very fashionable by growing his own vegetables, herbs, and flowers in Laguiole and sourcing his own organic suppliers. I have maximum respect for this chef. 12 Route de L’Aubrac, Laguiole, France; +05.655.118.20; bras.fr
I spent a year and a half at this kitchen and laboratory, but not once had the chance to eat there at that time. I finally went to eat during my culinary trip in the north of Spain, and Arzak offered the most complete experience: you fill your stomach, everything tastes great, and there are a lot of surprises in the meals. A wonderful experience for chefs and diners alike. Avenida Alcalde Jose Elosegui, Donostia, San Sebastian, Spain; +34.943.278.465; arzak.com
Arzak’s cromlech de mandioca.
Handpicked by culinary royalty Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton to open the Singapore branch of their buzz-worthy Pizzeria Mozza, Karla is a game-changer in a world dominated by male executive chefs.
1 Milky Way
Super solid Filipino food. My most favorite place to go to when I am in Manila. It’s the first and last and in-between stop. I love the soft shell crab dish, the dinuguan, the pancit palabok, and most especially the halo-halo. I’ve been asking people who come from Manila to bring me halo-halo from Milky Way… The first one who does it gets a free meal at Mozza! 2/F Milky Way Bldg, 900 Arnaiz Avenue corner Paseo de Roxas, Makati; 843.4124, 843.7124; cafe.milkywayrestaurant.com
Inside Milky Way
2. Mely's Barbecue
Delicious sisig (the chop is a little bigger than others so the texture is better) and the chicken butt is the best I’ve ever had. So succulent and tasty. It’s the best place to eat because it’s roadside, has no airconditioning, and is the best match to Red Horse beer. I love coming here. San Fernando, Pampanga
3. Momofuku Noodle Bar/Ssam Bar/Milk Bar
David Chang made eating ramen cool and healthy by using organic, locally sourced ingredients. The Ssam bar has an amazing barbecue where you need eight people to commit and have a feast with all the fixings. The cocktails are small and expensive but worth every single penny. Plus the crack pie really lives up to its name at the Milk Bar. 171 First Avenue, between 10th and 11th Street, New York, New York; momofuku.com
Momofuku's whole rotisserie
A native of the United States, Jason’s culinary career has taken him around the globe, from New York and California to France and Hong Kong. He’s found a home in Cebu, where he has helped shape the dining landscape as a partner at the lauded Abaca Boutique Resort and Restaurant.
1. Yung Kee
Located in the heart of Central Hong Kong, this was once a modest stall founded by Kam Shui Fai. It has grown famous for its consistently delicious special roast goose. 32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852.2522.1624; yungkee.com.hk; [email protected]
Yung Kee's Signature Roasted Duck
2. Any "Korean Beef Only" Barbecue Spot in Seoul
Simply put, Korean beef is A++! Seoul’s barbecue restaurants are an exemplary part of the Korean dining experience.
3. Moshi Moshi Yakiniku
Great yakiniku! The best you will come across in Cebu. Great quality meats and really solid service at this spot. #1 Paseo Saturnino, Maria Luisa Road, Banilad, Cebu
Anna has worked inside some of the most recognizable kitchens in the Manhattan dining scene, such as the Ritz-Carlton, Nobu, Aureole, and Eleven Madison Park, and has taught at the French Culinary Institute in New York.
A well-stocked Spanish food boutique that added a café. Sit down and snack on a variety of bocadillos, tapas, and pintxos. Or go all out and splurge for slices of Iberico Bellota and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Great place to stock up on Spanish staples like chorizo, morcilla, arroz bomba, pimenton de la Vera, and of course, jamon. There is a wine store right next door owned and operated by the same company, so you can grab some cava too! 408 Broome Street, New York; +188.8.131.5250; despanabrandfoods.com
Wine, charcuterie, and gourmet staples at Despaña
2. Christos Steakhouse
A steakhouse that was born out of a Greek butcher shop, and not too many people outside Astoria, Queens, know about it. The veal sweetbreads appetizer is amazing, and the lobster mashed potatoes are divine. Steaks are top-notch, dry-aged for 21 days then charbroiled to your preferred temperature, topped with coarse sea salt and dried mountain oregano. The rib-eye is 24 ounces, so that's a pound-and-a-half of prime beef cooked to perfection. Come very hungry. 4108 23rd Avenue, Astoria, New York; +1.718.777.8400; christossteakhouse.com
A truly special place with an extremely talented chef working out of a tiny kitchen to produce the most perfect, beautiful dishes in a very elegant and warm room. The flavors are well balanced, the technique is solid, and the nuances in each dish are thought-provoking and satisfying at once. The restaurant gives a feeling of being pampered in the most humble way. 13 Barrow Street, New York; +1.212.741.6699; annisarestaurant.com