Excerpts from some of my published restaurant reviews



    I selected the zafferani paneer tikka grilled cottage cheese, served kebab-style with North Indian chutney. Its smoky flavour and firm texture heralded perfection, it was divine. We finished up with duck egg and ginger custard with palm sugar caramel, the zesty tastes near-as-damnit hatched in our mouths and flew off our tongues.


     At Wild Orchid the cuisine is traditional with a modern twist, while still including that unique balance of hot, sour, sweet, salty and bitter flavours that strike every taste bud on the tongue. In fact, let’s cut straight to the chase, the dishes I sampled were sublime; I was certainly not prepared for the force and vibrancy of the ingredients. Settled comfortably with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, my senses were tickled with an amuse-gueule of crispy noodles with tofu, followed by one of my old favourites, Som Tum Thai, a spicy salad comprised of green papayas, with the unripe fruit shredded and mixed with fresh green chillies, carrots, tomatoes, long beans and a dressing of tangy lime juice, palm sugar and fish sauce. It proved to be refreshing, crunchy and fabulously lip-zinging.

  • JU-MA-NA

    The chef recommended the Sea Urchin, or to be more precise, the saffron-coloured roe of this brainless echinoderm, served in its spiky shell with bright-tasting celeriac mousse, ponzu sago pearl, cucumber kombu salad and coral fragrant oil. It’s custardy, it’s rich, and it’s simply dynamite. We also ordered the Fin de Claire, six freshly shucked, French oysters, progressing in taste from natural to classic to refreshing to sour to spicy and finally to complex. If you ever loved a bivalve, you owe yourself this indulgence. Then there was the awesome Lobster Cappuccino, created from bisque that had been reduced from 40 litres down to two to produce a sea-kissed lobster essence with rouille, homemade savoury granolas, and a layer of creamy foam swirling on the top. A palate-cleansing sorbet was followed by yet another jewel of the tropics – the slow-roasted Rock Lobster, meeting truffle potato, miso butter and a winning cassava fondant. Tearing ourselves away from seafood, we also tried the Wagyu Nº 9 Duo grilled striploin and syrah braised short rib, which had the roasted root vegetables and comté potatoes dancing around the plate as music for our taste buds.



    Exquisite morsels continue to be paraded from the kitchen in a sequence of marvellous colours and flavours, and the knowledgeable waiter eloquently describes each dish before the sommelier indulges me with his expertly paired wines. Tastes sing from the plate, building in intensity as the menu progresses. Salt-cured barramundi fillet is draped in a silky cloak of Guinness beer emulsion, and playfully surrounded with a fairy ring of vanilla-coriander braised fresh Belgium endives, pickled peach and balsamic-jasmine reduction. The cheese course of fresh A.O.C ‘Olivet au Foin’ with marinated beetroot and cinnamon oil is out of this world and, finally, the delectable dessert of seasonal apples baked in a caramelised phyllo with pineapple sorbet, caramel sauce and ‘espelette’ chilli crumble, provides the perfect conclusion to my gustatory adventure.


    I’m lounging on a deeply cushioned sofa, sipping Australian Shiraz while dipping Turkish bread into a selection of piquant dips. In front of me a sleek glass façade reveals a vibrant night scene of neon lights and urban architecture. Behind me a mirrored wall multiplies the space, reflecting the uber-groovy design of the restaurant. Spatially oriented, the building integrates the principals of feng shui, complemented by a crisp white and deep purple décor, chic dark furnishings and a never ending ceiling. My eye is led towards a central bar pumped up with live DJ beats and a hi-tech lighting system that gyrates through the colours of the rainbow. Inside is a towering, glass-encased wine cellar, outside is an elevated open-air terrace, and on a far side is staircase that sweeps up to the rooftop. A saxophonist, a violinist and a singer roam around the tables, enriching the DJ’s chill out selection (on Saturday nights) with a mellow combo of sounds.


    The upscale, upbeat salads proved to be a delight. Salmon and mango (or avocado depending on the season) with rocket and goat cheese presented an inspired combination of flavours, as did the Tahiti mahi-mahi fish salad. Cooked in lemon juice with cocomilk, and served with rice, every mouthful carried a citrus zest. There’s something succulently pristine about the concept of beef tartare, cool and smooth as it slides down the throat, and if you’re squeamish, perhaps a little bit clammy. I was squeamish, but my buddy relished its silky texture. The homemade salmon linguine was enrobed in a sexily slippery sauce of dill and cream, and the medium-rare steak was tender and double-textured. Finally, a light leek tart was fittingly followed by a hot French banana tart, a planters’ punch, a gin fizz and a Singapore sling.


Subject: RE: Komodo interview published in Exotiq magazine

Many thanks, reads really well!

Tony Wheeler

(Co-founder Lonely Planet)

Tony Wheeler