Best Hotel Breakfasts in Asia
Breakfast, that most important meal of the day, is often a buffet at hotels in Asia. The American trend for self-service spreads with vast choices has been embraced here. But buffet fatigue is setting in and some hotels and resorts are offering more sedate, sit down options with, in some cases, surprisingly inventive menus. Here’s five of the best in the region.
The Sanchaya, Bintan
Breakfast at The Sanchaya begins with the ritual of a traditional Indonesian drink. A Jamu Gendong lady visits your table to serve the healthy indigenous elixir – a natural medicine using local spices – from a basket tied to her with fabric.
That may sound hard to beat but the creative a la carte menu to follow lives up to it. Dishes may include chilled apple mash flavoured with cassia and topped with vanilla bean yoghurt; poached Tasmanian pear in a light palm nectar and aniseed syrup; and croissant French toast with crispy bacon, goat’s cheese and avocados.
Eggs are also given the innovative treatment including sous vide eggs served with crab meat, yuzu hollandaise and toasted sour dough; and truffle scented eggs with caramelised bacon, slow baked tomato and potato rosti.
There’s also Indonesian specialities including Bubur ayam: congee, shredded chicken, quail eggs, peanuts, pandan leaf, ginger and yellow chicken broth.
As with many of the best Japanese restaurants, the impressive breakfast at The Restaurant by Aman is focused around the country’s staggeringly high quality produce. An overwhelming number of ingredients including dairy, eggs and fruits are attributed to a prefecture, town or farm.
Western dishes feature Japanese produce such as waffles and pancakes with Hokkaido ricotta cheese and cream respectively; and eggs in any style, sourced from free-range hens at Inoue Farm in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture. On the two Japanese set breakfast menus, steamed rice is from Nagano Kijimadaira and pickles from Kyoto.
The breakfast butter is from Kouzu dairy farm in Shominita in the Gunma prefecture. Dating back to 1887 the farm has Jersey cows that produce a thick and fragrant milk from which a full bodied fermented butter is produced. Among the 200 strong herd is Aman’s own cow, Aman-anda.
Alila Villas Soori, Bali
A unique tasting menu approach to breakfast is taken at this stylish resort. Broken down into themed sections, portions are small enough to order one from each. Themes may include Revitalise (local juices and coffee) Chilled (tropical fruits with lime and mango sauce; smoked salmon taco with guacamole and salsa) Light (Parma ham with melon carpaccio) and Eggs (cocotte with truffle infused creamed spinach; omelette with tiger prawns, gruyere and asparagus).
Local dishes such as sambal goring telur (double cooked and wok fried boiled egg) are included and the Balinese coffee Kopi Luwak – coffee made from berries which have been eaten by and passed through an Asian palm civet.
“Switching off from your daily routine is vital when you’re on holiday,” says Chef Fernando Trump. “Guests love the selection and daily rotation. Every day is full of surprising culinary experiences.”
[UPDATE: The resort has been renamed Soori Bali and is no longer part of the Alila group.]
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s movers and shakers as well as chic in house guests breakfast at The Landmark’s Michelin starred restaurant Amber. As well as the superb service, the Amber ethos is reflected in the menu: “We maintain a seasonal approach to our breakfast menu which gives us an edge on our competitors,” says culinary director Richard Ekkebus.
At various times of year, ingredients may include asparagus, heirloom tomatoes and white and black truffles. Perennials include jam by a world champion producer (Jacques Sulem of Chateau Chinan, France) Japanese Tayouran eggs and treacle marinated bacon from the UK/Britain.
“For a hotel that’s placed in Central it’s of capital importance to offer an a la carte menu,” says Ekkbus. “Amber has become the room where important deals are made over a quick, quality driven breakfast with discreet service.”
As such there’s a succinct Central Power Breakfast menu as well as an extensive a la carte with the full monty of egg dishes, waffles and pancakes; Chinese and Japanese set menus and an impressive tea list (plus Valrhona hot or cold chocolate).
Song Saa, Cambodia
Breakfast at this island retreat is interestingly devised and beautifully presented starting off with juice blends and tonics that cleanse or energise. Yoghurt flavours include soursop, wild berry or rambutan while breads and pastries come with a selection of papaya, pumpkin coconut, tomato or wild berry hand made preserves.
Dishes range from sweet (French toast with caramelized banana and passion fruit glaze; and a coffee flavoured panna cotta) to healthy: grilled banana with raw nuts, prune tapenade and honey or an organic green tea seared fish fillet with zesty dressing.
Western breakfast staples are jazzed up too so granola comes with a fruit macedoine while oatmeal is prepared with cinnamon, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf. And there are local khmer dishes of kuy teaw and borbor.
Even the seasonings are stimulating. Take your pick of salt flavoured with either coriander, bird’s eye chilli, kaffir lime or sea) and Cambodian green kampot pepper.