By David Ngo
Aug 30, 2021
THE BEST RESTAURANTS ARE ABOUT so much more than the food on your plate. Sure, the quality of the cuisine matters, but truly memorable meals, the ones that diners rave about years later, offer an immersive sensory experience that goes beyond taste. A stunningly scenic setting makes absolutely any dish taste that much better and encourages guests to revel in the moment.
There are a staggering number of Instagram-worthy eateries around Asia, but here are some of our favorites. From underwater havens to secluded countryside retreats, these 8 scenic restaurants give new meaning to the phrase “destination dining.”
The only thing better than dining in your overwater pool villa at this paradisiacal island escape is dining underwater. Six meters below the waves, in the aptly named Sea, guests tuck into plates of poached lobster salad with young coconut, pomelo, water lily roots, and a zingy coriander dressing while manta rays swim right by the tables. Since this is the Maldives, the water is crystal-clear and allows for an incredible view of all the marine life. T+L Tip: Special request the resort to have divers carry a birthday wish down to hold in the spotlighted windows for your beloved — or pull on a scuba suit yourself and pop the question in the coolest way possible.
Courtesy of Taj Rishikesh (2)
It doesn’t get much more scenic than dinner in the shadow of the Himalayas and near the atmospheric bends of the Ganges. The menu here highlights regional specialties like tender, bracingly spicy goat cooked in a tandoori oven and an aromatic Kashmiri fish curry. The restaurant itself is walled in glass—the better to showcase all that jaw-dropping natural beauty. After a few days at this secluded natural oasis, even the most stressed-out city-dwellers are guaranteed to feel at peace.
Just about every design facet at this mile-high stunner is enough to turn heads, but the view from the Rosewood hotel’s signature scenic restaurant is truly something else. Hong Kong’s glittering, vertiginous skyline looks downright dazzling at this sophisticated Cantonese eatery, where executive chef Li Chi Wai pays homage to the cuisine of the Shunde region of Guangdong province. Decked out in dark woods with metallic accents, the interior is the perfect place to admire Victoria Harbour through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
As the saying goes, a true classic never goes out of style. Case in point: this iconic, Bill Bensley-designed jewel up in Thailand’s verdant North. Nong Yao, the signature restaurant, is predictably excellent, but when it comes to soaking in the spectacular surroundings — read: three-country view over Thailand, Laos and Myanmar — we prefer to head to Burma Bar, where you can spy on the elephant camp and the Ruak River basin while sipping a lemongrass-infused martini.
Named for the Bhutanese word for “pine forest,” the signature restaurant at the fifth and final Six Senses lodge in the mystical Kingdom of the Thunderdragon is every bit as lovely and meditative as the rest of the resort. Opt to dine on the terrace with a panoramic view of the lush, impossibly peaceful surroundings, or cozy up by the fire in the warm, wood interior. (Add in the fact that Bhutan has fully vaccinated nearly its entire population, and this scenic spot heads high up our wishlist for once the country reopens to international tourism.)
Courtesy of The Apurva Kempinski Bali (3)
Bali’s first-ever aquarium restaurant is a true treat for all of the senses. In the middle of the scenic Nusa Dua-based Apurva Kempinski, underneath the resort’s sprawling main pool section, chef Andrea Astone excels at using Indonesia’s exceptional local produce and seafood in innovative ways. The real star of the show, of course, is the stunning artificial coral reef and the abundant fish swimming around it. By the end of the meal, you’re all but guaranteed to find yourself humming “Under the Sea.”
Zhongcha Valley’s emerald slopes dotted with traditional houses are impossible to look away from at this Sichuan and Cantonese eatery. The dining room itself is pure Zen, with a palette of warm neutrals and furnishings that draw on historic Chinese architectural tropes. More than anything, however, the design serves a foil for the shifting seasonal colors and textures of the landscape outside.
Glamping takes on a whole new meaning at this rustic-chic retreat with 28 luxe tents on the edge of Yala National Park, on the scenic rugged southeast coast of Sri Lanka. Chef Susantha Medagedara serves up seasonal produce in dishes that are almost too beautifully presented to eat — and, bonus!, come all-included in the room rate, making it a breezy, beautiful honeymoon hotel. Keep an eye out for rare leopards, elephants and other animals from the park as you nosh under this vaulted wooden dome.