It’s more than a meal. It’s an experience!

Holiday is not just about visiting major attractions, but it is also the best time to explore something quirky yet unique. Speaking about uniqueness, I’ve seen some very unique-themed restaurants around South-East Asia, and one thing I know for sure is that the most successful restaurant concepts are ones that provide diners with an experience they’ll never forget.

A great restaurant concept can make a business grow at full speed, and having unique restaurant themes will intrigue more customers as well as draw media attention. By all means to argue that dinner is already an experience. But having dinner at a unique restaurant goes the extra mile by adding entertainment.

I personally believe that most people are craving experiences because they want to share stories and photos on social media. Unique restaurant themes give them something to brag about, while at the same time promoting the restaurants in the process.

Now, in this article, I have compiled some unique restaurants around South-East Asia that are worth every minute exploring.

di Mare – Bali, Indonesia

With the energy of the rolling waves below and raw natural beauty all around, this venue offers a simple but elegant atmosphere of Ungasan area. Let yourself admire the best views of Indian Ocean sets against lush green cliffs. Dedicated to local ingredients and traditional Balinese cooking, this signature restaurant at Karma Kandara delivers a European-Asian style where ones can feast on the incredible views. The scenery on the hill, overlooking the best angle of the Indian Ocean, is truly wondrous, spotting the restaurant as one of the world’s most beautiful restaurants. Carrying a vision to always keep up quality to the highest level, the restaurant has become one of the most essential fine dining establishment in Bali. The chef has revamped the resort’s dining offerings, drawing upon their culinary influences to create bold flavours highlighted by the best in local produce.

Highlighting their newest dessert, Tira – Rindu is an Indonesian inspired “tira-miss-u”, combining chocolate sponge, nusantara kopi liquor, east indies kecombrang gin mascarpone, and kopi luwak cocoa nib gel. Be rest assured that this will melt in your mouth so well that you crave for more.

JI at Bale Sutra 1706 – Bali, Indonesia

Entering one of the three unique doorways into the Ji at Bale Sutra restaurant which is located in the empirical enclave of the Hotel Tugu Bali is to participate in a mythical experience for the senses that lingers between the pleasures of this world and those of another. Leading the heart of this journey is the namesake and inspiration of this unique Japanese cum Peranakan Chinese dining experience—the 310-year-old Kang XI period temple which Tugu Hotels founder/designer, Anhar Setjadibrata, rescued from ruins in Java and completely reconstructed on the first island in Indonesia where the temple landed hundreds of years ago.

The fusion of the ancient Japanese and Chinese cultures which are reflected not only in the ornate animal carvings of the Chinese temple’s elegant dark wood façade but also in the restaurant’s branding—an innovative take on Japanese calligraphy highlighting the fanciful flora, fauna and cultural elements of the region—offers animated glimpses into the past while at the same time spearheading into the future. The temple exemplifies the nearly 2000-year-old relationship between the two cultures and stands as a testament to the vast influence the more ancient China had on aspects of life in Japan.

The mythical connection is further manifested by 3 very characteristic entrances. Those looking to partake in the delicate fusion of Japanese culinary euphoria may enter through the low Gate of Heaven, where one has to bend low to be able to enter under the big golden Buddha; those seeking to show their devotion can enter through the Gate of Love, whereupon entering one can look up to the majestic centuries-old statue of the Goddess of Love, Gwan Yin; and those in search of decadence and leaving the hectic modern-day behind can enter past a pair of statues of mythological guards and through the four-meter high Gate of Hell, which tellingly leads to some people’s idea of heaven—a KABUKI-inspired bar offering the finest sakes from Japan, contemporary Japanese-inspired exotically-infused cocktails and a covetable collection of fine boutique wines from around the world. Guests may savour their beverage of choice at the dark wood bar or for purchase to takeaway.

Koral Restaurant – Bali, Indonesia

Let’s discover the wonders of the ocean at Koral Restaurant. The bistronomic restaurant proved itself as not only the crown jewel of The Apurva Kempinski Bali, but also a must-visit restaurant on the island. More than just a restaurant, this first underwater restaurant in Bali offers a full bistronomic experience, combining delectable dining, a laid-back ambience and the rarefied atmosphere of an aquarium, accompanied by a hypnotic soundtrack that captures the magic and mystery of life below the waves.

Cabbages & Condoms – Thailand

The interior of Bangkok’s Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant, found in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai, is decorated with all sorts of sex toys and condoms. Customers are even given condoms (not mints) with their receipts. Profits from the restaurants go to various AIDS and safe sex awareness campaigns of The Population and Community Development Association (PDA) in Thailand.

Tree House – Phuket, Thailand

Perched in the resort’s heritage Banyan Tree, Tree House is set to become Phuket’s most exclusive Omakase restaurant. Honouring the true meaning of Omakase, “I leave it up to you”, Sushi consiuers can interact with the Omakase trained chefs who choose the very best in seasonal ingredients, with seafood sourced fresh directly from Japan. The dining journey consists of a premium chef’s-choice set menu where guests can pair courses – sushi, grilled dishes, desserts and delicacies – with a curated list of sake, alongside Japanese-inspired cocktails. A special vegetarian Omakase menu is also available on request.

Gastronomy is only part of the experience at Tree House, guests will be surrounded by a traditional Japanese interior designed décor that includes a stunning centrepiece of Wagasa lighting. The view out offers 360-degrees of the resort’s lush Bill Bensley–designed gardens. Within steps of Mai Khao beach, enjoying cooling ocean breezes, Tree House truly is one of Phuket’s most unique and spectacular seaside settings.

Pio’s Kitchen – Manila, Philippines

Helmed by chef Chin Gallegos, Pio’s Kitchen is a private dining restaurant transformed from her grandparents’ ancestral home. As such, diners can expect to feel right at home with cuisine inspired by the chef’s family roots—with Spanish and Filipino flavours to boot. That’s not all, diners are also encouraged to explore the house and even join in to help cook a dish or two if they so wish.

Tamarind Hill – Singapore

This spot is outwardly shocking. Besides being concealed tough in the gorgeous greenery that is Labrador Park, Tamarind Hill is set in a delightfully composed provincial house on a ‘small scale slope’ which neglects the ocean. It’s the sort of spot you’d envision an Ambassador’s ball occurring in the mid-1900s, gracious sweetheart! Tamarind Hill serves ‘delicate feasting Thai’. I wouldn’t fret saying that my typical longings for Thai lead me to my magnificent nearby vendor and delicate feasting. Well, I am charmed to say that what started to be served was out wonderful.

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