I’m constantly on the lookout for versatile pieces of clothing that can take me from day to night and from the weekday to the weekend. In essence, I like to make my wardrobe work overtime so that I don’t have to. That’s why I was super excited to learn about the launch of a new designer label called Gypsy&Jean.
We’ve chronicled before the rise of Australian designers that have had major success in the U.S. There is something about their cool girl, laidback aesthetic that really resonates with Americans. Some recent examples include C/MEO Collective, Realisation and Keepsake the Label. Gypsy&Jean is no exception. This label was started by designer SallyJean, who grew up in the Australian countryside. The line is inspired by her days in Australia’s vast plains among nature. The result is an extremely wearable line of quality clothing with a focus on great cuts and patterns.
When I first saw the designs I loved that it had a Hamptons meets English countryside meets Australia look to it. In other words, these are beautifully made classics in a neutral palette that you can wear to watch to sunset in Montauk or to dinner with friends. Personally, those are the items in my wardrobe I reach for time and time again.
Below, we feature some of our favorite items from the current line.
The Karen stripe dress is perhaps my favorite in the entire collection. The midi length and blue and white vertical stripes combined with a scalloped hem make this something I could completely see myself wearing out in the Hamptons, or even on a warm day at work. I’m also a sucker for anything that ties at the waist because it creates more of an hourglass shape.
The Delancey Stripe is a breezy look that you can throw on to do just about anything. I love the minimalist vibe to it, with the understated country stripes and cornflower blue color. It’s a great length for anything from running errands to brunch with friends or a poolside party. It also comes in two other colors/patterns.
I love the slim silhouette of the Denella stripe dress because it creates an illusion of elongating your body. If you pair it with some heels, it will do that doubly so. I love the simple green and white skinny stripes and tie at the waist, which creates a super femme look. I would pair this with sandals, heels, ballet flats, flip flops or wedges.
I live for whimsical, feminine details like the bows on the sleeves of this Mkarla dress. It adds an element of flirty to the look. The checked blue print and wrap cut of the dress make it an instant classic. The maxi length allows the dress to be worn to more formal functions if you pair it with heels and some jewelry. I also love this paired with a floppy hat and sunnies for a summer day.
Chambray is one of the hottest looks in fabric, and this Rebecca chambray dress capitalizes on the trend. This dress can be worn year round. Pictured, it is perfect for summer with a pair of flip flops. When the weather cools, the length is so that it can be worn as a tunic paired with leggings or skinny jeans. The collar also makes it a great building block for layering with a cashmere sweater or warm cardigan with jeans.
I feel like the Shannon dress is the quintessential warm weather dress I find myself constantly turning to. The cut of this dress resembles a tunic and is ever so forgiving and flattering. The sleeve length will take you year round, as you ca n wear it the way it is photographed in the summer, or with tights and ballet flats and a cardigan in colder months. Tunics have been big on the runways the last few seasons, and this is a classic way to capture that trend.
New Yorkers take their brunches very seriously. And the options are seemingly endless, whether you’re in the mood for farm to table, to boozy, to the brunches where you need to make your reservation months in advance. Brunch is a social event for Manhattanites in and of itself, and can be hard for outsiders to navigate. Years of living here have made us connoisseurs of sorts. Here’s our ultimate guide to where to brunch in NYC. (PS: for most of these spots, you’ll want to make reservations in advance)
Virginia’s in the East Village is an amazing light-filled brunch spot that is equal parts homey and cool. We went here for a recent brunch and immediately fell in love with the vibe as well as the delicious food.
The brunch menu has a Southern influence, but the dishes are elevated. We started with a stracciatella toast drizzled in honey and aleppo pepper that was delicious. If I were inclined to carbo-load, I would have ordered more of this and had it as my meal because it was so yummy. Then, I had the egg strata with mushrooms cheddar and chives which was satisfyingly salty and decadent. My boyfriend went for the burger, which did not disappoint.
We couldn’t do brunch without some bacon, so we ordered a side of brown sugar bacon that was amazing. A nice perk: during brunch, bottles of wine are half price, which makes it a great place to meet friends or have a brunch date. We also loved the setting with exposed brick and a big window letting sun into the entire restaurant. Virginia’s feels a bit like stepping outside of New York but not sacrificing the quality of food, especially brunch, New Yorkers have come accustomed to.
Israeli lunch at Timna
Timna: If you’re looking for a very flavorful brunch in a cool setting, Timna is it. We ate at this charming East Village restaurant on a recent Sunday afternoon, and we were blown away by how tasty everything we tried was. The menu is a mix of traditional Israeli cuisine, combined with Mediterranean and North African flavors. The menu is set up so that you are given a bunch of starters to nibble on and then you order a main dish and a coffee. It’s very reasonably priced, as it’s a lot of food (we had to take home doggy bag) and is just $25. For $10 additional you can have unlimited drinks, which is a steal in NYC.
Now, onto the food. To start, we were brought a bunch of delightful small plates consisting of delicacies such as: the most delicious falafel, endive lettuce with goat cheese, marinated artichokes and olives, babaganoush, hummus, and warm, fluffy pita to dip into everything. Each dish was better than the next, and could have been a perfect meal in and of itself. For our mains, I had the cowshuka which is an amazing steak dish cooked in a skillet with a poached egg, tahini and tomato and pepper stew. This dish was incredible — maybe one of my favorite brunch dishes ever. The steak was cooked and seasoned to perfection. My boyfriend ordered the shwarma, which consisted of chicken thigh, lamb belly, hummus and tahini. We both left full and happy and will absolutely be returning.
The most delightful brunch at Cocotte in Soho
Cocotte: Located in New York’s Soho neighborhood, Cocotte has everything you could want out of brunch in NYC. It’s got the cutest setting, cool French staff, food that’s presented beautifully and tastes out of this world good. We went on a recent Sunday afternoon and Cocotte just executed on every level.
The inside is small but charming, with chalkboards displaying the day’s specials, rustic wood tables and exposed beams. We started with two coffees as we perused the menu. The coffees were strong and hit the spot on a cold February day. We had the meat and cheese plate to start, and it was to die for.
Fat Radish: This Lower East Side spot is totally instagrammable and is a complete contrast to the surrounding gritty, graffitied neighborhood. You’ll step inside to a delightfully bright farm to table restaurant, complete with flower pots full of fresh flowers and long wooden community tables. Not only is the atmosphere delightful, but the food is amazing. This isn’t the type of place where you’ll want to stick to your diet. Just trust us and splurge on the lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry jam.
Upland: Located in the Gramercy neighborhood, this new spot has a great feel to it. Tons of natural sunlight and creative cocktails. The checkered runners down the wooden tables also make for a very instagrammable backdrop. The burger is a standout, as are the pizzas. The pastas looked great too, although we haven’t had a chance to try them just yet.
Santina: This Meatpacking District hotspot is my go-to for lots of different meals, brunch being one of them. We love the Murano blown glass chandeliers throughout and the fun pineapple cups they serve cocktails in. Bonus points: it’s a great spot for a brunch date. Get the Aperol Spritz pitcher and definitely start with their famous Cecina (Mashed chickpea pancakes with your choice of a spread). From their egg dishes to the Swordfish Dogona (my personal fave dish on the menu) you can’t go wrong.
Jeffrey’s Grocery: This West Village institution has a cozy atmosphere and farm-to-table feel. The food is well worth their no-reservations policy, which can be frustrating at times, but do yourself a favor and wait it out. We went this past weekend and feasted on their burger, which has racket cheese and brisket in the patty, and my friend said it was one of the best he’s had in all of New York City, which is high praise. The fries were awesome as well. I had their corn omelette, which was also delish. Their bloodys looked great, but I stuck to rosé. Go early, drink at the bar and wait for your table to be ready.
Bar Boulud: On the Upper West Side is Bar Boulud, where food is taken very seriously. This is one of my favorite places to go before a stroll through Central Park. The food here is truly impeccable, and this is a bold claim but their ham, gruyere and mushroom omelette is the best egg dish I’ve ever had, period. We also love their steak and eggs, duck confit with potato hash, and literally everything else on the menu.
The Clocktower: Located in an old clocktower (duh!) in the Flatiron District, we instantly fell in love with the feel of this restaurant. It’s set up with rooms of different sizes and lush décor, like their billiards room and the vintage-inspired bar. The whole restaurant feels distinctly vintage and a bit British, in a good way. The food is equally pleasing. We had the full English breakfast and the aged cheddar omelette, both delicious. Oh, and we had the brioche French toast for dessert (don’t judge!)
The Standard Grill: Located in the swanky Standard Hotel, the Standard Grill has a great brunch and even better brunch drinks. We love the outdoor garden seating on warm days and there’s always a good chance you’ll spot a celeb or two. Some of our favorite dishes: the burger, the soft scrambled eggs, fritata, and their waffle. Added bonus, after brunch head on out to their beer garden for drinks after.
Estela:Two words – “ricotta dumplings.” Just get this dish and thank us later. The egg sandwich at this Nolita restaurant where President Obama has dined is a standout, too. The plates are small, so order a bunch and share them among friends. The restaurant is super cozy.
Locande Verde: This TriBeCa hotspot is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. It’s extremely chic and is simultaneously the best place for dinner, dates, meals with friends and brunch. That is, if you can get a reservation. The food is great. The drinks are strong. The atmosphere is equal parts rustic and sexy. I also appreciate that the menu has something literally for everyone. Feel like carboloading at brunch? Get the paccheri pasta with rock shrimp and calamari. Want something more healthy? There’s steak tartare or Zucchini frittata. Heck, there’s even cold-pressed juices if you’re on a liquid diet. There are also great desserts and sweet dished like lemon ricotta pancakes. You seriously cannot go wrong with Locande Verde.
Mercer Kitchen:In the heart of Soho is Mercer Kitchen which is a super swank restaurant great for a brunch date or brunch with girlfriends over drinks. It’s dark inside, which seems to promote drinking at all hours. The bar is awesome, the food is great. Start with the meatballs and then move on to their burger or egg dishes.
PS: We’ll be adding to this list, so if you have any suggestions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been on the lookout for sweaters with feminine details to up my winter uniform of a sweater with jeans and pumps or ballet flats. I’m done with traditional cable knits, and wanted some statement sweaters with fun touches throughout, be it pleating, bows or other accents that elevate my look. After scouring the web (& doing some damage to my credit card) I’ve found some of my favorites, which I share below.
A copper, metallic succulent pot from our new line
Today, I have some exciting news about a project we’ve been working on at BellaVitaStyle that I can’t wait to share with you all! We just launched our first homewear item: Gold and Copper Succulent Pots!
Ever since coming back from a trip to Palm Springs and Moorten’s Cactus museum, I’ve had an insatiable affinity for succulents. I remember buying a few adorable succulents from Moorten’s as a memento to remember my trip by only to come home and be distinctly underwhelmed by the selection of pots to display my new succulents in.
I searched far and wide for a chic pot that fit into my home’s aesthetic. I was explicitly looking for metallic gold and copper pots to add nice accents to my windowsill and to go alongside my copper kitchenware and gold frames. Finally sick of looking for the perfect pots, I mention my travails to my boyfriend, and his very matter of fact response was “Let’s just make them ourselves.” Cue the launch of our gold and copper succulent pots that are equal parts chic and on trend and fully functional.
Our metallic, gold succulent pot, now available for order
We have two styles to choose from, both available on Amazon: metallic gold and metallic copper/rose gold (which is pictured at the top of the post). I have them around my apartment in a mix and match set up, which really elevates the look of the space. One of the biggest trends in decor over the last few years has been copper and metallics. We saw this with the advent of copper kitchens full of beautiful pots and pans.
Our cold and copper succulent pots, ready for order.
Our pots are a perfect size — 4 inches by 4 inches — and cylindrical in shape. You can choose to put one cactus in it, or put three to four succulents together in an arrangement, like we did in the photos above. They have a great weight to them and are really sturdy. They retail for $22 each.
We spend a lot of time traversing back and forth to the West Coast, and one of our favorite cities is San Francisco. Between the weather, views, history and buzz around the tech industry, it’s high on our list of favorite U.S. cities. I’ve compiled a list of our must-dos overtime I’m in the area. Be sure to check out other guides we have dedicated to where to eat in San Francisco, where to work out and our guides to Napa Valley!
Golden Gate Bridge: The iconic Golden Gate Bridge is the ultimate workout (and free to boot). Whether you walk it, run it or bike it, and it is the ideal workout experience because you are surrounded by gorgeous views, meaning your workout will fly by. The trail is 1.7 miles each way, and it is steep at parts. I did stop a few times to take photos (it’s too beautiful not to).
We spent a night at a new immersive theater experience called “A Night At The Palace,” which was such a fun time. This experience is a mix of theater, lounge, cabaret and gambling, all set in a 1920s speakeasy. I loved that you must dress up in accordance with the time period to attend, so my friends and I set out to find feather headbands, satin gloves, pearls, suspenders and other gear to fit in with the theme. Given the prohibition-era vibe, you check in to the show by meeting on a street corner where a man in a trend coat gives you your “prescription” before being guided to a speakeasy. Everyone stays in character and the decor of the theater looks really authentic and the costumes are so creative.
We stayed at the Palace for around four hours because there was so much to take in. There is a fabulous burlesque and comedy show that is a must-see (make sure to make a reservation) and there is also a casino set up with chips to play roulette, black jack and other games. The experience is very well-executed and you do feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1920s.
Onsen: If you’re looking to relax and unwind, or need a unique date night spot, Onsen is it. This amazing Japanese Onsen (which loosely translates into a resort with a hot spring) has a sauna, steamroom and hot tub in a glam setting that is the perfect spot to decompress and do some self care. We spent two hours rotating between the three and drinking fresh tea and taking cold showers to stimulate our blood flow. It’s going to become a regular tradition on our visits to the Bay Area. We have a full write up about our experience at Onsen here.
Moss-covered redwoods at Muir Woods
Muir Woods: Rent a car and drive 45 minutes outside of San Francisco into an enchanted forest of sorts filled with redwood trees as high as the eye can see. There are also great, scenic hiking trails worth exploring.
Presidio Park Hike: For a great hike with views of the city and Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio Park has some great trails. We did a two-hour walk that brought us by gilded homes in Pacific Heights, giant redwood trees and a park overlooking the iconic bridge.
Mission Delores Park:While there’s no true equivalent to Manhattan’s Central Park in San Francisco, Mission Delores Park has been described to me as being in its peer group. This 16-acre park is set on a hill offering great views of the city. It attracts a diverse and young crown, equipped with beers, picnics, music and books. It’s a great way to spend a late morning or afternoon like a local.
Clarion Alley: Down an unassuming side street in The Mission is Clarion Alley, an alley dedicated to vibrant street art that is definitely worth a gander. Many of the murals are politically charged (I loved one that read: “Men, Put Down Your Guns) and many are just colorful and beautiful. It’s the perfect spot to find a fun backdrop to stand against for your Instagram.
Napa: Venture an hour outside of San Francisco to Napa Valley or Sonoma to sample some amazing wines. There are literally hundreds of vineyards to choose from (and some great restaurants). To see our complete guide to a day in Napa Valley, click here.
Where to Primp & Prime: Cinta: For blowouts, look no further than Cinta’s Blow Dry Bar. I recently had the opportunity to be pampered at Cinta at their Grant Street salon and luckily I had a few meetings and a dinner that evening to show off my shiny locks.
After washing my hair, the stylist applied an amazing Kersastase treatment that is meant to add shine to your hair and cut down on frizz. It lasts two months or so and costs $35 at Cinta. After, I got the most amazing swingy blowout with big waves and lots of volume. Benjamin, my stylist, gave me the most amazing brush curls and lots of height at my roots — something I really struggle to do on my own. They have a great menu where you can pick beach waves, a sleek straight style, or other looks for $45.
I love that the Kerastase treatment has lasted weeks later. My hair is shiny and hasn’t frizzed, which says a lot given the humidity in New York City in the summer. I would totally recommend Cinta to friends or visitors in the area. It’s a great spot to go before a meeting (takes less than one hour) and is super chic. Or, you can have a day of pampering with friends before a big night out.
Rosewood Sand Hill Sense Spa: For massages, the Rosewood on Sand Hill in Menlo Park is the most amazing and decadent experience. The spa is uber luxe, and the entire grounds at Rosewood are also beautiful. I’ve had countless meals in their restaurant, Madera, and drinks out back on the patio or by their pool.
Their massages are a bit pricey ($165 for 60 minutes), but it’s one of the best massages I’ve ever gotten. After the massage, there is a whirlpool to relax in or you can chill in the garden. They also have a great gym you can access before or after your workout.
Exercise: Pop Physique: This barre class in San Francisco’s Russian Hill and Mission neighborhoods delivers on every level. The location is ideal, surrounded by amazing restaurants and bars and shopping, meaning you can make your workout social. The studio is flawless and fun, with hot pink barre balls, bamboo floors and fun gear (we love the “Barre so Hard” grippy socks) and most importantly, the class is kick ass. I recently took a class with Maddie and came out sweating. We did a mix of weight work, barre work and core, and your legs will shake throughout, which means your muscles are really engaged. I liked the pace of the class as well because the instructors communicate how long you have left for each move and guide you through the exercises.
Core40: I had no idea what to expect before I went to Core40 for a full-body reformer workout. I left pleasantly surprised (and a bit sore). Located in the adorable Nob Hill neighborhood (but there are a number of locations in SF) is Core40, a light-filled studio filled with 12 megaformer machines that will give you a killer workout. I loved that the class was small in size, and that the instructor went into detail on how to do each move correctly. Even as a newbie, I found myself picking up the moves relatively quickly. We went through a series of exercises on the reformer that worked our core, thighs and arms, doing lunges, resistance work and other exercises. Plus, the music is high energy, which is an added bonus. They also offer a class that is half spin, half pilates which sounded great for those who want to get some cardio.
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities for foodies. It has amazing seafood, California cuisine, Mexican and other diverse options. Below, find some of our favorite restaurants when we’re in the city. For your plans — most require reservations.
Leo’s Oyster Bar in the Financial District is toward the tippy top of my dining list. The decor to Leo’s is truly spectacular. Think palm-tree printed wallpaper with dripping chandeliers and gold touches throughout. It’s guaranteed to produce the most perfect Instagram post because each place you turn is super cute and harkens back to a different decade.
We recently had dinner at Leo’s and the oysters are the shining stars on the menu, but the crab and lobster cake with bacon was one of our favorite items, and the shrimp cocktail and tea leaf salad was awesome, too. For drinks — trying the “lunch” martini with picked vegetables. Reservations are a must.
Flores: This Marina District Mexican restaurant is equal parts buzzy and delicious. It is also a stark reminder that California Mexican food is infinitely better than New York Mexican. We ate guacamole, halibut ceviche, carne aside and carnitas, all family style, while sipping on spicy skinny margaritas. Would totally recommend it to readers, as the food is packed with flavor and they have lot of options that are low-carb, high-protein. The decor is also really fun and we liked the lively vibe.
Foreign Cinema: This hotspot in the Mission is a great place for dinner or brunch. It’s indoor-outdoor and features a giant movie screen that plays old films nightly while you eat. The menu has a great raw bar selection and lot of shareable, as well as local California favorites and touches, so the produce that goes alongside the main entrees are really on point.
Carts at State Bird Provisions
State Bird Provisions:I fell in love with the really unique concept of State Bird Provisions. This restaurant has a steady menu of offerings, but a word in advance: only order two items from that menu. The real appeal of State Bird is that servers roll around carts of different dishes that you can choose from to build your meal. While we were there, we picked a ton of items from the carts including: oysters, chips and dip, meatballs, pork belly, burrata and other small dishes. The desserts are killer We got a half piece of the rosemary ice cream sandwich and another half piece of carrot almond cake, that way we were able to try both.
The vibe of the restaurant is cool and has a hint of vintage to it. It’s like a high-end restaurant meets a 50’s cafeteria, but somehow it works.
Locanda: This Mission spot is low-key and unassuming, but the food is anything but. We went here for brunch last Sunday and had a great meal of a breakfast panino, scrambled eggs with the most amazing spicy tomato sauce, hash browns and bacon. We also had pizza bianca with jam. Just typing this is making me want to diet. The Mission area is up and coming, so if you want an excuse to walk around the Mission, Locanda is definitely worthy of that.
Al’s Place: This Mission District restaurant serves out the most delicious food in the most unpretentious of settings. You’ll find no white tablecloths at this Michelin-starred restaurant, but you will find a nightly musical director, really cool decor and the most delectable plates of food.
The vegetables shine at Al’s, which was a turn off for me at first, but it really works. We went as a group of four, so we picked a ton of plates to share so that we could really get a taste. Some of the highlights included: mushroom chawanmushi, brine pickled french fries, squash bouillabaisse, black lime cod with sunchoke curry, duck with peach sauce, etc. All in all, I think we sampled 12 different plates, and each was miraculously better than the one preceding it.
Each dish was so different and packed in a ton of flavor. We had a few fish and meat dishes, but the vegetables really were great enough to comprise of an entire meal on their own. I can confidently say this is my favorite restaurant in San Francisco having finally eaten here.
On a recent trip to San Francisco, we decided to get out of the city for the day and do some exploring. We settled on the Muir Woods, a national monument north of San Francisco and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. This preserved forest is teaming with massive redwood trees that are just stunning to wander in.
In order to get there, we rented a smart car (like the world’s teeniest, tiniest smart car) for the 45-minute drive. This is and of itself was really memorable because my boyfriend is taller than 6 feet, so to see him scrunched inside the world’s smallest clown car was pretty hilarious. On the way, we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and up a windy hill to find the Woods.
Moss-covered redwoods at Muir Woods
We packed plenty of water and snacks because we planned on doing one of the hikes once in the forest. When we got in, I was just blown away by the sheer size of these beautiful trees. After doing a walkabout at the base of the park which has the main trail, we picked one of the many hikes to get a different vantage point. I think we did about a 3-mile rail round trip, which was one of the less-strenuous ones.
What struck me is how quirt the park is. Living in Manhattan and spending a lot of time in other cities, it can be hard to find a peaceful place to clear your head. It also helped that there is pretty much no cell phone service in the park, so you really can be alone with just your thoughts. I also liked that we hiked, to get some exercise in, as some of the points were a bit steep, which doubled as a tush workout.
If you’re looking for some natural beauty and a nice hike, I would highly recommend Muir Park.
Editor’s note: they just introduced a new policy at Muir that you have to book your visit in advance and pick a time slot, so make sure to reserve one if you are planning on going.
One of my favorite experiences on my last trip to San Francisco was also the most relaxing. Fresh on the heels from our trip to Japan, I heard of this amazing Japanese Onsen (which loosely translates into a resort with a hotspring). This hip Onsen (which is also what it is named), which also has a restaurant, is tucked away in the Tenderloin area of SF.
Upon walking in, you are greeted by a beautiful bar and people enjoying yuba noodles and gyoza (Editor’s note: we didn’t eat here the night we went, but absolutely plan to on our next trip to SF). If you walk to the right past all of the happy diners, you will find a lovely hostess ready to escort you to their spa.
I have to say, I was blown away by the execution of this restaurant-cum-Japanese bathhouse. It totally works. Once you get to the hostess to check in for your spa time, you are brought into a serene area to change into your bathing suit, robe and slippers. Then, all the fun starts. It should be noted, we went on a Sunday evening and made a date night out of this. There are certain times that are co-ed, which makes for a great date. Other time slots are single sex and bathing suit optional.
Next, we walked into the spa area, where you immediately see a heated pool that looks so inviting. Each side of the pool is flanked by a steam room and then a redwood cedar sauna. We spent our time traversing between the three. The communal tub when you walked in is set to 104 degrees. There
I loved the layout and décor of Onsen. The walls are a mix of exposed brick and beautiful blonde wood. They have Adirondack chairs to relax in next to the pool should you choose. There are hanging plants climbing down the walls. We loved the cold tea and spa water set out to cool off a bit, as well as the giant overhead cold shower to aid circulation between each room.
We found the price of Onsen to be incredibly reasonable, especially compared to other bathhouses we’ve gone to like Aire Ancient Baths in Manhattan, which charges $95. By comparison, an hour and 45 minute session at Onsen costs just $35. For those interested, they also have massage treatments that you can book.
Overall, it was absolutely the perfect way to unwind together on a Sunday night (especially after a cross-country flight just the day before). We plan on making Onsen a tradition on our future trips to the Bay Area.
Our eating tour through Asia continued in Shanghai, an area known for upscale cuisine and foreign influences in its food. Below, find a recap of our favorite meals.
Dim sum for days at Din Tai Fung in Shanghai.
Din Tai Fung: We were on a bit of a dim dum kick after our fabulous meal at Duddell’s in Hong Kong, so we knew we had to make it to the legendary Din Tai Fung restaurant. For those not in the know, Din Tai Fung is a dumpling chain throughout Asia that is known for its long lines, excellent dumplings and a Michelin star. Despite a Michelin star, it is incredibly affordable.
After we dropped off our bags, we headed straight for Din Tai Fung and miraculously we had missed the lunch rush and were seated straight away. We pretty much ordered one of everything on the dim sum menu, with highlights being the pork buns and all of the dumplings. We also had mocha dim sum for dessert, which was amazing. We left really, really full but it was definitely worth it.
Sichuan Citizen: We knew we wanted to spend some time in the French Concession of Shanghai, so we centered our visit there around lunch in the area at Sichuan Citizen. This buzzy restaurant serves up spicy food. We loved the chicken, just read the menu carefully as some of the chickens come with tiny bones inside that are meant to be even that can be a little off-putting.
Mr. & Mrs Bund: Our final night out we had a fancy dinner at Mr. & Mrs. Bund, in an area of Shanghai that overlooks the iconic skyline. The French had a big influence on the cuisine in Shanghai when they inhabited the French Concession, so we were excited to try some French food. The ambiance at this restaurant is just beautiful. Oversized chairs and chandeliers and it’s just really sexy.
We ate baguettes and I had French Onion soup. My friend had escargot and everything was just done to perfection. We then went upstairs int he same building to bar hop overlooking the Bund.
With only two nights in Hong Kong, we really wanted to make the best use of our time in terms of getting must-have reservations. So, we set out months in advance to interrogate our friends about their favorite meals in the city. In order to get some of the harder-to-get reservations, we relied heavily on our concierge at the Shangri-La Kowloon. Here are all of our favorite meals while in Hong Kong.
The most amazing meal at Mott32 in Hong Kong.
Mott32: One of the spots that came really highly recommended was Mott32, a Chinese restaurant in the Central Business District that is sleek and sexy and probably at least 75% full of people expensing expensive meals on their corporate accounts. The vibe here is really indulgent and like something you would find in Manhattan. It’s definitely the type of place you want to wear heels and a cute outfit.
It was our first night in China, and we wanted something quintessentially Chinese but also with a kick of spice. So, in typical fashion, we overordered (by a lot) so we could have lots of different bites. We started with a seasoned jellyfish, which is WAY out of m comfort zone in terms of food and texture, but my best friend really enjoyed it.
Our main dishes (pictured above) were some of the best foods we ate in all of Asia. I had the free range chicken with dried chili and Szechuan red peppercorns which was so incredibly tasty and set my mouth on fire. My friend had the poached Mandarin fish fillet in Szechuan pepper broth which was crazy spicy, but delicious. We shared both dishes. To be noted: these dishes were humungous and way too much for one person. We really should have asked for half portions of each because we let a lot go to waste. This was one of our most expensive meals in China, but absolutely worth it and a great way to kick off the trip.
A beautiful sunset from the patio of the Peak Lookout at Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.
The Peak Lookout:The photo above is unedited and exactly why you need to time your trip to Victoria Peak for before sunset and then grab a cocktail on the patio of The Peak lookout to watch the most amazing sunset. My suggestion is to check the exact time that sunset is when you are in Hong Kong and aim to get to the top of the Peak about an hour and a half before it. Go to the top of the Sky Terrace and take your photos, and then make your way to the clifftop restaurant called the Peak Lookout about 40 minutes before sunset. Ask for a table out back on the patio, grab yourself a glass of wine and position yourself for the sunset. A note: don’t order food here. It is mostly fried food and bites that are overpriced for tourists. Stick to the wine and the sunset and you’ll leave happy.
Dim sum lunch at Duddell’s in Hong Kong.
Duddell’s:One of my favorite meals ever was at Duddell’s, the most delightful restaurant I think I’ve ever stepped foot into. Duddell’s is known for its dim sum, or dumplings, and is a bit of an institution in Hong Kong. We weren’t in Hong Kong on the weekend unfortunately, but they do an epic dim sum champagne brunch that I will definitely time my next visit for.
The vibe of Duddell’s is super refined with reclaimed wood staircases and really eclectic art. The second floor has the most charming bar and opens up onto an outdoor patio with strung lights. It’s just super cute all around. The dim dum is even more amazing. We went to Duddell’s hangry and left super satisfied. Some of our favorites from the meal were the pork buns (which we re-ordered again after having because they were that good), the soup dumplings, all of the pork and chicken dumplings and the friend rice. This meal was epic in just every way possible and it wasn’t lost on us why they have two Michelin stars. And, they give you these incredible dipping sauces for the dumplings that we legit were putting on everything and the chef even sent us out with a carton of it to take home. if you make one reservation in Hong Kong, make sure it’s for dim sum at Duddell’s.
Chicken meatball yakitori and pickled vegetables at Yardbird in Hong Kong.
Yardbird:Located in the Sheung Wan part of Hong Kong, Yardbird is a hip yakitori restaurant with a n elevated approach to the grilled meat skewers. After two days of really indulging in pretty rich foods, Yardbird was the perfect dinner for our last night in Hong Kong. The dishes are protein-centric and light. We started off with their pickles dish, which came with small plates of pickled kimchi, cucumber, daikon, ginger and other great bites. We then moved onto the skewers, which are all different parts of the chicken. We had breast, thigh, wings, chicken meatball (amazing). It was a great meal before a night out because we didn’t feel crazy full afterward.