Five of the best à la carte hotel breakfasts in East and Southest Asia
Seasonal foods, fruit, local specialities, tasting menus and selections designed to cleanse or revitalise are all on offer as the breakfast buffet goes out of vogue
In hotels and resorts across Asia, breakfast buffet fatigue is setting in, so many are offering à la carte options with some surprisingly inventive menus. Here are five of the best in the region.
The Sanchaya, Bintan
Breakfast 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 carried in a fabric wrap. That may sound hard to beat but the creative à 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 avocado. Eggs are also given innovative treatments including sous vide eggs served with crab meat, yuzu hollandaise and toasted sourdough; and truffle-scented eggs with caramelised bacon, slow baked tomato and potato rosti.
The Indonesian specialities include bubur ayam - congee, shredded chicken, quail eggs, peanuts, pandan leaf, ginger and yellow chicken broth.
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
A mix of Hongkongers and chic in-house guests breakfast here. 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," says culinary director Richard Ekkebus.
Seasonal ingredients may include asparagus, heirloom tomatoes and white and black truffles. Perennials include jam from a world champion producer (Jacques Sulem of Chateau Chinon, France), Japanese Tayouran eggs and treacle-marinated British bacon.
"For a hotel in Central, it's of capital importance to offer an à la carte menu," says Ekkebus. "Amber has become the room where important deals are made over a quick, quality-driven breakfast with discreet service."
There's a Central Power Breakfast menu as well as an extensive a la carte with the full range of egg dishes, waffles and pancakes; Chinese and Japanese set menus; and an impressive tea list (plus Valrhona hot or cold chocolate).
Alila Villas Soori, Bali
A tasting-menu approach to breakfast is taken at this stylish resort. The themed sections 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 goreng telur (wok-fried boiled egg in a spicy relish) are included, as is kopi luwak - coffee made from berries which have been digested by an Asian palm civet.
"Switching off from your daily routine is vital when you're on holiday," says chef Fernando Trump.
Breakfast at The Restaurant by Aman showcases the high quality of Japan's produce. An overwhelming number of ingredients, including dairy, eggs and fruits are attributed to a specific 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, from free-range hens at Inoue Farm in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture. On the two Japanese set breakfast menus, steamed rice is from Nagano and pickles are from Kyoto.
The butter is from Kouzu dairy farm in Shimonita in the Gunma prefecture. Dating back to 1887, the farm's Jersey cows 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.
Song Saa, Cambodia
Breakfast at this island retreat is interestingly devised and beautifully presented, starting off with juice blends and tonics said to cleanse or energise. Yogurt flavours include soursop, wild berry or rambutan while breads and pastries come with a selection of tropically flavoured handmade preserves.
Dishes range from sweet (French toast with caramelised banana and passion fruit glaze; and a coffee panna cotta) to healthy: grilled banana with nuts, prune tapenade and honey or organic green tea-seared fish fillet with zesty dressing.
Many Western breakfast staples are jazzed up too, so granola comes with a fruit macedoine while oatmeal is prepared with cinnamon, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaf. And there are Khmer dishes of kuy teaw noodles and borbor rice porridge.