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The finger-licking garlic butter pepper crab at Trishna in Mumbai, India, is must-try-before-you-die dish, Harsh Roopchand says. Photo: Harsh Roopchand

Bucket list travel eats: Maldives crab tacos, spicy omelette in Singapore, flambeed steak tartare in Switzerland and more

  • Indian entrepreneur Harsh Roopchand has worked all over the world – here are some of the restaurants and dishes he keeps coming back to
  • Singapore is a regular stop and Oliva is where he goes for Barcelona-style tapas, run by chef Alain Devahive who trained under Ferran Adria
Asia travel

Harsh Roopchand is a native of India based in Hong Kong. He is a co-founder of The Pontiac bar and of hospitality group 8 CreATEive, which operates the restaurants Amalfitana, Fratelli and Rummin’ Tings.

As an ex-hotelier, I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to live and work all over the world. Once free travel is allowed again, I can’t wait to return to the Maldives, my go-to escape.

I worked at the Soneva resorts for a couple of years. It does not get any better than Soneva Fushi and their newer overwater sister Soneva Jani for a perfect barefoot luxury getaway.

Both are eco-friendly rustic resorts and they host world-renowned visiting guest chefs. They are located within the Baa Atoll, a Unesco biosphere reserve, which boasts beautiful and well-preserved marine life and lush vegetation.

The Blu beach bar at the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru in the Maldives. Photo: Harsh Roopchand

One of the Maldives’ most beautiful beach bars is Blu (Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, the Baa Atoll, tel: +96 0 66 00 888). Apart from the heaven-on-earth backdrop, they have great wood-fired oven pizzas, cocktails and a stunning design by the renowned Geoffrey Bawa.

A younger, more affordable resort is Finolhu (Kanufushi Island, Baa Atoll, tel: +96 0 66 08 800). The softshell crab tacos at their stunning Crab Shack on a sandbank are great.

Softshell crab tacos at Crab Shack Finolhu, the Maldives. Photo: Harsh Roopchand
Traditional Maldivian bhajia filled with tuna, grated coconut and chilli. Photo: Harsh Roopchand

I also recommend first-time visitors try to hit up any local Maldivian tea house in Malé/Hulhumale on their way to or from their resort seaplane to sample traditional Maldivian bhajia – bite-sized fried delights like samosas with tuna, grated coconut and chilli – with tea. It’s a nice affordable alternative to the luxury resorts, yet delicious.

Singapore is a regular stop for me. We help with the Amber Lounge at the Singapore Grand Prix F1 every year.

Some must-eats in Singapore include Spize (two locations including Bedok Shopping Complex, 336 Bedok Road, 469512, tel: +65 6337 7493) for their mamma mia murtabak oozing keema, Cheddar cheese and mushrooms accompanied by kopi tarik.

Spize’s mamma mia murtabak in Singapore. Photo: Harsh Roopchand
Harsh Roopchand on Finolhu, The Maldives. He is co-founder of The Pontiac bar and of hospitality group 8 Createive. Photo: Harsh Roopchand
Tokyo hummus at Neon Pigeon restaurant in Singapore. Photo: Harsh Roopchand

At the risk of sounding biased, Neon Pigeon (1A Keong Saik Road, #01-03, 089109, tel: +65 6222 3623), my brother Rohit’s Japanese izakaya restaurant in Singapore, has a great vibe, food, drinks and hospitality. I am forever craving their addictive Tokyo hummus with edamame and the comforting braised pork belly.

A stone’s throw away is Olivia (55 Keong Saik Road, #01-03, 089158, tel: +65 6221 0522), my go-to Barcelona-style tapas spot by chef Alain Devahive, who trained under Ferran Adria. The ambience is quaint, but the spherical olives exploding in your mouth and the suckling pig hit the spot.

Lamb and chicken shawarma at Parfums de Beyrouth in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Harsh Roopchand
The exterior of Parfums de Beyrouth in Geneva. Photo: Harsh Roopchand
Petit Boeuf’s flambeed steak tartare in Lausanne, Switzerland. Photo: Harsh Roopchand

I went to Switzerland’s École Hôtelière de Lausanne – a hospitality management school – and it’s always a pleasure to visit the country. My first stop is always Parfums de Beyrouth (rue de Bern 18, 1201 Geneva, tel: +41 22 731 66 58) for some of the best lamb and chicken shawarmas ever.

In Lausanne, the timeless Petit Boeuf (avenue Vingt-Quatre-Janvier 4, 1004 Lausanne, tel: +41 21 648 91 01) is always on the agenda for the best flambeed steak tartare and entrecôte frites with their magical spicy butter sauce.

My motherland is India. Apart from mom’s great home food, some Mumbai must-dos include Sukh Sagar (Sukh Sagar Building, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Road, Gamdevi, Chowpatty, Girgaon, Mumbai 400007, tel: +91 22 2363 6856) for the cheese pav bhaji (a tip: order an extra butter pav to wipe up the excess bhaji). Also, try the finger-licking garlic butter pepper crab at Trishna (134 B Bharucha Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai, 400001, tel: +91 22 2270 3213).

Cheese pav bhaji at Sukh Sagar in Mumbai, India. Photo: Harsh Roopchand
Bharwan Da Dhaba’s Amritsari kulcha in Amritsar, India. Photo: Harsh Roopchand

Lastly, for a mouth-watering breakfast look no further than the Bharawan Da Dhaba (Hall Bazar Road, Town Hall 143001, Amritsar, Punjab, tel: +91 183 253 2575) for paneer kulcha with channa masala and a masala chai.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: A world of taste, from crab tacos to braised pork belly