Mention to people that you’re heading overseas and you’ll often be bombarded with all manner of advice regarding places you simply must visit while you’re there.
Sometimes these recommendations uncover hidden gems, secret spots you’d never have stumbled across on your own. Other times they turn out to be complete duds. You spend all day hunting them out and it transpires that the place has either closed down, changed hands or never existed in the first place (Mali? Oh, I’m sorry; I thought you said you were going to Bali).
Despite being burned before, I still find it hard to resist the anticipation that accompanies heading to a place that has been scribbled on a scrap of paper and doesn’t appear in any of the guidebooks.
Shortly before a recent trip to Taiwan, I was given a red-hot tip for a restaurant just outside the capital, Taipei. A colleague’s friend had dined there last year and reckoned it was in the same league as Sydney’s Tetsuya’s but one-third of the price. It sounded like an ambitious claim. Last year Tetsuya’s was named as the fifth best restaurant in the world by London’s Restaurant Magazine, and was awarded the top accolade of three chefs hats by The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. It would be fair to say I was curious but sceptical.
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