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Escape Routes, Week of December 16

By Hana R. Alberts | Dec 15, 2011

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  • Escape Routes, Week of December 16
    Zuma in Bangkok
  • Escape Routes, Week of December 16
    St Regis Pool

Sky-High in Shenzhen

So the new St. Regis in Shenzhen is set to open on December 18, and I’ve got a comparison to make. It’s touting itself like Hong Kong’s Ritz-Carlton did because—bear with me—it boasts the highest bar in Shenzhen. (Remember Ozone’s marketing strategy?) The hotel is located on the top 28 floors of a 100-story skyscraper called the Kingkey 100 (creative!), which is not only the tallest building in Shenzhen but also the eighth-tallest in the world. At 96 floors off the ground, the St. Regis Bar has superlatives going for it, as well as a signature cocktail called the Yan Mary that’s a play on a traditional Bloody Mary—with a few unique local touches. Named for a nearby salt field, it’s served in an old-fashioned tumbler that’s seasoned on the rim with fresh lemon juice and sea salt. The vodka is shaken with a bit of local soy sauce, cayenne pepper and black pepper, and lemon juice. Add fresh tomato juice; pour over ice; serve with an opened oyster and fresh salsa sprinkled with sea salt, lemon and celery—and enjoy. If anyone with a freakin’ visa (cue the bitter American mumbling about costs and red tape) goes to Shenzhen, be sure to let me know how the bar is! Or smuggle a cocktail back.
5016 Shennan Rd. East, Luohu District, Shenzhen, (+86) 755-8308-8888, Special opening rates until March 31, 2012.

Zuma Expands its Empire

With the opening of Zuma’s newest restaurant, weekend-trippers to Bangkok can enjoy the same kind of decadent, izakaya-style meals they get in Hong Kong. Zuma’s co-founders opened their sixth outpost last week, which joins its brethren in London, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Dubai and Miami. Oh, and there’s one in Beirut on the way. (Lebanon’s elite must really get tired of the sub-par sashimi, you know?) The restaurant boasts the same signature dishes: sea bass with yuzu, truffle oil and salmon roe; spicy beef tenderloin with sesame, red chili and sweet soy; soft shell crab with chili mayonnaise and baby chicken marinated in barley miso. There’s also a cellar chock-full of 1,500 wines, champagnes and sakes. The meticulous interior designer put a ton of thought and care into the décor, which strives to balance the four elements (earth, fire, water and air). Riffing on the massive alfresco space in Hong Kong’s branch, Bangkok’s boasts an outdoor terrace with a pond and a small garden. I mean, broadening your horizons while traveling is so overrated—isn’t it?
G/F, St. Regis Hotel and Residences, 159/99 Ratchadamri Rd., Bangkok. To book, call (+66) 2252-4707 or email

Have Book, Will Travel

I’m the kind of traveler who likes to read books set in whatever place I’m visiting—whether it’s a novel, non-fiction or poetry, a work by an author still living in that location or by a person of that descent who’s participated in a diaspora of some sort. (The latter makes for interesting narratives, too, that shed light on the author’s homeland—think of Jhumpa Lahiri’s works.) Before visiting Japan, I read Murakami’s “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.” A backpacking trip through Vietnam was accompanied by a non-fiction account, “Catfish and Mandala,” in which author Andrew X. Pham, an American citizen whose parents fled Vietnam by boat, bicycled through a country that was familiar yet utterly foreign to him. On a long weekend in Chiang Mai last summer, I picked up a short-story collection called “Sightseeing” by a young American-born, Bangkok-raised author, Rattawut Lapcharoensap. I’m heading to Taipei next week and am seeking your advice, readers—what should be the next volume in my quest for cultural understanding? Email me at the address below with your recommendations!

Email me at or follow me on Twitter @HanaRAlberts.


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