Insider's Guide: Honolulu, New York, Paris, Singapore

Ever since I moved to New York, I feel 10 years younger. I’m 36 but I’m having as much fun as when I was 26.

NEW YORK

Dan Rookwood is the US editor of men’s online style portal Mr Porter. British born, he edited Time Out Sydney from 2007 to 2010, and is a former style director of UK Men’s Health magazine. He also writes for GQ Australia and London’s Evening Standard.

What do you love about New York?

Ever since I moved here, I feel 10 years younger. I’m 36 but I’m having as much fun as when I was 26. Which is to say: lots.

Where do you live?

Williamsburg — the spiritual home of hipsterdom.

Where else do you like?

West Village. I often fantasise about going back in time and buying a townhouse in the days when writers and artists could apparently afford to do so. I’d be a multimillionaire now. 

What’s the hippest neighbourhood in town?

Bushwick in Brooklyn. So the kids tell me. It’s where all the creatives who’ve been priced out of the rapidly gentrifying Williamsburg have moved. (I am acutely aware that I am part of the problem. But that new Starbucks has a lot to answer for and I continue my boycott.)

New York has some fancy restaurants. Which are the best?

ABC Cocina and ABC Kitchen is basically my office canteen. I’m waiting for the people in finance who process my expenses to rumble me. (Note to the people in finance who process my expenses: this is a joke.) Also Freemans. It’s not very expensive but I just like the vibe in there and I think its devils on horseback (dates  stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in bacon and baked to a caramelised crisp) might just be my death row meal. Then there’s The NoMad Hotel eatery. The roast chicken for two with a foie gras, brioche and black truffle stuffing under the skin is to die for/of.

Three easy-on-the-wallet eateries?

Eataly for a glass of wine and charcuterie plate, and then a gelato on the way out. Dhaba for curry. Zenkichi is an unmarked Japanese restaurant with cool, curtained-off private booths. 

Best hotels?

I don’t stay in them , I just go to the bars/restaurants, so I’d say The Mercer hotel, The NoMad Hotel and Ace Hotel.

Where do you go shopping?

I like Bleecker Street in the West Village. It’s a beautiful tree-lined avenue with all the best designer boutiques. For more wallet-friendly one-offs, hit up Smorgasburg market (outside in Williamsburg in the summer; indoors in Brooklyn in the winter).

Any hidden gems?

PS1, an annex of MoMA, is worth the schlep out to Queens. Also go to Sleep No More for some immersive theatre. And Please Don’t Tell: a cool speakeasy bar that you have to enter via a phone booth in a hot dog bar.

If a friend was coming to NYC for the first time, where would you take them?

Start at the Wythe Hotel’s bar for million-dollar views of Manhattan. The bar staff are some of the surliest in all of New York, which really winds me up so I’m calling them out in the hope that they might read this and, y’know, crack a smile once in a while.

PARIS

Stylist Elodie Rambaud spent three years in Sydney working for some of Australia’s best food and interiors magazines. She returned to Europe and now has a raft of international clients. In her first book, Paris Style Guide, Rambaud shares her favourite workshops and speciality stores, where she finds both inspiration and beautiful objects for her work.

Which hotels would you recommend?

Hôtel de Nell and Hôtel Paradis, as well as Hôtel Henriette on the Left Bank and Hôtel Dupond-Smith in Le Marais.

Where do you like going in Paris?

Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Île de la Cité are touristy but charming… crossing Le Pont des Arts bridge and looking at the Eiffel Tower is always very special. La Sainte- Chapelle is also touristy, but to me, it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. The new Fondation Louis Vuitton building is also not to be missed.

When you have money to burn, where do you like to eat?

Saturne, for the atmosphere and elegance of the food. L’Arpège, Alain Passard’s restaurant, is an amazing experience too, almost entirely about vegetables. And Ze Kitchen Galerie has the perfect mix of French and Asian food.

For every other time?

I love Au Passage, located in an old Parisian bistro. You can sit at le comptoir, talk to random people who sit next to you and go shopping in Le Marais right after. Finally, Chez Aline, for their sandwiches.

A friend is coming to Paris for the first time, where do you go?

I’d start with breakfast at Café Marlette, then go to Montmartre village. Here, we’d see Le Bateau Lavoir, where Picasso used to paint. For lunch, we’d go to Le Bichat. From there, we could take the metro and head to La Trésorerie store. Being in Le Marais, I would show them the Musée Carnavalet’s French gardens. For drinks and dinner, we would go to Clown Bar. If it’s a Sunday, we’d have a good chance of seeing elephants wandering out from Cirque d’Hiver. 

HONOLULU

Throughout her successful career as a high-profile surfer and model, Malia Jones lived all over the world, including stints in LA, New York, Paris and Sydney. But when she became a mother, she returned to Hawaii in order to raise her boys ‘barefoot at the beach’. Recently, she launched her collection of high-end classic swimwear.

Why Honolulu?

The healthy lifestyle. The sun is usually out and everyone is outdoors running, surfing, doing yoga or just chilling at the beach. And I love that you can walk around barefoot and in a swimsuit every day and that’s the norm.

Where is your favourite part of Oahu island?

The North Shore has beautiful beaches and a super laid-back lifestyle. The waves get really big in the winter and surfers from around the world visit from October through to December. My favourite time to be there is in the spring, when there are waves, but all the surf crowds have left and it’s the local neighbourhood again.

Where do you go to surf?

Rocky Point on the North Shore and Ala Moana Bowls.

Where do you buy your surfboards?

Two Crows Surfboards have the coolest boards ever. It’s a good place to splurge on a custom surfboard.

You’re an active person — aside from surfing, what other activities would you recommend?

There are some really beautiful marked hiking trails in the hills behind Honolulu that take you into the valleys and overlook the city. It’s just forest and really peaceful and beautiful. 

After the exercise, where to for dinner?

Morimoto in The Modern hotel is my go-to restaurant. I love the food, the view and the vibe. Mariposa, at the top of Neiman Marcus, is my lunch spot. You can watch the waves while you eat. I always get the crab and avocado salad with a plantation iced tea, but everything on the menu is delicious.

What are must-try Hawaiian dishes for visitors? 

Poke bowls are a staple meal here in Hawaii. It’s a pretty healthy, easy meal with fresh fish and rice. Acai bowls are also really popular. They’re the perfect snack after the beach.

SINGAPORE

Damian D’Silva is one of Singapore’s most colourful and well-known chefs. At his Immigrants Gastrobar, D’Silva melds traditional Peranakan food with European and Asian flavours to create an eclectic dining experience.

What do you love about Singapore?

It is the only first world city that I know where you can have a great meal for less than US$3.

Where do you like to visit?

The upper east side of Singapore, which is really laid-back. I guess being a chef does take its toll and when you have time to spare, you want to be away from the crowd. It also has an amazing selection of local hawker fare.

If you want to impress someone, where do you go for dinner?

Sushi Mieda, because the experience and quality is similar to what one would expect in Tokyo. Next is Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck Restaurant. I love duck and this is the epitome of how it should be eaten.

Where are the best cheap eats in Singapore?

Old Airport Road Food Centre, Hong Lim Market & Food Centre and the myriad eateries along Little India serving local fare.

Best coffee?

This is not a question that I can answer without getting aggravated. Most people who drink coffee in Singapore, drink it with milk. How do you even taste the coffee? I like Carvers & Co on East Coast Road.

How about night life?

If I feel like a night out, most of the time I end up at No. 5 Emerald Hill. It’s been my watering hole for more than 20 years.

Where do you go for groceries?

To Geylang Serai Market for my local herbs and spices. When I feel like thosai (fermented rice-flour crepe), I head to Tekka Market in Little India.

Where to when you want to get away from it all?

I take a short boat ride to Pulau Ubin and reminisce about the old days, but even that way of life is disappearing.

An old friend visits, where do you go?

The zoo and its ‘Night Safari’ are always at the top of my list and can be done in a day.

Words by - Published in Voyeur November 2015
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