Sometimes it's not enough to simply satisfy one's appetite with tried and tested foods. The following restaurants provide new and exciting experiences for the tastebuds.

L'Art du Fromage
1a Langton Street, London SW10 0JL, UK
44 207 352 2759 www.artdufromage.co.uk

If you're not a cheese lover, don't bother setting foot inside this French restaurant in the heart of Chelsea. If on the other hand you're a fan, this may well be your heaven.

The décor is slightly reminiscent of a cabin in the Alps, perfectly suited to the wintry menu of fondues and cheeses from the mountainous regions of south eastern France. While the menu does have the odd dish without cheese (snails, foie gras, tuna steak with mango carpaccio), it's featured heavily, even in the desserts.

Smoked salmon roulade with goat cheese and tartiflette (a French dish made with potato, Reblochon cheese, lardons and cream) are amongst the whiffy offerings, but many go for the raclette or the fondue. If you're brave, try the goat cheese ice cream which accompanies the poached pear dessert.

GJelina
1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, Los Angeles, CA 90291, US
1 310 450 1429 www.gjelina.com

On the surface GJelina appears to be a trendy restaurant beloved of health-obsessed Californians and media types, but closer inspection reveals a menu of unexpected twists that work surprisingly well.

Adventurous palates will like the grilled Monterey Bay squid with white beans and sorrel or the pizza with nettles, chilli and ricotta cheese. Experimentation continues with the desserts, olive oil ice cream sounds wrong, but is actually exquisitely creamy.

Even the drinks come with a twist - a Bloody Mary becomes a Bloody Beer where vodka is replaced by the Mexican beer Tecate. Who would have thought that fizzy beer, tomato juice and Tabasco would go down so well?

Top food experiences - GJelina

Grilled Monterey Bay squid with white beans and sorrel at GJelina

Sushinho
312-314 King's Road, London SW3 5UH, UK
44 207 349 7496 www.sushinho.com

Unknown to many, Brazil has the largest expat population of Japanese people outside of Japan. Hence the concept of Sushinho, which is to fuse the two cuisines together.

This high-end restaurant serves a lemony seafood ceviche in a martini glass, red snapper accompanied by gnocchi cooked in squid ink, kingfish carpaccio with a vanilla and pineapple glaze, and chicken marinated in the famous cachaça spirit with coconut cream on a leek and lotus leaf cake.

The cocktail list is similarly adventurous. Try the Muay Thai Ini made with coconut cream, Drambuie whisky, lemongrass, chilli, ginger and lime. Or one of the recently added low calorie cocktails such as the Cherry Tea Martini a blend of cherry vodka, green tea and Campari.

Friends The Restaurant
215, Street 13 Ang Eng, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
(between Streets 172 Ly Yoak Lay & 178 Ang Makhak Vann, north of National Museum)
+855 12 802 072 www.friends-international.org/shop/restaurants.asp

Cambodian cuisine may not have the fame of neighbouring Thailand, but it's about time it did. Combining the spices of Southeast Asian cookery with the presentation of the French, being a former French colony, the food of this nation has much to offer the gourmet palate.

Friends is a non-profit organisation that attempts to get children off the streets and into homes and education. All the staff are former street kids receiving training in hospitality thanks to the money earned by the restaurant.

The menu provides a delightful introduction to the national dishes, like amok where fish is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed in coconut milk, and noodle dishes are favourites. The young staff are wonderfully friendly, and it's a satisfying experience to sample delicious meals while knowing one is doing a good deed.

Tetsuya's
529 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
+61 2 9267 2900 www.tetsuyas.com

Chef owner Tetsuya Wakuda's self-named restaurant is world-renowned and one of Sydney's favourite dining spots for a unique degustation that combines Japanese seasoning and French technique. Our Jacqui tells her Tetsuya's tale - brought to you by the letter " S ".

Sharing is caring: Über-excited from booking four months ahead for Dave's surprise birthday. The secret was going well until one month before dining day, my cousin asked me to book Tetsuya's for his wife's 40th which was close to my booking. So table extended, a forever grateful cousin out of the doghouse and Dave's reaction to the dining-crashers, he replied "of course ok, sharing is caring".

Start the magic: I was enchanted by the secluded restaurant, tranquil surrounds and the view of the gorgeous Japanese garden from the table on an autumn Saturday lunch. The attentive and knowledgeable waitstaff helped us navigate the menu - we added oysters for a total 14-course degustation and opted to share a bottle of wine (instead of the matching wine course) for more stomach room to perform a disappearing act on one vegetable, six seafood, two meats and five desserts.

Sensational: Wow after wow, each dish was immaculately presented and gave my tastebuds a tune-up. Here are my five favourites in dining order:

  • Course 1: Chilled avocado soup with potato ice cream was smooth and creamy with refined avocado and potato flavours.
  • Course 2: Glad we ordered the pacific oysters, each perfectly anointed with rice vinegar and ginger dressing, and tasted as though harvested seconds before.
  • Course 5: Tetsuya's signature dish of confit Petuna ocean trout with konbu, celery and apple (below) is my favourite. The confit cooking method is amazing because the trout was a lovely orange and intact as though freshly-cut and untouched, but the texture was soft and succulent. The crunch of konbu and popping of caviar gave this dish another dimension. Petuna is a seafood company in Tasmania.
  • Course 6: The white-as-white squid masterfully formed into tagliatelle-like ribbons, a colour contrast with the black ink.
  • Course 12: I was mesmerised by the light and airy poached meringue floating island on a double anglaise of vanilla bean and praline. Loved the hidden chocolate sauce and raspberry coulis.
Top food experiences - Tetsuya's

Tetsuya's signature dish of confit Petuna ocean trout with konbu, celery and apple, image source www.tetsuyas.com

Surprises: I couldn't believe the meal took five hours and somehow I Ate My Way Through 14 courses without stretching seams - an indication of the waitstaff's watchful eye and well-timing. The best surprise was when the two birthday people received a special dessert of chocolate fondant with hazelnut and praline with a candle, and a happy birthday menu souvenir.

Still talking about it: Everytime I catchup with my cousin and his wife, we reminisce about the signature dish confit Petuna ocean trout. We ponder whether we should attempt to make this succulent dish or buy the prepared packs from David Jones foodhall but always conclude to save up and return because nothing beats Tetsuya's total dining experience.


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The experience of eating out is no longer solely about eating. The following venues have placed just as much emphasis on atmosphere, décor, and providing entertainment to customers while they dine.

Hubertus Lounge
Eisenbahnstrasse 6, 10997 Berlin, Germany
+49 30 600 318 65 www.hubertuslounge.de

Hubertus Lounge pays homage to the patron saint of hunting Hubert, as such huge stag heads adorn the walls of this East Berlin café-bar. Mismatched armchairs, sofas and tables are scattered around, menus take the shape of photo albums with handwritten memories in amongst the drinks and food.

Mainstream brands such as Coca-Cola and Becks are avoided in favour of lesser known Fritz-Limo and Almdudler. In a further twist, a non-descript cupboard in one corner of the room is in fact a doorway with steps leading down to a basement bar which hosts music and poetry on selected nights.

Tasca Jesús Pobre
Carrer Bisbe Hervás 4, 03749 Jesús Pobre, Spain
(corner with Carrer Convent)
+34 96 575 6285

This charming restaurant in the tiny town of Jesús Pobre is located in a cavernous building with no paint or décor other than a series of coloured fairy lights that adorn the terrace. Plastic tables and chairs fill the space which is mostly open-air, and when it rains waiters will simply pick up your table (along with its contents) and move to where there's shelter.

The food focuses mainly on tapas from the La Rioja region of northern Spain, seafood and fish dishes (cod, octopus) are heavily featured. The menu changes daily and is written up on a large blackboard, austerity may be the key but the food is of an extremely high standard.

Inamo
134 - 136 Wardour Street, London W1F 8ZP, UK
+44 207 851 7051 www.inamo-restaurant.com

Ordering food is a fun game at Inamo, thanks to interactive touch screens on every table. Diners can scroll through each dish on the menu which comes complete with a picture and description, ordering is via a simple tap of the button. Aside from the interactive menu there is a 'chef cam' which allows you to peak into the kitchen, as well as screens allowing you to plan your route home by viewing local buses, tube maps and even ordering a cab.

Quirkiest places to eat around the world - Inamo

Inamo's interactive touch screen tabletops, image source www.inamo-restaurant.com

The cuisine is a mixture of Thai, Chinese and Japanese. Desserts are particularly good (such as Thai basil pannacotta served with coconut foam, kiwifruit and pineapple) and there's an impressive array of teas. If that's not enough, the touch screens provide further entertainment in the shape of games such as battleships.

Frankie Tomatto's
7225 Woodbine Avenue, Markham, ON L3R 1A3, Canada
+1 905 940 1900 www.frankietomatoes.foodpages.ca

Frankie Tomatto's (not a typo) just outside Toronto is an all-you-can-eat buffet where you can load your plate with pizzas, pastas, cold meats, antipasto and desserts for as little as $10.99 (Canadian dollars). The quirk? The restaurant comes complete with its very own leaning tower of Pisa. Visitors to the area are known to eat here purely to be able to witness this mock-up of Italy's famous tower.

The inside of the restaurant is a replica of an ancient Roman town, complete with columns, rusty wheels and barrels. The self-service food stations are designed to look like market stalls, and diners weave through the 'town' to fill up their plates.

Tharen's Restaurant & Bar
13-15 Kellet Way, Kings Cross NSW 2011, Australia
+61 2 9326 9510 www.tharens.com.au

You know that you're going to get a unique dining experience when served by Snow White, Alice from Wonderland or Dorothy and diners are encouraged to dress up. Our Jen, Founder of I Ate My Way Through, dons a red cowboy hat for a hens party and discovers Sydney's first fancy dress restaurant in her JENIUS food blog.

The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
Office: Level 1, 566 City Road, South Melbourne VIC 3205, Australia
Tramstop 125: Normanby Road (near Clarendon Street), South Melbourne VIC 3205
+61 3 9696 4000 www.tramrestaurant.com.au

Exploring Melbourne in a historic tram with plush décor conjures up images of a corny tourist attraction but this ride is actually a restaurant with dining booths, air conditioning, heating, and toilet. Hop-on-board and dine on modern Australian cuisine with a 4-course luncheon, 3-course early dinner or 5-course late dinner whilst passing through suburbs (bookings are essential). The waitstaff will top-up your beverages which are unlimited and even belt out classic hits. We have photo evidence of this delightful dining experience on Jen's JENIUS food blog.

Quirkiest places to eat around the world - The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant

Melbourne's unique all-in-one experience (historic tram, dining, sightseeing, and ride), image source www.tramrestaurant.com.au


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For many no meal is complete without a sweet course at the end. Whether it's a good old fashioned cake or something more experimental, these restaurants listed below are some of the most exciting.

GJelina
1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, Los Angeles, CA 90291, US
+1 310 450 1429 www.gjelina.com

The menu at GJelina matches unlikely ingredients together to create new and exciting taste experiences. This extends to the dessert course, where an olive oil ice cream is surprisingly creamy and delicious, despite causing concern at first.

Their butterscotch pot de crème caramel and crème fraîche has flakes of salt sprinkled over the top. This initially seems like a strange combo but the salt serves to bring out the rich buttery caramel flavour of this naughty pudding which effortlessly melts in the mouth - an utterly extravagant taste.

Best desserts around the world

Butterscotch pot de crème with salted caramel and crème fraîche from GJelina

Espai Sucre
Carrer de la Princesa 53, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
+34 93 268 1630 www.espaisucre.com

Barcelona's Espai Sucre is one of the world's first dessert restaurants. The various set menus combine desserts with one or more wines, tasting menus also have savoury courses such as scallops with algae and duck magret.

Don't expect your average pudding here though. The 'great dessert menu' consists of passionfruit coffee, lemoncress and mint sorbet; extra virgin olive oil cake; coconut tapioca with burnt yolk ice cream; and chocolate with vinegar, strawberry, mint and pepper - all for €40.

The Cheesecake Factory
Various locations, US
www.thecheesecakefactory.com

Evidently, the main draw at this popular chain that offers pizzas, steaks, and fajitas, are their cheesecakes. There are over 30 varieties to choose from, including pumpkin cheesecake, Oreo cheesecake, and Dutch apple caramel streusel cheesecake.

Cheesecake purists will be happy with the simpler vanilla bean cheesecake or the original cheesecake with Graham Cracker crust and sour cream topping. Portions are large enough to share or can be taken home for further indulgence.

Princi
135 Wardour Street, London W1F 0UT, UK
+44 207 478 8888 www.princi.co.uk

This eatery in the heart of London is modelled on an Italian bakery. Counters are filled with freshly baked olive breads, smoked mackerel salads, quiches, and desserts. The colourful little squares arranged behind the glass look so pretty they're irresistible, from the bright orange passionfruit cheesecakes (tangy fruit being a perfect complement to the creamy mousse) to the plump strawberry tarts.

Those who like rich puddings will enjoy the double chocolate and amaretto cake or the chestnut mousse.

Café Marlayne
76 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1EN, UK
+44 131 226 2230
13 Antigua Street, Edinburgh EH1 3NH, UK
+44 131 558 8244
www.cafemarlayne.com

Two French restaurants - a cosy hideaway on Thistle Street and the new venture on Antigua Street. Each has a different décor and ambience but both serving French bistro flavours using ingredients either locally sourced Scottish produce or shipped from France.

Try the savoury goat cheese pannacotta with basil, walnuts, rocket and beetroot. Or sweets like baked vanilla and honey cheesecake, pear and frangipani tart, and lemon crème brûlée. If you don't have time to dine à la carte or set menu, visit their Antiqua Street branch for a slice (or two) of cake.

Adriano Zumbo
Balmain Pâtisserie - 296 Darling Street, Balmain NSW 2040, Australia
Café - 114 Terry Street, Rozelle NSW 2039, Australia
Manly Pâtisserie - Shop 1A, 40 East Esplanade, Manly NSW 2095, Australia
+61 2 9810 7318 www.adrianozumbo.com

Australia's secret is out after Adriano Zumbo's television appearances on MasterChef where contestants make an innocent looking Zumbo dessert that involves lots of different techniques, attention to detail and flawless presentation. After the episode featuring the Macaron Tower with kalamata olive, beetroot, and raspberry macarons, people queued for almost three hours outside the Balmain branch to buy macarons.

No need to wait until smell-vision or taste-vision is invented as you can visit three Sydney locations and experience as seen on MasterChef moments with macarons (like Bloody Mary sprinkled with celery salt and filled with vodka cream, or Blueberry with a hidden fresh blueberry) and sweet pastries especially the Citron Sugar Lips (sugar coated donuts filled with a lemony custard, other flavours are vanilla or chocolate). The rows of cakes are affordably priced between AU$6-$10 which serves 1-2 people and full-sized cakes between AU$57-$210 depending on complexity. Zumbo will take your sweet tooth to a new level of decadence.

Best desserts around the world - Adriano Zumbo

Pineapple Cake - Bite through the oat crumble coat on each choux bun and inside is a cubed pineapple jelly suspended by pineapple custard. Coconut cream is used to glue the marzipan tile, thinly sliced pineapple, and balance the buns on a chewy crunchy oat Anzac biscuit. Garnished with a white chocolate hand-painted pineapple spike.

Best desserts around the world

Zumbo's dessert challenges on MasterChef Australia - Croquembouche Tower, Macaron Tower, the eight layered V8 Vanilla cake, and MasterChef Kids made the Pear Perfection, images source: www.masterchef.com.au


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London may not have the large Iranian expat population of LA (parts of which are even nicknamed Tehrangeles) or Toronto, but there are dozens of restaurants competing with each other to offer the most authentic Persian cuisine. Here are some of the best.

Hafez
5 Hereford Road, London W2 4AB, UK
+44 207 229 9398

Hafez is ideal for the Iranian food novice. The vast menu has all the classics: bademjan (Iranian version of baba ganoush), a traditional thick barley soup called ash, kidney bean and lamb stew, chicken in walnut and pomegranate sauce, and the perennially popular lamb or chicken kebabs, which are accompanied by mammoth portions of saffron rice.

Staff are attentive and keep replenishing dishes of olives and bread for free. Desserts include saffron ice cream, falloudeh (frozen vermicelli noodles in rose water), and of course baklava. Try the latter with a pot of cinnamon tea. A three course meal including wine comes to around £30 a head.

Sufi
70 Askew Road, London W12 9BJ, UK
+44 208 834 4888 www.sufirestaurant.com

This west London restaurant has an alcove near the entrance containing a huge breadmaker. A member of staff intermittently fetches fresh batches of bread, the enticing smell of which fills the eatery and the nostrils of hungry diners.

Popular dishes are featured, including fried chicken livers with mushrooms, some very garlicky homemade hummus, and a range of stews. Kebabs are a favourite here, particularly the boneless chicken or mixed lamb, which consists of a skewer of minced lamb and another of tender lamb pieces, sprinkled with the powdered lemony herb somagh. Kebabs come with huge portions of rice, and priced at around £10 - £12 they represent good value for money.

Best Iranian restaurants in London - Sufi

Left is Khoresh ghaimeh - split yellow peas, diced lamb and lime cooked in a Special tomato sauce garnished with fried potato. Right is Chello kebab Sufi - skewer chargrilled diced tender baby lamb fillet and chicken fillet served with grilled tomato, grilled peppers and onions, image source: www.sufirestaurant.com

Deeyar
64 Alderman's Hill, London N13 4PP, UK
+44 208 920 9744 www.deeyar.co.uk

Deeyar, meaning 'home' in Farsi, is run by a husband, wife and son team. While the husband works on the restaurant floor, his wife and son take care of the cooking. The food featured here is mostly from the south of Iran.

Try the zereshk polo which is rice with barberries and chicken, barberries being a type of bitter sweet berry that colours the rice red. At £8 for this filling dish you really can't go wrong. Other rice dishes and stews are priced around £6 - £8.

Shiraz
54 Ballards Lane, London N3 2BU, UK
+44 208 346 5592

While its appearance is unprepossessing from the outside, Shiraz in North London has been delivering consistently good food for a number of years. A depiction of the city of Shiraz adorns the ceiling and Iranian music tends to play in the background.

Once again, lamb, chicken and aubergine dishes feature heavily on the menu, as well as salad olivieh, which is traditionally eaten on special occasions. The rose water ice cream is highly recommended, along with the syrupy bamieh - note that the latter treat is definitely for those with a sweet tooth.

Iranian restaurants in London

Mixed kebab with saffron rice


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The Korean barbecue, kalbi or galbi, is an extremely fun way to enjoy an evening. Built-in grills with extractors are fixed on each table, and plates of raw meat are cut up with scissors and cooked by the diners, who sit on cushions on the floor at sunken tables.

Numerous side dishes which can include garlic, bean paste, shrimps, bean sprouts, and of course the ubiquitous kimchi (traditional Korean dish of pickled vegetables, commonly cabbage) are replenished for free as many times as desired. Do as the Koreans do and wrap various ingredients into a lettuce leaf and eat. In most restaurants diners can ask for refills by pressing a bell on the table, however this is less common in eateries outside of South Korea.

Desserts are not usual, however if still hungry it is common to order cold noodle soup as a dessert. Accompany the meal with soju, a national alcoholic drink similar to vodka.

Korean barbecues in Seoul and beyond
Fresh ingredients cooked in front of your eyes

Travel tip: Korea has a 24 hour travel information line with assistance in English, Chinese and Japanese - in Korea dial 1330 and from abroad +82 2 1330.

Kabo Jung Kalbi
958-1 Ingye-dong, Paldal-gu, Suwon, South Korea
(corner of national road 1 and a side road with a school nearby)
+81 31 238 3883 www.kabojong.co.kr in Korean

This barbecue restaurant is situated 30 km south of Seoul and is loved by the locals, no doubt attracted by its cheap prices. Suwon is renowned for the Suwon kalbi marinated beef short ribs which are especially good, and set menus make this a very affordable option only a 30 minute train ride from the capital.

Obaltan - Songpa
4-13 Ogeum-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
(subway line 5 to Bangi, go out of exit 1, east of SK gas station)
+81 42 404 0090 www.hiobaltan.com in Korean

Obaltan has branches throughout Seoul and their range of meats is adventurous to say the least. The usual fare of marbled beef and pork is available, but diners can also barbecue ox intestines if they wish. Grilling this organ is not for the faint-hearted as its fatty content means juice pops out whilst being cooked. Less squeamish visitors can try the ox stomach wall cleverly disguised amongst liberal amounts of fried rice.

Seoul Jung
Wilshire Grand Hotel, 930 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90017, US
+1 213 688 7880 www.wilshiregrand.com/restaurants&bars/seoul_jung.htm

Seoul Jung offers the possibility of cooking at your table in luxurious surroundings. Owned by Korean Airlines and situated in the plush Wilshire Grand, both the presentation and the delicious flavours are rather special here.

Choose from seafood barbecue options with lobster, scallops and squid, or thinly sliced pork belly and beef tongue for the more adventurous. The dishes are priced between US$25 - $40, but this includes all the side dishes.

Korean Grill House
Various locations in Toronto
www.koreangrillhouse.com

Boasting their own little 'Korea Town' it's no wonder there's no shortage of Korean barbecue restaurants in Toronto. The Korean Grill House is especially popular thanks to its all-you-can- eat menus available at lunchtimes or after 10pm. At only $14 (Canadian dollars) per person for pork, beef, chicken, ribs, ox tongue, ox liver, salmon, squid and fish fillet it's impossible to go wrong.

Ran
58-59 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7JY, UK
+44 207 434 1650

Ran is a little more expensive than some of the other Korean eateries in London, however the varied menu containing bibimbap (bowl of rice topped with vegetables or meats), kimchi pancakes, and bulgogi (marinated meats for barbecuing) more than makes up for it.

Not every table has a built-in grill, so staff will at times use portable barbecues to grill the food. Ran is one of the most popular Korean restaurants in London, therefore booking is advisable, especially at weekends.


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