From a Michelin Guide-awarded training restaurant to a chic venue that was once a hair salon, here are some of Asia‚Äôs most unique places for dining events
Lost Heaven, Shanghai
What‚Äôs special: The restaurant‚Äôs concept and design are based on artistic and cultural elements of Yunnan‚Äôs minority ethnic tribes. Every corner of the atmospheric restaurant on The Bund showcases the colourful and original patterns, handiwork and embroideries of Tibetan, Yi, Na Xi, Dai, Miao and Yao tribes. Local religious beliefs, ancient poems, song and dance also provide inspiration.
Serving Yunnan folk cuisine, the food is based on indigenous recipes and cooking techniques from the province, combined with a western and South-east Asian twist.
This unique approach has made Lost Heaven a one-of-a-kind restaurant, earning it the reputation of a ‚Äúmust-visit‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúlandmark restaurant‚ÄĚ.
Event application: The average cost for dinner per head, not including drinks, is around US$30. The second floor can seat around 200 people. DMCs in Shanghai have booked the venue for groups, and have also used the third and fourth floors where there is a bar, a terrace and a space for private parties and meetings.
What‚Äôs special: Located with the new Kerry Hotel Hong Kong, Dockyard is Hong Kong‚Äôs first digital food court which relies on an app to deliver the menu, ordering and payment requirements.
For the technophobes, thankfully, there are also printed menus and a human cashier.
The restaurant comprises nine international food outlets, serving Chinese, Indian, Japanese food and more.
The design of the space adopts an industrial chic vibe with a nautical twist, paying tribute to the maritime history of the Hung Hom location.
Dockyard also hosts some of the hottest live bands in town. Table football and pool are available for hire, to get diners to socialise.
Event application: Dockyard can accommodate groups with 10 to 100 guests. Planners can choose either a set menu of buffet. For exclusive venue buyout, a minimum spend applies and the rate varies according to the service and setup needed. Full venue hire is only available on weekdays.
Contact: (852) 2252-5228
Plataran Menteng, Jakarta
What‚Äôs special: Located in Menteng, Central Jakarta, an elite residential area since the Dutch Colonial period, Plataran Menteng is an elegant restaurant that has been a hit with product launches, small meetings, corporate gathering or theme dinners.
While it retains the European-style facade of the 80-year-old house, the venue was expanded from a single-storey building into three stories.
Plataran Menteng serves fusion Indonesian cuisines inspired by Indonesian and Asian traditional recipes.
Event application: The first floor comprises two dining areas and two private rooms that can altogether accommodate up to 120 seats.
The second floor offers two dining areas and five private rooms, three of which can be combined to form a larger venue. The private rooms can host six to 100 guests.
On the third floor is a cigar lounge and a dining area for 60 people plus a bar and access to the rooftop. This area is suitable for product launches, pre-dinner cocktails on the rooftop, and dinner in the dining area.
The private rooms and main dining areas can be hired for private events, varying minimum charges apply to different spaces.
Set and customised menus are available for planners to pick from.
What‚Äôs special: Sitting on the western bank of the Kamo River, Funatsuru is one of the most prestigious kawayuka restaurants in Kyoto, dating back to 1870.
The five-storey building has been registered as an important cultural property by the national government and incorporates many of Japan‚Äôs most impressive design elements, as well as traditional gardens and one of the city‚Äôs largest decks for diners, stretching out towards the river.
The venue serves French cuisine using the freshest local ingredients and produce of the season.
Event application: The venue has one restaurant and three banquet halls, all adorned with Japanese art and overlooking the Kamo River and the Higashiyama Mountains.
The Grand Ballroom has a capacity of 200 people in a buffet setting, while the smallest of the three halls, the VIP Room, seats up to 40 people. A buyout of the banquet halls is possible, while associations can also discuss customised menus.
The venue is also able to arrange a selection of entertainment, some unique to this ancient capital of Japan, including the Kyo-mai traditional dance performed by Kyoto geisha, live music performances with koto and shamisen bamboo flute, or even the dissection of a whole tuna by a sushi chef.
Yakatabune Harumiya, Tokyo
What‚Äôs special: Traditionally popular during the hot summer months, yakatabune ‚Äď which literally means roof-shaped boat in Japanese ‚Äď can now be rented throughout the year.
While the skyline of Tokyo may have changed dramatically in the 250 years since these party boats were first launched, the boats remain true to their traditions. The food that is served ‚Äď and the way in which it is served, at low tables with guests sitting cross-legged ‚Äď has not changed down the years. After the meal has been cleared away, musicians and singers of traditional Japanese music come on, often dressed in kimono. The modern version of aural entertainment ‚Äď the karaoke machine ‚Äď may be available too.
Event application: Yakatabune Harumiya operates five boats and can provide charters for groups of between 20 and 80 people. Prices for a 2.5 hour cruise, including entertainment, range from 10,000 yen (US$90.25) per person to 25,000 yen per person, depending on the menu. The company operates three routes, with the Cherry Blossom Cruise being the most popular during spring and the Odaiba Cruise, taking in the fireworks, a hit on summer evenings.
IFT Educational Restaurant
What‚Äôs special: IFT Educational Restaurant is a training unit for the hotel and culinary students of Institute for Tourism Studies, Macao. It encourages Macao‚Äôs future hoteliers to put theories into practice and supports their endeavour to serve guests at international standards.
The facility supports organic agriculture and the slow food movement. It also recycles food waste by turning it into fertiliser, practises crop rotation and uses biological pest control at its garden at the IFT Mong-H√° Campus.
It is also worth noting that IFT Educational Restaurant had found its way into the Michelin Guide‚Äôs Bib Gourmand awards last year.
Event application: Set lunch is priced from MOP280 (US$35) per person while set dinner and buffet are priced from MOP380 and MOP280 respectively. Customised menus are not available.
The restaurant supports venue buyout for groups of 80 to 100 guests.
The Barber Caf√© & Bar, Kuching
What‚Äôs special: The restaurant retains the nostalgia of its past ‚Äď a hairdressing salon that was in operation for more than 80 years until it closed in 2014. The floor tiles and half-length mirrors are original fixtures, while other paraphernalia such as the barber chairs, mannequins with wigs and hairdryers are props sourced from other hair salons.
The private dining room, known as Shanghai Room, has a unique Chinese theme, with paintings of olden China adorning the walls and Chinese furniture.
Tucked behind the restaurant is a bar tended by a mixologist who is versatile in crafting various cocktails. A pop-up cocktail station can be arranged with advance notice for delegates to try their hands at making their own concoctions.
Event application: For foreign delegates who wish to sample local Sarawak cuisine or fusion Western cuisine, this place is an attractive proposition. Its location, near the Kuching Waterfront and within walking distance to the main city hotels, makes it an ideal dinner venue in the city for group with less than 100 people.
Shanghai Room can seat 50 people. With advance notice, the chefs are able to accommodate various dietary requirements, including gluten free and vegan diets. Menus can be customised.
There is no minimum spend for venue buyout, but a minimum group size of 80 pax applies.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com
Sonya‚Äôs Garden, Alfonso, Cavite
What‚Äôs special: Sonya‚Äôs Garden is a spacious, rustic and relaxing restaurant in the middle of a vast garden. It serves fruits, flowers, vegetables and herbs from its five organic and pesticide-free greenhouses and freshly baked bread
with homemade dips from its own bakery. A gourmet Filipino menu featuring meat entrees is available for groups of 10 or more.
Mid-priced, food is consistently good. The cool clime, charming garden setting and options for lodging, spa, and quaint shops are worth the two-hour trip for executives who want to escape Manila‚Äôs urban jungle.
Event application: Sonya‚Äôs Garden can accommodate up to 400 persons in the main restaurant. Sonya‚Äôs Garden also has two event venues.
Bollywood Veggies, Singapore
What‚Äôs special: Planners looking to highlight sustainability and farm-to-table practices at their event can consider this sanctuary away from the bustling city centre. Located in the tranquil countryside of Kranji, Bollywood Veggies has a 4.05ha farm of 540 types of plants, with a bistro that features local and fusion dishes. Here, groups can participate in farm tours, treasure hunts and kampong (village) races, terrarium-making or plant-potting sessions, culinary classes and tasting of farm harvests and farm brew.
Event application: The venue recently launched new packages for corporate groups starting from S$40 (US$30) per person, with limits of 20 to 300 pax. Planners who would like a completely customised itinerary can write in with their requirements.
Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora
What‚Äôs special: If you‚Äôve taken your events to all the best rooftop dining venues, perhaps it is time to look down ‚Äď down into the underwater world.
Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora offers Southeast Asia‚Äôs only underwater aquarium dining experience. Located within Resorts Word Sentosa‚Äôs S.E.A. Aquarium‚Äôs Open Ocean exhibit, the restaurant puts diners right with underwater creatures ‚Äď separated only by floor-to-ceiling glass walls.
Food is prepared with sustainably sourced meat and seafood.
Event application: Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora does not have private dining rooms, but the venue can be hired for a private event. A maximum of 70 guests is allowed for a full venue buyout.
The Korea House, Seoul, South Korea
What‚Äôs special: Set within a historic government reception hall modeled after the Joseon Dynasty‚Äôs Jagyeong-jeon building at the Gyeongbokgung Palace, The Korea House treats visitors to a host of royalty-infused experiences. Visitors can dine on traditional royal Korean cuisine, participate in group cultural activities while dressed in traditional hanbok, prepare local cuisine such as kimchi and more.
Event application: Experience programmes run for 1.5 hours and are open to groups of at least 20 people. Groups of more than 50 participants require prior reservation and coordination with officials in charge.
Planners should note that this venue is closed on the third Monday of each month, Seollal (Lunar New Year‚Äôs Day) and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day).
What‚Äôs special: Bongraeheon is named by the Seoul Metropolitan Government as one of the city‚Äôs Proud Korean Restaurants, and certified by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as a restaurant that provides an authentic royal cuisine experience.
Solid recognitions aside, Bongraeheon is a beautiful venue, occupying a traditional Korean house with sprawling lawns and verdant gardens.
Staff are dressed in the hanbok of royal courtesans, and guests are served like kings.
The menu emphasises light and clear tastes, with every dish skillfully prepared to demonstrate the essence of traditional Korean cuisine.
Event application: Bongraeheon comprises two function halls: the 73m2 Bongraeheon 1 seats 50 guests while the 50m2 Bongraeheon 2 seats 20.
What‚Äôs special: SMT Seoul is the brainchild of Soo Man Lee, founder of SM Entertainment company which is behind many of South Korea‚Äôs biggest music and film talents.
The modern restaurant sits in the upscale Cheongdam-dong district, and its interior is styled like the home of a moneyed celebrity who entertains frequently ‚Äď large living rooms, cosy nooks for friendly get-togethers, karaoke studios, and themed dining areas.
As the restaurant is also a popular venue for SM Entertainment artistes, there is a private elevator from the basement carpark to allow VIP guests to escape inquisitive eyes. Planners with VIP corporate guests will appreciate this convenience.
The menu at SMT Seoul features Seoul-style cuisine with Western, Chinese and Japanese influences, and much attention is paid to plating.
Event application: Playground on the lower level is suitable for larger luncheons and dinners, and seats 80 people. Penthouse on the third and fourth levels feature multiple private dining rooms and semi-private spaces, and can accommodate 50 people seated.
On the fifth, topmost floor is the Rooftop Terrace, an open space that makes a perfect canvas on which to create unique events. It is suitable for 100 guests in a standing cocktail setup.
For private events, a chef‚Äôs table can be arranged.
Baan Khanitha & Gallery, Bangkok
What‚Äôs special: The Baan Khanitha is renowned among Bangkok folks for being the purveyor of top quality Thai cuisine. The first restaurant of the group opened in Sukhumvit Soi 23, occupying an elegant wooden Thai house that is richly decorated inside with handicrafts, sculptures, paintings and lush plants.
The second brand opened on Sathorn Road, this one occupying a more modern house with whitewashed walls. But true to Baan Khanitha fashion, the interior is warm and welcoming, dressed in red wood, vibrant paintings and oversized potted plants.
The group presently owns four restaurants ‚Äď the other two on Sukhumvit Soi 53 and at Asiatique ‚Äď and a dining cruise.
Like all Baan Khanitha restaurants, the Sathorn branch is a fine-dining venue, and every dish is made with only the finest and freshest ingredients, many of which come from the group‚Äôs own Baan Panalai Organic Farm.
What makes this branch stands out from the rest, is its Gallery section. Khanitha‚Äės Gallery exhibits selected art pieces of local and international artists.
Event application: Baan Khanitha & Gallery‚Äôs Terrace Room seats 120 persons while the Sathorn Room accommodates 35. The Silver and Jewelry room each seats 40 guests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.baan-khanitha.com
Supanniga Cruise, Bangkok
What‚Äôs special: Supanniga Cruise, a new 40-seat dinner cruise, is the latest product of the Laorauvirodge family which is behind the hugely popular Supanniga Home Boutique Hideaway and Krua Supanniga by Khunyai restaurant in Khon Kaen, and Supanniga Eating Room in Thonglor, Bangkok.
Beautifully designed and wearing warm and welcoming hues of yellow, orange and brown, and using traditional materials such as Mudmee silk and terracotta, the Supanniga Cruise makes for a memorable setting for dining events.
Event application: Two cruise options are available: Evening Cocktail Cruise and Evening Champagne Cruise as a pre-dinner activity, and Sunset Dinner Cruise which presents a six-course Thai dinner and grand nighttime view of the glittering architecture on the riverbank.
Supanniga Cruise welcomes private charters, with prices starting from 47,000 baht for an hour-long Evening Cocktail Cruise to 120,000 baht for a 135-minute-long Dinner Champagne Taittinger Cruise. The cruise seats 40 people ‚Äď 24 on the top deck and 16 on the lower deck.
Contact: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org