Little Italy in Kenya? Mini Amsterdam in the Philippines? We explore the most surprising neighbourhoods in the most surprising of places.
It might seem remiss to ignore the classic San Fran go-to’s, like Union Street’s electric nightlife and the dive bar scene of Haight-Ashbury, just to head to Chinatown instead.
“I’ve got a Chinatown in my hometown,” we hear you say. But this is not just any old Chinatown. This is one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, and—according to us—it’s the best.
The bottom of the neighbourhood (which starts at the gate with the three guard lions) is home to both Michelin-star restaurants and humble, family-run operations. Both just as much of an experience as the other.
Take Sam Wo’s for example. The infamous restaurant became a San Fran icon not because of its food (they’ve been serving solid, if slightly unspectacular, fare since 1907) but thanks to the rudeness of its waitstaff. People now come from far and wide to be told to “sit down and shut up” a’la the legendary 1980s waiter, Edsel Ford Fong. AKA the worst waiter in the world.
Then there’s Moongate Lounge—a trendy cocktail bar with red-velvet booths; and the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory—a building that generates an unfathomable 20,000 fortune cookies a day.
A lively enclave where the spices and energy of the subcontinent have made a new home in the orderly streets of a culinary capital.
In a city of chilli crab it might feel weird to opt for Indian, but we’re pretty sure India must have sent its best cooks here in the early 20th century because the grub is just that good.
Serangoon Road, with the Tekka Centre at its centre, is a splash of colour followed by a whiff of ginger. We recommend getting the prawn noodles from Whampoa, a little stall ran by a third-generation Indian family at the Tekka. If you can’t find it, just ask someone for directions to Ruifang’s—they’ll show you where to go.
We cannot stress enough that Little Amsterdam in Cebu is not named because it shares a fondness for doobies (like the famously relaxed Dutch capital).
It does not. And believe us, drug laws in the Philippines are not ones you want to flirt with.
What it does share is a fondness for flowers. Sirao Flower Garden is a colourful patchwork of gardens, windmills and mountains, a massive ode to the Dutch tulip fields that are—ironically—atypical of Amsterdam itself, and found more commonly in the countryside of Holland.
The area is a haven of fresh air and very Instagrammable spots, like the gigantic, golden, open palm, which gives the impression of being held up to the Gods.
If you’re needing a break from the beaches and chaos of Philippines’ urban centres, a day ambling around the paths here should do the trick. Just don’t light anything up.
Sure, Italians have spread their wings far and wide, but Kenya probably isn’t the first (or second, or even third) place you think of when you imagine a centre of Italian culture and gastronomy. But then you’ve probably never been to Malindi.
Malindi has been teeming with Italians since the 1960s when the Luigi Broglio Space Centre (this may shock you, but Luigi Broglio was an Italian) was established just around the corner. The spaceport was well-positioned near the equator to launch things into space, and it did just that, not to mention bringing many Italians over for work while they were at it.
Pizzerias and gelato shops line the streets; limoncello and Aperol are the after-dark go-to’s. European-style day beds can be found on pristine beaches, and the sing-song Italian language can be heard everywhere you go, including from Malindi’s locals.
An eccentric South Australian town with an eccentric German history (and an über German main street). Hahndorf (which means Hahn’s village) was settled by Lutheran Germans in the 1830s—not exactly recently. But a drive through town today will make you feel like you’re cruising Bavaria on your way to Oktoberfest.
Quaint fachwerk style buildings line the main street, where German-style pubs serve German beer and buskers in German lederhosen play the (maybe German?) accordion on weekends.
It all feels like one big theatrical event…either a German festival or a very German Truman Show that’s been running for 180 years.
Fortune cookies were popularised in San Francisco in the late 19th century, not Asia as you probably thought.