alma - Los Angeles, CA

Dinner - Saturday, June 15, 2013

Let's face it - downtown LA is not the nicest part of the city (although the architecture is quite comely). Hemmed in by barren parking lots, the building that houses alma sits alone, the light from the restaurant spilling into the quiet street through its front windows - the place truly feels like an oasis (despite being a mere block away from Umamicatessen). We walked the 1.5 miles from our hotel post-haste, and arrived to a bustling dining room halfway through dinner service on a Saturday night. A "limited number of the set tasting menu", which we had reserved in advance, is offered each evening.

Pollen - Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Lunch - Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Flower Dome in the Gardens by the Bay is an amazing feat of engineering - a climate-controlled eggshell structure that forms the world's largest columnless greenhouse. Within the dome, temperature and humidity are regulated to simulate a cool Mediterranean climate year-round, making for a welcome reprieve from the oppressive Singaporean heat.

Jason Atherton (of Pollen Street Social) has had plenty of success in Asia, with restaurants in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore - he opened Pollen in the Flower Dome last year to a significant amount of fanfare. Pollen occupies two levels in the corner of the dome, allowing for a singular "al fresco" dining experience. I can't think of a more pleasant man-made environment that we've eaten in. Luckily, the food was more than a match for the setting.