Hi.

Welcome to my site. Here you will find exciting mashups of my very own recipes for the everyday home cook. I draw influences from my days working as an Executive Chef at my own Chinese restaurant in Downtown San Francisco, as well as inspiration from various cuisines I experience from all my travels. 

ENJOY!

Chef Kathy Fang
Retreat into Heaven at The Amanjiwo, Central Java

Retreat into Heaven at The Amanjiwo, Central Java

You will find throughout my blog, quite a few mentions of Amans. It’s my favorite hotel of all time. No matter what country I visit, if there is an Aman property there, I will absolutely be staying there. And I have been fortunate enough to have experienced 6 of their properties thus far and hope to stay at many many more of them as time goes on. I would say what differentiates Amans from many other super luxury resorts is 1) it’s stunning architecture 2) the exotic locales they build their properties on, providing the utmost privacy 3) the VERY BEST service you can ever get, hands down (no high-end luxury property has ever come close to Aman’s level of service for me 4) no crowds ever, meaning you will never have to wait for anything, you get the feeling that you have the whole property and the entire staff all to yourself.

 View of the Central Rotunda where the lobby, restaurant, terraces, bar, and library is. Taken from where the suites/villas begin.

View of the Central Rotunda where the lobby, restaurant, terraces, bar, and library is. Taken from where the suites/villas begin.

So when I knew I was going to Indonesia, home to several Amans, I had to stay at one of the properties. Amanjiwo is the one I went with. The number one reason being it’s located by the Borobudur, which is a must see when you visit Indonesia and the second reason being its architecture. When I laid eyes on the property from a book on Southeast Asia, I was blown away with the layout of the structures. The grand pillars, open air atriums, and suites cascading and surrounding the main central rotunda built as a pillared temple, looked like something out of the movies. I suggest checking out their website and looking at grander images of the entire property. Something I couldn't really capture with my camera. And for you ladies who love to snap Instagram worthy shots, this property has some beautiful pathways and walkways that lend to beautiful photography during the day and in the evening.

 Gorgeous limestones, incredible natural light = perfect portraits 

Gorgeous limestones, incredible natural light = perfect portraits 

 I could walk around this property all day. 

I could walk around this property all day. 

 More pathways for exploring

More pathways for exploring

 Lily ponds surround the main rotunda

Lily ponds surround the main rotunda

 Love walking around and snapping shots out here. 

Love walking around and snapping shots out here. 

 And in the evenings the atriums and pillars offer another kind of beautiful lighting

And in the evenings the atriums and pillars offer another kind of beautiful lighting

 Pack some flowy dresses for dinner because you'll want to wear them here!!

Pack some flowy dresses for dinner because you'll want to wear them here!!

The Amanjiwo is designed by Ed Tuttle, one of the best American Architects, well known for his work in Asia, especially for his projects with the Aman Resorts. The hotel has 36 lavish suites laid out in two crescents that surround the central rotunda which houses, the lobby, restaurant, art gallery, and library. Half of the suites all have private pools. You can select which suites you prefer based on whether you want a pool or not and based on which view you prefer. The suites/villas start at $850/night up to $3000/night excluding the 21% tax so it does come with a hefty price tag.

All the villas/suites are built like individual little homes, made of limestone walls, thatched roof, terrazzo flooring, with a mix of various woods. Upon opening the door to your villa/compound, there is walkway/courtyard that leads you to your bedroom.

 Our personal courtyard/walkway that leads to your bedroom and me sporting a balinese inspired silk wrap worn as a dress. 

Our personal courtyard/walkway that leads to your bedroom and me sporting a balinese inspired silk wrap worn as a dress. 

Open the sliding doors to the side and enter the bedroom. The doors in the center of the room slide open into a large terrace or outdoor private patio up front that has your requested views (either of Borobudur or the Menoreh Hills) and loungers/cabanas for your own personal use and chaises for your own personal sunbathing.

 Bedroom has a beautiful modern zen feel with his and her bathrooms 

Bedroom has a beautiful modern zen feel with his and her bathrooms 

 The center sliding door that leads into your personal terrace, daybed, and loungers. 

The center sliding door that leads into your personal terrace, daybed, and loungers. 

 Your outdoor sunken tub

Your outdoor sunken tub

 Each suite will open up to a private terrace like this one, where you will have a full lounger where you can lay on to read, relax, paint or enjoy a drink at. My favorite spot after a long day of sightseeing.

Each suite will open up to a private terrace like this one, where you will have a full lounger where you can lay on to read, relax, paint or enjoy a drink at. My favorite spot after a long day of sightseeing.

On days when you finish your touring and sightseeing, their main pool becomes the perfect sanctuary. In contrast to the Sundara Beach Club, the pools at the Aman are peaceful areas for you to retreat to. It's quiet, never crowded, and usually surrounded by just nature. You hear nothing but the birds chirping, the leaves whistling in the breeze, and the occasional splash of water in the pool. Bring a book or your favorite magazines for some reading, take a nap, or grab a bite. You can enjoy fabulous poolside meals at your chaise or the outdoor dining area in their "pool house" atrium next to the pool. 

 The main pool at Amanjiwo. 

The main pool at Amanjiwo. 

 Start early on your sightseeing and end the afternoon chilling by the pool.

Start early on your sightseeing and end the afternoon chilling by the pool.

 I love having healthy options when dining poolside. Here we have  grilled chicken with a side of green salad, sambal and garlic bread (yes they make the best freshly toasted buttery garlic bread here) for my husband and I got the Grilled Fish Kabob with a side of greens and herb dip. 

I love having healthy options when dining poolside. Here we have  grilled chicken with a side of green salad, sambal and garlic bread (yes they make the best freshly toasted buttery garlic bread here) for my husband and I got the Grilled Fish Kabob with a side of greens and herb dip. 

Amanjiwo also provides personal watercolor sets for each suite/villa so you can bring it with you and paint whenever you feel inspired. The staff will happily help set up anything for you. I decided to bring my set to the pool and channel my inner Picasso.   
 

 My final product, clearly painting is not my forte:) but it was rather therapeutic for me to do. 

My final product, clearly painting is not my forte:) but it was rather therapeutic for me to do. 

In the mornings, they also have complimentary yoga sessions by the pool

 My happy place in the mornings

My happy place in the mornings

When you don't have an early morning tour, skip working out at the gym in the mornings and take a hike or stroll outside of the property just to take in the surroundings. 

 Behind me are the suites with the thatched roofs. They have clear pathways here that lead to gardens. This is where all their herbs and vegetables come from. 

Behind me are the suites with the thatched roofs. They have clear pathways here that lead to gardens. This is where all their herbs and vegetables come from. 

IMG_9196.jpg

And after yoga or your morning stroll, head to their main rotunda for breakfast in their stunning atrium

 Walk up to the dining room atrium through the stunning pillars

Walk up to the dining room atrium through the stunning pillars

 Split view of the dining room atrium I snapped showing the interior and exterior. 

Split view of the dining room atrium I snapped showing the interior and exterior. 

Breakfast at Amanjiwo includes a breakfast buffet spread of both traditional Javanese pastries and Western pastries, vast assortment of exotic fruits, yogurts, grains, juices, etc. And then a full Western and Javanese a la carte menu. 

 One of my favorite breakfast items at Amanjiwo from their a la carte menu: Bubur Ayam aka Indonesian Congee with Chicken. It comes with toppings like shredded chicken, fried shallots, crispy salted soybeans, a concentrated chicken broth with spices, and oils and shredded fried egg omelette.

One of my favorite breakfast items at Amanjiwo from their a la carte menu: Bubur Ayam aka Indonesian Congee with Chicken. It comes with toppings like shredded chicken, fried shallots, crispy salted soybeans, a concentrated chicken broth with spices, and oils and shredded fried egg omelette.

 I like to add everything in there! You mix it all up and get this super comforting bowl of congee. Sooooo good.

I like to add everything in there! You mix it all up and get this super comforting bowl of congee. Sooooo good.

In the afternoons, Amanjiwo also provides afternoon tea out on their terrace which works out perfectly for those coming back from their tours or a day at the pool or spa.

 Catch the late afternoon sun outside in peace on the terrace while you are served freshly ground tea and Javanese Pastries.

Catch the late afternoon sun outside in peace on the terrace while you are served freshly ground tea and Javanese Pastries.

 Fresh herbs for tea

Fresh herbs for tea

 The lovely tea lady who sets up station by the terrace in the afternoons. 

The lovely tea lady who sets up station by the terrace in the afternoons. 

 Our tea, a savory pastry filled with some kind of meat filling and a banana leaf wrapped steamed cake made from rice flour and dates

Our tea, a savory pastry filled with some kind of meat filling and a banana leaf wrapped steamed cake made from rice flour and dates

 Our savory pastry filled with minced meat and carrots

Our savory pastry filled with minced meat and carrots

The food as I mentioned is always top-notch at the Amans. They usually serve traditional fare from the region as well as superb western food for those who want to switch it up. They also occasionally feature different menus on different evenings that focus on some kind of local traditional cuisine. Private candle light dinners can be arranged for couples at the comfort of their own suite on their own villa terrace, somewhere on the property or even special offsite location.

Due to the seclusion of most Aman Properties, you won't be eating offsite much. Most meals are all had on the property. So for dinners we would change it up. We had a special dinner setup at a local villager's home where they cooked for us on the spot inside a tiny thatched hut with 100's of candles set all over the room. It was incredible. (Blog post on this dinner will be up soon) And on another night I tried the "Makan Malan", Traditional Javanese DInner Meal Spread as opposed to selecting an appetizer and entree.

 Makan Malan Spread: 1. Spicy BBQ Chicken in Saskanese Style 2. Fish filet cooked in chili, turmeric, and tamarind juice 3. Beef rendang 4. Braised Bean Cake with coconut and galangal 5. Stir fried cassava leaf 6. Jack fruit salad with grilled coconut and long bean and steamed rice

Makan Malan Spread: 1. Spicy BBQ Chicken in Saskanese Style 2. Fish filet cooked in chili, turmeric, and tamarind juice 3. Beef rendang 4. Braised Bean Cake with coconut and galangal 5. Stir fried cassava leaf 6. Jack fruit salad with grilled coconut and long bean and steamed rice

Do take a stroll through the main rotunda either before or after dinner when it's dark, both inside and out. The lighting is different at night and there's Prayer Chanting that happens in the towns usually around sunset and sometime after 9pm. The chanting can be heard from the property. There is something really spiritual and special about being out in the middle of nowhere hearing only chanting and leaves whistling through the breeze. And then the candles and the lighting on the property also adds to the mood.

 The stairs that lead to the rotunda for dinner is lit up in this amazing hue

The stairs that lead to the rotunda for dinner is lit up in this amazing hue

 Contrast of lighting between the interior of the atrium to the outside terrace. 

Contrast of lighting between the interior of the atrium to the outside terrace. 

 Entrance to the lobby at night

Entrance to the lobby at night

So now that we’ve covered the architecture and the beauty of the property, the lavish suites, and the food, let’s touch upon the service.

In having stayed at many high end resorts, Four Seasons has always been consistently good on their level and quality of service. Take Four Seasons service and times that by 3 and you’ll get Aman service. For starters, during the length of your stay, no bill is ever brought to you. No bills after any meals, any drinks, any snacks, any treatments…You don’t ever have to wait or flag anyone down to sign anything. You can order food and drinks, enjoy it and just get up and walk off.  A summary will be provided to you at the end of your stay when you check out. There is something very free and liberating about this process of no bills being presented. Gratuity is something you can calculate as a total in the end when you check out. The gratuity goes to the entire staff and they split it. Way more efficient and also fair in my opinion when you look at how your experience was created by the whole staff and not just some people you came across during your stay and they all get a piece of your appreciation through the tip you give them. I love this system.

 

At the Aman, you can also request almost anything and they will accommodate without any question with a smile and eagerness to please. Everyone here loves their job and appreciates being a part of the Aman Family and you can sense that when they are serving and assisting you. This makes your stay there feel more intimate, personal and not transactional.  Every staff member there from the manager, to the concierge, to the servers, to the chefs, to the gardeners and housekeepers also all know your name. When you walk down anywhere on the property, someone will greet you by your name, even though you may have never even seen them before. Every staff member knows what activity you went on that day or will be partaking in and will ask you about it. Every server knows what drink you had the night before and what snacks you liked with your cocktail. The server would bring my husband a bowl of bacon every time during cocktail hour and bring me a bowl of their amazing prawn crackers. The attention to detail here is on another level beyond any hotel I’ve ever been to. I’ll provide two more examples of this.

1.     On all our guided drives, local snacks made by the Aman Chef are provided in the car. I tried this peanut brittle cracker in the car and mentioned how good it was to our guide. The day I checked out, the chef prepared a basket of this peanut brittle cracker for me, packaged in a rattan basket wrapped up and sealed for my trip to take with me.

2.     The chef also included a typed recipe of a fried egg pancake dish, that I had mentioned was delicious during dinner one night to the wait staff. The day we left, the Chef came out, said goodbye to us and handed me the recipe saying he heard I loved this dish so he wanted to give me the recipe in case I wanted to try to replicate it at home.  He also mentioned he would have made some for us to take back except it wouldn’t keep well.

Would you be surprised if I told you that leaving the Amanjiwo that day was rather sad for me? You feel like you have this family here taking the absolute best care of you and then you say goodbye, hoping it won’t be the last time you’ll see all of them. Tell me what hotel have you stayed at that gives you this type of sentiment? For these reasons, I will forever be a loyal Amanjunkie!

IMG_8767.jpg
Dinner @ Eleven Madison Park : Awarded #1 Best Restaurant in the World 2017

Dinner @ Eleven Madison Park : Awarded #1 Best Restaurant in the World 2017

Sightseeing in Yogyakarta, Java Indonesia

Sightseeing in Yogyakarta, Java Indonesia