Whether sampling the wines of New Zealand and Australia, learning the art of sushi-making in Japan or embarking on a Hong Kong foodie tour, the Asia-Pacific region tempts culinary aficionados with its array of spices and unique flavors.
Known for its 60 designated wine regions, Australia also prides itself on its top-quality, locally inspired cuisine.
“Australia’s approach to food and wine respects tradition, while seeking to challenge it,” said Penny Lion, Tourism Australia’s executive general manager of events. “The result is produce-driven, fresh and innovative cuisine paired beautifully with wines that regularly gather accolades and devotees.”
Examples include Melbourne restaurants Attica and Brae, which were both featured on The World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards held in Melbourne this year. Brae sources many ingredients from an on-site organic garden, while Attica features unique ingredients to Australia, such as wattleseed, kangaroo and quandong.
Nearby Melbourne, Yarra Valley’s Oakridge winery offers space for groups of up to 150 and classes in pickling, an introduction to indigenous ingredients, grape-stomping lessons and blind tastings.
A short drive from Sydney, Archie Rose Distilling Co. provides tours followed by a Blend Your Own Gin class, using native Australian botanicals. Private classes are available for up to 120.
Sydney Seafood School conducts a wide range of classes for groups, including the school’s most popular class, Seafood BBQ.
“New Zealand’s cuisine is all about showcasing local produce and fresh flavors,” said Alexa Bennett, business events manager, Tourism New Zealand. “Farm-to-table may be a recent trend in the U.S., but in New Zealand it has always been a way of life.”
Auckland features some of the country’s most eclectic food offerings.
“Auckland’s vibrant food and wine scene serves up something for every taste—the freshest New Zealand produce, mouth-watering seafood, Pacific Rim flavors, islands of wine, and cuisine from every corner of the world,” said Auckland Convention Bureau Manager Anna Hayward.
Gourmet central city walking tours in Auckland are open to groups, as are myriad cooking classes, including learning how to make mozzarella.
Some of the top restaurants in Queens-town regularly collaborate with local wineries to create degustation dinners paired with vertical tastings, and winemakers are often on hand at cellar door bistros to talk visitors through their creations. Millbrook Resort, Eichardt’s Private Hotel and the Crowne Plaza have all offered these experiences with wine, beer and whiskey.
Foraging is also trending in Queenstown with restaurant’s Rata and The Grille by Eichardt’s both including it in their menus.
Experiencing Japanese cuisine is essential to truly experiencing Japanese culture, according to Kay Allen, senior marketing specialist, Japan National Tourism Organization, L.A. Office.
“Many of the customs surrounding food culture in Japan stem from the traditional concept of hospitality, or omotenashi, and the question of how to best create the most welcoming environment for the guest,” she said.
One of the best ways for groups to understand Japan’s culinary culture is partaking in cooking classes. Tsukiji Cooking offers group classes in English, using seasonal ingredients directly from the Tsukiji Market, the largest wholesale market for fish, meat and produce in central Tokyo. Sushi-making classes are also available.