Cover Nikola Hassan for Estee Lauder

Nikola Hassan shares her best foodie picks in town and where to party it out for New Year's Eve.

0- Nikola Hassan b.jpg - Nikola Hassan from Malaysia Tatler August 2012

If you ask any of Nikola Hassan's family members or close friends to describe this stunning young entrepreneur, they will name two things -- her charming personality and signature vivacious laughter.

With her charm and wit, it's no wonder she is one of the top PR gurus in town. As the managing director of Avantgarde, a 360-degree marketing and creative solutions company, she is known to host some of the best social events in town, from fashion shows to food and wine tastings.

Since she is no stranger to the fine dining scene and the best parties in town, we sat down with Nikola to swap dining_tatler_stories on all things gourmand, including her foodie adventures for the past year, her 2014 gourmet resolutions and the best places to dine and party around the world for New Year's Eve.

1- Nikola Hassan (main).jpg - Nikola Hassan for Estee LauderNew Year's Eve is around the corner, what have you planned for the celebrations?
I will be at Troika Sky Dining for New Year’s – taking in the magnificent view of the fireworks show at the Twin Towers, counting down with close friends and family. Starting with dinner at Strato and followed by drinks at Claret while taking in the fireworks from Cantaloupe or the Troika Sky Deck.

The most extravagant party you’ve been to in 2013:
A wedding dinner with the finest caviar – it was served at the middle of the table so you could have as much as you want – with the softest, fluffiest blinis. The entertainment line-up was incredible too – opera singers, opulent traditional dancers, and the bride and groom had their first dance with a ballerina troupe surrounding them. It was decadent and breathtakingly beautiful.

The best edible gift you’ve received for 2013:
Truffle butter and black truffle oil from Maison de la Truffe in Paris, which a close friend gave me. The truffle oil transformed my homemade scrambled eggs into something so decadent and mouth-watering.

What is the most unforgettable dining experience you had for 2013?
One of the most memorable dishes I had was slow cooked octopus with smoked paprika at Cantaloupe's Express Gourmet Lunch. There was a small nugget of burning charcoal in the bowl with paprika on top, and a layer of film to cover it that the octopus rested on. When served, the waiter would make some small holes in the film for the paprika smoke to be released and the octopus would soak up all the flavours.

Where will your next culinary adventure be in 2014?
I want to try Absinthe which is a new fine dining French restaurant in Singapore and I would love to visit Turkey. I have Turkish blood and inherited a lot of the taste buds. I have an obsession with pomegranate, which would be well-satisfied with a culinary adventure to Istanbul.

Any foodie resolution you have set for yourself in 2014?
I’d like to learn more healthy cooking techniques and recipes. I find cooking therapeutic given that my job can be highly stressful. A sushi-making class would be great.  i'd also like to cook more for my friends and host dinner parties – but let’s see if that actually happens given that I throw events and parties for a living and tend to savour any chance I get for a quiet night in.

Favourite café/restaurant/lounge for:

  • Pre-dinner canapés
    • Overseas: Hugo’s Lounge in Sydney. My favourite is the Tasting Plate to share which comes with four delicious dishes that change seasonally, like fresh fig salad, calamari, zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta cheese. Perfect to nibble on while enjoying their award-winning cocktails.
    • Malaysia: Claret Bar at Troika Sky Dining. They have the most delicious plates of nibbles, especially on Aperitivo Night when bar bites are free with drink orders.
  • A sit-down dinner
    • Overseas: The Four Seasons restaurant in New York. The dinner menu would include their white truffle risotto, filet mignon and fig cake.
    • Malaysia: Mandarin Grill at the Mandarin Oriental hotel for the best crab cakes I’ve ever had – packed with fresh crab meat – and my favourite burrata salad in town.
  • The extravagant after party
    • Overseas: Ivy in Sydney, specifically at The Den, which is their ultra-exclusive VIP lounge. I have very fond memories of partying there with the likes of Pharrell Williams, Usher, Miranda Kerr and Kanye West as it’s the go-to after party venue for celebrities when they’re in town.
    • Malaysia: Circus because it’s big enough to have a good crowd but can still retain a sense of privacy. They make great cocktails and the music is always pumping.


(Photos: Malaysia Tatler; Estee Lauder)


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