Travel black book: Nature beckons

Who: Indra Kantono, 31, the Indonesian co-founder of Jigger & Pony cocktail bar and Sugarhall grill

Favourite travel destination: Pacific Northwest of the United States

Why: I spent two years studying at the University of Washington in Seattle and have always loved the natural scenic beauty of the area. My wife, Gan Guo Yi, and I have visited it once a year for the past three years as the food and beverage scene in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, is really exciting.

One of our great memories is visiting the Henderson Inlet Community Shellfish Farm on a cool drizzly morning. We plucked live oysters from the inlet and slurped them up there and then.

I will never forget this close connection between nature, produce, purveyors and the food.

Favourite hotel

In Portland, Oregon, the Ace Hotel (1022 SW Stark Street, Portland, OR 97205; tel: +1-503-228-2277; www. is an eclectic hotel with a great downtown location and is within walking distance from Portland landmarks such as Powell's City Of Books bookstore, art galleries and restaurants.

It doesn't hurt that Clyde Common (, which won Best American Hotel Bar at the Spirited Awards for the best bars and bar talent from around the world last year, is on the ground floor. Rooms start at around US$195 (S$266) a night.

Favourite restaurant

The Walrus And The Carpenter (4743 Ballard Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107; tel: +1-206-395-9227; restaurant and fishing pub in Seattle is amazing. It is a great oyster bar with a rotating selection of locally sourced Pacific Northwest oysters that are served in the simplest yet inventive seafood small plates. It has a great beverage selection too and the restaurant, which takes only walk-ins, is always full, with a long line forming outside when it opens at 4pm.

Favourite tourist site

I love food, so gastronomic adventures are always on my itinerary. The most amazing place I visited was the Hama Hama Oyster Company (35846 N US Hwy 101, Lilliwaup, WA 98555; tel: +1-360-877-5811;, a fifth- generation, family-run oyster farm that produces one of the best oysters in the region.

From our repeated visits, my wife and I got to know Adam James, who oversees the farm. He has given us unforgettable tours of his oyster growing areas and taken us hiking in the pristine timber woods just upstream from the farm and the Hamma Hamma river.

The family owns the woods to ensure the water feeding the oyster farms is clean and of excellent quality.

The farm is a two-hour drive outside of Seattle on Hood Canal (, an ancient fjord with calm, clear waters ideal for oyster production and the most beautiful steep mountains on either side.

Favourite bookshop

Powell's City Of Books (1005 W Burnside Street between 10th and 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209; tel: +1-503-228-4651; in downtown Portland is legendary and a must-visit even if you are not a book lover. Its flagship location with more than one million new and used books takes up an entire city block and there are always events happening with authors visiting and book signings.

Best sunsets

The Oregon coast is a magnificent place for sunsets. We went to Cannon Beach (, a rugged, windswept beach. Its rock formations, which jut out of the Pacific Ocean, make the sunset views all the more dramatic.

Advice for visitors

It can drizzle for days in the Pacific Northwest, so don a waterproof jacket.

The air is fresh in the morning with light misty rain, so take along a pair of trail-rated running shoes for walking around as well.


This article was first published on July 19, 2015.
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