Monday, 25 February 2013

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2013 - The Full List of Winners

The inaugural Asia's 50 Best Restaurants, a spin-off of the S Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, was announced this evening at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.  The full list is below.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants

The Full List of Winners:

50 - Mozaic, Bali, Indonesia (Best Restaurant in Indonesia)
49 - Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck, Singapore
48 - Fook Lam Moon, Hong Kong, China
47 - Don's, Hanoi, Vietnam (Best Restaurant in Vietnam)
46 - Yardbird, Hong Kong, China
45 - Jade on 36, Shanghai, China
44 - Karavalli, Bangalore, India
43 - Gunther's, Singapore
42 - Ishikawa, Tokyo, Japan
41 - Indian Accent, New Delhi, India
40 - Fu 1015, Shanghai, China
39 - Sushi Saito, Tokyo, Japan
38 - Nihonbashi, Colombo, Sri Lanka (Best Restaurant in Sri Lanka)
37 - Robuchon au Dome, Macau, China
36 - bo.lan, Bangkok, Thailand
35 - Osteria Mozza, Singapore
34 - Franck Bistro, Shanghai, China
33 - Kahala, Osaka, Japan
32 - Shinji by Kanesaka, Singapore
31 - Takazawa, Tokyo, Japan
30 - Varq, New Delhi, India
29 - Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, Bangkok, Thailand
28 - Indigo, Mumbai, India
27 - Sushi Mizutani, Tokyo, Japan
26 - Bukhara, New Delhi, India
25 - 28 Hubin Road, Hangzhou, China
24 - L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Singapore
23 - L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Hong Kong, China
22 - Jaan, Singapore (the One to Watch)
21 - Hajime, Osaka, Japan
20 - Wasabi by Morimoto, Mumbai, India
19 - Eat Me, Bangkok, Thailand
18 - The Chairman, Hong Kong, China
17 - Dum Pukht, New Delhi, India (Best Restaurant in India)
16 - Quintessence, Tokyo, Japan
15 - Bo Innovation, Hong Kong, China
14 - Les Amis, Singapore
13 - Lung King Heen, Hong Kong, China
12 - Caprice, Hong Kong, China
11 - Waku Ghin, Singapore
10 - Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand
9 - Iggy's, Singapore
8 - Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China
7 - Mr and Mrs Bund, Shanghai, China
6 - 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong, China
5 - Restaurant Andre (Best Restaurant in Singapore)
4 - Amber, Hong Kong, China (Best Restaurant in China)
3 - Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand (Best Restaurant in Thailand)
2 - Nihonryori Ryugin, Tokyo, Japan
1 - Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan (Best Restaurant in Japan)

Special Categories:

*  The One to Watch - Jaan, Swissôtel the Stamford (Singapore)
*  Asia's Best Female Chef - Duongporn "Bo" Songvisava, bo.lan. (Bangkok, Thailand)
*  Lifetime Achievement Award - Paul Pairet, Mr & Mrs Bund, Ultraviolet (Shanghai, China)
* Asia's Best Pastry Chef - Janice Wong, 2am: dessertbar.
* Chef's Choice Award - Seiji Yamamoto, Nihonryori Ryugin, Tokyo, Japan

My sincerest congratulations to all of the winners and I am glad to have played my infinitesimally minute part in the compilation of this inaugural list.  

To which I need to the add the following comments.  Firstly, as a resident of Singapore, I am proud that this little city has managed to make such a big impact on the regional dining scene.  Sure, the two casinos and their marquee chefs have changed the landscape of fine dining in Singapore forever, but isn't it great to see that three of the four highest-ranked Singaporean entries are wholly home-grown concepts such as Iggy's, André (I count André as a local entry since his first and only restaurant is located in Singapore and his backers are Singaporean) and Les Amis?

Secondly, it is nice (from an outsider's perspective) to see a changing of the guard.  Iggy's has been Asia's highest ranked restaurant on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list since Adam was a boy, and André Chiang assuming the Singaporean mantle from Iggy's shows that the regional dining scene is continuing to evolve in new and exciting ways.

Thirdly, and disappointingly for me as a Malaysian, Asia's 50 Best Restaurants contains no Malaysian entries.  And this is not due to foul play or egregious oversight; the voting jury contains more than a handful of Malaysians and foreigners living in Malaysia, including Leisa Tyler, one of the regional jury chairpersons.  While the Malaysian restaurant industry will no doubt be up in arms over this list (accepting of course that the list is fallible) it must serve as a reality check, particularly at the high-end.  Whither Cilantro, for example, by common acclaim Malaysia's best restaurant and until recently a shoo-in for the Miele Guide's Top 10 restaurants in Asia?

The sad truth is that Malaysia's high-end restaurants are far from world-class, and that if the selection process does not include popular voting (which the Miele Guide's does and Asia's 50 Best Restaurants doesn't), Malaysian restaurants do not stand a very good chance of being counted among the region's heavyweights.  Next time you visit a top-end Malaysian restaurant, critically examine the dining experience as you would in Tokyo, Paris, New York or Singapore.  Chances are, it won't fare very well.  I was not particularly impressed by Cilantro and its intelligent wine list aside, I do not rate the sum of its food and service any higher than a good Singaporean mid-tier restaurant.

The other unpalatable truth is that much of the hype about top-end Malaysian restaurants is driven by ill-informed, inexperienced opinion, a.k.a. the blogosphere.  The bulk of these people either (a) don't frequent restaurants of this calibre (including those overseas) on any regular basis and therefore do not know what they are eating or how to assess it; (b) take comps from the restaurants and are therefore unable to present independent criticism of their experience; or worse still, (c) both.

Service in Malaysian restaurants also remains a perennial problem.  With our natural sense of hospitality, we could so easily turn this into a strength, much in the way the Thais have.  We already have the advantage of having a largely English-fluent population, which the Thais don't have.  But if we do not get people with the passion and intelligence to enter the industry, what chance do we really have?  Pay them more, train them more, for God's sake, let people see service as an honourable way to make a living, maybe even a stepping stone to a more lucrative posting overseas.

Until we, the dining public, learn to demand better, restaurants will simply continue to take us for fools and charge us RM100+ per main course.  The rest of the gastronomic world will continue on its course to waters fair, while we will simply be left bobbing somewhere in the ocean of mediocrity.  We, and restaurateurs in Malaysia, should not allow this to happen.  

And therein lies the true value of lists such as Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.  It allows us, pleads with us, as diners, industry members, etc. to see what others are doing and be encouraged by the competition, as well as to look at oneself and see where one is falling short.  With some of the world's fastest growing economies, Asia in all its wondrous facets is leaping ahead in bounds.  Certainly, the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list shows that its restaurant scene is developing at a similar rate.  It also shows that Malaysia is being left out of the party.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the live update! Almost feels like being at the Awards night itself.