It was my seventh consecutive year to cover the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, which was held once again at the Grand Theater of Wynn Palace in Macau. But this year’s awards were even more special thanks to Toyo Eatery’s debut at No. 43 on the list. The inclusion was a much welcome follow-up after it won the Miele One To Watch award at last year’s ceremony.
Now on its seventh edition, the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 list saw Singapore claiming the number one spot for the first time with Odette. Located inside the fabulous National Gallery of Singapore, Chef Julien Royer’s fine dining French restaurant is named after his maternal grandmother. It was a win that caught everyone by surprise, including some of the Singapore-based media seated near me during the ceremony.
Gaggan slipped to second place after four consecutive years on top, but it retains its title of being The Best Restaurant in Thailand.
Prior to the awards night, speculations on who will take the top spot were all favoring a Japanese restaurant to win; quite a number of Japanese chefs that showed up during the #50BestTalks event held the day before. This chef-led series of talks usually serves as a sneak preview for the media, as more often than not, only chefs of the restaurants that are on the list usually attend.
Not surprisingly, Japan did end up as the country with the most number of individual awards. They had 12 entries, led by Den at No. 3, earning it the title of The Best Restaurant in Japan for the second consecutive year. Den’s very popular chef-owner Zaiyu Hasegawa was also this year’s winner of the Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Estrella Damm.
More great restaurants around the world:
The 2019 list is slightly more diverse with representation from 23 countries/territories. The list had 10 debut entries that include Dewakan, a first-time entry from Malaysia. It’s an outstanding restaurant that I got to try three years ago while on a six-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur.
Two other newsworthy new entries were from Thailand, led by Gaa. Chef Garima Arora is this year’s recipient of elit Vodka Asia’s Best Female Chef award as well as the Highest New Entry award. The other noteworthy entry is Chef Ice Supangkorn’s Sorn, a newly-opened restaurant specializing in Southern Thai cuisine that is currently taking Bangkok dining by storm. Many locals consider it to be the best restaurant in Thailand, and reputedly the toughest restaurant in the capital to book. Some even claim that it is even more difficult to book than Gaggan.
Other special awards were handed out during the awards ceremony. Chef Seiji Yamamoto of Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo received the inaugural American Express Icon Award. Italian chef Fabrizio Fiorani of Il Ristorante Luca Fantin, also based in Tokyo, was awarded Asia’s Best Pastry Chef, sponsored by Valrhona.
The Art of Hospitality Award went to 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong. JL Studio in Taichung, Taiwan won this year’s Miele One To Watch Award, while Locavore in Bali took home the Sustainable Restaurant Award.
For the complete list of winners, visit TheWorlds50Best.com.
Photos courtesy of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants