MACAU -- The ballroom of the Wynn Palace Macau was full to capacity Tuesday in anticipation of the 50 restaurants in Asia (plus special awards) to be announced at what has been dubbed the “Oscars” of the restaurant world — Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna.
For our small Philippine media contingent attending this event, most meaningful is the first special award given that evening, the Miele One to Watch Award bestowed on Toyo Eatery, the only winner from the Philippines this year. This award recognizes an outstanding restaurant with the potential to be included in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in the future.
Chef Jordy Navarra and his wife May both went up on stage to receive the award to the cheers of the crowd, most especially from our group of proud Filipinos.
Then, the countdown from No. 50 to No. 1 began, with the crowd excited to learn which restaurant was on its way up, which one was on its way down, what new restaurants would come in, and of course, who would prevail as the No. 1 restaurant in Asia.
Eight new entries joined the top 50, most notably La Cime in Osaka, Japan that landed the No. 17 spot, earning the Highest New Entry Award, sponsored by Aspire Lifestyles. Other notable new entries include Il Ristorante–Luca Fontin in Tokyo (No. 28), Paste in Bangkok by elit Vodka Asia’s Best Female Chef 2018 Bee Satongun (No. 31), and Neighborhood in Hong Kong (No. 32). This year’s Highest Climber Award was shared by Mume in Taipei (No. 18) and The Chairman in Hong Kong (No. 22) which both jumped 25 places up.
Dominating this year’s awards is Japan with 11 entries to the list, four of which are in the Top 10 — No. 2 Den, No. 3 Florilège, No. 6 Narisawa, and No. 9 Nihonryori RyuGin. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time before a Japanese restaurant takes the top spot in the future?
Thailand and Hong Kong also made their presence felt on the list each with nine restaurants represented. Restaurants from Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Mainland China, India, Sri Lanka, Macau, and Indonesia also have restaurants in the top 50.
Unfortunately, the Philippines has no restaurant in this year’s list, with last year’s No. 35 Gallery Vask (currently being developed into a new concept) not included this year.
While there was much movement, both up and down, in this year’s list from the 2017 ranking, the No. 1 spot held steady for the fourth consecutive year as Gaggan in Bangkok was declared once again The Best Restaurant in Asia. Chef Gaggan Anand’s inventive take on Indian cuisine continues to resonate with the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, composed of 300 food writers, critics, chefs, restaurateurs, gastronomes, who come up with this annual list.
Other special awards given that evening include the peer-voted Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Estrella Damm, which was given to acclaimed Japanese chef Yoshihiro Narisawa of Narisawa (No. 6) in Tokyo.
Ranked No. 20, L’Effervescence, also in Tokyo, won the inaugural Sustainable Restaurant Award in Asia for garnering the highest environmental and social responsibility rating, as determined by audit partner the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
Nicolas Lambert of Caprice in Hong Kong was awarded Asia’s Best Pastry Chef, sponsored by Valrhona. The Art of Hospitality Award went to Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet (No. 8) in Shanghai, China.
Perhaps the most prestigious special award of the evening, The Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award, was reserved for celebrated chef André Chiang whose Restaurant André in Singapore has been a fixture among the top five (at No. 2 last year) for a number of years. This year, the restaurant is no longer on the list, as he closed it last February.
However, he still maintains a presence with his Taipei restaurant Raw at No. 15. This special award, thus, marks a new chapter in Chef André’s career as he moves to Taipei, expands his restaurant group, and commits to paying it forward by dedicating himself to teaching the next generation of young chefs.
While Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 comes to a close, we hope to be back in Macau where next year’s awards will take place once more, to cheer our favorite Asian restaurants, as well as hope for a bigger Philippine presence on the Asian stage.
For a complete list of this year’s awardees, visit https://www.theworlds50best.com/asia/en/.