March 28, 2019

It was a night of glitz, glamour and too much suckling pig and fried chicken at the seventh edition of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 held at Macao’s Wynn Palace. Even though the hotel’s golden toiletries and larger-than-life bathtub acted as a temporary distraction, the results were what carried the night away. If you haven’t already heard, Gaggan who won 4 times in a row has been dethroned by Singapore’s Julien Royer of Odette. It’s big news, but in the larger scheme of things, this slip doesn’t significantly affect Gaggan as the chef-owner has plans to close his 2-star Michelin restaurant in 2020 to concentrate on his ventures in Japan.

As a newly inaugurated member of the #50BestTasteHunter circle, it was a largely intimidating experience to be rubbing shoulders with a high concentration of culinary gods just days before the awards ceremony. Wynn Macau in collaboration with World’s 50 Best pulled out all the stops—towing in guest chefs from all around the world to participate in a dining series and wowed guests with ostentatious rooms big enough to fit a pied-à-terre. In the midst of debauchery, my brain was stimulated by #50BestTalks that discussed issues such as sustainability, sourcing and the vitality of ingredients that shape Asian gastronomy. We stuffed our faces with Cinco Jotas Jamón and Chinese flatbread filled with Mangalica pork between breaks and tore through a 20-course tapas menu with Chef Fran Agudo of Tickets, from Albert Adrià’s empire of restaurants. Produce is exemplary, flavours encountered, paramount.


Back to the results. OK, I’ll start: It’s fantastic. Surprise additions to the list include Dewakan which debut at No. 46, putting Malaysia on the map for the first time in history. It’s about time. I still fantasise about the black banana porridge. Then there’s Toyo Eatery representing the Philippines back on the charts and Singapore’s very own Nouri entering the list at No. 39.

Greater China came out on top with a total of 13 entries on the list including the highest climber, Belon, a French restaurant helmed by British chef Daniel Calvert that scaled from No. 40 last year to No. 15. this year. Following closely on its heels is Japan with 12, Thailand with 8 and Singapore with 7.

Elit Vodka Asia’s Best Female Chef, Garima Arora made a show-stopping debut at No. 16, placing Gaa as the highest new entry for the 2019 awards. Her meteoric rise reminded me of our interview where she spoke about ignoring gender-biased attitudes to get to the top, despite growing up in a regimented society.

Tokyo-based patissier Fabrizio Fiorani was named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef, a prediction I could have made based on his white truffle latte dessert in Bulgari Il Ristorante Luca Fantin. The mischievous composition of layers of Hokkaido milk, blithe bits of pine nuts and shavings of Alba white truffle boast attention to craft while remaining whimsical. Even if you’re not a sweets person, Fabrizio’s jovial mannerism and impossibly satisfying desserts will compel you to indulge in his fleeting pleasures.

Here is the full list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2019:

  1. Odette, Singapore
  2. Gaggan, Bangkok
  3. Den, Tokyo
  4. Sühring, Bangkok
  5. Florilege, Tokyo
  6. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai
  7. Mume, Taipei
  8. Narisawa, Tokyo
  9. Nihonryori Ryugin, Tokyo
  10. Burnt Ends, Singapore
  11. The Chairman, Hong Kong
  12. Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong
  13. Mingles, Seoul
  14. La Cime, Osaka
  15. Belon, Hong Kong
  16. Gaa, Bangkok
  17. Indian Accent, New Delhi
  18. Il Ristorante Luca Fantin, Tokyo
  19. Lan, Bangkok
  20. Le Du, Bangkok
  21. Amber, Hong Kong
  22. Nahm, Bangkok
  23. Sazenka, Tokyo
  24. La Maison de la Nature Goh, Fukuoka, Japan
  25. Sushi Saito, Tokyo
  26. L’Effervescence, Tokyo
  27. Jade Dragon, Macao
  28. Paste, Bangkok
  29. Fu He Hui, Shanghai
  30. Raw, Taipei
  31. Shoun Ryugin, Taipei
  32. Jaan, Singapore
  33. Les Amis, Singapore
  34. Vea, Hong Kong
  35. Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  36. Wing Lei Palace, Macao
  37. Neighborhood, Hong Kong
  38. Lung King Heen, Hong Kong
  39. Nouri, Singapore
  40. Waku Ghin, Singapore
  41. Toctoc, Seoul
  42. Locavore, Bali, Indonesia
  43. Toyo Eatery, Manila
  44. Seventh Son, Hong Kong
  45. Quintessence, Tokyo
  46. Dewakan, Kuala Lumpur
  47. Sugalabo, Tokyo
  48. Sorn, Bangkok
  49. Corner House, Singapore
  50. Ta Vie, Hong Kong