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Asia's 50 best restaurants in 2018

Dubbed the "Oscars of the Asian gastronomic world," the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards brings together the best re...

Posted: Mar 27, 2018 4:44 PM
Updated: Mar 27, 2018 4:44 PM

Dubbed the "Oscars of the Asian gastronomic world," the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards brings together the best restaurants and chefs across the largest continent on the planet.

As the sixth edition of the ceremony, sponsored by San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, kicked off at the Wynn Palace's Grand Theatre in Macau on Tuesday, the question on everyone's lips was, "will there be a new winner?"

After all, Gaggan Anand's Bangkok restaurant Gaggan took the prize from 2014 to 2017 and the chef himself has previously said he'd like to hand the title over to someone else.

However, it turns out Anand will have to wait a little longer to be toppled.

The progressive Indian cuisine eatery was named Asia's top restaurant for the fourth consecutive year at the awards, which are based on votes from a group of more than 300 leaders across Asia's restaurant industry.

Fourth-time winner

"You've heard me too many times," Anand joked as he accepted the prize.

"I started cooking 22 years back and dreams do come true, but they come so big and so true -- it's incredible."

He then declared once again that he was more than ready to hand the baton over to one of the newer kids on the block.

"We have become a family, and that's the best thing that has happened in the last six years of 50 Best.

"We have young chefs taking over from the old ones. So it's time for us to leave and you guys to take over."

When questioned on the secret of the restaurant's success, Anand said he takes inspiration from Steve Jobs.

"It's not just about a recipe or a dish, it's about how you innovate in that 150 square meters that you have," he explained.

"Every four months we choose to change 80% of the menu and 80% of the dishes are thrown to the garbage. That's what you sacrifice for being where I am."

While Bangkok have come out triumphant, the top three was dominated by Tokyo restaurants, with Den and Florilege taking the second and third spot respectively.

However the Thai capital, host city for the 2016 and 2017 awards, also featured in fourth and tenth place as home to the restaurant Suhring, from German twins Thomas and Mathias S-hring, and former winner Nahm.

Singapore's French fine dining eatery Odette took the No. 5 spot, while Shanghai's Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet came in at No. 8 and was also crowned the winner of the Art of Hospitality.

Nahm in Bangkok (last year's No. 5) rounded up the Top Ten.

Hong Kong's best restaurant was named as Amber, from Dutch chef Richard Ekkebus, which took seventh place. Taiwan's best restaurant went to RAW in Taipei and Korea's top restaurant was Mingles, from Chef Mingoo Kang, which came in at 11.

New entries included Shoun Ryugin in Taipei, TocToc in Seoul, Neighborhood in Hong Kong, Il Ristorante -- Luca Fantin in Tokyo, while the highest new entry was La Cime in Osaka, Japan, which came in at No. 17.

The best restaurant in India -- one of the South Asian country's only two entries on the top 50 list -- was Indian Accent in New Delhi at No. 19.

The Sustainable Restaurant Award, given for the first time, went to L'Effervescence in Tokyo for its social policy, sourcing and environmental practices while Shanghai's Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet claimed the The Art of Hospitality award as well as eighth place on the list.

Asia's finest

The sixth edition of the awards covered a variety of categories, including Asia's Best Female Chef 2018, which went to Bangkok-based restaurant Paste's chef Bongkoch "Bee" Satongun, who has made a name for herself by adding her own unique and contemporary twists to authentic, historic Thai recipes.

The gender-based nature of this particular prize has been criticized by some in the restaurant industry, with food blog Eater describing it as "not only absurd, but insulting" in a 2017 article.

The World's 50 Best Restaurants later issued a response defending the controversial prize,

"Some believe the existence of the Best Female Chef Award program fuels and exacerbates everyday sexism," explained Group Editor William Drew.

"As the organizers of these awards, we strongly refute that. We believe the existence of this gender-specific category actually helps to redress an imbalance, while simultaneously recognizing that the world of restaurant kitchens remains a male-dominated sphere."

This year's "One to Watch" accolade went to Jordy Navarra of Manila's highly rated contemporary Filipino restaurant Toyo Eatery.

Known for his innovative takes on humble local produce, Navarra is one of the chefs at the vanguard of the country's culinary renaissance.

"The award is great because it's something we weren't expecting and it's very encouraging for us and the team.

"We're happy to be here representing the Philippines -- it means that people are interested in our cuisine, especially from outside the country."

Taiwanese chef Andre Chiang, long regarded as one of Asia's most accomplished and creative, took home the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award.

He recently closed Restaurant Andre in Singapore, to the surprise of many, and says he's been enjoying some rare time off ever since.

"I feel relieved and happy -- I know there are more challenges to come," he told CNN Travel.

"It's a new beginning for me. It's great to go to the market, sit there for 20 minutes and really think about an ingredient. I have more space for myself -- and more quality time."

Meanwhile, Asia's Best Pastry Chef went to Nicolas Lambert from French fine dining spot Caprice in Hong Kong.

Asia's 50 best restaurants in 2018

1. Gaggan, Bangkok

2. Den, Tokyo

3. Florilege, Tokyo

4. Suhring, Bangkok

5. Odette, Singapore

6. Narisawa, Tokyo

7. Amber, Hong Kong

8. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai

9. Nihonryori Ryugin, Tokyo

10. Nahm, Bangkok

11. Mingles, Seoul

12. Burnt Ends, Singapore

13. 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo, Hong Kong

14. Le Du, Bangkok

15. RAW, Taipei

16. Ta Vie, Hong Kong

17. La Cime, Osaka, Japan

18. Mume, Taipei

19. Indian Accent, India

20. L'Effervescence, Tokyo

21. Locavore, Bali

22. The Chairman, Hong Kong

23. Waku Ghin, Singapore

24. Lung King Heen, Hong Kong

25. Ministry of Crab, Sri Lanka

26. Jungsik, Seoul

27. Sushi Saito, Tokyo

28. Il Ristorante -- Luca Fantin, Tokyo

29. Les Amis, Singapore

30. Fu He Hui, Shanghai

31. Paste, Bangkok

32. Neighborhood, Hong Kong

33. Eat Me, Bangkok

34. Hajime, Osaka

35. Jade Dragon, Macau

36. Corner House, Singapore

37. Bo.lan, Bangkok

38. Quintessence, Tokyo

39. Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok

40. Belon, Hong Kong

41. Ronin, Hong Kong

42. TocToc, Seoul (new entry)

43. The Dining Room at the House on Sathorn, Bangkok

44. Jaan, Singapore

45. Nihonbashi, Sri Lanka

46. Caprice, Hong Kong

47. Shoun Ryugin, Taipei (new entry)

48. La Maison de La Nature Goh, Japan

49. Wasabi By Morimoto, Mumbai, India

50. Whitegrass, Singapore

For the full list of winners, go to the official Asia's 50 Best Restaurants website.

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