As the hospitality industry continues to rebound from the restrictions of the past two years, Asia’s top chefs and restaurateurs are eager to once again share their hyper-seasonal creations with the global food community.
Since their launch 10 years ago, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants – sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna – recently unveiled their prestigious list for 2022. With Japan leading the way, followed closely by Thailand and Singapore, with the most admissions, this year’s winner was The Tokyo Lair.
In previous years, Den, designed by chef Zaiyu Hasegawa, has consistently ranked Japan’s best restaurant every year since 2018. Renowned for its playfulness, Hasegawa’s dishes are a perfect marriage of contemporary and traditional Japanese cuisine. , of which the Dentucky Fried Chicken is an early example.
Chefs, restaurateurs, industry personalities and media gathered at three different events in Bangkok, Macau and Tokyo to celebrate Asia’s top 50 chefs.
“In its 10th year, The 50 best restaurants in Asia proudly continues the tradition of rewarding culinary excellence and guiding diners to the most unique dining experiences across the continent,” says William Drew, Chief Content Officer for Asia’s Top 50 Restaurants.
Get ready as we take you behind the scenes of Asia’s top culinary destinations and examine the philosophies and experiences behind each chef’s success.
The 10 best restaurants in Asia
Growing up, owner and head of Lair, Zaiyu Hasegawa became fascinated with traditional Japanese cuisine. As a geisha, her mother brought her home from the Bento of the ryotei (gourmet restaurant) where she worked.
While Hasegawa’s career began in one of these exclusive restaurants, Den’s ethos is more of an elevated expression of Japanese home cooking. While the menu coincides with the changing seasons, the restaurant is renowned for its chicken wings, signature salad, snow crab tofu glazed with mizore sauce, and donabe-gohan – rice heated in an earthen pot and accompanied by wagyu beef or seafood.
“Thanks to the support of producers, the vegetables we use are grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Our specialty salad expresses our connection to farmers and is a fun way for diners to see what came out of the garden,” says Hasegawa.
In 2019, Den was also recognized for its warm hospitality, winning the Art of Hospitality award for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Sorn’s head chef, Supaksorn Jongsiri, was deeply inspired by his grandmother’s southern Thai cuisine. His menu today is not only full of flavor and encompasses the cultural diversity of the South, but each dish is served at just the right temperature – introducing a unique element to Thai cuisine.
If you are lucky enough to secure a reservation at Sorn, you can expect one-of-a-kind service that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Staff are specially trained to delight guests with stories of Jongsiri’s vision and memories that inform each dish.
Combining the most prized parts of a crab and coated in crab roe batter, Kan Chu Piang – gems on a crab stick – is arguably a winner dish whose flavor is enhanced with a tangy orange chili sauce.
If you are looking for an experience that goes beyond the everyday Anthology is likely to pique your interest. With innovative French cuisine openly prepared for all eyes, Chef Hiroyasu Kawate offers a rare encounter for diners who want a more seamless sensory experience.
With local and seasonal ingredients, Kawate’s dishes are imbued with a distinct Japanese quality. The restaurant specializes in preparing meals with sophisticated techniques that are served in Japanese-style plates and bowls.
The Du, Bangkok
An apparently French name, The due actually derived from the Thai word for ‘season’. Chef and restaurant empire builder Thitid Tassanakajohn co-founded the restaurant around the concept of regional Thai cuisine with a French twist.
Trained in the USA, Tassanakajohn’s menu showcases the finest local and seasonal ingredients, combined with modern cooking techniques. Le Du’s wines are sourced from around the world and are carefully selected by Tassanakajohn, who is also a certified sommelier.
While Le Du’s menu is constantly changing, there’s a dish Khao kluk kapi – river prawns with brown rice risotto and prawn paste – that is synonymous with the restaurant and what it stands for.
The President, Hong Kong
President was the first restaurant in Hong Kong to win the prestigious title of Best Restaurant in Asia, and for good reason. While the menu is contemporary, tradition and fresh seasonal ingredients play an important role in perpetuating the heritage of Cantonese cuisine.
Rare southern Chinese delicacies, including 20-year-old pickled lemon, sugar-roasted chrysanthemum and mini water crabs, are sourced from the most remote villages in China.
A definite favorite is the steamed flower crab served with Chinese wine, clam juice and flat rice noodles.
La Chime, Osaka
The top, which means summit in French, sets the bar high when it comes to delivering classic cuisine expressed through modern cooking techniques. Its starred chef Yusuke Takada began his culinary career in Lyon and then worked in Osaka and Paris.
Our childhood memories can be one of the greatest sources of inspiration and for Takada, the small island in southern Japan he grew up on informs his recipes today.
With a flair for rare flavor combinations, Takada’s monkfish liver is served with persimmon and green onion, and for vegetarians, sea cucumber with turnip and borage is a must.
Nestled in a serene setting in the heart of Bangkok, the Suhring brothers Thomas and Mathias have created a restaurant that feels more like a home with several dining spaces to choose from.
With a wealth of international experience under their belts, the duo embarked on a fresh take on traditional German gastronomy prepared to haute cuisine standards. With an array of fresh produce and seafood on their doorstep, the pair include crayfish, blue lobster and butternut squash on the menu.
Guests can expect a relaxed yet sophisticated get-together in a 1970s villa with a lush garden and open kitchen to watch chefs bring their creations to life.
This year Odette, located in Singapore’s National Gallery, has once again ranked among Asia’s 50 best restaurants, as it has in recent years. As the recipient of the coveted Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award, Odette has established itself this year as the ultimate destination to savor modern French cuisine in an artistic setting steeped in genuine hospitality.
“I owe everything I am to my family, especially my grandmother, Odette. She showed me how the most remarkable dishes can come from the purest ingredients and taught me the importance of adding that ‘little something’ to create dishes that excite the palate and fill the heart,” says Julien Royer, chef and owner of Odette.
Boutique producers around the world source the finest ingredients to bring signature dishes to life – Normandy brown crab and pepper-crusted pigeon – with attention to seasonality and terroir.
Neighborhood, Hong Kong
A hidden alley full of markets, local bars and antique shops is an unusual setting to establish a gourmet restaurant. Though comprehensive, chef and owner David Lai doesn’t rely on a fancy website or Instagram account to entice people to sample his simple French cuisine.
Lai worked in exclusive high-end restaurants in Hong Kong and San Francisco before adopting the Alice Waters “slow food” philosophy he discovered while studying in California.
At Neighborhood, lamb from the Pyrenees, local seafood and wild game are found on the specialty menu, which always reflects the current season.
Du chef Thitid Tassanakajohn pays homage to his grandmother Nusara with a menu that revisits family recipes.
On the 12-course tasting menu, spicy calamari salad and wok-fried wagyu beef topped with basil lead to heartier crab curry served in betel leaf.
While on the second floor 10 seats in a room with an intimate atmosphere from another era, the ground floor houses a chic bar serving drinks labeled Tassanakajohn, as a certified sommelier.
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