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Haute still hot: Asia’s 10 best restaurants named
Ultimate foodies come to Asia to discuss fish mousse and yuzu-infused mustard. Make your highbrow reservations now
A roar of applause erupted as Japanese chef Yoshihiro Narisawa was crowned the S. Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Asia at the inaugural Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony, held on Monday in Singapore.
After receiving the prize, Narisawa stood on stage and bowed deeply for several seconds, a sign of gratitude and respect in Japanese culture.
The list is compiled from votes cast for restaurants around the world by The Diners Club World 50 Best Restaurants Academy, which is comprised of 900 influential chefs, food critics and industry professionals.
The Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards program is the first to focus on a single region, but William Drew of organizing body William Reed Business Media hinted that other localized awards could be soon to follow.
“It’s fair to say that, as we did with Asia, we are assessing other regions in detail in order to ascertain whether further regional awards are viable,” he says.
Those in the highest rankings on the Asia’s 50 Best list are likely to secure a spot on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list, which will be announced on April 29 in London.
Here’s a look at the top 10 in Asia. For the full list of 50, click here.
1. Narisawa (Tokyo)
Narisawa, formerly known as Les Creations de Narisawa, debuted at number 20 on the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2009, gaining the distinction of being the first restaurant from Japan to break into the top rankings.
Since then, the Tokyo restaurant has rated among the highest of Asian restaurants in the annual world rankings.
Owner and chef Yoshihiro Narisawa spent nine years cooking in Europe’s tops kitchens, working under star chefs Joel Robuchon and Paul Bocuse, before returning to Japan to open his own restaurant.
The contemporary French cuisine he serves at Narisawa takes in the influence of his experience abroad and reflects his philosophy of bringing nature to the plate -- sometimes quite literally.
A dish called Richard’s Soil, served in late autumn, consists solely of burdock root sautéed with the soil clinging to it, pureed with spring water from Shinshu in Nagano Prefecture.
2-6-15 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo; +81 (3) 5785 0799; www.narisawa-yoshihiro.com
More on CNN: Haute cuisine's natural man
2. Ryugin (Tokyo)
Seiji Yamamoto has been wowing audiences at cutting-edge international culinary conferences since 2007.
Each year, young chefs from around the world vie for a chance to apprentice at his three Michelin-starred restaurant, Ryugin, in Tokyo’s Roppongi district.
The Kagawa native applies traditional and modern techniques to Japanese kaiseki, resulting in innovative dishes, such as grilled sea bream covered in a crispy coating of puffed rice and served with sea urchin and “virgin” oysters from Hiroshima.
Admired for his highly scientific, precise approach to cooking, Yamamoto received major accolades from his peers in the form of this year’s Chef’s Choice award at the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants event.
1/F Side Roppongi Bldg., 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo; +81 (0) 3 3423-8006; www.nihonryori-ryugin.com
More on CNN: So, what do three Michelin stars really taste like?
3. Nahm (Bangkok)
David Thompson made his name in London with the original Nahm restaurant, which earned a Michelin star just six months after opening.
Although skeptics were initially wary when he launched a second branch in Bangkok three years ago, the Australian-born chef has won over Thai locals with his exquisite attention to detail, top ingredients and authenticity.
Meals typically kick off with a sweet and sour tom-yum-tini, which packs a spicy punch, and inventive canapés of pineapple topped with candied pork.
Metropolitan Hotel, South Sathorn Road, Bangkok; +66 (0)2 625 3388; www.metropolitan.bangkok.como.bz
More on CNN: Best Bangkok high-end Thai restaurants
4. Amber (Hong Kong)
Helmed by Dutch chef Richard Ekkebus, Hong Kong’s Amber grabbed the number 44 spot in last year's World's 50 Best Restaurants list.
Ekkebus imports top ingredients from around the world while emphasizing the importance of sustainable agriculture and fishing practices.
Signature dishes include lobster gelee topped with Hokkaido sea urchin and a dressing of sherry and cevennes onion with creme fraiche, and Yamagata pork belly with stuffed morel mushrooms.
Ekkebus’s success at Amber has led to expansion. In April, he plans to open a second restaurant in Shanghai.
15 Queens Road, 7/F, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong;+852 2132 0066; www.amberhongkong.com
More on CNN: Hong Kong's best gourmet restaurant
5. Restaurant Andre (Singapore)
At this year’s Asia’s 50 Best awards ceremony, a palpable buzz surrounded chef Andre Chiang, who opened his first restaurant in Singapore to great acclaim in 2010.
Chiang left his native Taiwan at age 15 to train in Europe under modernist cuisine masters Pierre Gagnaire, Joel Robuchon and Michel Troisgros, whose influence can be felt in the Mediterranean-infected contemporary French cuisine Chiang creates at Andre.
Critics rave about his Deconstructed Snickers bar, a mix of chocolate, caramel, nougat and nuts, which he reinvents every year for his menu.
41 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore;+65 6534 8880; Restaurantandre.com
More on CNN: How Singapore became Asia's culinary capital
6. 8 ½ Otto E Mezzo Bombana (Hong Kong)
Reservations at this haute Italian dining spot in Hong Kong are notoriously hard to secure.
The fact that it was awarded three stars in the 2012 Michelin Guide -- the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy to gain the guide’s highest accolade -- hasn’t helped matters.
Umberto Bombana has gained a reputation for his homemade pastas, which are given the fine dining treatment with ingredients such as lobster and bottarga, and luxe versions of Italian classics, such as mushroom risotto, served with braised veal cheek and veal fillet.
Shop 202, Alexandra House, 18 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2537 8859; www.ottoemezzobombana.com
7. Mr. and Mrs. Bund (Shanghai)
Shanghai’s first late night fine dining establishment, Mr. and Mrs. Bund has made Paul Pairet a star in Asia. The French chef picked up the Lifetime Achievement award at Monday’s Asia's 50 Best Restaurants ceremony.
Famous for his witty plays on haute cuisine, Pairet has gained a loyal following with his Picnic Chicken, served cold with garlicky aioli; and foie gras light crumble, a fluffy mousse of paté topped with a crunchy topping of candied fruit and nuts.
As for the restaurant, diners perch on oversized Alice in Wonderland chairs as a disco ball spins overhead.
Bund 18, 6/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Nanjing Dong Lu, Shanghai; +86 (0)21 6323 9898; Mmbund.com
8. Ultraviolet (Shanghai)
Paul Pairet’s second Shanghai venture, which opened in 2012, is even flashier than Mr. and Mrs. Bund.
With only 10 seats, surrounded by 360-degree video screens, surround-sound speakers and high-tech overhead lighting, Ultraviolet aims to deliver a multi-sensory dining experience.
Pairet’s take on fish and chips, a deep-fried caperberry stuffed with anchovy, is paired with images of a stormy London day, complete with sounds of thunder, before a projection of the British flag lights up the table.
The location is secret, diners need to book a seat at Shanghai's Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet via its official website.
More on CNN: Multi-sensory dining sizzles in Shanghai
9. Iggy’s (Singapore)
One of Singapore’s most popular fine dining restaurants, Iggy’s has been climbing the ranks of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list since entering at number 45 in 2009 and was named S. Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Asia in 2012.
The food is modern international -- a mix of Asian and European influences -- that reflects owner Ignatius Chang’s Catholic tastes.
The wagyu beef tongue, slow-cooked and served with yuzu-infused mustard and avocado mousse, gleans inspiration from Japan, while the nasi lemak (fish mousse topped with rice and pandan foam) veers closer to home.
The Regent Singapore, #03-00, 1 Cuscaden Road, Singapore; +65 6732 2234; www.iggys.com.sg
10. Gaggan (Bangkok)
The second restaurant from Thailand to make the top 10 is the brainchild of El-Bulli-trained chef Gaggan Anand, who uses molecular technology to put a modern twist on classic dishes from his native India.
The evocatively named Lost Jewel is a melt-in-your-mouth morsel of morel mushroom stuffed with green peas, while Yoghurt is a sphere of yogurt flavored with cumin and Indian black salt, encapsulated in a membrane-like gel.
68/1 Soi Langsuan off Ploenchit Road, Bangkok; +66 (0)2 652 1700; www.eatatgaggan.com
More on CNN: Gaggan: Indian cuisine at molecular levels
Want to see the full Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list? Click here.