Top 20 restaurants in Asia
One day you’re in, and the next day you’re out.
That’s certainly the case in Asia’s fast-changing fine dining scene, according to The Miele Guide, an independent compilation of the region’s best restaurants published by Ate Media and sponsored by the German home appliance brand Miele.
New names among the guide’s list of Asia’s Top 20 Restaurants included Singapore’s Restaurant Andre, preening itself in second place; Shanghai’s celebrated Mr. and Mrs. Bund in seventh; and Korea’s breakthrough into the Top 20, Pierre Gagnaire à Séoul, in eighth place.
“Asia is where the world is looking today,” said Aun Koh, co-founder of Ate Media, as he introduced the 2011-2012 edition at a gala dinner on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.
“There’s a new generation transforming our regional dining scene,” he said, speaking about the region’s most exciting chefs, who are on average 15 years younger in this year’s edition compared to previous years. “They have long careers ahead of them.”
While this year’s list saw quite a shakeup -- a record six new entries made the Top 20, the most in the guide’s four-year history -- one name stayed solidly at the top. Taking the honor as Asia’s best restaurant for the second year running was Iggy’s, chef Ignatius Chan’s Singapore landmark for contemporary cuisine that reflects his globetrotting ways.
“A rich, unctuous morsel of sea urchin in a thick essence of abalone -- with just a hint of piquant flavor -- may adopt the complexity of French cuisine in execution,” says The Miele Guide of Iggy’s, “but presents flavors and textures reminiscent of thick Chinese-style soups, customarily savored with a drizzling of vinegar.”
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Ousted from the Top 20 were Singapore’s excellent Jaan, whose former chef Andre Chiang left to helm his own acclaimed Restaurant Andre; sake-fueled Zuma and Nobu of Hong Kong; Bali-beachfront Ku De Ta of Indonesia; and China’s revered Beijing Da Dong Roast Duck.
Making that decision was a mix of votes from the public, regional restaurant critics and food writers across the 17 countries featured, on top of The Miele Guide’s contributing editors and editorial team, who make anonymous restaurant visits.
“I don’t personally see Ku De Ta belonging on the Top 20 or on The Miele Guide itself,” said Erza S.T., an Indonesian food writer attending the gala in Singapore, who agreed with the trendy Balinese restaurant’s excision from the list.
“I couldn’t agree more with The Miele Guide review last year that stated that the food there is not the main draw. In my opinion, Indonesia has more restaurants that deserve to be in this guide more than Ku De Ta.”
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Koh of Ate Media noted the guide’s effort to highlight more worthy eateries in this edition. “The Miele Guide is about more than just the Top 20 list in Asia. It’s about all 500 restaurants,” he said, emphasizing the bump in coverage compared to 450 establishments last year.
Chefs’ personalities also came out to play, particularly in the gala’s menu, where different hands prepared each course, as well as the inaugural Miele Guide Chef of Chefs Award.
The honor, won by the maestro who inspired his voting peers most over the past year, went to chef Umberto Bombana of Hong Kong’s 13th-ranked 8 ½ Otto E Mezzo.
In making their choice, candidate chefs featured in last year’s Miele Guide described Bombana, a native of Bergamo, Italy, as “the greatest chef in Asia,” hailed for his “simple and generous food” that seemed to embody his spirit.
Tan Su-Lyn, co-founder of Ate Media, cast the spotlight on the passionate people behind the region’s finest meals. “From its inception four years ago, the overarching goal of The Miele Guide is to raise international awareness for the best dining establishments in Asia, and in turn encourage the restaurant industry in Asia to grow further,” she said.
The Miele Guide: Top 20 restaurants in Asia
Restaurant Andre, Singapore
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Hong Kong, China
Robuchon à Galera, Macau, China
Caprice, Hong Kong, China
Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Mr. & Mrs. Bund, Shanghai, China
Pierre Gagnaire à Séoul, Seoul, South Korea
Bo Innovation, Hong Kong, China
Tippling Club, Singapore
Antonio's, Cavite, Philippines
Mozaic, Bali, Indonesia
8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong, China
Gunther's Modern French Cuisine, Singapore
Dum Pukht, Mumbai, India
Dakshin, Chennai, India
Yung Kee, Hong Kong, China
Sarong, Bali, Indonesia
Les Amis, Singapore
Bukhara, New Delhi, India
Do you agree with this list? Tell us your picks for Asia's top restaurants in the comments below.
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Disclosure: Hannah Bae is one of four independent panelists for The Miele Guide's Korea section. Panelists are not paid for their suggestions for the guide. Neither The Miele Guide, nor its panelists, accept advertising, sponsorship or free meals from the restaurants they suggest.