Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 awards, hosted in Singapore, promised to be the first fully loaded event for the World’s 50 Best organization in the region for four years.
Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt
Added to that, the impeccable organization from the 50 Best Team and their official event partner, Food News Singapore, included a trip to Restaurant Labyrinth and Restaurant Euphoria as well as a ‘Meet the Chef’s Press Brunch,’ the Awards themselves and not one but two after parties.
Here’s our take on last week’s extravaganza and ten learning’s from Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023.
1. All Aboard To Visit Singapore
The airport experience in Singapore offers a welcoming first impression to visitors in Singapore (which, hopefully, Ho Chi Minh City’s much-vaunted new airport will follow to elevate the arrival experience of international visitors to Vietnam.) In fact, every element of the visit was perfect from the moment we took our seats in economy class of Singapore Airlines who offered comfortable seats with edible food and an in-depth in-flight entertainment system.
Beside us were two of Vietnam’s leading hospitalians, Fabian Salvi and Julien Perraudin from Quince Saigon, we had filled in an online registration form prior to flying and were delighted to breeze though the immigration passport scan machines and quickly reunite with their luggage. A polite taxi driver picked us up and chatted away in English on the way to the hotel, which took less than 30 minutes.
2. Championing Local Cuisines & Cultures
It was heartening to hear how restaurants are increasingly striving to be the best versions of themselves by elevating local ingredients and techniques.
Danny Yip from The Chairman, #1 Best Restaurant in Asia in 2021, talked about how he travels through Southern China for one week every month searching for the best ingredients as well as searching for new inspiration and refreshing his mind. “Respecting and enhancing natural flavors,” is The Chairman’s core guiding principle according to Danny.
Restaurant Labyrinth, winner of the highest climber award, having risen from #40 to #11 in just 12 months, has achieved such recognition based on Chef Owner L.G. Han’s menu inspired by his childhood memories of growing up with local flavors in Singapore.
The team at Masque in Mumbai, voted #16 on this years list and the Best Restaurant in India, have also established their ‘Masque Lab’ as a dedicated space to research and experiment with a host of seasonal ingredients and develop techniques to bring the best out of these.
3. Meat-Free Menus
Vegetables are gaining increasing prominence on the menus of many of the world’s best restaurants. They are seen as more sustainable and more reflective of the local ingredients found in the vicinity of the restaurants.
Indeed, Restaurant Florilege which ranked #7 on the list and whose Executive Chef, Hiroyasu Kawate won the Chef’s Choice Award will soon re-launch their restaurant as a vegetable-centric place to dine.
And at Jason Tan’s Restaurant Euphoria, the centerpiece of his menu was devoted to his favorite vegetable, the Cevennes onion, and out of which he produced four delicious dishes ranging from a baked cup with truffle, to a tart and even chips and onion tea.
4. Say It With Socials
If we’d already suspected it, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 was proof that business cards are obsolete. At the event, we’d pull our phones out of our pockets and simply follow each other and use IG messenger to keep in touch. Instagram is the platform of choice now for engagement in this culinary community.
Many chefs were highly-engaged with Instagram, and were especially prolific in updating their ‘stories’. Gaggan Anand was pretty prolific, as was Chef Tonn, who had lots to talk about after his restaurants placed first and third on the list, and Den Restaurant’s Zaiyu Hasegawa, who achieved first place at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022, and Peter Cuong Franklin from Anan Saigon, who also has an admirable, blue tick certified IG profile.
5. Until Gender Awards Are Obselete
Talented, dynamic and creative women were at the heart of every development and feature of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards this year from event organizers Erica Schecter, from The World’s 50 Best, and Ivy Woo from Food News Agency, through to a legion of leading female journalists like Amélie Vincent, Cheryl Tiu, Rupali Dean, Mellisa Tse, and Liz Kao.
Plus, this year, Asia’s Best Wine Sommelier was judged to be Della Tang from Restaurant Ensue in Shenzhen. And Aditi Dugar, from Masque in Mumbai, was a prominent figure throughout the proceedings. However, perhaps the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the acceptance speech of Asia’s Best female chef, Philippines-born Johanne Siy from Lolla in Singapore when she declared that her goal is to make this award obsolete as she dreams of a future where there is equality and equal representation in kitchens and dining rooms in this industry across the world.
6. Wakey, Wakey
India, with a population of over 1.4 billion people and almost 20% of the world’s population has strangely punched below its weight in recent years. Famed Indian chefs like Gaggan Anand and Garima Arora have been wonderful culinary ambassadors for India but both made their names with establishments opened in Bangkok.
Now, led by Masque from Mumbai, the Best Restaurant in India and #16 in the rankings, we can see India emerging more and more onto the global gastronomy scene supported by the likes of Indian Accent #19 from New Delhi and Avartana #30 from Chennai.
7. All Grown Up
Lots of plans were in the air at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023. Restaurants like The Chairman this year they plan to move premises to enable them to have a bigger and better kitchen to service more guests with an equally or even enhanced experience. Nusara, which ranked #3 is also set to expand this year from a 16 seat eatery into 60 plus seats across multi floors in an even more eye catching location.
Zaiyu Hasegawa from Den Tokyo shared with us his plans to open a location in New York City, Chef Ton from top-ranked Le Du has plans for multiple new locations across Asia this year and Masque in Mumbai has already launched their own highly successful bakery business. Different strokes for different folks it seems.
8. Bound By Passion
The spirit of friendship, kinship and conviviality at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant awards was unmistakable. There seemed genuine pleasure in the sharing of success, and with the chefs from those restaurants ranked 51-100 also in attendance, almost all of the top 100 chef’s in Asia were present. In this way a significant community and eco system is being fostered and relationships built as ideas are cultivated and inspiring stories shared. The net result has to be chefs improving their culinary repertoire leading to enhanced cooking techniques and ultimately happier customers.
Frequently, these chef’s collaborate together by visiting each other to offer cross-cultural collaborations as 4-hand dinners as we have seen in recent years with memorable nights offered at Anan Saigon in association 50 Best stalwarts like Le Du from Bangkok, Labyrinth from Singapore and also Hong Kong’s Neighborhood.
9. Beverage Income
An event of such magnitude cannot be activated without significant and creative support of commercial sponsors. Singapore is clearly a destination that welcomes and fosters such events and understands the role they can play in promoting tourism in their country and therefore driving the local economy. Governments in Macau and Bangkok have been similarly active in recent years. Hopefully, in years to come the Vietnam Tourism Board will have the same appetite to host events like these.
Plus, happily, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants main sponsors are alcohol-free, in this case San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna waters. Not only does the branding and display look stunning but widespread consumption of their produce also helps ensure that responsible drinking can easily pervade all our evenings.
10. Anan Saigon Lights The Way
Peter Cuong Franklin, chef-patron of Anan Saigon, is, once again, Vietnam’s flag bearer for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in Vietnam.
Anan Saigon has appeared on this list (or extended list) for the last three consecutive years demonstrating great commitment and consistency. TUNG Dining in Hanoi has also appeared at #98 in 2021 but otherwise Vietnam has not yet secured any other recent representation. However, Chef Peter has proved that it is possible for Vietnam to proudly occupy a seat at this table and we hope that his example will inspire other local chefs to emulate Anan’s achievements in future.
Chris Thompson has been attending global luxury events for 15 years ranging from VinExpo’s in Hong Kong to grand cru dinners at the iconic Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux to ring side seats at the Longines equestrian masters. He first attended the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards at Wynn Palace Cotai Macau in March 2019.