The highly anticipated Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 was initially meant to be celebrated in Saga, Japan, with the city preparing to welcome some of the biggest culinary names in Asia. However, due to the unfortunate circumstance of the Covid-19, the small ceremony was held in Tokyo with the main event streamed as a live broadcast over The World’s 50 Best Facebook on the 24th of March. As the indomitable human spirit keeps fighting on, we take a look at the restaurants that made the biggest impact in 2019.
“We are, of course, experiencing unprecedented times both in the restaurant sector and across Asia as a whole. It is therefore more important than ever to support restaurants all over the continent in their recovery, to recognise each other’s achievements over the last 12 months and broadcast a message of solidarity.” — William Drew, Director of Content for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020
- Odette, Singapore
- The Chairman, Hong Kong, China
- Den, Tokyo, Japan
- Belon, Hong Kong, China
- Burnt Ends, Singapore
- Suhring, Bangkok, Thailand
- Florilege, Tokyo, Japan
- Le Du, Bangkok, Thailand
- Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
- La Cime, Osaka, Japan
- Les Amis, Singapore
- Vea, Hong Kong, China
- Indian Accent, New Delhi, India
- Mingles, Seoul, South Korea
- Gaa, Bangkok, Thailand
- Sorn, Bangkok, Thailand
- Il Ristorante Luca Fantin, Tokyo, Japan
- Mume, Taipei, Taiwan
- Neighborhood, Hong Kong, China
- Fu He Hui, Shanghai, China
- Jaan by Kirk Westaway, Singapore
- Wing Lei Palace, Macau, China
- Sichuan Moon, Macau, China
- Nihonryori Ryugin, Tokyo, Japan
- Seventh Son, Hong Kong, China
- JL Studio, Taichung, Taiwan
- Toctoc, Seoul, South Korea
- Zen, Singapore
- Sazenka, Tokyo, Japan
- Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Amber, Hong Kong, China
- 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong, China
- Lung King Heen, Hong Kong, China
- Hansikganggan, Seoul, South Korea
- Ode, Tokyo, Japan
- Raw, Taipei, Taiwan
- Locavore, Bali, Indonesia
- Paste, Bangkok, Thailand
- Bo.lan, Bangkok, Thailand
- La Maison de la Nature Goh, Fukuoka, Japan
- Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China
- Corner House, Singapore
- Shoun RyuGin, Taipei, Taiwan
- Toyo Eatery, Manila, Philippines
- Bukhara, New Delhi, India
- Sushi Saito, Tokyo, Japan
- 80/20, Bangkok, Thailand
- L’Effervescence, Tokyo, Japan
- Inua, Tokyo, Japan
- Nouri, Singapore
And The Winners Are…
Odette (No. 1) takes Best Restaurant in Asia as well as Best Restaurant in Singapore, while The Chairman (No. 2) wins Best Restaurant in China. Den (No. 3) in Tokyo takes the third spot winning Best Restaurant in Japan while Sühring (No. 6) in Bangkok wins Best Restaurant in Thailand. In Seoul, Mingles (No. 14) takes home Best Restaurant in Korea. The Ministry of Crab (No.30) in Colombo is once again named Best Restaurant in Sri Lanka while Locavore (No.37) in Bali claims the honour of Best Restaurant in Indonesia. New Delhi based Indian Accent (No. 13) is awarded Best Restaurant in India while Toyo Eatery (No.44) wins Best Restaurant in Philippines.
Japan and China tie with both having 12 restaurants on the list, while both Singapore and Thailand equally have 7 restaurants. Taiwan has a decent 4, with South Korean having 3, India 2, and Sri Lanka and Indonesia having 1 each. The 2020 ranking includes seven new entries and one re-entry, with Malaysia’s Dewakan (No.46 in 2019) falling off the list.
Yusuke Takada from La Cime wins the Chefs’ Choice Award (sponsored by Inedit Damm), an award as voted by his peers consisting of chefs. Sichuan Moon in Macau claims the Highest New Entry Award (sponsored by Legle), while Sorn in Bangkok claims the Highest Climber Award (sponsored by Aspire Lifestyles) and Masque takes the One To Watch Award (sponsored by Miele). Amber in Hong Kong wins the Sustainable Restaurant Award (sponsored by Beronia) while Les Amis in Singapore claims this year’s Art of Hospitality Award (sponsored by Gin Mare).
Natsuko Shoji from Été, Tokyo, is named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef (sponsored by Valrhona).
Traditionalist Japanese chef Yoshihiro Murata of Kikunoi takes home the Icon Award (sponsored by American Express. If you like, you can read our Interview with Yoshihiro Murata.
South Korean chef Cho Hee-sook, chef-owner of Hansikgonggan in Seoul, claims Asia’s Best Female Chef, which we had the pleasure of interviewing. For more information about the interesting chef, you can read our Interview with Cho Hee-Sook.
50 BEST DISCOVERY
Asia Pacific Diversity
One of the main issues that we still see is the lack of diversity when it comes to the restaurants on the list. We sincerely hope that the panel of judges do their best in understanding the diversity of cuisine across Asia, with some countries with almost no representation at all like Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. Malaysia has been lucky enough to have one restaurant, Dewakan, making the list in 2019. Thankfully, because of the 50 Best Discovery this is changing as it allows more restaurants in Malaysia to be covered such as DC by Darren Chin, a French-Japanese, and Nadodi, serving progressive Indian. Other restaurants that should qualify in this list would include Esora, Japanese kappo cuisine, and Braci, modern Italian, both located in Singapore.
Traditionality And Authenticity
There has always been debate as to how representation should be made. Some argue that since it’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, it should be restaurants with Asian flavours. It is necessary for restaurants to honour the local landscape that they are set within, but at the end of the day good food is good food, with or without the white tablecloths. It seems that people are seeking traditional and simplicity when it comes to fine dining, with both chef Cho Hee-sook and Yoshihiro Murata being examples of being highly regarded with their very traditional, albeit elevated, cuisine.
In Recognition And In Solidarity
As the world is facing this global pandemic, it is at this time we should come together to support the industry. All the work that these chefs have continuously done to elevate the dining scene should not go unnoticed. Life as we know it will greatly change, and what comes next is adaptation. This is why everyone should work together in this time of need. Order from your favourite restaurants to help keep them afloat. This will ensure that they are able to do what they do as well as pay the wages of their employees. Do what you can to support your favourites places. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. Please remember to wash your hands.