Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021: A Year On Year Comparative Analysis

Danny Yip | The Chairman | | Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2021 | Food For Thought

The inaugural Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 was recently celebrated through a live telecast, with The Chairman in Hong Kong winning Best Restaurant in Asia, making it the first Cantonese cuisine restaurant to take the top spot. We take a look at a comparative year from 2020 to 2021 to see what trends we can take from this interesting data.

William Drew | Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2021 | Food For Thought

“In the last year, the restaurant sector has faced extraordinary challenges. At such a time, we are proud to support the restaurants in their recovery by showcasing the region’s creative talents, celebrating the industry’s pioneers and recognising culinary excellence. In conjunction with this year’s list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, along with the extended list of restaurants ranked from 51st to 100th, we were also thrilled to launch the Essence of Asia collection, an initiative that allowed us to champion local heroes and turn the spotlight on even more restaurants than ever before.” — William Drew, Director of Content for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021

  1. The Chairman, Hong Kong, China (No. 2 in 2020)
  2. Odette, Singapore (No. 1 in 2020)
  3. Den, Tokyo, Japan (No. 3 in 2020)
  4. Le Du, Bangkok, Thailand (No. 8 in 2020)
  5. Gaggan Anand, Bangkok, Thailand (Highest New Entry)
  6. Suhring, Bangkok, Thailand (No. 6 in 2020)
  7. Florilège, Tokyo, Japan (No. 7 in 2020)
  8. La Cime, Osaka, Japan (No. 10 in 2020)
  9. Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan (No. 9 in 2020)
  10. Mingles, Seoul, South Korea (No. 14 in 2020)
  11. Sorn, Bangkok, Thailand (No. 16 in 2020)
  12. Sazenka, Tokyo, Japan (No. 29 in 2020)
  13. Les Amis, Singapore (No. 11 in 2020)
  14. Burnt Ends, Singapore (No. 14 in 2020)
  15. Mume, Taipei, Taiwan (No. 18 in 2020)
  16. Vea, Hong Kong, China (No. 12 in 2020)
  17. Neighborhood, Hong Kong, China (No. 19 in 2020)
  18. Indian Accent, New Delhi, India (No. 13 in 2020)
  19. L’Effervescence, Tokyo, Japan (No. 19 in 2020)
  20. Nusara, Bangkok, Thailand (New Entry)
  21. Raw, Taipei, Taiwan (No. 36 in 2020)
  22. Fu He Hui, Shanghai, China (No. 20 in 2020)
  23. Zén, Singapore (No. 28 in 2020)
  24. Logy, Taipei, Taiwan (No. 24 in 2020)
  25. Belon, Hong Kong, China (No. 4 in 2020)
  26. JL Studio, Taichung, Taiwan (No. 26 in 2020)
  27. Ode, Tokyo, Japan (No. 35 in 2020)
  28. Caprice, Hong Kong, China (Re-Entry)
  29. Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka (No. 30 in 2020)
  30. La Maison de la Nature Goh, Fukuoka, Japan (No. 40 in 2020)
  31. Cloudstreet, Singapore (New Entry)
  32. Masque, Mumbai, India (New Entry)
  33. 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong, China (No. 32 in 2020)
  34. 7th Door, Seoul, South Korea (New Entry)
  35. Nihonryori Ryugin, Tokyo, Japan (No. 35 in 2020)
  36. Born & Bred, Seoul, South Korea (No. 36 in 2020)
  37. Amber, Hong Kong, China (No. 31 in 2020)
  38. Ta Vie, Hong Kong, China (No. 37 in 2020)
  39. Anan Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (New Entry)
  40. Labyrinth, Singapore (New Entry)
  41. Euphoria, Singapore (New Entry)
  42. Jaan by Kirk Westaway, Singapore (No. 21 in 2020)
  43. Hansikgonggan, Seoul, South Korea (No. 34 in 2020)
  44. Mono, Hong Kong, China (New Entry)
  45. Shoun RyuGin, Taipei, Taiwan (No. 43 in 2020)
  46. Gaa, Bangkok, Thailand (No. 15 in 2020)
  47. Lung King Heen, Hong Kong, China (No. 33 in 2020)
  48. Seventh Son, Hong Kong, China (No. 25 in 2020)
  49. Toyo Eatery, Manila, Philippines (No. 49 in 2020)
  50. Wing Lei Palace, Macau, China (No 22. in 2020)

The Chairman Restaurant | Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2021 | Food For Thought

And The Winners Are…

The Chairman (No. 2) is the Best Restaurant in Asia and Best Restaurant in China. Best Restaurant in Singapore goes to Odette (No. 2) while Den (No.3) wins Best Restaurant in Japan. Le Du (No. 3) in Bangkok wins Best Restaurant in Thailand with Mingles (No. 10) winning Best Restaurant in Korea. Mume (No. 15) takes Best Restaurant in Taiwan, Indian Accent (No. 18) takes Best Restaurant in India, and Ministry Of Crab (No.29) takes Best Restaurant in Sri Lanka. Anan Saigon is the first restaurant to represent Vietnam since 2013, which also makes it the Best Restaurant in Vietnam. Toyo Eatery (No. 49) from Manila takes the title of Best Restaurant in Philippines.

China has the most restaurants on the list with 13, where 11 are in Hong Kong, with 1 from Shanghai and Macau respectively. Japan comes in with 9 restaurants while Singapore has 8. Thailand has 6, Taiwan has 5, while Korea has 4 and India has 2. Sri Lanka, Philippines and Vietnam tie with 1 each.

Legendary Bangkok chef Supinya ‘Jay Fai’ Junsuta is the recipient of the Icon Award. Labyrinth in Singapore wins the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award and L’Effervescence in Tokyo claims the Beronia Highest Climber Award by jumping from 29 to 19. Gaggan Anand, Bangkok, claims the Aspire Lifestyles Highest New Entry Award. Vea in Hong Kong is this year’s recipient of the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award.

Meta in Singapore claims the coveted American Express One To Watch Award.

DeAille Tam of Obscura, Shanghai, is Cinco Jotas Asia’s Best Female Chef while Angela Lai from Taïrroir, Taipei, is named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef.

Mingoo Kang from Mingles in South Korea wins the peer-voted Inedit Damm Chefs’ Choice Award.

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021: 51st To 100th

  1. Sugita, Tokyo, Japan
  2. Ultraviolet By Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China (No. 41 in 2020)
  3. Quintessence, Tokyo, Japan
  4. Il Ristorante Luca Fantin, Tokyo, Japan (No. 17 in 2020)
  5. 80/20, Bangkok, Thailand (No. 47 in 2020)
  6. Nihonbashi, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  7. Sushi Saito, Tokyo, Japan (No. 46 in 2020)
  8. Bukhara, New Delhi, India (No. 45 in 2020)
  9. Samrub For Thai, Bangkok, Thailand
  10. Meta, Singapore
  11. Xin Rong Ji (Nanyang Road), Shanghai, China
  12. Raan Jay Fai, Bangkok, Thailand
  13. Locavore, Bali, Indonesia
  14. Villa Aida,Wakayama, Japan
  15. Toctoc, Seoul, South Korea (No. 27 in 2020)
  16. Dewakan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  17. Mosu, Seoul, South Korea
  18. The Eight, Macau, China
  19. Ensue, Shenzhen, China
  20. Paste, Bangkok, Thailand (No. 38 in 2020)
  21. Tenzushi Kyomachi, Kitakyushu, Japan
  22. Joo Ok, Seoul, South Korea
  23. Nouri, Singapore
  24. Le Normandie, Bangkok, Thailand
  25. Taian Table, Shanghai, China
  26. Xin Rong Ji (Linhai), Taizhou, China
  27. Esora, Singapore
  28. Lan, Bangkok, Thialand
  29. Baan Tepa, Bangkok Thailand
  30. Nahm, Bangkok Thailand
  31. Avartana, Chennai, India
  32. Da Vittorio, Shanghai, China
  33. Eté, Tokyo, Japan
  34. Antonio’s, Tagaytay, Philippines
  35. Sugalobo, Tokyo, Japan
  36. Onjium, Seoul, South Korea
  37. Écriture, Hong Kong, China
  38. Robuchon au Dôme, Macau, China
  39. Jin Sha, Hangzhou, China
  40. Gallery By Chele, Manila Philippines
  41. Cenci, Kyoto, Japan
  42. Gen, Penang Malaysia
  43. Yong Fun (South Maoming Road), Shanghai, China
  44. Candlenut, Singapote
  45. Sichuan Moon, Macau, China (No. 23 in 2020)
  46. Aragu, Noonu Atoll, Maldives
  47. Quince, Bangkok, Thailand
  48. Tung Dining, Hanoi, Vietnam
  49. Nadodi, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  50. Jade Dragon, Macau, China

This year also sees the expansion of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants which included a top 100. This list sees 13 restaurants from China, 9 from Japan, 8 from Thailand, 4 from Korea, 3 from Singapore, 2 from Philippines and India each, with Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Vietnam having 1 respectively. Our very own Malaysia has 3 restaurants which are Dewakan (No. 66), Gen (No. 92) and Nadodi (No. 99). Interestingly 2 restaurants that were in the top 50 in 2020 did not even place in the top 100 which are Corner House, Singapore (No. 42 in 2020) and Inoua, Tokyo, Japan (No. 49 in 2020).

Essence Of Asia | Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2021 | Food For Thought

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021: Essence Of Asia

This year sees the creation of the Essence Of Asia, an unranked list of the quintessential flavours that make up Asian gastronomy. These are a collection of some of the best restaurants, eateries and hawker food that makes up the Asian palate, which have contributed massively to their local culture. Malaysia is represented by 4 restaurants, namely Artisan Homemade Bread in Ipoh, Bijan in Kuala Lumpur, Kedai Kopi Yee Fung in Kota Kinabalu and  Siam Road Char Kway Teow in Penang.

For the complete list, see our feature Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020: Essence Of Asia.

Flower Crab | Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2021 | Food For Thought

Chairman Of The Board

The Chairman has finally taken the first spot, making it the first ever Chinese and Cantonese restaurant to make the list, with its exemplary classical Cantonese cuisine. The restaurant is headed by Danny Yip and serves a variety of including their iconic steamed flower crab with aged Shaoxing, which has time and time impressed eaters. It is no surprise this restaurant has placed at number 1 as they have been consistently, save 2014, in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants since its inception. The Chairmain came in at No. 18 in 2013, did not place in 2014, No.35 in 2015, No. 27 in 2016, No. 47 in 2017, No. 22 in 2018, No. 11 in 2019 and No. 2 in 2020.

A Call For More Asian Diversity

If number are a good gauge of representation, then the list definitely could do with more diverse Asian representation. As it currently stands, out of the 100 restaurants, China is most represented with 26, Japan with 18, Thailand with 14, Singapore with 11, Korea with 8, India with 4, Malaysia and Philippines with 3, Sri Lanka with 2 and Indonesia with 1. We are still waiting for the day where we will see Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and possible even Timor Leste. With 11 new entries, we really hope to see much more diversity in the near future.

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Legends Of The List?

One of the best and most controversial awards that is given at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants is the Legends Of The List, where restaurants who have previously been in the first position is removed entirely from the list and added to the Legends Of The List, which is something the Asia’s list should adapt. This way it will also make way for new restaurants to shine, which we predict might be the case in the near future, but with Gaggan Anand climbing the ranks so quickly, who knows what will happen?

A Table That Is Forever Extending

With the continuous effort and initiatives done by the 50 Best, from its extension of Essence Of Asia to its 51-100 list, we can expect more and more diversity on the table, in terms of international cuisine and pan-Asian representation. It is therefore our collective responsibility to ensure and help the culinary industry grow and sustain, especially in these difficult times. One best trait that can be observed from the data above is that there is growing representation, albeit slowly, but surely.

For our thoughts on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, see Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020.

For all 50 Best related content, see 50 Best.

| PHOTOGRAPHY: ASIA’S 50 BEST RESTAURANTS & NICHOLAS NG | WEBSITE: ASIA’S 50 BEST RESTAURANTS |

Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic, travelogue and opinion columnist which is curated on Food For Thought. He has been a freelance writer for 10 years and has previously worked as a lawyer. He currently is the Principal Counsultant of A Thoughtfull Consultancy.

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