March 27, 2018

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2018

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After donning my brand-spanking-new penguin outfit (the invitation specified "black tie or cocktail"), I strolled downstairs to the pool deck of Wynn Palace, got my wristband at the media check-in desk, and joined the cocktail party for Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2018, sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Aqua Panna.

This annual party is a good chance to catch up with some friends - chefs, fellow foodies, as well as the media.  Social media has lit up over the last few days with posts by people attending the festivities, so we kinda have a sense of many of the chefs who have made it to the list.  What we don't know is the positioning of each restaurant... which would only be announced later in the evening.

The chef I'm most happy to see here tonight is none other than The Man in White T-shirt.  I have often introduced him to people as a "chef's chef" - meaning when chefs knock off and wanna go eat somewhere on their own free time, they go and eat in his restaurant.  After years of being a favorite of local foodies in Hong Kong, it would seem that Neighborhood has made it on the list!

Eventually we moved into the Grand Theater, took our seats, and waited the the countdown to start.

There seemed to be quite a number of new entries (8) as well as a few re-entries (2) this year.  I was happy to see chef friends among them:

La Maison de la Nature Goh climbed back to No. 48.  I was very happy for Goh-san.

With a job change last year, I was happy to see that Hairy Legs has managed to stay on the list as Caprice re-entered at No. 46.   As he's only been on the job for less than a year, I wouldn't be surprised to see him move up the list next year.

I just had another good meal at Ronin last week, so I had to congratulate Matt as they moved up a few spots to No. 41.

Chef Bee Satongun was presented with the Elit Vodka Asia's Best Female Chef Award.  I was very happy to see this, as I had a delicious meal at Paste in Bangkok last year.  Paste also debuted on the list at No. 31.

Asia's Best Pastry Chef Award, sponsored by Valrhona was taken home by Nicolas Lambert from Caprice.  I have been a huge fan since I first tasted his desserts more than 2 years ago.  Very, very happy for him.

Jade Dragon slipped a couple of places to No. 35, but with all the visitors in Macau visiting his restaurant this week, I have no doubt that Chef Tam will climb up the list next year.  Visitors from outside the Pearl River Delta are only realizing now what we've known for a while - that Jade Dragon is among the very best Cantonese and Chinese restaurants in the world.

Neighborhood debuting at No. 32 was a happy surprise.  The Man in White T-shirt did, naturally, wear his trademark white tee to the award ceremonies.

The Chairman moved up 25 spots to No. 22 this year, sharing the Highest Climber Award.  My suspicion is that it has something to do with the fact that Richard Ekkebus always takes visiting chef friends there...

The other co-recipient of the Highest Climber Award was Mume - which moved up to No. 18.  Very happy for Richie and the guys.

I was extremely happy to see my friend Sato-san climb from No. 33 to No. 16 on the list with Ta Vie.  It is one of my favorite places to dine in Hong Kong, and only gets better as the young restaurant matures.

This year Alain went up on stage on his own to collect the award for The Best Restaurant in Taiwan on behalf of RAW.  Very happy for him and his team.

The Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award this year went to André Chiang, who recently closed his eponymous restaurant to spend more time in Taiwan (and China, it seems...)

Amber slipped a few places but remained in the top 10, ending up at No. 7 this year.  Congratulations to Richard!

As usual, things get more tense the closer we got to the top.  By the time it got down to the final two... we were all waiting on the edges of our seats.  Would Gaggan remain No. 1 yet again?  Or would DEN knock it off its perch at the top?

So yes, my friend Gaggan and his team at his eponymous restaurant is The Best Restaurant in Asia, sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna for the fourth consecutive year.  I was so, so, so happy for them!

Afterwards we went back to the poolside to grab a few more drinks, and I finally grabbed a few bites to eat. But first, I went back up to my room to grab the bottle of Champagne I had brought to drink with my friend Vladimir Kojic.  Now that Gaggan was No. 1 AGAIN this year, this single bottle of 2006 Louis Roederer Brut Nature just wasn't enough when shared between Gaggan, Rydo, Vladimir, João, and myself!

P.S. Per my usual practice, a quick take on the list:

The Best Restaurant in Thailand, also No. 1 on the list, is Gaggan. It doesn't serve Thai food.

The Best Restaurant in Japan, also No. 2 on the list, is DEN. In its 6th year, the Best Restaurant in Japan is finally one that serves Japanese food.

The Best Restaurant in Singapore, also No. 5 on the list, is Odette. It doesn't serve Singaporean or Peranakan food.

The Best Restaurant in China, also No. 7 on the list, is Amber. It doesn't serve Chinese food.

Sushi Saito slipped one place to No. 27, and is now the lone sushiya on the list.

P.P.S. Among the 10 restaurants which dropped off the list this year was the place run by the Asshole Chef who left me a love note in the comment section of this post... which also happened to be the highest-ranked restaurant from 2017 to have fallen off the list.  MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!


HFJL said...

That must felt priceless haha

Peech said...



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