Japan and Thailand were prominent winners in this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, which was unveiled earlier this week.
Den in Tokyo is rated as the best restaurant in Asia, becoming the first Japanese restaurant to claim the top spot since 2013. The Shibuya venue, helmed by chef Ziayu Hasegawa, is famed for its contemporary spin on traditional Japanese kaiseki dining.
Bangkok’s Sorn, where chef Supaksorn “Ice” Jongsiri, offers an elevated take on southern Thai cuisine, took the runner-up spot. Last year’s top two, Hong Kong’s The Chairman and Singapore’s Odette dropped to fifth and eighth spots respectively.
Led by Den, Japan had 11 entries on the list, followed by Thailand with nine (including four in the Top 10), and Singapore’s seven.
The Lion City scored the highest entry on the list at No.20 via Meta. The Chinatown venue, helmed by Sun Kim, reflects the chef’s signature combination of French techniques and native Japanese and Korean influences. Named as the 50 Best “One-to-Watch” in 2021, it shot straight into the elite this time around. But it wasn’t the highest new entry on the list. That honor went to Villa Aida in Wakayama, Japan where chef/owner Kanji Kobayashi recreates the flavors of Campania, Italy in the countryside of Kansai.
“Achieving such a high placing on Asia’s 50 Best list means a lot to me,” said Sun Kim. “My team and I have grown through some challenging times. We have always strived to do better, and this award is the perfect recognition of our efforts.”
The winners for the 10th edition of the list sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna were revealed online and at three simultaneous in-person events in Bangkok, Macau, and Tokyo.
Surprises, celebrations, and long-awaited reunions were all prominent on the menu in Bangkok. Chefs and restauranteurs from countries like India, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore had made the trip to Thailand to be at the countdown.
The affair was a lively one, with winners and attendees alike delighted to be able to share moments in person following a hiatus of three years due to the pandemic.
“There’s a party atmosphere here. And it’s easy to see why that’s the case,” said William Drew, director of content at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. “It’s always been a social industry. It’s a community. And we’ve been waiting eagerly for this moment when we can get together in person. It’s just so great to be able to see everyone again.
“It has been three long years since we were able to do this. Virtual events are not the same. It proves how deeply committed Asia’s Best Restaurants is to the restaurant scene in Asia. Especially when it has faced so many challenges. This helps the culinary community in the region and sets us up for a more promising future. We are truly delighted to be able to draw Asia’s food community together like this.”
Among the special awards, South Korea’s Jeong Kwan was the winner of the prestigious Icon Award. Kwan is a practicing Buddhist nun and the master of Chunjinam Hermitage at Baekyangsa Temple in the country’s south. She is a legend in Korean temple cuisine, which she perfected for over 40 years.
Other awards went to Natsuko Shoji of Ete, in Tokyo, who was named Asia’s Best Female Chef; Mume in Taipei, Taiwan, which won the “Sustainable Restaurant” gong; and Eat and Cook in Kuala Lumpur, which bagged the “One-to-Watch” award.
Proceedings commenced early in the afternoon in Bangkok with an installment of #50BestTalks — a panel discussion under the heading “Space to Think”.
The discussion examined topics relating to the future of the restaurant industry in Asia in the wake of the pandemic.
It featured input from chefs Johanne Siy of Lolla in Singapore, Sorn’s Supaksorn Jonsiri, Peter Cuong Franklin of Anan in Ho Chi Minh City, and Chudaree “Tam” Debhakam, the head chef at Baan Tepa, who is regarded as one of Thailand’s rising culinary stars.
Indeed, the road ahead for Asia’s fine dining scene following the pandemic was one of the evening’s hot topics. Restaurants around the region have faced obstacles over the past couple of years. Many were closed for long periods. And all have been subjected to restrictions relating to diner numbers and hours of operation.
But with travel and other restrictions easing around the region, there was no shortage of optimistic soundings from chefs and restaurateurs.
“This is a rebirth,” said Sanya Souvanna Phouma, the owner of Quince, another Bangkok venue in Asia’s Best Restaurants Top-100. “The past two years wiped out ten years of hard work to establish this city as a culinary destination. So, it’s great to see the food scene getting recognition on a global level.”
Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 Full List:
1. Den, Tokyo
2. Sorn, Bangkok
3. Florilege, Tokyo
4. Le Du, Bangkok
5. The Chairman, Hong Kong
6. La Cime, Osaka
7. Suhring, Bangkok
8. Odette, Singapore
9. Neighborhood, Hong Kong
10. Nusara, Bangkok
11. Sazenka, Tokyo
12. Fu He Hui, Shanghai
13. Ode, Tokyo
14. Villa Aida, Wakayama
15. Narisawa, Tokyo
16. Mingles, Seoul
17. Sezanne, Tokyo
18. Joo Ok, Seoul
19. Ensue, Shenzhen
20. Meta, Singapore
21. Masque, Mumbai
22. Indian Accent, New Delhi
23. Les Amis, Singapore
24. Caprice, Hong Kong
25. Blue by Alain Ducasse, Bangkok
26. 7th Door, Seoul
27. Mosu, Seoul
28. Da Vittorio, Shanghai
29. Sushi Masato, Bangkok
30. Onjium, Seoul
31. Samrub Samrub Thai, Bangkok
32. Mono, Hong Kong
33. Gaa, Bangkok
34. Wing, Hong Kong
35. Ministry of Crab, Colombo
36. La Maison de la Nature Goh, Fukuoka
37. Zen, Singapore
38. Logy, Taipei
39. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai
40. Labyrinth, Singapore
41. Burnt Ends, Singapore
42. Ete, Tokyo
43. Cenci, Kyoto
44. Cloudstreet, Singapore
45. JL Studio, Taichung
46. Raan Jay Fai, Bangkok
47. Wing Lei Palace, Macau
48. 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong
49. Megu, New Delhi
50. Dewakan, Kuala Lumpur