Asia's Top 20 for 2013
Thousands of people from around the world cast votes for the best restaurants in 17 countries across Asia. Voters chose from a shortlist of restaurants which had been selected by a panel of 73 of the most respected restaurant critics and food writers in Asia. After four intense rounds of voting and selection, the smoke cleared and 17 countries (5 more than were in the first edition) and 500 restaurants (50 more than in the last edition) made the final cut.
Purchase a copy of The Miele Guide 2013 at your favourite bookstore or through our online store now and read the full profile of Asia’s Top 20 Restaurants. Also, find out which are the Top 5 restaurants in each of the countries featured in the guide (with the exception of those countries for which there were very few restaurants listed) and check out the further 480 restaurants that made it to this year’s guide.
1. Robuchon Au Dome
French culinary icon Joel Robuchon’s flagship restaurant in Macau has been in The Miele Guide’s Top 20 list since our first edition in 2008/2009. That year, it was ranked sixth in our survey. In subsequent years, it was ranked third twice and then fourth respectively. In all of those years, the restaurant was known as Robuchon a Galera. All that, however, has changed. And these changes have propelled Robuchon’s Macau outpost into The Miele Guide’s top spot this year. The new restaurant, still fronted by chef Francky Semblat, was named Robuchon au Dome, as it sits within a giant, gleaming glass dome. Where Galera was old and anachronous, Dome is chic, classy, modern and surprisingly casual. Chef Semblat is cooking better than he ever has and is supported by the finest service crew in the region. And finally, he has a stage that is as stunning as the dishes he serves night after night.
2. Waku Ghin
Despite his international fame and following, Chef Tatsuya Wakuda had refrained from expanding beyond the three-hat Tetsuya’s — until the space in the millionaire’s playground that is Marina Bay Sands came up. Wakuda’s vision was 10,000 square feet of extremely prime commercial space to create a sanctuary serving just 25 people at a time, so that every person can be accorded the level of attention he deems fitting. Naturally, he got exactly what he asked for. All the dishes are inarguably executed to the highest level of sophistication. The chefs’ ability to make even the most common everyday ingredients worthy of a place on the fine dining table is an education on the importance of attention to detail. We were told that the ability to think on the spot is a key skill for Waku Ghin’s chefs so that they can each present a unique experience to every diner — even one who visits daily.
3. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Hong Kong, China
L’Atelier de Robuchon Hong Kong has consistently ranked among Asia’s top three restaurants since this guide launched five years ago. In the 2009/2010 edition, it even took the top spot in our annual survey. It continues to win fans and admirers while ensuring that long-time customers stay enchanted with its ambience, service quality and, of course, food. What we love most beyond Chef Olivier Elzer’s remarkable food is that L’Atelier continues to epitomise the perfect modern, casual restaurant. The service is friendly yet polished. The food, as mentioned, is technically perfect, yet the menu breaks away from the age-old idea of a three-course meal, allowing the diner the flexibility to design his or her menu in a variety of ways. There is no snobbery here over fashion — diners in t-shirts and jeans are treated with the same care and attention as Birkin-toting tai-tais and suited business tycoons. It is a restaurant you can enjoy alone, on a date, with colleagues, or with friends.
Iggy’s remains distinctly the brainchild of Ignatius Chan, the fiercely intellectual sommelier and inquisitive globetrotting gastronome. The cuisine is a showcase of Chan’s taste memories and inspirations gleaned from his dining experiences. A prolific traveller who spends half the year crossing continents, Chan’s inspirations come from far and wide, and are snapshots of the most forward culinary trends from around the world. Together with a deep understanding and appreciation of fine French fare, the born-and-bred Singaporean has a fondness for Japanese cuisine and homestyle Chinese flavours. This gives the food at Iggy’s a unique, inimitable dimension — which is what diners return for.
The evergreen appeal of this restaurant in a garden setting is multi-pronged. There is, of course, the charm of the venue. Tucked in a quiet part of Ubud, away from haggling tourists and local touts, it is an oasis of calm once you step through its Balinese doorway. The other thing that draws diners back time and again: the food. Chef Chris Salans did not just marry an Indonesian — he married her culture too. So while the cuisine from this Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef is outlined by a mix of French and progressive techniques, it is painted in the warm, enchanting flavours of Indonesian fare.
6. Pierre Gagnaire a Seoul
It might bear the name of one of the most famous French chefs of our time, and it might be distinctly French in its suave style of hospitality, but Pierre Gagnaire a Seoul presents a dining experience that is rooted in a strong sense of place. Its location on the 35th floor of the iconic Lotte Hotel, overlooking the downtown area and the Bhukan mountain beyond, sets the stage for an experience that is authentically French, yet with a distinct respect and affection for its host country.
Hong Kong, China
Caprice continues, year after year, to remain one of the most popular and finest restaurants in Asia. Chef Vincent Thierry, restaurant manager Jeremy Evrard, and head sommelier Sebastian Allano work tirelessly not just to maintain, but to improve the standards of what many have called the finest and most beautiful restaurant in Hong Kong. Elegant and glamorous, this seven-year-old contemporary French establishment is where high flyers and high society dine. In the lush dining room, accessible by a backlit catwalk and designed by the world-renowned Super Potato, it is not uncommon to find a well-known personality sitting at one of the eight coveted window tables with a dynamic view of Victoria Harbour and the skyline of the Kowloon Peninsula. A meal at Caprice is an experience that should be enjoyed at a very leisurely pace. It is a restaurant that works perfectly for all occasions — special, ordinary, romantic or business.
Hong Kong, China
It would be hard to find a restaurant in Hong Kong that epitomises the idea of power dining more than Amber. Situated in the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, this feted restaurant is a favourite with the city’s most important and recognisable businessmen, and elegant ladies who lunch.
The food is equally striking, prepared by Dutch culinary director Richard Ekkebus and English chef de cuisine Paul Froggatt. Ekkebus, a protege of highly regarded chefs Alain Passard, Guy Savoy and Pierre Gagnaire, marries technical expertise and a comprehensive knowledge and feel for the best Asian and Western ingredients, with a sense of style and humour that has won him numerous fans.
9. 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
Hong Kong, China
Since Chef Umberto Bombana opened 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in January 2010 in the Landmark Alexandra building — smack in the middle of Hong Kong’s ritziest office-cum-shopping district, the swanky, upscale, chic and fun establishment, has been full every single day. In fact, the Hong Kong outpost has been so successful that Bombana has been able to open a sister outlet in Shanghai. Otto e Mezzo Bombana has the great honour of being the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy to have earned three Michelin stars. The menu is extensive, with offerings of traditional Italian seafood, meat, pasta and risotto dishes that you really cannot go wrong with.
10. Les Amis
When it first opened in 1994, Les Amis was ahead of its time, a pioneer Singaporean establishment that set the bar for French fine dining. Eighteen years later, Les Amis has stood the test of time — it has since grown into a dining empire with restaurants across Singapore and Hong Kong. Yet despite its many successes, the spotlight continues to shine on this, the flagship outlet where it all started. Les Amis remains consistent in delivering what it has delivered since the day it opened: finesse.
11. Restaurant Andre
Opened in 2010, Restaurant Andre made its debut in second position in The Miele Guide’s 2011/2012 edition. Shortly after, it rose to 68th place on the 2012 San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants List. The restaurant, which spans three storeys in a 1920s shophouse, draws a very well-heeled crowd, who come for the sophisticated offering of exclusive biodynamic wines and exquisitely plated courses, each an exploration of acclaimed Taiwan-born chef Andre Chiang’s Octophilosophy.
12. Tippling Club
Tippling Club’s dining room is set in a greenhouse-like structure, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls facing lush, dense greenery. The driving force behind this place is Ryan Clift. The English chef learnt his ropes from the likes of Shannon Bennett, Peter Gordon, and the original rock star of the culinary world, Marco Pierre White. Here, he serves his brand of rebellious, avant-garde cuisine. For intellectual gastronomes who take pleasure in dissecting dishes, his creations will impress with their technical complexity and original creativity.
Since its debut on our Top 20 list in last year’s edition of The Miele Guide, Sarong has climbed up five spots — a clear indication of its growing popularity among diners and its good standing in the eyes of trade observers. Founding chef Will Meyrick — an Australian who has set up several successful restaurants around the Asia-Pacific region — hits the spot with his eclectic mix of Asian cuisines. Meyrick conceptualised Sarong as a place to showcase the recipes he sought out from street-food vendors around Asia, so Thai starters are featured alongside Indian tandoor items and Chinese-style stir-fries. With such variety — and generous serving portions — it is a venue that encourages communal dining.
14. Mr & Mrs Bund
Paul Pairet is a self-proclaimed “culinary egalitarian”, who believes that all ingredients are equal — that canned tuna is no lesser an ingredient than caviar. This explains the philosophy behind Mr & Mrs Bund, where he serves simple and accessible food that is also intelligent and innovative. Some of his signature items which fans would recognise from his stint at Jade on 36 have been carried over here.
15. One Harbour Road
Hong Kong, China
It may feel as though One Harbour Road, the Cantonese restaurant at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, has been around forever. But as this year’s voters have reminded us, it is still one of Hong Kong’s finest restaurants, and perhaps the city’s best Chinese restaurant. The food here is classic Cantonese and in our estimation, better than it has ever been. Everything here is good. Even the simplest of dishes, like crispy noodles with beef for example, is treated with such care and attention that it becomes something deliciously special.
The food, like the decor, is rich in a rustic way. Through years of research, executive chef Praveen Anand and his team have recreated the authentic flavours of the four southern states of India — Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They have also collected heirloom recipes shared with them by home cooks, with special attention paid to gathering recipes from the region’s villages, where traditions remain undiluted by external influences. Its ability to maintain consistently high standards is also one of the reasons why Dakshin has stood the test of time. Despite offering such variety — from the food of the Coorg people (a warrior tribe) from Karnataka to the cuisine of the Syrian Christians of Kerala — the culinary team manages to maintain its standards night after night. Best of all, the food is cooked exactly the way it would be in a proud south Indian home.
Antonio’s in Tagaytay has consistently ranked among our Top 20 restaurants since this guide’s inception. Visitors have fallen in love repeatedly with the restaurant’s hacienda-themed ambience and the fresh and flavourful cooking of chef Tonyboy Escalante. Adjacent to the restaurant is the farm started by chef Escalante and his wife Agnes 20 years ago. It ensures that the freshest produce is used at the restaurant, including the organic pigs that are used in Antonio’s famed Spanferckel, a roasted, boneless 40-day-old weaned piglet stuffed with herbs and fennel and served with horseradish cream and homemade applesauce.
18. Nihon Ryori RyuGin
At Nihon Ryori RyuGin, chef Seiji Yamamoto has brilliantly merged the time-honoured traditions of kaiseki with modern gastronomic science in order to create menus that have won him fans and accolades from some of the most respected names in the F&B industry. RyuGin has three Michelin stars — the highest ranking possible — and placed 28th on the 2012 San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef Yamamoto’s food is simply magnificent — a study in the art of bringing formal, centuries-old culinary traditions into the future, while always staying true to the tradition’s roots. He has learnt how best to harness modern techniques and science to make his food the best it can be.
19. Metis Restaurant and Gallery
Established in 2009 by chef Nicholas ‘Doudou’ Tourneville, formerly of the well-loved French fine-dining restaurant Kafe Warisan, Metis is one of those places that is naturally elegant.
Tourneville’s current culinary style is classic French-Mediterranean cuisine punctuated with a playful incorporation of Asian influences. While the setting is fine and the cuisine inspired, the atmosphere is light and the service warm. The intelligent and informed team also spares no effort in delivering personalised service. Meanwhile, little touches such as frangipani leaves doubling as place cards with the guest’s name handwritten on them, add down-to-earth charm to the whole experience.
New Delhi, India
Probably one of the most successful names on the Indian restaurant scene, Bukhara is often lauded as the best restaurant in India. Its recognisable name also makes it an exceptionally popular choice among an international mix of visitors including the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. The 35-year-old establishment isn’t just a restaurant — it is a branded destination, a place on the checklist of many a traveller to New Delhi.