Asia's Top 20 for 2010/2011
Thousands of people from around the world cast more than 101,000 votes for the best restaurants in 18 countries across Asia. Voters came from 98 countries across the world, amounting to over 21,000 registered voters. Voters chose from a shortlist of 914 restaurants which had been selected by a panel of 77 of the most respected restaurant critics and food writers in Asia. After four intense rounds of voting and selection, the smoke cleared and 16 countries (3 more than were in the first edition) and 450 restaurants (130 more than were in the first edition) made the final cut.
Purchase a copy of The Miele Guide 2010/2011 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 430 restaurants that made it to this year’s guide.
Singapore’s gastronomic icon has been growing from strength to strength since its inception 6 years ago. Already a favourite to critics and gourmands alike, Iggy’s further cemented its growing influence in the regional restaurant scene by coming in 28th in this year’s San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list, making it Asia’s second-highest ranked restaurant. This year also sees Ignatius Chan’s popular establishment move to sleeker, larger, more modern premises at Hilton Singapore Hotel. The larger space allows for a bigger, more sophisticated kitchen – the perfect playground for Iggy’s international culinary team to cook up delightful menus, typified by an Asian touch to European fare and served upon bespoke Limoges porcelain dinnerware, no less.
2. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Hong Kong)
Presiding on the 4th floor of Hong Kong’s classy retail haven The Landmark, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon is an epicurean favourite with its extensive menu, iconic decor and casual, unpretentious atmosphere. One of Chef of the 20th Century Joel Robuchon’s many outposts in the Asian culinary frontier, Hong Kong’s L’Atelier boasts an extensive menu and wine slection. The food is prepared by Chef Michel del Burgo, a household name in the Parisian culinary scene, and his international team. While del Burgo can recreate Robuchon signatures with finesse and adds his own unique dishes to the menu, don’t miss out on pastry chef Tadashi Nakamura’s sweet, decadent, very presentable desserts.
3. Robuchon a Galera
Robuchon a Galera is another restaurant to thrive under the guidance of Joel Robuchon. Executive Chef Francky Semblat’s menu is an order of gastronomic excellence. His dishes tend to be elegant, yet rich, flavourful affairs and these qualities are epitomized in crowd-pleasers such as the mille-feuille of tomato and crabmeat and lobster cocotte with black truffles and asparagus. On top of that, its wine list features more than 2800 labels, allowing the restaurant to be accorded Wine Spectator’s Grand Award in China. The best thing about Robuchon a Galera is that while it serves extraordinarily delicious, high quality fare, its prices remain affordable. Indeed, Robuchon a Galera is, by itself, worth the trip to Macau.
Last year, Jaan made its debut on The Miele Guide at number four, a testament to then-head chef Andre Chiang’s mastery in the kitchen. Chiang’s two-year stint helming Jaan culminated in the restaurant coming in 39th at San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list earlier this year. Chiang then left to set up his own restaurant, and was replaced by relative unknown (in the region at least) Ebbe Vollmer, making Jaan the dark horse for this edition’s Asia’s Top 20. Vollmer’s style was also vastly differing from the more experimental methods of some modern chefs. The Swede prefers the classics, and therein lies Jaan’s new appeal. Vollmer serves up elegant, refined European dishes unburdened by the latest culinary trends. Judging from this year’s votes, this straightforward, old-school approach works deliciously, allowing Jaan to retain its number four spot.
Antonio’s is the perfect place to leave your urban burdens. Housed in a one-hectare compound tucked away in the Filipino countryside, Antonio’s seems, at first sight, more state manor than restaurant. The French windows, chandeliers and impressive collection of art are no gimmick, however. Antonio’s is a well-established restaurant whose gastronomic selection contributes to the overall charm of its locale, rather than vice-versa. Chef-owner Antonio Escalante prepares excellent dishes by combining Western ingredients with the freshest local produce. His salads, for example, are a melange of fresh, crisp vegetables, harvested from his very own garden, and exquisite imported cheeses. They make the perfect side dish to a perfectly glazed foie gras or a succulent Black Angus steak.
The wondrous experience of dining at Mozaic includes the journey to the stunning restaurant in the posh Balinese district of Ubud. You drive through verdant hills and past ancient Balinese temples, to reach a romantic garden, decorated with local art. The service here is flawless, and the food is even better. Chef Chris Salans’ cuisine is essentially French-inspired, but he utilizes Bali’s traditional ingredients to give his dishes an East-West balance that tantalizes the taste buds. Mozaic has a few menus to cater to different preferences – the Indonesian Discovery menu marries fine ingredients with Indonesian influences, the Chef’s Classics features Mozaic signature dishes and the restaurant also has a Vegetarian menu. There is also a Chef’s Surprise menu, for the more adventurous.
Hong Kong, China
Another brilliant restaurant housed in Hong Kong’s The Landmark, Zuma is a beautiful establishment designated for more formal dining occasions. Sophisticated as it is, Zuma also makes space for the chic and cool, with its sixth floor bar. Here, a charming open terrace provides a prime location to soak in the stars on a cool Hong Kong evening. Zuma was not designed for heavy feasting, with excellent selections of sushi, sashimi, grilled items, along with cocktails and the delectable desserts of pastry chef Eddy Lee. For those with bigger appetites, Zuma does have a shorter list of dishes that offer bigger portions.
8. Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Not only is Cilantro Kuala Lumpur’s prime destination for French-Japanese cuisine, it has also long been considered the Malaysian capital’s finest restaurant. Helmed by Chef Takashi Kimura, Cilantro takes pride in everything it offers – even pre-meal bread and butter. The butter, for example, is Takashi’s own decadently rich, aromatic, well-refined butter, while the bread is served warm and fresh. Cilantro’s menu changes depending on availability of ingredients, so dishes can take on an European style mere days after the menu features Japanese cuisine. Despite this, the food remains of an impressive quality, exhibiting Takashi’s culinary intelligence.
9. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Tokyo)
This was the restaurant that paved the way for L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon to become an upscale household name both in the region and globally. Guests sit behind a 40-seater counter, while the black-clad chefs, headed by the brilliant Ryuta Iizuka, masterfully prepare their orders before them. Besides chef Ryuta and his team’s elegant, exciting dishes, long-time fans of Joel Robuchon can indulge in the Menu Decouverte, or ‘Discovery Menu’. This multi-course menu showcases Robuchon’s signature creations. Such consistent quality, given the restaurant’s variety in its menu, pushes L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Tokyo up by 11 spots to ninth on this year’s Asia’s Top 20.
Hong Kong, China
A three-Michelin-star restaurant, one of only two in Hong Kong, Caprice astounds with both its view and its food. The restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows offer a breathtaking view of Victoria Harbour. The interior, crowned by four magnificent chandeliers, epitomizes French elegance and glamour. The food served here is fitting of such a locale. Chef Vincent Thierry and his team of 25 chefs add modern relevance to French classics, not afraid to lend Asian influences on popular French dishes. On top of a wide selection of cuisine and wine, Caprice also offers a cheese platter that includes 30 of the best cheeses in the world. It was only the natural course of events that Caprice breaks into the top 10 for this year’s list.
11. Les Amis
The popular Singaporean establishment again exerts its status as one of Asia’s best restaurants with a third consecutive entry into the Asia’s Top 20 list. Its consistently excellent food, impressive wine collection and reliable service have ensured this. Current Head Chef Armin Leitgeb’s skills and instincts have introduced impeccable classic European cuisine – with a dash of Asian influences – to Les Amis’ menu. The menu changes every three months, but the Les Amis favourites are available all year round. Also worth mentioning is the restaurant’s impressive wine collection stored in two climate-controlled cellars – one for reds and another for whites. Owing to that, the restaurant has been accorded the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award worth S$5 million.
12. Yung Kee
Hong Kong, China
Yung Kee is one of those rare success stories of street stall-turned-multi-million-dollar restaurant business. From its humble origins, Yung Kee has grown to become virtually synonymous with Hong Kong. Housed in a six-storey building in Hong Kong’s prime Central district, the restaurant can attribute its success to its world famous roast meats, amazing service and remaining unperturbed by what can be likened to peer pressure in the culinary industry. Executive chef Choi Wai-Chor frowns upon change, and is very reluctant to add items to a menu that is not very different from the one at the Yung Kee street stall of decades ago. Frequented by commoners and the super rich and famous alike, Yung Kee is testament that sometimes, sticking to tradition can spell success.
13. Gunther’s Modern French Cuisine
Three years after its opening, Gunther’s Modern French Cuisine has steadily built and developed itself from just another food and beverage establishment along Singapore’s Purvis Street to an inductee into this year’s San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list, at 84th spot. The appeal of Gunther’s is in its steadfast commitment to simplicity, without forsaking taste or quality. Diners shell out top dollar for an experience that excites but doesn’t overwhelm. Chef-owner Gunther Hubrechsen’s food is always light, clean and refined, with little embellishment but plenty of flavour. To put it simply, his brand of food is stamped by his delicate, knowing touch, which invariably appeals to lighter, more sophisticated palates.
New Delhi, India
London-based magazine Restaurant hails Bukhara as Asia’s best restaurant, and it is no surprise that the New Delhi restaurant stays among Asia’s Top 20. While it is housed inside the upscale ITC Maurya Hotel, with a spacious premise that can accommodate 130 people, Bukhara maintains a simple, non-fanciful interior, with broad wooden beams and rugged stone walls. Owing to that sense of traditional simplicity, diners can expect to eat with their fingers (although cutlery can be requested for). A must-try is the restaurant’s signature dal Bakhara – a tasty dish of black lentils simmered slowly with tomato, butter and spices.
15. Tippling Club
One would be hard pressed to find a sexier and more innovative counter dining experience than the one offered at the Tippling Club. Set against a leafy verge of Tanglin Village, Tippling Club makes full use of its natural surroundings with a chic industrial look fronted with floor-to-ceiling windows. The menu, meanwhile, flirts with molecular gastronomy and is famed for its progressive nature. Refreshing and exciting as it is, Tippling Club’s fare might not appeal to purists, but in a city chock-a-block with traditional French, Chinese and Italian options, there is always room for a restaurant that elicits an opinion and makes no excuses about its cuisine direction.
Hong Kong, China
Nobu is located in the Intercontinental Hotel, and boasts one of the most stunning panoramic views of the Hong Kong skyline at night. The menu is stellar, too. Stars of the menu are 14 chef recommendations, created by Head Chef Eric Idos, which include a Saga beef nigiri sushi and avocado roll served with plum sauce. Their most famous dish, however, are the yellowtail sushi with jalapenos and black cod saikyo yaki. Dishes are served in courses and are paired nicely with Nobu’s exclusive line of Hokusetsu sake.
17. Dum Pukht
Dum Pukht, named for the “slow oven” style of cooking practised by the Nawabs of Awadh, is a restaurant in Mumbai that aims to preserve the culinary traditions of the aforementioned erstwhile people. The Nawabs are known for their grand gestures as well as their epicurean delights, and Dum Pukht is a modern manifestation of these. Its interior is replete with glowing marble, gold leaves, crystal and royal blue and gold furnishings. Similarly, the dining experience at Dum Pukht revives the traditional royal style of course service. A typical meal here begins with shorba, progresses to kebabs and the main course of shahi nehari before ending with a minty paan.
18. Ku De Ta
Ku De Ta is Bali’s coolest beach-side destination to socialise, wine, dine and dance. The decor is an extension of Bali’s tropical charm. For example, it is furnished with wooden tables and sofas that its beautiful clientele can sit back in, and watch the waves of the Seminyak coastline. At night, Ku De Ta doubles off as a dance club as international DJs spin tunes into the wee hours. While it seems that Ku De Ta is primarily a watering hole, the cuisine offered here is delicious. Popular choices include the baby lobster risotto with braised fennel and garlic confit, and Wagyu short rib with asparagus and Bordelaise sauce.
19. Bo Innovation
Hong Kong, China
Bo Innovation’s chef-owner Alvin Leung is a brash, unapologetic go-getter who dares to push the boundaries of convention, and this is apparent in the Hong Kong restaurant’s menu. The items in the menu, at a glance, seem to be typical fare in a Chinese restaurant. It is only after sampling that you notice Leung’s influence in the dishes. His version of a Shanghainese xiaolongbao (soup dumpling), for example, is made using molecular “spherification” to create a skinless ravioli that is entirely liquid soup inside. It is this fearless, experimental attitude of Leung’s that has helped his restaurant become the most avant-garde Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong.
20. Beijing Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant
While most restaurants that have made it to this year’s Asia’s Top 20 list by serving Western food with a touch of Asia (or vice-versa), Beijing Da Dong Roast Duck made a very compelling case for its inclusion with its signature Peking duck. Chef-owner Dong Zhengxiang claims to have perfected the art of preparing Peking duck, citing “super lean” ducks that retain considerably less fat than ducks from other restaurants. Leaner ducks aside, the Peking ducks here also have a terrifically crisp skin full of flavour without being overly oily. Beijing Da Dong Roast Duck is also appealing for reasons besides its Peking duck. Service here is excellent – if you find yourself waiting for a table, the restaurant provides you with an endless flow of complimentary wine and soft drinks.