When we approached chefs from restaurants featured in the 2013 edition of The Miele Guide to vote for a Chef of Chefs — a peer from the same pool of featured establishments who embodies the qualities they most admire — votes flew in from all around Asia, affirming the strong fraternity that binds chefs in the region.
And one name stood out: David Thompson.
As the recipient of the support and admiration of the region’s most illustrious chefs, Chef Thompson, was presented during the launch of the Miele Guide 2013 with a state-of-the-art range of Miele cooking equipment as well as a personalised Zwiesel vase.
The Miele Guide is committed to continually driving the aspirations of Asia’s chefs and restaurateurs and celebrating the superlative dining experiences that abound in the region. By recognizing the tireless dedication of the region’s passionate chefs to their art, this annual award aims to bolster their efforts and recognize their endeavours in the many years to come.
Robuchon au Dome shoots to top spot and Waku Ghin debuts at number two in the fifth edition of The Miele Guide to Asia's Finest Restaurants
22nd January 2013, Singapore – The Miele Guide’s much anticipated Asia’s Top 20 list of restaurants and the recipient of the prestigious Chef of Chefs award were announced today before some of Asia’s most well-respected chefs, restaurateurs and food industry experts at Tamarind Hill, Singapore. The evening was also held to celebrate the restaurateurs and chefs behind the Top 500 restaurants across 17 countries profiled by The Miele Guide, demonstrating the immense diversity and rich heritage of the gastronomic scene in Asia.
The man many herald as the world’s greatest chef and his lieutenants in Asia have done it again. Robuchon au Dome (Macau) and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Hong Kong) were crowned first and third places respectively in this year’s Top 20 list. Robuchon a Galera, as Robuchon au Dome was previously known, has been a constant fixture in our Top 20 list since the guide’s inception. A recent facelift that provided a fitting stage for the brilliance of Chef Francky Semblat propelled this old favourite to the number one spot, proving once more that dining is a holistic experience.
Making its stunning debut at second place is Waku Ghin (Singapore). An amazing feat for any new restaurant, this achievement is understandable when it is a restaurant by Japan-born Australian chef Tetsuya Wakuda. Restraint, elegance and respect of both humble and premium ingredients characterise the omakase menu, which pays more tribute to Chef Wakuda’s homeland than the original Tetsuya’s.
Pride in Asia’s cultures is a common thread seen in 2013’s Top 20 list. Though progressive restaurants prevail, behind their modern façades they are often rooted in centuries-old Asian culinary history. This is exemplified by this year’s new entrant, the 24-seat three Michelin star Japanese restaurant Nihon Ryori RyuGin, where Chef Seiji Yamamoto’s experimental techniques betray a fierce respect of time-honored kaiseki traditions. Other establishments on the list like Pierre Gagnaire a Seoul, Sarong, Iggy’s, Mozaic, Bukhara, One Harbour Road and Dakshin display the same deference to their unique Asian heritage.
This year’s Chef of Chefs Award continues this trend, voting in Chef David Thompson for his unwavering dedication to documenting, preserving and executing traditional Thai recipes. The award recognizes the one chef who has served as a figure of inspiration to his peers over the past year, selected from and by chef candidates from the previous edition of The Miele Guide. Chef David Pooley of Beijing’s Aria restaurant said that Chef Thompson has “shown that with sufficient dedication, young chefs can reach the top in any type of cuisine they set their minds to”, while Chef Will Meyrick of Sarong in Bali cited his “clear vision, patience and persistence about what he wants to create, reminding us all that food is one of the things that can transcend our differences.” The 52-year-old truly embodies The Miele Guide’s values, and is an inspiration to all.
“As the first to recognize the excellence of the Asian food scene, we at The Miele Guide are extremely proud to have witnessed its rapid progression over the years. We are committed to recognizing the tireless dedication of Asia’s chefs and raising international awareness for the best dining establishments in Asia. In turn we hope to encourage the restaurant industry to continue to evolve and grow,” said Ms Tan Su-Lyn, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Ate Group and Co-Founder of The Miele Guide.
“We are extremely pleased to see The Miele Guide entering its fifth year and are very proud to once more be an integral part of this established and independent guide that honours Asia’s restaurants, chefs and restaurateurs. After all, they truly embody the Miele value of ‘Immer Besser’ by constantly pursuing perfection in their craft. Miele has always been a firm and passionate supporter of the food and beverage community in Asia, as seen from our involvement in regional platforms that encourage innovation and cultivate excellence over the years,” said Angeline Yap, Managing Director of Miele Singapore.
As the leading Asian dining guide, The Miele Guide continues its commitment to nurture aspiring culinary talents in the region through the Culinary Scholarship Programme, which is jointly sponsored by Miele and At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy (At-Sunrice), with support from the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and guided by the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) framework. Earlier in November, two aspiring chefs were selected from a pool of competitive entries from all over Asia. The two award recipients are 20-year old Singaporean Tan Song Wen and 30-year-old Filipino Karen Liz Obero. Shortlisted based on their strong displays of culinary passion, both awardees will be given the exclusive opportunity to attend the 18-month diploma programme at the renowned At- Sunrice GlobalChef Academy in Singapore.
The Miele Guide 2013 Launch Celebration party is supported by Miele and product sponsors Artisan Cellars, Dreamfields, Fiji Water, Hubers Butchery, Japan Airlines, Ruiter, The Drinking Partners, The US Meat Export Federation and Valrhona.
About The Miele Guide
The Miele Guide is Asia’s first authoritative and independent guide to the region’s finest restaurants. Each of the 500 restaurants in the guide, now in its fifth year, is selected after a rigorous voting process involving input from food and beverage professionals, food writers, restaurant critics and most importantly, the public. Every year, the ranked list of Asia’s Top 20 is unveiled to great anticipation, acknowledging the trailblazing culinary achievements of the region’s best chefs. The 2011/2012 edition covers the best restaurants in Brunei, Cambodia, China (including Hong Kong & Macau), India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Also included are critical and current commentaries on local dining scenes by respected food journalists, as well as a ranked list of Top 5 restaurants within each represented country. For more information, please visit: www.mieleguide.com.
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Widely regarded as the foremost authority on Thai cuisine, David Thompson — celebrated chef, cookbook author and feted restaurateur — has spent years roaming Thailand’s cities and countryside in the pursuit of the country’s most authentic and forgotten recipes. We asked him to let us in on his favourite street food stops in Bangkok.
Fish dumpling and egg noodle stall
Off Soi Songwanat, before the Soi Wanit 1 junction Daily 6pm - 9pm
“This stall sells the best egg noodles in Chinatown. When it opens in the evening, a crowd is already clustered around, waiting. It usually closes at about 9pm, when it runs out of noodles. I always order egg noodles with fish dumplings and soup, and season it with chillies, sugar and fish sauce.”
Kao man gai (chicken and rice) stall
Near the corner of Tanon Chaisi and Tanon Samsen,
about 5 stalls in, with Tanon Chaisi on the right. Daily 5pm - 10pm
“When I used to live in the northern part of town, this was the place I’d frequent as the rice was (and is) the best in town. In fact, this night market has quite a few good stalls along it. On the actual corner of Tanon Chaisi and Tanon Samsen is a stall serving Issan (a region from the northeast of Thailand) cuisine. Get there early for the pork neck. It’s worth it.”
1217-9 New Road, Bangrak Tel: +66 2 233 1010 Daily 6am - 5pm, except during Ramadan
“This prosaically named eatery is one of the oldest continuously running restaurants in the city, and serves one of the best versions of panaeng beef curry — rich, red and redolent of cumin. The madtarbark (roti filled with minced chicken and spices) is also a winner. Most of the food sells out early, so try and get there before 1pm.”
Nai Mong Hoi Nang Tort
539 Prapachai Road Tel: +66 2 623 1890 Daily 11am–1.30am
“The oyster omelette here is one of the best I’ve had — a crisp and rich base of eggs topped with an unctuous sauce of oysters and spring onions. Sprinkle it with some white pepper and Sriracha chilli sauce and you’ll understand why this place has been going for 40 years. They sell other dishes, but I’ve never been able to forgo this gem.”
Raan Kao Dtom Jaesuay
Plaeng Naam Road, near the intersection of Charoen Krung Tel: +66 2 223 9592 Daily 5pm till late
“This casual, easy place is typical of Sino-Thai street food — think trays of dishes sitting on ice and out for display, piled high with squid, scallops, crunchy pork belly with Chinese broccoli, garlic chives and snow pea shoots. There is no menu, but none is expected. Just point to the ingredients you want to eat and they’ll tell you how they cook it. I always order the smoked duck. I know of no other place in Bangkok that serves this very local dish. It is prepared in a nearby market, where it is salted and smoked over sugarcane to result in the most delicious, mahogany-hued bird. Try also the minced pork with Thai olives, and mussels fried with chillies and coriander.”
As they have done with most of the seemingly simplest things, the Japanese have turned deep-frying battered ingredients into an art.
Throughout the ages and across geographical boundaries, deep-frying ingredients dipped in batter has been a process accessible to just about everyone. With tempura, however, the Japanese have elevated this simple method into an art form. After being introduced to Japan in the 16th century by Portuguese merchants, tempura has cemented its status as one of the country’s most widely enjoyed dishes. It is even rumoured that the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu, loved tempura so much that he died after excessive consumption.
In true Japanese style, good tempura can be distinguished by its delicacy and lightness, so much so that the diner should forget he’s eating something deep-fried. The batter must be crisp, feathery-light and evenly distributed, encasing only the freshest seasonal ingredients. Tepid, cloying batter is an immediate disgrace, and timing is everything — too long in hot oil and the ingredient loses its natural flavour, too short and it is undercooked. Once served and piping hot, it should be consumed immediately.
The type of oil used is a matter of great contention between different regions and chefs. Tokyo-based Michael Kleindl, food writer and The Miele Guide panellist, describes tempura in Tokyo as darker and more savoury, attributed to the sesame oil in which it is fried. Conversely, the Kyoto method is much lighter, cooked to a pale gold in less assertive oils.
In fact, Yasaka Endo in Kyoto uses only fresh and subtly fragrant cottonseed oil. Touted as one of the go-to restaurants in Kyoto for tempura by Aya Okubo, editor of Kyoto Visitor Guide, it serves ingredients unique to the region such as yuba (bean curd skin) and local vegetables.
Back in Tokyo, Kondo in the Ginza district is the local Holy Grail of tempura restaurants. Each of the premium ingredients here — cooked in sesame oil — showcases the breadth and depth of Japanese produce: think corn from Hokkaido, shitake mushrooms from Iwate and sublime fried uni (sea urchin) wrapped in shiso leaf.
Though a meal at these restaurants is hardly pocket-friendly, the parade of sparkling fresh ingredients, bursting with flavours locked in by the hot, fragrant oil, is well worth the extra pennies.
The best of Malaysia’s bak kut teh or ‘pork rib tea’ can be found in Klang. And there’s one for every taste.
Mention ‘bak kut teh’ in Malaysia and Klang comes to mind. Everyone has a favourite stall, whether it’s the one under the Klang bridge (Seng Huat), at the Hokkien Association, or in another nook or corner of the town that is a 30-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur. There are tons of shops selling bak kut teh here, and among the most popular are Weng Heong and Teluk Pulai Bak Kut Teh.
Most people favour the Hokkien-style dark herbal broth that comes with a choice of pork ribs on the bone, soft cartilage, chee chang (pork shoulder) and chee wan (pig’s knees). Also in the soup are bean curd puffs, pig’s intestines and Chinese cruellers called you tiao. Its Teochew-style cousin, meanwhile, is lighter in colour, but harbours the same herbal nuances.
The original bak kut teh (‘pork rib tea’ in Hokkien) was served in small Chinese bowls, with an extra bowl of soup on the side. The now common condiments of red bird’s eye chillies and chopped garlic are a modern touch. The dish has since evolved to include a clay pot version that comes with mushrooms, lettuce and bean curd sheets added to the broth. There’s even a dry-style bak kut teh featuring dried red chillies, dried squid and okra.
The Pao Xiang Bak Kut Teh chain, which has outlets in the larger shopping malls of Klang Valley, has made popular its own riff on the dish. Pig’s trotters tied in string are steeped in the soup to yield a gentler broth with mild herbal flavours. Chick Kut Teh (made with chicken) has gained a following too, especially among Muslims. It is now served in halal-certified eateries such as The Melting Pot at the Concorde Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
For the uninitiated, the most accessible places to find bak kut teh in Klang Valley are in the Imbi Road area in downtown Kuala Lumpur and Hutong Food Court in Lot 10, a shopping mall in the city centre. Otherwise, one might make the trek to the further suburbs such as Puchong, Subang or Sungei Way, where Ah Sang Bak Kut Teh has been serving its version of the popular dish the same way for the last few decades.
Naturally, bak kut teh is available throughout Malaysia, but Klang remains the undisputed bak kut teh capital.
About the author: Eu Hooi Khaw is a food writer for The Malaysian Insider, The Star and The Malay Mail.
Though he may traipse around the globe for some of the world’s finest fare, award-winning restaurateur and sommelier, Ignatius Chan, is still a Singaporean foodie at heart. The owner of Iggy’s — which has taken the Number One spot in The Miele Guide thrice since 2008 — shares his favourite Singaporean eats, mostly located off the beaten track. These stalls might be hard to find, but the food they serve is even harder to resist.
Da Dong Prawn Noodles
354 Joo Chiat Road
Daily 8am–4pm, closed Tuesday
“The prawn noodles come in a broth that is simply one of a kind. Made by boiling a potent mixture of prawns, shellfish and pork bones, the soup’s flavour is concentrated and full of punch. I recommend ordering the prawn noodles with additional pork ribs for the full experience.”
Sungei Road Laksa
#01-100 Jin Shui Kopitiam
27 Jalan Berseh
Daily 9am–6pm, closed on 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month
“The laksa (rice vermicelli in a spicy coconut milk-based broth) served here is simple, yet excellent. Fresh ingredients, especially the generous helping of cockles, are the key. The broth is intensely flavoured while still light — I love how the coconut essence adds the perfect amount of richness. Unlike typical laksa, the noodles are cut up into bite-sized strands which encourage one to eat with a spoon. This ensures that each mouthful comes with a balanced ratio of noodle to broth. Nowhere else in Singapore can you get a bowl of laksa for just S$2!”
Joo Heng Mushroom Minced Pork Noodle
#01-86 Ang Mo Kio Market And Food Centre
628 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4, Street 61
“Mushroom minced pork noodles (bak chor mee) is truly a uniquely Singaporean dish. The egg noodles here are enhanced by the spoonfuls of stewed shitake mushrooms, which are so well cooked that they are almost caramelised. I always add an extra dollar’s worth of mushrooms. The mixture of pork liver, lard, minced meat and just the right touch of chilli is heavenly, best enjoyed with the accompanying bowl of minced meat soup.”
Lau Sim Shredded Chicken Noodles
Jiu Da Coffee Shop
14 Alkaff Avenue
Daily 7.30am–1.30pm, closed on Monday
“The egg noodles here are served Teochew-style, tossed with oil, chilli, soy sauce, coriander and scallion, and served with shredded chicken. The real draw, however, is the springy fish dumplings (minced pork and dried sole fish wrapped in a chewy skin made of fish meat, known locally as hee keow) and fish balls that you must specifically ask for.”
Chye Lye Restaurant
1 Jalan Legundi
Tel: +65 6257 1396
Daily 11am–2.30pm, 5pm–10pm, closed on Monday
“While this restaurant serves a variety of other tze char (literally meaning ‘cook and fry’) dishes, I particularly like the fish head curry. The fish head is always fresh and the combination of the natural collagen with smooth flesh is beautiful. They do not skimp on the other ingredients either. The light, flavourful assam curry is enhanced by an abundance of tomatoes, ladies fingers, eggplant and even taupok (a variety of fried bean curd). This is another dish that is undeniably Singaporean.”
Established programme continues its dedication towards developing the culinary scene in Asia for the fifth year running
Singapore – 6 November 2012 – The Miele Guide, Asia’s first independent and authoritative dining guide for the region’s finest restaurants, revealed today the recipients of its prestigious Culinary Scholarship Programme at the award ceremony held in At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy (At-Sunrice). The award presentation was witnessed by representatives from the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), The Miele Guide as well as the team from At-Sunrice.
Two aspiring chefs were selected from a pool of competitive entries from all over Asia, including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia. The two award recipients are: 20-year old Singaporean Tan Song Wen, Alastiar and 30-year-old Filipino Karen Liz Obero. Shortlisted based on their strong displays of culinary interest and passion, both awardees will be given the exclusive opportunity to attend the 17-month diploma programme, the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Diploma in Culinary Arts, at reputable culinary academy, At-Sunrice, in Singapore.
The WSQ Diploma in Culinary Arts programme will commence in December 2012 which will equip the recipients with the necessary fundamental skills and techniques of both eastern and western cuisines, under the distinguished tutelage of experienced Chefs and F&B professionals. The programme will also allow the scholars to acquire professional kitchen experience over a 12-month duration through apprenticeships at some of Singapore’s finest F&B establishments and hotels.
Created in partnership with At-Sunrice and supported by the WDA, The Miele Guide Culinary Scholarship Programme gives out two scholarships every year – one is offered to citizens or permanent residents of Singapore, while the other is offered to citizens or permanent residents of the remaining 16 Asian countries featured in the guide.
Already in its fifth year, the programme has provided deserving talents, who have strong passion for the culinary industry but were unable to due to the lack of opportunities or funds, the opportunity to fulfil their dreams of becoming successful chefs. Past scholars have gone on to begin rewarding careers in the culinary sphere. The first Singaporean recipient of The Miele Guide Culinary Scholarship Programme Malcolm Lee, became the chef-owner of Candlenut, which was highlighted in The Financial Times as one of the outstanding restaurants in Singapore to sample Peranakan cuisine.
“Every year we receive applicants of higher and better calibre, testament to the burgeoning culinary scene we have here in Asia. As the leading and reputable dining guide of Asia, The Miele Guide will continue its commitment to elevating and promoting the culinary industry in the region, through the Culinary Scholarship Programme, in a bid to assist deserving talents kick-start their culinary dreams,” said Ms Tan Su-Lyn, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Ate Group and Co-Founder of The Miele Guide.
Mr Christopher Yip, Deputy Director, Tourism Division, WDA said: “WDA is pleased to partner the private sector to develop and nurture top-notch culinary talent to contribute to Singapore’s dynamic F&B scene. The intensive and thorough training provided during the WSQ programme will provide aspiring culinary professionals with exposure to international standards and put them in good stead to emulate the best in this industry.”
“With passion, we believe in a world of opportunities and we welcome the two Miele scholars to join our academy to experience enrichment, education and growth. At-Sunrice‘s core competency is about delivering high quality and professional culinary and F&B education and to cultivate our students to become global chefs in this flourishing industry, said Chef Christophe Megel, Chief Executive Officer of At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy.
Korean cuisine isn’t all meat-heavy barbecues and fiery kimchi stews. Discover its soft side with temple cuisine, the vegetarian fare of Buddhist monks refined for the modern palate.
It’s almost quaint the way “well-being” has become a catchphrase that Korea’s restaurateurs have so eagerly plastered to their signs and menus. But if there’s a concept to thank for the rise of sumptuous, fine-dining-style Buddhist temple cuisine — formerly the meagre survival fare of exiled monks — it is no doubt the rise of “well-being”, or true health from the inside out.
Now, temple cuisine — usually vegan, or at least vegetarian — is considered worthy fare for a night out. The first to really harness this idea was Sanchon, where the rustic degustation of authentic, all-natural variations of roots and shoots is imbued with a quiet tranquillity from the low glow of lotus lanterns.
While I’ve always found myself in agreement with food writers who found a meal here filling, both physically and spiritually, Sanchon has had its critics over the years. In describing the restaurant, one Korea contributor to The Miele Guide said, “Either it’s the most divine vegetarian dinner you’ve ever had or it’s an hour of torture eating bowl of grass after bowl of grass.”
Changing that perception of temple food are newer entrants to the scene.
Heading the pack is Baru (or Balwoo), which marries the earnestness of Buddhist preparation with modern, cosmopolitan presentation and clean, linear decor. There’s a light, almost playful touch seen throughout Baru’s courses, be it in the surprising orange hue of delicate tofu cubes or the zing of flavour in what you thought were simple steamed dumplings.
And it’s not just for the herbivores anymore. Alongside its traditional organic vegetarian fare, Chaegundaam in posh Gangnam-gu will also serve hanwoo beef and local seafood to those who refuse to go completely green.
If you ask me, though, you’ll never miss meat after a feast of temple cuisine done right.