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Where to find award-winning restaurants
If you’re in Asia, there’s this interesting list...
There’s this thing about annual events where you think, “Has it been a year already? There’s another one coming? It’s that time of the year again?”
You feel a bit old, but you appreciate the consistency, the tradition, and the idea it brings that life goes on and you have something to look forward to. And you have a new set of expectations. Will it be the same? Will it be different? Should I check it out?
Is it still worth checking out?
That’s how I feel right now about Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, which is coming back to Singapore on 28th March 2023 after its debut in the country 10 years ago. Yes, the programme has been around for that long.
Here’s a dish by Narisawa of Tokyo, the number one restaurant in 2013.
And I think I’ve been writing about it on and off too – not just in The Super Charmed Life but in other publications. (That part about feeling old…)
I’m trying to look back and see what I can remember, but it would be better to pass this off to William Drew, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants’ director of content.
“I can remember so much! It was our first ever awards event held in Asia – at Marina Bay Sands – and our first ever regional list,” he says.
“The excitement was very high, and Singapore delivered. I have great memories of meeting some incredible people for the first time, many of whom have become friends and long-time colleagues over the decade since.
“We also held some great workshops for the public as well as the culinary students at At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy.”
Hopefully William can get you excited about Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023. Or at least encourage you to eat somewhere new, and try dishes you’ve never had before.
Changes he saw in Asian dining over the past 10 years
“I think individual Asian countries and even regions within countries have embraced, owned and reflected on their own culinary identities, grounded in heritage but spiked with innovation, with increasing confidence,” he says.
“Asian society embraces all cuisines, but there’s no longer any sense that European cuisines are more ‘gastronomic’. Chinese, Thai, Malay, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese, among others, are hugely respected and the food is sought after internationally. Hopefully 50 Best has played a role in that.”
The difference between this edition from the one in 2019 – the last time Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants was held in-person
“We are excited to be back in Singapore and return to an in-person awards ceremony after last year’s multi-city events and shifting gears to hosting the majority of events virtually.
“One new addition to the 50 Best programme, which we’re excited to roll out in Asia, is 50 Best Signature Sessions – collaborative dining events featuring leading chefs from 50 Best lists, as well as the best regional talent, all of which are open to the public.
“Other cornerstones of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants will return, such as Chefs’ Feast, which will feature the finest produce and cooking from across Southeast Asia.”
A teaser on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023
“While I can’t reveal anything before the 28th of March, I can say we will be announcing a series of special awards with some incredible individuals and establishments included, and we look forward to celebrating after what has been a tremendously challenging period for the hospitality industry.”
Once we know the winners from Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants
Use the list as a guide, according to William.
“The aim of this list is to inspire people to seek out new culinary gems, explore places they may never have gone to before, and discover new restaurants,” he says.
Go over it “when planning your next trip or simply exploring your home country”, he adds. “The list provides recognition of the dedication, passion and skill of the teams behind those restaurants, and they are certainly worth exploring and celebrating.”
If Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants isn’t exactly your kind of thing, maybe simply eating your way through Singapore is? There’s so much to sample. (Like Odette, which came in at number one in 2020.)
“Singapore is genuinely one of my favourite cities in which to dine in the entire world, and for the first time since 2019,” says William.
“There will never be enough time to eat in as many places as one would like… but it remains a privilege to access such incredible experiences.”
So what surprised him, and continues to surprise him, about the dining and culinary scene in Singapore?
“How dynamic, fast-moving and diverse it is,” he answers.
Why not consider making Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants one of the highlights of your Singapore trip, or if you’re there, your week or month even?
These are mine. Off the top of my head:
#1 Go to Den in Tokyo
If you happen to be in the area, of course. It’s last year’s winner.
#2 Try out the restaurants of past Asia’s Best Female Chef winners
#3 You still have numbers 51 to 100
It’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, but the list goes longer than that. Wait for their announcement before 28th March – they’re worth looking into too.
#4 It’s up to you to decide what’s “best” for you
Tastes, opinions and preferences vary, so why not come up with your own list and share it with us? (Maybe end it at 10 or 20 – but if you want to go up to 50, feel free.)
#5 Look at the pictures
If you don’t have the budget, the winning restaurants’ Instagram may provide some inspiration. Read the description of a dish from the post or their menu, buy the ingredients (substitute them with what you can afford), and recreate the meal at home. Give it your own twist.