Forget honourable mentions – Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants has forgone precedent and, for the first time since its inception in 2013, released an honour roll of restaurants beyond the usual fifty in an effort to inspire and revitalise the global tourism industry post-Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions. After all, an itinerary isn’t complete unless breakfast, lunch and dinner are squared away.
Naturally, notable Singapore restaurants managed to clinch some spots on the expanded listing. That includes Meta, headed by chef Sun Kim, whose time spent in Korean, Japanese and Australian kitchens evolved into one-Michelin-star-winning, East-meets-West cuisine. The restaurant clinched the 60th spot along with the American Express One to Watch Award.
Other contenders include Nouri and its feted crossroads gastronomia, kappo-style fine dining joint Esora and Dempsey darling Candlenut, in the 73rd, 77th and 94th spots respectively. The latter two were previously unlisted, but have since joined the likes of Singapore’s other greats.
Regionally, Mainland China counts eight entries on the list, as opposed to Japan’s nine. That includes Tokyo’s Sugita, the archipelago’s sushi restaurant among sushi restaurants, which narrowly missed a showing on the usual top 50 list with its spot at number 51.
The list also marks the Maldives’ debut into the awards – Aragu, in the Velaa Resort on the Noonu Atoll, edges in on the 96th spot. An overwater concept headed by chef Gaushan de Silva, it serves up mod-European cuisine with an Asian slant. They’re also packing a hefty wine cellar with over a thousand labels, so that never hurts.
Vietnam, which hasn’t seen representation on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants since 2013, gets a nod: Tung Dining in Hanoi clinched the 98th spot.
This year also marks the launch of the Essence of Asia collection in parallel with the year’s list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. It recognises, apart from achievement in cuisine, achievement in community as well – restaurants that have gone the extra mile to give back, within and without the Covid-19 crisis. Achievement in culture is another focal point – think casual dining spots that best celebrate Asia’s vibrant culinary traditions with authentic methods and flavours.