This laudable recognition has put Malaysia on the epicurean map, coming from a ceremony dubbed the “Oscars of the Asian Gastronomic World”.
Emotions ran high at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 awards ceremony in Macau last night, naming Dewakan – the first and only Malaysian restaurant to make the cut – at 46th place.
This laudable recognition has put Malaysia on the epicurean map, coming from a ceremony dubbed the “Oscars of the Asian Gastronomic World”. On top of that, the Shah Alam-based modern Malaysian restaurant also nabbed the Best Restaurant in Malaysia 2019 award.
Chef Darren Teoh, who helms Dewakan, was quick to credit the win to the efforts of the entire supply chain.
“It’s nice to be acknowledged for the work that’s being done by all in Malaysia, the farmers, the producers and other restaurants who are pushing it every day as well as our guests and the guys at the restaurant now and before,” he told Lifestyle Asia.
The attribution to team effort was also emphasised during our visit to the restaurant last year, when we got to experience first-hand the chef’s knack for disruptive dishes incorporating lesser known indigenous ingredients found in our diverse local terroirs. One of the dishes we tried – Prawns Warmed in Starfruit Juice with Herbs – was highlighted as Dewakan’s standout dish on the list.
Teoh, a former molecular gastronomy lecturer, also revealed his plans to relocate the restaurant closer to the city centre for easier accessibility.
The list is curated by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, comprising 318 industry leaders across Asia, each selected for their expert opinion of the Asia’s restaurant scene. There are six voting regions, each with an anonymous panel made up of food writers, critics, chefs, restaurateurs and highly esteemed ‘gastronomes’.
This year, Singapore’s Odette took the crown from Bangkok’s Gaggan, which has held the top spot for the past four years. Here’s a closer look at the top 10 restaurants and a quick breakdown on the rest of the winners who made the list.
#10 Burnt Ends, Singapore
Famed for its barbecued-to-perfection dishes, like its name suggests, Burnt Ends is where to go in Singapore for unparalleled steak frites and umami-rich kombu beurre blanc. Chef-owner Dave Pynt personally designed the four-tonne, two-oven brick kiln that brings out the smoky potential in all kinds of ingredients served at the restaurant, whether meat or vegetable. W burntends.com
#9 Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo, Japan
Though no stranger to the list, chef-owner Seiji Yamamoto also bagged the first American Express Icon Award winner introduced this year. The tribute underscores his expertise of elevating hyper-seasonal ingredients into small works of art for over 15 years, earning him the title of ‘kaiseki king’. The 12-course omakase (chef’s choice) menu is a testament of his reputation, featuring seasonal highlights like fugu in the winter and matsubagani crabs in the fall. W nihonryori-ryugin.com
#8 Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
Another distinguished chef based in Japan’s busiest city is Yoshihiro Narisawa-san, who champions ‘beneficial and sustainable gastronomy’ with a spirit he calls ‘jinen,’ focusing on natural life and the harmony of people and nature. Having grown up in a home receiving the freshest produce, he makes it a point to support local producers with his seasonal, sensorial creations. Complementing the ever-changing menu and dining experience is an exquisite wine and sake pairing list – or tea-pairing for non-alcoholic diners. W narisawa-yoshihiro.com
#7 Mume, Taipei, Taiwan
Hong Kong-born Chef Richie Lin created Mume with the philosophy of marrying underrated local ingredients with modern European techniques to create colourful, edible art on a plate. Named after Taiwan’s national flower, the plum blossom, Mume’s cuisine honours the diversity of the nation’s terroir – rewarding it with the Best Restaurant in Taiwan 2019 award. Highlights include Taiwanese lobster with chargrilled cucumber and sea herbs and Crispy amadai with aromatic consommé and wild herbs. W mume.tw
#6 Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China
Since 2012, Ultraviolet has headlined avant-garde cuisine with its ultra-immersive dining in a secret location in Shanghai. Think video, audio, lighting, piped-in scents and effects to accompany original and quirky food and beverage creations, altogether presenting itself as ‘a story in 20 courses’. Chef Paul Pairet’s UVA, UVB and UVC menus (all cleverly named) are known to feature dishes that may be deceptive to the eye, but gratifying on the palate. The payoff: winning Best Restaurant in China 2019 on top of a spot in this top 10 list. W uvbypp.cc
#5 Florilege, Tokyo, Japan
A constant name in the top five for the past two years, Florilege is the brainchild of Chef Hiroyasu Kawate, who specialises in modern French cooking. The restaurant’s name means anthology in French, and one can expect no less than artistic presentations of his signature creations here. Among the must-try dishes to mention are manjū dumplings stuffed with pigeon and simmered in port wine and sustainable beef carpaccio. W aoyama-frorilege.jp
#4 Sühring, Bangkok, Thailand
Twin chefs Thomas and Mathias Suhring are a fine example of when two is better than one. Combining their skilled techniques and appreciation for seasonal ingredients inspired by their home country of Germany, they began introducing modern German gastronomy to a cosy neighbourhood in Bangkok some three years ago. Since then, dishes like ‘Frankfurter grüne Soße’ (their interpretation of traditional German sausage with sour cream) and smoked eel have earned them a loyal following. Fun fact: Gaggan Anand, chef-owner of Gaggan (which places second), is an investor of the business. W restaurantsuhring.com
#3 Den, Tokyo, Japan
The fourth and highest ranked Tokyo establishment in the top 10 is helmed by Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa, who is celebrated for his selfless hospitality and playful presentation. Those attributes, together with his adept talent in the art of modern kaiseki, has won Den the Best Restaurant in Japan title for two consecutive years. Expect internationally influences in his brand of traditional Japanese cuisine, as portrayed in dishes like the signature garden salad, composed of 20 vegetables reaped daily, and ‘Den-tucky fried’ chicken wings, served in a fast-food takeaway box. W jimbochoden.com
#2 Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand
After wearing the crown four years in a row, Gaggan shocked the world when it announced that it would be closing in 2020 for good. But until it reaches that deadline, Chef Anand Gaggan continues to draw customers from all over the world to try his ground-breaking, emoji-led 25-course menu. His latest signature ‘Lick it up’ is an experience not to be missed, served in time with Kiss’ eponymous song and designed for guests to lick directly from the plate. W eatatgaggan.com
#1 Odette, Singapore
No detail is overlooked at the newly enthonred Best Restaurant in Asia 2019. Helmed by French Chef Julien Royer, Odette’s historic home in the National Gallery of Singapore exudes class all around. That aesthetic pleasure is mirrored in Royer’s cooking, which uses only the highest quality products from specialist artisan producers across the world, resulting in pure, fresh and flavourful dishes. And Royer manages to keep things exciting by updating the menu regularly, with a current standout being the Kegani crab with Granny Smith apples, celery, Vadouvan spices and kaffir lime oil. W odetterestaurant.com
(swipe left for more)
- The Chairman, Hong Kong, China
- 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong, China
- Mingles, Seoul, Korea (Best in Korea)
- La Cime, Osaka, Japan
- Belon, Hong Kong, China (Highest new climber)
- Gaa, Bangkok, Thailand (Best new entry)
- Indian Accent, New Delhi, India (Best in India)
- Il Ristorante, Tokyo, Japan
- Bolan, Bangkok, Thailand
- Le Du, Bangkok, Thailand
- Amber, Hong Kong, China
- Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand
- Sazenka, Tokyo, Japan
- La Maison de La Nature Goh, Fukuoka, Japan
- Sushi Saito, Tokyo, Japan
- L’Effervescence, Tokyo, Japan
- Jade Dragon, Macau
- Paste, Bangkok, Thailand
- Fu He Hui, Shanghai, China
- RAW, Taipei, Taiwan
- Shoun RyuGin, Taipei, Taiwan
- Jaan, Singapore
- Les Amis, Singapore
- Vea, Hong Kong (New)
- Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka (Best in Sri Lanka)
- Wing Lei Palace, Macau (New)
- Neighbourhood, Hong Kong, China
- Lung King Heen, Hong Kong, China
- Nouri, Singapore (New)
- Waku Ghin, Singapore
- TocToc, South Korea
- Locavore, Bali, Indonesia (Best in Indonesia)
- Toyo Eatery, Manila, Philippines (Best in the Philippines)
- Seventh Son, Hong Kong, China (New)
- Quintessence, Tokyo, Japan
- Dewakan, Malaysia (New & Best in Malaysia)
- Sugalabo, Tokyo, Japan (New)
- Sohn, Bangkok, Thailand
- Corner House, Singapore
- Ta Vie, Hong Kong, China
For more information on the award list, log on to the official website here.
Photos courtesy of respective establishments and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019