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Asia's 50 Best Restaurants - Just Published

  • PhilD Mar 1, 2013 06:52 PM
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The oft criticised "50 Best Restaurants in the world has gone asian. We now have our own list - http://worlds50best.asia

Whilst i dislike "best" lists the global list rarely let me down and everyplace I tried had good qualities etc etc. So what to make of the Asian list I have eaten at 12/50 and all good meals. Are there any duds on the list?

No doubt there are many contenders that were missed if someone had the cash just to stick to this list would they be disappointed?

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  1. Iggy's???!!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      my exact sentiments. unfortunately i think they have done such a good job of branding that people don't see it for what it is - overpriced, good-but-not-stunning food that has no place in even a top-10 sgp restaurant list.

      narisawa at top spot is interesting to me. i've been putting visiting it due to the somewhat polarizing reviews i've seen. i've had three friends visiting it last year and who were seriously underwhelmed by the food.

      1. re: akated

        "putting off"

    2. Yardbird???!!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Charles Yu

        put yardbird there for all i care, but ahead of fook lam moon!?!?!?!?!? wowzers!

      2. At least you all live in Hong Kong or countries on the list... in Korea we are having to put up with aghast "how unbelievable that they forgot to include us" comments. Which is unfortunate as no matter how terrible the list is it is absolutely correct in not including Korea on a list of Asia's top 50 restaurants....

        23 Replies
        1. re: TomEatsHK

          The list does seem very skewed in favor of countries/cities popular among English-speaking expats/travellers: HK, Singapore, Tokyo.

          1. re: klyeoh

            although i must admit that i think one would be hard-pressed to name an asian city that can match the quality of food offered in tokyo.

            1. re: akated

              My sentiments, too, akated - Tokyo is way ahead when it comes to sourcing for the best ingredients, meticulousness in food preparation, and ensuring professional service at all times.

              1. re: klyeoh

                I was in Korea for 2 weeks this summer. I ordered food and they brought it to me. I wanted for nothing. What is this fetish with service?

                1. re: Steve

                  "Fetish with service"? Ambience, service, food - they make up one's overall dining experience.

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    When I go to a restaurant, I order food, and they bring it to me.

                    I always get great service.

                    Sure, it is part of the experience, but not one worth mentioning unless something really weird happens.

                    1. re: Steve

                      "I always get great service." - not everyone has been as fortunate as you.

                      1. re: klyeoh

                        Not everyone is as carefree as I am. I don't sweat the small stuff.

                      2. re: Steve

                        Oh come one, steve, why else do you think guides like the Michelin or Zagat even include service in their ratings, besides food and decor.

                        But maybe if you are a white man dining in Asia, you can take "always get great service" for granted. I certainly don't take that for granted, in S'pore, HK or anywhere, not even in the US http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/759450
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/887322

                        1. re: M_Gomez

                          "why else do you think guides like the Michelin or Zagat even include service in their ratings"

                          I think it's because people are filled with a sense of middle-class entitlement. They want their servers or anyone else beneath them to respond to their every whim like intelligent vacuum cleaners.

                          With apologies to Horace McCoy:
                          They Read Zagat, Don't They?

                          1. re: Steve

                            No, you're wrong there, Steve, not every customer " want their servers or anyone else beneath them to respond to their every whim like intelligent vacuum cleaners." I treat everyone with respect. But that doesn't mean I've been imprevious to bad service. I shan't repeat any of them here, but there had been many occassions of unprovoked bad service which I won't try to explain why. So, I do judge a restaurant according to how I'm treated. If I, as a paying customer, can be civil and polite to a server, shouldn't I expect a reciprocal attitude?

                            1. re: M_Gomez

                              If you say you have legitimate complaints, then I believe you.

                              However, mostly when I hear about service complaints in online forums, they seem to me like petty-tyrant rants filled with as much 'paying customer' indignation as can be mustered.

                              Anyway, perhaps I am the only one that gets good service everywhere, so I feel pretty special about that. I certainly had no problem in Korea. Everyone was as polite and understanding as could be.

                              1. re: Steve

                                Or perhaps your expectations are really low. Nothing wrong with that, makes for smooth sailing for you. Congratulations. For me, service is an important element of a dining experience, to varying degrees. I would expect differently from a taco stand than from Robuchon, but I do have expectations that if not met will detract from the overall experience.

                                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                  My expectations are, at a minimum, I order food and they bring it to me. If they are polite and helpful, that makes for a wonderful experience.

                                  Outside of that, anyone reading this should realize that it is the customer's attitude alone that is most likely to downgrade the experience. I have seen people ruin what should be a perfectly fine experience for themselves, but their sense of middle-class entitlement gets in their way.

                                  Like I said, it's hard for me to imagine getting friendlier and nicer treatment than I found in Korea, and there is potentially great source of frustration when a language barrier is involved.

                                  I guage my expectations so that I have the best experience I can possibly have under the circumstances, and I would never let something downgrade my experience unless it was very serious. Yes, it makes for a happier life.

                                  1. re: Steve

                                    Hi Steve, welcome to the Asia board.

                                    I've been following the above contributors for a long time and they've somehow developed a really friendly and respectful corner of the interwebs. Can you believe it? Not the usual sparring grounds!

                                    To be honest, you come off as patronizing. There is plenty of room on this board for debate, don't get me wrong, but generally people don't talk the way you do.

                                    So just chill out. No need to big note yourself and tell us how amazingly you handle yourself in the world. Once you've spent more time in Asia you'll learn that doesn't fly here. And if you live here you'll see that good service just means you can get back to work in time after lunch, it means your vegetarian dining companion doesn't find pork bones in their soup, it means you don't sit with a curry for 20mins while you keep asking for rice, it means you don't have half your focus on catching attention of waiter with no peripheral vision rather than your wife's conversation. It's not about feeling important or pandered to at all - it's about being able to relax and enjoy the food and company and safely handing the logistics over to your waiter.

                                    1. re: p0lst3r

                                      All points well taken.

                                      And I still hate those 'Best' Lists.

                                      1. re: Steve

                                        i don't think anyone here likes them too! lol!

                                        welcome to the asia boards!

                                        1. re: akated

                                          I did say in the question I didn't really like them. It's a shame my question got lost.

                                          Seems 48 of the 50 must be great then as only Iggy's and Yardbird got negative replies (that said I like Yardbird - but odd to be on the list).

                2. re: akated

                  There is no basis for comparing one cuisine to another. You have drunk the blue soup.

                  1. re: Steve

                    read carefully what I wrote. I certainly wasn't "comparing one cuisine to another".

                    1. re: akated

                      Not directly, you're right. But if you really want to explore the depth of another cuisine, you'll have to go elsewhere. So if you like French food, true their are French places in Tokyo, but probably not an Auvergnat one.

                      I commonly rail against best lists, which often have strong biases and give people a limited idea of what good food experiences are out there.

                      I am all for people talking about their favorite restaurants, as long as they realize that it is idiosyncratic at best, but these lists are media created funnels that grab attention and straightjacket people into a kind of 'top' list that is no more applicable to food than it is to music, plays, or other travel sites and experiences.

                      1. re: Steve

                        and i'm not against your point of view, which i agree with.

                        but i fail to see how your previous response is valid in response to my comment. any cuisine will most likely be best represented in its own country. but i wasn't really arguing about that.

                        1. re: akated

                          I see your point, you're right.

            2. The sheeple have spoken.

              1. Apologies for resurrecting an older post-- but geeez!

                10 Singapore -- 20% of the list
                9 HK
                7 Tokyo
                5 ShangHai
                5 Bangkok

                That's 72% of the list.

                Add 4 in New Dehli and it's 80%.
                So, 6 cities in all of Asia have the majority of the Best Restaurants?

                Who are the people who compiled this list!!

                9 Replies
                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                  Agree the distribution is skewed but doesn't it reflect the relative strengths of the food scenes in Asia as these are the main cities? Where is missed that has lots of great restaurants?

                  I agree Sing maybe has too many but is this because Sing Tourist Authority sponsored or is it because Sing has been pushing the city as a tourist hot spot and bring in lots of restaurants?

                  Another Top 100 out this week which I will post later.

                  But back to this list so far only Iggy's and Yardbird are debated as not worthy of trying. I know there are lots to add but easier to say which are undeserving.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    On Singapore, I'm also not sure about Gunther's and Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck. Food is good and all, but Asia's 50 Best? I'm afraid I will have to second klyeoh's mention of Iggy's. It was also interesting when I spoke to some of the panel on the evening of the announcement that they universally decried Joel Robuchon Restaurant in Singapore, but had far kinder words for its neighbouring L'Atelier.

                    But I don't think there should be any serious dispute that restaurants of the calibre of Les Amis, Andre and Waku Ghin deserve their places.

                  2. re: Kris in Beijing

                    If Tokyo has 7, Osaka should be up there!!!!!

                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                      Actually, it's only 3 cities in all of Asia that have the majority of the 50 best restaurants. Sing, HK, and Tokyo have 26 of the 50 spots.
                      Lists like this are pretty useless except for driving hits to the website.

                      1. re: el jefe

                        I actually think they are quite useful. The 50 best is good to see what's on trend at the moment. It may not be the ultimate best but it gives a good idea of where some really interesting cooking is found.

                        I think the Asian 50 Best is a bit more conservative but that said there is a lot of crap across Asia masquerading as "fine dining" (still pissed off after last nights expensive miss) so if nothing else a list like this can steer you away from those.

                        1. re: PhilD

                          Pray tell, where this was expensive miss? Inquiring minds want to know!

                          1. re: PhilD

                            Yes, yes, same here! Just want to make sure I don't make the same expensive mistake!

                            1. re: makanputra

                              It was "Strip House" in HK. The food was OK, quite a good crab-cake and a reasonable steak, but the wine list whilst interesting was priced at a level that made my wallet pucker. The meal came to $1,500 for two which may seem OK but my wife had two starters and no main and we stayed at the lower end of the wine list. So nothing fundamentally wrong but equally no wow factor which I would have hoped for at the price.

                              This is the first of Harlan's restaurants I have tried (I ate at Harlan's in TST earlier this year - but Mr Goldstein is no longer involved - it must be hard losing your name to ex-fellow investors) and it had received rave reviews from the press, blogs and quite a few friends and colleagues. I had had "Gold" on my list of ones to try but I think I will drop it after this experience.

                              1. re: PhilD

                                Harlan is a gasbag. Even though I have to give him credit for losing all that weight.

                      2. Another month and another Top 100 list - this time from Elite Traveler magazine (which was a new one to me). I picked this up from Andy Hayler's blog and he is one of the contributors. It an interesting contrast to other lists.

                        Asia gets 14 o the list, with 7 in Japan which seems to reflect the perceived wisdom of many. No surprises but it has given me some ideas for a couple of trips I have planned (the #1 is Alinea which is already booked) . Here is my quick summary of the Asian ones

                        #08 - Robuchon au Dome (Macau)
                        #20 - Caprice (HK)
                        #25 - Mizai (Kyoto)
                        #30 - Made in China (Beijing)
                        #32 - 7 Chome Kyoboshi (Tokyo)
                        #42 - Marque (Sydney)
                        #55 - Vue du Monde (Melbourne)
                        #56 - Tetsuya (Sydney)
                        #67 - Waku Ghin (Singapore)
                        #68 - Narisawa (Tokyo)
                        #75 - Kitchu (Tokyo)
                        #76 - Joel Robuchon (Tokyo)
                        #84 - Kanda (Tokyo)
                        #94 - Restaurant Quintessence (Tokyo)

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: PhilD

                          Good to see Made in China at #30. It's been receiving more than its share of brickbats from my fellow CHs, but remained my fave place to relax, unwind, and have some good food whist in Beijing.
                          Caprice is my fave place for haute cuisine in HK, I'm pretty partial to Marque in Sydney, Vue du Monde in Melbourne and Robuchon Tokyo as well - I think I'm beginning to like Elite Traveller ;-)

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            These lists often leave open the vexing question about the significance of the positions in comparison to their rivals, but I have not heard or read anything from anyone which rates recent experiences at Tetsuya's over Waku Ghin. Until now.

                            1. re: Julian Teoh

                              Well, if Tetsuya Wakuda spends more time at his original namesake restaurant, it should garner a higher-rating than one he owns in "faraway" Singapore ;)

                              1. re: M_Gomez

                                I agree the relative ranking of these lists is always so subjective, but that said as a group its an interesting collection.

                                Maybe the Tet's rankings are down to the number of more traditional Japanese places on the list i.e. his Sydney restaurant is different whilst the Singapore one is more of a homage and thus scored with more rigour.

                                Off to Caprice for lunch today so pleased to hear Klyeoh's recommendation - first visit for two years.

                                1. re: PhilD

                                  Do report back, PhilD.
                                  I'm off to London this weekend, the Ledbury beckons.

                            2. re: klyeoh

                              I had two meals at Made in China last November and both failed to WOW me food wise. Especially the Beijing duck was a big disapointment to me. The beggars chicken the next day was much better but still not great enough to hold up to how raved this place gets.

                              From interior and service a really great place. Food wise OK.

                              1. re: NilesCable

                                Probably a change of chefs in the kitchens, NilesCable - often happens in Chinese restaurants and the customers are the last to know. When they first opened, they got a couple of ex-Lijun chefs to man the Peking duck station.

                                In Singapore, when Paradise Pavilion opened last year, they installed a traditional Peking duck roasting oven behind a glassed show-kitchen, and hired 2 ex-Quanjude chefs from Beijing.

                                1. re: klyeoh

                                  I have to say the best Beijing duck I had at the Quanjude branch in Shanghai at their Purple mountain hotel restaurant. But returning there one year later I found it less good, sadly.

                                  As it also showed with Ming court this year compared to last year, quality and taste seem to differ very greatly with each visit.