Bangkok's Gaggan named Asia's top restaurant two years in a row
Chef Anand Gaggan is celebrated for his modern take on Indian cuisine
Bangkok restaurants have scooped the top prize for three years running
Singapore and Japan both have 10 eateries in the top 50
They say good things come in threes.
They certainly have for Thailand’s dining scene, as the coveted number one spot at the San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards went to a Bangkok restaurant for the third year running.
Gaggan, chef Anand Gaggan’s restaurant serving “progressive Indian cuisine” scooped the award for the second year in a row, taking over from rival Bangkok eatery Nahm, which took the top prize in 2014.
Victory was made all the sweeter (and tastier) because this year the awards were held in Bangkok for the first time – previous years’ events have been in Singapore.
Reinvigorating Indian cuisine
Anand opened his eponymous restaurant in the Thai capital in 2010 with a mission and vision to “reinvigorate” Indian cuisine by exploiting contemporary techniques and adding molecular twists to traditional Indian dishes.
“It is different, because it doesn’t look the same, it doesn’t feel the same, it doesn’t scent the same,” Gaggan told CNN shortly after receiving his latest accolade.
“But if you are from Kolkata, and you put it in your mouth and close your eyes, it is a short flight to the street there, and you are getting the same flavor that you were raised on.”
“That has been my foundation of cooking – eating in the streets and celebrating life in India.”
Gaggan, 35, said his victory in last year’s awards gave him the confidence to follow his instincts rather than cater to customer whims.
“This year, 2015-16, we cooked what we wanted to cook,” he added. “Our success and the popularity have brought in a lot of clientele, and has changed a lot of things.
“We don’t think, ‘Will this make that person happy?’ Let’s make ourselves happy. And if we cook happy, I hope the guest is happy. And I’m sure they will be.”
Asia’s 2014 winner Nahm may have slipped down to number eight this year, but Australian chef David Thompson, who runs the restaurant as well as his Long Chim restaurant in Singapore, is unlikely to be shedding any tears.
This year he picked up the Diner’s Club Lifetime Achievement Award, having made his name when he opened the Darley Street Thai restaurant in Sydney back in 1991.
Good night for Singapore
Securing second spot for the third year running was Tokyo’s Narisawa. Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa spent eight years training in Europe before opening this award-winning eatery, where he delivers French cuisine featuring Japanese ingredients.
Singapore’s Restaurant Andre moved up two places this year, securing a third-place ranking. The food here is a Singaporean take on southern French nouvelle cuisine.
The highest new entry was modern Korean restaurant Mingles in Seoul, which also took the award for Best Restaurant in Korea.
Singapore has 10 restaurants in the 2016 list, as has Japan (seven of which are in Tokyo). Hong Kong has nine.
Tokyo’s Florilege, a bijou French restaurant owned and run by Hiroyasu Kawate, was named 2016’s One to Watch.
Margarita Fores was named Asia’s best female chef as a result of her work in Manila where she runs a number of Italian-inspired restaurants.
The awards were based on votes from more than 300 chefs, restaurateurs and experts in six countries across Asia.
Asia’s top 10 restaurants
1. Gaggan (Bangkok)
68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Bangkok; +66 2 652 1700
2. Narisawa (Tokyo)
Minami Ayoyama 2-6-15, Minato-ku, Tokyo; +81 3 5785 0799
3. Restaurant Andre (Singapore)
41 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore; +65 6534 8880
4. Amber (Hong Kong)
7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2132 0066
5. Nihonryori Ryugin (Tokyo)
Ground Floor, 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo; +81 3 3423 8006
6. Waku Ghin (Singapore)
Level 2-01, Atrium 2, The Shoppes, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore; +65 6688 8507
7. Ultraviolet (Shanghai)
c/o Bund 18, 6/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Shanghai; +86 21 6323 9898
8. Nahm (Bangkok)
Metropolitan Hotel, 27 South Sathorn Road, Tungmahamek Sathorn, Bangkok; +66 2 625 3333
At The Manor, 77 Friends Colony, New Delhi 110065, India; +91 11 43235151
10. Lung King Heen (Hong Kong)
Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance St, Central, Hong Kong; +852 3196 8888
The other 40
11. Hajime, Osaka, Japan
12. Les Amis, Singapore
13. Otto e Mezzo, Hong Kong
14. Burnt Ends, Singapore
15. Mingles, Seoul
16. L’Effervescence, Tokyo
17. Corner House, Singapore *new entry*
18. Fu He hui, Shanghai
19. Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
20. Quintessence, Tokyo
21. Shinji by Kanesaka, Singapore
22. Jungsik, Seoul
23. Eat Me, Bangkok, Thailand
24. Takazawa, Tokyo
25. Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka
26. Sushi Saito, Tokyo
27. The Chairman, Hong Kong
28. Mr and Mrs Bund, Shanghai
29. Jaan, Singapore
30. Le Mout, Taichung, Taiwan
31. = La Maison de la Nature Goh, Fukuoka, Japan
31. = Tippling Club, Singapore
33. Tenku RyuGin, Hong Kong
34. Fook Lam Moon, Hong Kong
35. Robuchon au Dome, Macau, China
36. Iggy’s, Singapore
37. Den, Tokyo
38. Wild Rocket, Singapore
39. Gallery Vask, Manila, Philippines
40. L’atelier de Joel Robuchon, Hong Kong
41. Bo Innovation, Hong Kong
42. Kikunoi, Kyoto, Japan
43. Cuisine Wat Damnak, Sien Reap, Cambodia
44. Wasabi by Morimoto, Mumbai, India
45. Bukhara, New Delhi
46. Raw, Taipei
47. Nihonbashi, Colombo, Sri Lanka
48. Ta vie, Hong Kong
49. Locavore, Bali, Indonesia
50. La Yeon, Seoul, Korea
For more on the winners, visit the official Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants website.
This article was originally published in February 2016.