Asia’s 50 best restaurants list has a new winner for 2023

·5-min read
This photo taken on April 1, 2022 shows chef Thitid
This photo taken on April 1, 2022 shows chef Thitid "Ton" Tassanakajohn making a dish using caviar from Thai Sturgeon Farm at the Lahnyai Nusara restaurant in Bangkok.(LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images)

By Kate Krader

(Bloomberg) — The best restaurant in Asia is Le Du in Bangkok, according to this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The modest, modern dining room specializes in creatively reworked Thai dishes.

Chef Thitid Tassanakajohn’s inspired menu includes dishes like marinated squid with fermented tofu and raspberry rice crackers, along with grilled river prawns with deep-fried egg and black organic rice.

The No. 2 restaurant was Sezanne in the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi, where the focus is on French cuisine.

Despite the fact that it only reopened its borders in October, Tokyo restaurants did well on this year’s list. The city boasted seven dining spots on the top 50 list.

Among them was last year’s No. 1 restaurant, the playful kaiseki spot Den from chef Zaiyu Hasegawa, came in fourth this year. (It essentially switched places with Le Du, which held that position last year.)

Bangkok did even better than Tokyo, with a total of eight spots besides Le Du. That includes Nusara, Number 3, another restaurant from chef Tassanakajohn. “Many people said it’s not good that you have two restaurants,” said the chef at a press conference following the announcement. “I want to do it for the Thai cuisine.” He said he had no specific plans for expansion “but maybe now I will have to.”

Singapore played host to this year’s awards, which took place on March 28, in an in-person ceremony. Their highest ranked place was the acclaimed Odette, which ranked No. 6. Louisa Lim was given the award for Outstanding Pastry Chef. In all, Singapore had nine places on the top 50 list.

It was a not particularly good showing for Hong Kong restaurants, which have sometimes dominated the list in years past. The highest ranking spot went to The Chairman, at No. 13. As recently as 2021, it was the top ranked place in Asia.

Last year’s event, also in person, was in Bangkok. In 2021, the event was virtual; in 2020 the awards were canceled.

The pandemic continues to affect Asia rankings, which are based on votes from more than 300 chefs, critics, food writers, restaurateurs and other “trusted and well-traveled gourmets.” This year, they were asked to vote for a total of eight restaurants: Up to six places could be in their home country and two from the rest of Asia, if they’d been able to travel. Pre-pandemic, voters could pick 10 dining spots and at least four had to be outside their country.

“There is quite a lot of change in the list,” William Drew, director of content at 50 Best, said in an interview. “The lists have been more based on local votes over the last couple of years because of the travel restrictions — and this year it’s almost a return to normal.” Though, he added, “we can’t pretend that this list is not affected by the pandemic and travel restrictions.”

Among the other awards given out were One to Watch, which went to August which opened in Jakarta in late 2021. Chef Hans Christian said he was hoping this would help change Jakarta’s perception as a business district to a culinary destination, in a taped interview.

A newcomer to the list was Anan Saigon in Ho Chin Minh City, Vietnam, which landed at No. 40. Chef and founder Peter Cuong Franklin, is a former investment banker at Morgan Stanley before going to cooking school.

Restaurants around the world have highlighted local sourcing for some time. In Asia, it’s taken a little longer for chefs to embrace the movement, observed Drew, but now they are, and it’s evident on this year’s list.

“It's less about importing what might be called traditional luxury ingredients, and much more the luxury of finding the quality that is around you,” he said. “That's something that will continue to develop, because cities like Singapore and Hong Kong have traditionally imported a lot. They're doing so less now, as restaurants that are embracing more locality are seeing greater success.”

On March 16, the restaurants that were ranked 51-100 were announced. Hong Kong had eight restaurants on the second half of the list; Tokyo, Singapore and Bangkok registered six each.

The award for Asia’s Best Female Chef went to Filipina chef Johanne Siy, whose Singapore restaurant Lolla placed 63rd on the list. The event’s first-ever Beronia Asia's Best Sommelier Award recognized China’s wine world, going to Della Tang from Ensue in Shenzen.

The awards are published by the UK-based William Reed Business Media.

Here are the winners (with last year’s place in parentheses).

  1. Le Du, Bangkok (4)

  2. Sezanne, Tokyo (17)

  3. Nusara, Bangkok (10)

  4. Den, Tokyo (1)

  5. Gaggan Anand, Bangkok

  6. Odette, Singapore (8)

  7. Florilege, Tokyo (3)

  8. La Cime, Osaka (6)

  9. Sorn, Bangkok (2)

  10. Narisawa, Tokyo (15)

  11. Labyrinth, Singapore (40)

  12. Sazenka, Tokyo (11)

  13. The Chairman, Hong Kong (5)

  14. Villa Aida, Wakayama, Japan (14)

  15. Mosu, Seoul (27)

  16. Masque, Mumbai (21)

  17. Meta, Singapore (20)

  18. Fu He Hui, Shanghai (12)

  19. Indian Accent, New Delhi (22)

  20. Ode, Tokyo (13)

  21. Zen, Singapore (37)

  22. Suhring, Bangkok (7)

  23. Onjium, Seoul (30)

  24. Burnt Ends, Singapore (41)

  25. Euphoria, Singapore

  26. Cloudstreet, Singapore (44)

  27. Les Amis, Singapore (23)

  28. Mingles, Seoul (16)

  29. Neighborhood, Hong Kong (9)

  30. Avartana, Chennai

  31. Ensue, Shenzhen (19)

  32. Cenci, Kyoto (43)

  33. Ms.Maria and Mr.Singh, Bangkok

  34. Da Vittorio, Shanghai (28)

  35. Potong, Bangkok

  36. Born , Singapore

  37. Wing, Hong Kong (34)

  38. Raan Jay Fai, Bangkok (46)

  39. Wing Lei Palace, Macau (47)

  40. Anan Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

  41. Mono, Hong Kong (32)

  42. Toyo Eatery, Manila

  43. Sichuan Moon, Macau

  44. L'Effervesence, Tokyo

  45. Mume, Taipei

  46. Baan tepa, Bangkok

  47. Born & Bred, Seoul

  48. Metiz, Makati

  49. Caprice, Hong Kong (24)

  50. Refer, Beijing

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