Nine Newcomers to Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants

There’s nothing wrong with the good old favourites, except that they – well – get old. This year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list welcomes nine newcomers, all poised to provide fickle-minded foodies with their next gastronomical adventure. Ice cream on savoury food is a thing, so is putting food scrapes to good use. Chinese food can be married with Nordic flavours, and Japanese with Turkish. There’s certainly no lack of creativity (and sometimes shock value) in the creations by these up-and-coming stars. In a few years, they, too, will become old favourites, but for now, these new kids on the block are promising to shake up the culinary world. Let the mischief begin.

1. Ronin

Hong Kong, China
Position: 45

Expect to wine and dine at Ronin and you’ll be sorely disappointed. The culinary style at Matt Abergel’s 24-seat izakaya is more suited to boozing and feasting – perhaps in this order. More than 100 types of Japanese whiskies, umeshu, shochu and sake are available at the bar, each carefully chosen to be paired with one of Abergel’s dishes. The food menu is very much centered on seafood. A must-try is the seared eel sushi rice. Squares of unagi seared to give a smoky crust is served with kinome, a spicy Japanese herb for some kick, and refreshing pickled cucumber slices.

Ronin
G/F, 8 On Wo Lane
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong
+852 2547 5263

2. Mume

Taipei, Taiwan
Position: 43

Mume can certainly be called an undertaking of international proportions. Hong Kong-born Richie Lin struck up a friendship with chef Kai Ward of Quay, Sydney, before moving to Copenhagen for an internship at the renowned Noma, where he met American Long Xiong. In 2014, the three left their respective positions to set up Mume in Taipei. The result is a restaurant heralding the fusion of two very different culinary traditions, with Chinese-style dishes such as pork ribs dipped in aged miso and plum glaze sharing menu space with very Nordic ingredients like smoked salmon roe. Noma’s influence is clear in the herbs and flowers garnishing each dish.

Mume
28 Siwei Road
Da’an District
Taipei City
Taiwan 106
Tel: +886 2 2700 0901

3. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Bangkok, Thailand
Position: 40

Probably already a familiar to most, the L’Atelier name is scattered across the globe, with branches in cities like Hong Kong (featured on this year’s list at 41) Tokyo, London and Singapore. Robuchon is doing a lot with the L’Atelier concept to shake off French cuisine’s stuffy reputation, serving food of fine dining standards in a less formal setting. Taking centerstage in each L’Atelier outpost is a bar surrounding an open kitchen – a set-up not unlike those commonly found in sushi restaurants – so customers may witness the process of their food being prepared. It’s not only the seating arrangement that’s defying French culinary traditions. Many of the dishes have also been given an Asian twist. In the Bangkok branch, there’s foie gras paired with chutney, and the rib eye with wasabi spinach.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Level 5
MahaNakhon CUBE
96 Narathiwas Ratchanakharin Road
Silom
Bangrak
Bangkok 10500
Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)2 001 0698

4. The Tasting Room

Macau, China
Position: 39

Fancy sweet onion ice cream? You should, if it’s made by chef Guillaume Galliot and paired with his French onion soup. Be sure to try the dish if you see it on the menu, because it may no longer be there on your next visit. Galliot is adamant about quality and uses only ingredients that are in season, which means the menu changes frequently. What has been around for a long time, however, is the collection of wines. Wine director Joao Pires, formerly from The Fat Duck, oversees an impressive selection, including vintages from Chateau Mouton Rothschild dating as far back as 1945.

The Tasting Room
Level 3
Crown Towers
Estrada Do Istmo
Cotai
Macau
Tel: +853 8868 6688

5. Le Du

Bangkok, Thailand
Position: 37

It looks like ice creams in savoury dishes is a trend right now. Jasmine ice cream sounds more conventional, but is really no more so when used in khao chae, the signature dish at Le Du. Traditionally a simple dish of rice cooked in jasmine water and served cooled, it’s elevated at Le Du with the addition of a shrimp and pork ball, pickled radish, pork powder, and the abovementioned ice cream. At the helm is chef Thitid Tassanakjohn (nicknamed Chef Ton), who is only in his early 30s, but has already built a mini F&B empire in Bangkok.

Le Du
399/3 Silom soi 7
Silom
Bang Rak
Bangkok 10500
Thailand
Tel: +66 92 919 9969

6. The Dining Room

Bangkok, Thailand
Position: 36

Never judge a book by its cover or a restaurant by its location. Despite being housed in a beautifully restored heritage building, The Dining Room is anything but old-fashioned. The menu here reads like the contents page of a travel diary. Early Morning at Tsujiri Market, for example, is a dish of maguro with caviar, wasabi and seaweed. Each creation represents a chapter in Tutak’s life, whether it is from childhood memories of his mum’s Turkish cooking, or his extensive travels throughout Asia, where he received much of his culinary education. The result is a “fun dining" experience comprising innovative Asian cuisine with touches of Turkish flavours served with a dash of drama.

The Dining Room
106 North Sathorn Road
Silom
Bangrak
Bangkok 10500
Thailand
Tel: +66 92 344 4000

7. Jade Dragon

Macau, China
Position: 32

Chef Tam Kwok Fung was inspired by his grandmother to pursue a culinary career but he has certainly come far since his childhood days observing his grandmother work her magic with just a wood-fired stove, iron wok, and steamer. Yet another restaurant in Macau’s City of Dreams hotel, Jade Dragon serves food fit for a king, in a setting reminiscent of a Chinese palace. Tam himself is a favourite among the blue-blooded and has cooked for the royal families of Thailand, Japan, and Nepal. Not to be missed is the melt-in-your-mouth char siew made from Iberico pork barbequed over a fire of lychee and red date tree branches. The former imbues the meat with a unique fragrance while the latter gives it an appetising deep red colour.

Jade Dragon
Level 2
The Shops at The Boulevard
Estrada Do Istmo
Cotai
Macau
Tel: +853 8868 6688

8. Florilege

Tokyo, Japan
Position: 14

Defying most men’s preference for tender young flesh, chef Hiroyasu Kawate’s signature dish is a beef carpaccio that uses cows slaughtered at the ripe old age of 13. To put this in perspective, most cows bred for beef get only two years on earth. Kawate is big on sustainability, and despite running a French restaurant, imports few ingredients from France. Instead, he tries to source locally. The abovementioned beef, for example, is from Miyazaki. Perhaps harder to swallow is his practice of using leftovers so as to reduce food waste. Vegetable scraps find new life as vegetable consomme and offals such as beef tongue and heart are made into accompanying ingredients for mains.

Florilege
2-5-4 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Tel: +81 3 6440 0878

9. Suhring

Bangkok, Thailand
Position: 13

Mention German cuisine and sausages, beer, and pork knuckles probably come immediately to mind for most. Twins Mathias and Thomas Suhring have set out to change this perception with their eponymous restaurant serving lighter, more contemporary German fare. Believe it or not, the highlight at Suhring is the bread. Brotzeit is a reinterpretation of the classic German bread platter. Homemade sourdough is smeared with butter, topped with crackling pork skin, and drizzled with a sour and spicy sauce, then grilled over a charcoal grill in a foil, and served with aged Black Forest ham and sauerkraut. It’s as indulgent as it sounds.

Suhring
No 10, Yen Akat Soi 3
Chongnonsi
Yannawa
Bangkok 10120
Thailand
Tel: +66 0 2287 1799

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Published 23rd February 2017
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