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Tokyo-based restaurant Den was hailed as the best restaurant at Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2022. Japan leads with 11 entries, followed by Thailand and Singapore with nine and seven restaurants respectively.
In its 10th year, the list was revealed at simultaneous events across Asia in Tokyo, Macau, and Bangkok. The ceremony was hosted by William Drew, Director of Content at Asia's 50 Best Restaurants, and Hong Kong actor Marcus Kwok.
According to Drew, the list was affected by varying pandemic-related travel restrictions across Asia.
"We can't get away from that," shared Drew. "It means this is more of a local vote, perhaps, than ever."
Opened in 2007, Den reflects the personality of its chef-owner, Zaiyu Hasegawa, known for bringing a creative, at times humorous take on kaiseki cuisine.
For example, expect foie gras in savoury monaka appetisers, an ant or two in the classic 20-ingredient Den salad, and one of Hasegawa's signature dishes - his version of fried chicken served in a box that mimics KFC, dubbed "Dentucky Fried Chicken".
But according to the awards group, what makes Den popular among Japanese restaurants is how welcoming and unintimidating it feels to its diners.
Den is followed by Bangkok's Sorn (No. 2), which gets the title of The Best Restaurant in Thailand, and Florilege (No. 3) from Tokyo, Japan.
Inspired by his grandmother's southern cooking, Sorn's patron chef Supaksorn "Ice" Jongsiri infuses flavours with memories of his encounters with diverse southern Thai culture into an innovative cuisine. Each dish served at the restaurant is highly temperature-sensitive, and his kitchen delivers every dish at a specific time.
Sorn's version of Kan Chiang Pu (blu swimmer crab leg), Kan Chu Piang (gems on a crab stick), is one of the most "fought over" parts of a crab at any Thai dinner table.
Ranking in at third, Tokyo's Florilege prepares creative French cuisine in a three-sided open kitchen, allowing guests to watch as they cook. The theatrical ringside setting blurs the lines between front and back, offering face-to-face interactions with guests throughout their meal.
Guests can enjoy the Japanese restaurant's matte-black fritters of eggplant camouflaged against charred timber as an appetizer and Kawate's "sustainable beef" carpaccio taken from the meat of mature 13-year-old breeding cows.
Le Du (no. 4) might sound French, but its name is derived from the Thai word for "season". As the name suggests, seasonal ingredients are the main focus of the menu, offering regional dishes from a French-leaning perspective.
While the menu changes every few months, Le Du's head chef, Thitid "Ton" Tassanakajohn, has his signature dish always present – the kkao kluk kapi, splayed river prawn with shrimp paste-laced brown rice risotto.
After getting the number one spot last year, The Chairman in Hong Kong dropped to number five but still retains the title of The Best Restaurant in China for a third consecutive year.
Another entry from Japan, Osaka's La Cime (no. 6), serves quintessential produce melded with French techniques. While ranking 7th is Suhring from Bangkok, Thailand, which presents a fresh interpretation of German fare in its menu.
Chef Julien Royer's Odette in Singapore ranks number eight for its timeless French fine-dining fused with umami-rich Asian ingredients; David Lai's Neighborhood in Hong Kong wins ninth for its low-key European comfort fare; and last but not least, Nusara (no. 10) from Bangkok, Thailand, the latest venture of Chef Ton, the man behind Le Du restaurant which placed at number four.
"This year, Den has been crowned No.1 in Asia in recognition of its unique blend of tradition, innovation and playfulness," concluded Drew. "We are delighted to showcase all the restaurants on the 2022 list and the individual award winners, who inspire us with their creativity, resilience and skill."
– Author: Kaycee Enerva.
Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2022 (Those with an * are new entries.)
1. Den (Tokyo, Japan)
2. Sorn (Bangkok, Thailand)
3. Florilège (Tokyo, Japan)
4. Le Du (Bangkok, Thailand)
5. The Chairman (Hong Kong)
6. La Cime (Osaka, Japan)
7. Sühring (Bangkok, Thailand)
8. Odette (Singapore)
9. Neighborhood (Hong Kong)
10. Nusara (Bangkok, Thailand)
11. Sazenka (Tokyo, Japan)
12. Fu He Hui (Shanghai, China)
13. Ode (Tokyo, Japan)
14. Villa Aida (Wakayama, Japan) *
15. Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)
16. Mingles (Seoul, South Korea)
17. Sézanne (Tokyo, Japan) *
18. Joo Ok (Seoul, South Korea) *
19. Ensue (Shenzhen, China) *
20. Meta (Singapore) *
21. Masque (Mumbai, India)
22. Indian Accent (New Delhi, India)
23. Les Amis (Singapore)
24. Caprice (Hong Kong)
25. Blue by Alain Ducasse (Bangkok, Thailand) *
26. 7th Door (Seoul, South Korea)
27. Mosu (Seoul, South Korea) *
28. Da Vittorio (Shanghai, China) *
29. Sushi Masato (Bangkok, Thailand) *
30. Onjium (Seoul, South Korea) *
31. Samrub Samrub Thai (Bangkok, Thailand) *
32. Mono (Hong Kong)
33. Gaa (Bangkok, Thailand)
34. Wing (Hong Kong) *
35. Ministry of Crab (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
36. La Maison de la Nature Goh (Fukouka, Japan)
37. Zén (Singapore)
38. Logy (Taipei, Taiwan)
39. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet (Shanghai, China)
40. Labyrinth (Singapore)
41. Burnt Ends (Singapore)
42. Été (Tokyo, Japan) *
43. Cenci (Kyoto, Japan) *
44. Cloudstreet (Singapore)
45. JL Studio (Taichung, Taiwan)
46. Raan Jay Fai (Bangkok, Thailand) *
47. Wing Lei Palace (Macau)
48. 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana (Hong Kong)
49. Megu (New Delhi, India) *
50. Dewakan (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)