Last night saw the unveiling of the latest rankings of the world’s top restaurants from Britain’s Restaurant magazine. There was one Hong Kong restaurant in the top 50, Amber, and a further seven from the entire rest of Asia.
In the last few years the annual listing has gained a prominence to rival Michelin, in terms both of publicity for itself and for the restaurants it ranks.
Restaurant is following one well-established business model for magazines aimed at a specific trade. They can have lots of adverts and lots of nice stories about their advertisers or they can have credibility and once a year organise a big event that earns them lots of cash. Restaurant has been masterful in taking the second approach, with the awards ceremony for its listing as the focus of its year.
The list has foodies talking for days and weeks afterwards, if not changing travel plans to go to the latest hotspot.
Hongkongers won’t need to change many plans though. There is nowhere listed in the city that hasn’t been there made the list before. Indeed the only surprise in the Pearl River Delta is that there are no Joel Robuchon restaurants on the list. the French chef’s Macau place dropped off this year. It seems odd that Macau restaurants such as Jade Dragon and The Tasting Room didn’t tickle the judges’ palates.
The judges seem like a conservative bunch. Elsewhere in Asia, they name only three restaurants in Japan – all of them in Tokyo. Singapore had five mentions and Bangkok and Shanghai two apiece. Is there nowhere on Bali or in Kuala Lumpur, Penang or Mumbai worth a mention?
Melbourne and Sydney, both with high reputations as foodie destinations, merit only one mention each – Quay in Sydney and Attica in Melbourne.
Judge Richard Vines, who writes about food for Bloomberg, says the list shouldn’t be taken too seriously or regarded as definitive. That’s good because the organisers can’t even decide definitively if they are talking about the world’s top 50 restaurants or top 100. The top 50 lists 100 restaurants.
Asia in the top 50
13. Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand
14. Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
17. Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand
24. Amber, Hong Kong
32. Attica, Melbourne, Australia
33. Nihonryori Ryugin, Tokyo, Japan
37. Restaurant André, Singapore
50. Waku Ghin, Singapore
But hang on there’s more than 50 on this list
58. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China
60. Quay, Sydney, Australia
66. Lung King Heen, Hong Kong
67. 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo, Hong Kong
76. Mr and Mrs Bund, Shanghai, China
84. Iggy’s, Singapore
85. Caprice, Hong Kong
86. Les Amis, Singapore
97. BO Innovation, Hong Kong
99. Ishikawa, Tokyo, Japan
100. Jaan, Singapore