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Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Crowns The Top 50 Restaurants In The Region—And The Philippines’ Toyo Eatery is No. 43

It was my seventh consecutive year to cover the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, held for the second consecutive year at the Grand Theater of Wynn Palace in Macau. But this year’s awards were truly more special thanks to Toyo Eatery’s debut at No. 43 on the list. The inclusion was a much welcome follow-up after this modern Filipino restaurant won the Miele One To Watch award at last year’s ceremony.


The Toyo Eatery team accepts the Best Restaurant in the Philippines trophy onstage


Now on its seventh edition, the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 list saw Singapore claiming the number one spot for the very first time with Chef Julien Royer’s Odette, a fine dining French restaurant that he named after his maternal grandmother, located inside the fabulous National Gallery of Singapore. It was a win that caught everyone by surprise, including some of the Singapore-based media seated near me during the ceremony.


Chef Julien Royer of Odette, Asia’s No. 1 restaurant for 2019

Gaggan slipped to second place after four consecutive years on top, but it retains its title of being The Best Restaurant in Thailand.


Chef Gaggan Anand of Gaggan celebrates his No. 2 win

Prior to the awards night, speculations on who will take the top spot were all favoring a Japanese restaurant to win, as there were quite a number of Japanese chefs that showed up during the #50BestTalks event held the day before. This chef-led series of talks usually serves as a sneak preview for the media, as more often than not, only chefs of the restaurants that are on the list usually attend.

Not surprisingly, Japan did end up leading the number of individual country awards with 12 entries, led by Den at No. 3, earning it the title of The Best Restaurant in Japan for the second consecutive year. Den’s very popular chef-owner Zaiyu Hasegawa was also this year’s winner of the Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Estrella Damm


A surprised Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa on his way to receiving his Chefs’ Choice Award voted by his peers

The 2019 list is slightly more diverse with representation from 23 countries/territories, and with 10 new entries that include Dewakan, a first-time entry from Malaysia and a really outstanding restaurant that I got to try three years ago while on a six-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur.

Two other newsworthy new entries were from Thailand, led by Chef Garima Arora’s Gaa, this year’s recipient of elit Vodka Asia’s Best Female Chef Award, that also claimed the Highest New Entry Award. The other noteworthy entry is Chef Ice Supangkorn’s Sorn, a newly-opened restaurant specializing in Southern Thai cuisine that is currently taking the Bangkok dining scene by storm. Many locals consider it to be the best restaurant in Thailand, and reputedly the toughest restaurant to book in Bangkok (with some claiming that it is even more difficult to book than Gaggan).


Chef Garima Arora of Gaa in Bangkok receives a trio of honors—Asia’s Best Female Chef, Highest New Entry award, and a debut at No. 16 on the list


Other special awards were handed out during the awards ceremony. Chef Seiji Yamamoto of Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo received the inaugural American Express Icon Award. Italian chef Fabrizio Fiorani of Il Ristorante Luca Fantin, also based in Tokyo, was awarded Asia’s Best Pastry Chef, sponsored by Valrhona.


Chef Seiji Yamamoto wins the American Express Icon Award for his stellar accomplishments


The Art of Hospitality Award went to 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong. JL Studio in Taichung, Taiwan won this year’s Miele One To Watch Award, while Locavore in Bali took home the Sustainable Restaurant Award.


Chef Jimmy Lim of JL Studio wins the Miele One To Watch Award


For the complete list of winners, visit

Photos courtesy of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants