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Tokyo's Sezanne reigns supreme as Asia's best restaurant

The best restaurant in Asia is Sezanne in Tokyo, according to this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, announced in Seoul on March 26.
Tokyo's Sezanne reigns supreme as Asia's best restaurant

Last year’s No. 1 restaurant, Le Du in Bangkok, dropped to No. 12. Nusara, last year’s No. 3 restaurant also by chef Thitid "Ton” Tassanakajohn, came in sixth. Sezanne, which serves French cuisine from the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi, advanced from second place. Restaurants in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Osaka and Singapore, plus more from Tokyo, rounded out the top 10.

Aside from Sezanne, Florilege (No. 2, Tokyo), Den (No. 8, Tokyo), La Cime (No. 9, Osaka), Narisawa (No. 14, Tokyo), Villa Aida (No. 35, Wakayama), Sazenka (No. 39, Tokyo), Goh (No. 45, Fukuoka) and Cenci (No. 47, Kyoto) rounded out the nine Japan awardees in the top 50 spots of the list.

It was the first year that the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant awards took place in South Korea. Seoul is a city "that’s wowing the world” with its food, William Drew, director of content at 50 Best, said before the ceremony at the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas.

Mingles, which serves "refined Korean cookery” with "global influence” in the capital city’s buzzy Cheongdam-dong district came in at No. 13, up 15 spots.

"Personally, this event is happening in my hometown Seoul, so it’s more meaningful for me to have become the best Korean restaurant,” said owner Mingoo Kang after the accolade.

Singapore was the regional winner, having nine of its restaurants on the list. It supplanted Bangkok, which last year had four places in the top 10 and nine total in the 2023 top 50.

Still, Bangkok’s excellent showing on the overall list has been good for business around the city, says Chudaree Debhakam of Baan Tepa, which climbed four sports to No. 42 this year. Last year, she also became the first Thai female chef to run a two Michelin star restaurant.

"We opened during Covid, so we only had Thai clients," Debhakam said. "And then with 50 Best and Michelin awards and accolades, you get a big wave of international diners. Having the No. 1 restaurant be in Bangkok brought a lot of attention from foodies.”

Earlier this month, the 50 Best organization announced the 51 to 100 restaurant rankings. Lamdre in Beijing, at No. 97, won the American Express One to Watch Award for its plant-based cuisine.

Last year’s One to Watch winner was August in Jakarta; it now ranks No. 46 — up from its debut at No. 95. Co-founder Budi Cahyadi said the award brought serious attention to a place that hasn’t been known as a dining destination.

"Before the award, visitors would come to Jakarta for business, then leave," Chayadi says. "Our business was mostly local. After the awards, it jumped dramatically, to about 40% international visitors, from Taiwan, China, Korea and Singapore,” she added, noting people would extend their trip a day to eat at August. "And that extra day makes a big difference to the city.”

The 50 Best Asia restaurant list is voted on by over 300 anonymous industry experts in the region. There’s no criteria for what constitutes "best” — it could be a dumpling shop or a fine French dining room — nor does it need to have been open for a certain amount of time or won any other accolades. The regional guide, an offshoot of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, has been published since 2013 by the U.K.-based company William Reed Ltd.

Louisa Lim, pastry chef at Odette, a French-focused upscale restaurant in Singapore that topped the Asia 50 Best list in 2019 and 2020, said that the fine dining scene in Singapore has been challenging recently.

"Around the world, people are spending less to go out to eat,” she says. "We are creating new dishes to keep customers coming back.”

BY HEESU LEE AND KATE KRADER

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