How Singapore Fared at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 Awards
The spotlight was once again on the continent's diverse F&B scene, as the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants unveiled (on March 25) the restaurants that earned a well-deserved place in the prestigious ranking. It was also clear that gourmands here were particularly excited to see how well the island's top restaurants performed. They were not disappointed, as a total of eight establishments has made it into the top 50.
Despite Odette dropping to No 2, after holding onto the top spot for two consecutive years, fans applauded chef-owner Julien Royer and his team for a stellar showing, retaining the Best Restaurant in Singapore title. It’s no easy feat, considering the quality of stalwarts and new restaurants the island nation boasts. It also goes to show that gourmands and judges alike continue to be impressed by the restaurant's evolving modern French fare that has grown to include inspirations from around Asia.
While Corner House and Nouri dropped out of the top 50, the latter is not too far away, earning the No. 73 spot on the expanded 51-100 list. Joining Nouri at No. 60 is Meta, which is also the recipient of the American Express One to Watch Award. It’s truly a badge of honour for chef-owner Sun Kim, whose contemporary embrace of his South Korean heritage to craft dishes inspired by his childhood are further elevated by Japanese and French accents.
Since its debut in 2013, the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants' panel of critics has continued to produce a tight list. And this year, among tough competition, Restaurant Zén managed to climb five spots to land at No. 23. Rounding out the Top 50 are restaurants Les Amis (No. 13), Burnt Ends (No. 14) and Jaan by Kirk Westaway (No. 42), all of which fell a couple of spots.
We also celebrate the new additions to the list—truly worthy inclusions in our books. Despite opening late last year amidst the coronavirus pandemic, chef Jason Tan clearly made quite an impression with Restaurant Euphoria, debuting at No. 41, while chef Rishi Naleendra’s Cloudstreet entered the list at No. 31. The latter's inspired cuisine style has been the talk of the town even before it opened in 2019, modern European in foundation while celebrating Naleendra’s Sri Lankan heritage.
"What I appreciate most about this gem is its bold yet unaffected approach to creating uniquely delicious experiences," shares Tatler Dining Singapore's content director Don Mendoza. He notes how the challenge to stand out in this sea of creative culinary styles is a particularly tough one when the local market is as spoilt as they are here.
Equally impressive is Tan's win, when you consider how newly opened Restaurant Euphoria marks the start of a new phase in the chef's "gastro-botanica" cuisine. While it continues to be largely French in foundation, dishes here are nothing like those that he made his mark with at Corner House. This new facet of his cuisine also boast a bold move away from French cuisine's rich mother sauces, rooted instead in four "essences" made with only vegetables.
It has also been particularly challenging for champions of local produce, something Labyrinth's Han Li Guang has long been passionate about. Even as he continues to evolve his uniquely Singaporean narrative, drawing mostly from his childhood memories, Han has grown as an outspoken locavore. And his efforts over the last seven years are once again affirmed as Labyrinth makes its 50 Best debut at No. 40—it's even been conferred the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award, which is given to the restaurant with the highest environmental and social responsibility rating.
It's a huge achievement to be sure, but just as much a significant nod to this island's ever vibrant dining scene and the local F&B industry's relentless pursuit of more sustainable goals.