Last year was the Year of Gaggan, in case you hadn’t heard. Bangkok’s adopted son took home the hardware at the 2015 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards presented by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, his eponymous venue named the crème de la crème of the whole continent. But Gaggan’s triumph was just part of the story, as far as Bangkok is concerned. Asia’s 50 Best regulars Eat Me, Issaya Siamese Club, Bo.lan, and nahm—David Thompson’s flagship and number one at the 2014 awards—ranked among the top 50 yet again, as sure a sign as any that Bangkok’s fine dining scene has firmly planted its flag on the global stage.
Now, after three years in Singapore, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants moves its toques and trophies to Bangkok, solidifying the city’s reputation as a culinary capital on the rise. At the W Hotel Bangkok on February 29, Bangkok will play host to the region’s masters of mise en place, its roving writers and critics, and foodie VIPs from every corner of Asia at a ceremony where the most delicious, daring, and influential restaurants of the past year are revealed (champagne shortly to follow).
The results are a blend of the empirical and the subjective. Asia’s 50 Best ranks its restaurants after a long process in which a panel of 318 highly respected voters from six different regions of Asia eat, eat, eat, and later make their selections. Roughly one third of the voters are chefs and restaurateurs, one third food writers, and the other third well-travelled gourmets.
Fifty-three voters represent each region, all with diverse senses of taste, covering India and the Subcontinent; Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan; China and South Korea; Japan; and the northern and southern regions of Southeast Asia. The voters choose seven restaurants, three of which must be located outside their countries of residence. Panellists must also have visited their selected venues at least once in the last 18 months—and, of course, they cannot pick a restaurant in which they have a vested financial or personal interest.
Although predicated on personal experience, the list still successfully provides an honest survey of current tastes and trends. At least in this region. Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants represents only a slice of a much larger pie. Later in the year, the top choices from Belgium to Brazil and beyond are compiled into yet another list and announced at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Last year, Gaggan ranked tenth at the World’s 50 Best while nahm cracked the top 25 in twenty-second place.
So what’s in store this year? Will Gaggan enjoy another champagne year? Will the title return to nahm? Or does another gastronomic jewel claim the top spot? No one can say until the results are officially announced. But one thing is for sure—fine dining in Bangkok is finally getting the attention and credit it deserves. In playing host to Asia’s brightest kitchen stars, and the eminent folks who follow them, Bangkok also gets to share its rich food culture—the sidewalk stalls, shophouse soup joints, sky-high bars, and sizzling new restaurants serving every cuisine imaginable that make this city special. This is Bangkok’s chance to earn even greater culinary cachet, and the gravity of the moment will not be lost on those who have helped build its reputation.
For more information, visit theworlds50best.com/asia