Hong Kong is the top destination in Asia for foodies this year, according to new rankings released by the 50 Best organization.
The city is home to 16 of the region’s “best” 100 restaurants, as shown in the list, released in two parts in March.
Thailand and Japan tied for second place, each with 13 restaurants on the list. The small city-state of Singapore punched above its weight with 12 establishments named among Asia’s best.
William Drew, director of content for William Reed Business Media, which organizes the awards, told CNBC that Hong Kong had an “unusual experience” this year since it was largely closed to foreign visitors.
“However, restrictions aside, many restaurants have been very busy on a local level,” Drew said.
“It’s likely that local voters dined in a wider variety of restaurants in the city, spreading the vote amongst a wider range of establishments,” he added.
The top 50 restaurants in Asia
This year commemorates the 10th anniversary of the “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants” list. This year’s ranking includes restaurants from 10 places, with 16 new entrants.
Looking only at the top 50 spots, Japan comes out on top for the second year in a row. It took the coveted top spot — with Tokyo’s Den named “The Best Restaurant in Asia 2022” — and is home to 1 in 5 of every restaurant on the list.
Hong Kong’s Chairman, which ranked No. 1 last year, dropped four spots to No. 5. Singapore’s Odette, which has been named Asia’s best restaurant twice, also lost ground, sliding six spots from No. 2 to No. 8.
Rising nine places to No. 2, Thailand’s Sorn also clinched the title of “Best Restaurant in Thailand” for the first time. Local chef Thitid ‘Ton’ Tassanakajohn can now count two of his restaurants in the top 10 — Le Du (No.4) and Nusara (No.10).
Den — Asia’s ‘best restaurant’
Japan’s Den — No. 3 on last year’s list — is a two-Michelin-starred restaurant that entered the list in 2016. In seven years, it moved from 37th place to No. 1.
Opened in 2007, chef and owner Zaiyu Hasegawa and his team take a creative approach to kaiseki — a traditional multi-course Japanese meal characterized by small, intricate dishes — with twists on traditional dishes.
Take, for example, the “Dentucky Fried Chicken.” It’s served in a box that resembles KFC’s packaging, but instead of Colonel Sanders, it shows Hasegawa holding two drum sticks. The chicken is stuffed with rice.
Den is no stranger to success, as it’s been named the “Best Restaurant in Japan” for five consecutive years. It placed No. 11 on “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list in 2021.
Asia’s top 50 restaurants
1. Den (Tokyo, Japan)
2. Sorn (Bangkok, Thailand)
3. Florilege (Tokyo, Japan)
4. Le Du (Bangkok, Thailand)
5. The Chairman (Hong Kong)
6. La Cime (Osaka, Japan)
7. Suhring (Bangkok, Thailand)
8. Odette (Singapore)
9. Neighborhood (Hong Kong)
10. Nusara (Bangkok, Thailand)
11. Sazenka (Tokyo, Japan)
12. Fu He Hui (Shanghai, China)
13. Ode (Tokyo, Japan) — Highest Climber Award (from No. 27 last year)
14. Villa Aida (Wakayama, Japan) — Highest New Entry Award
15. Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)
16. Mingles (Seoul, South Korea)
17. Sezanne (Tokyo, Japan)
18. Joo Ok (Seoul, South Korea)
19. Ensue (Shenzhen, China)
20. Meta (Singapore)
21. Masque (Mumbai, India)
22. Indian Accent (New Delhi, India)
23. Les Amis (Singapore)
24. Caprice (Hong Kong)
25. Blue by Alain Ducasse (Bangkok, Thailand)
26. 7th Door (Seoul, South Korea)
27. Mosu (Seoul, South Korea)
28. Da Vittorio (Shanghai, China)
29. Sushi Masato (Bangkok, Thailand)
30. Onjium (Seoul, South Korea)
31. Samrub Samrub Thai (Bangkok, Thailand)
32. Mono (Hong Kong)
33. Gaa (Bangkok, Thailand)
34. Wing (Hong Kong)
35. Ministry of Crab (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
36. La Maison de la Nature Goh (Fukuoka, Japan)
37. Zen (Singapore)
38. Logy (Taipei, Taiwan)
39. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet (Shanghai, China)
40. Labyrinth (Singapore)
41. Burnt Ends (Singapore)
42. Ete (Tokyo, Japan)
43. Cenci (Kyoto, Japan)
44. Cloudstreet (Singapore)
45. JL Studio (Taichung, Taiwan)
46. Raan Jay Fai (Bangkok, Thailand)
47. Wing Lei Palace (Macao)
48. 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana (Hong Kong)
49. Megu (New Delhi, India)
50. Dewakan (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Asia’s best restaurants: 51-100
This is the second year the extended list has been released.
Eleven restaurants that ranked among Asia’s best 50 restaurants last year fell into the 51-100 ranking this year. Most notably, L’Effervescence fell 52 spots from No. 19 to No. 71. Vea also dropped 49 places from No. 14 to No. 63.
Nonetheless, Hong Kong proved to be a hot spot this year, going from only one restaurant on the list in 2021 to 10 this year.
China’s Jin Sha also saw the greatest jump, moving up 38 spots from No. 89 to No. 51, edging close to the best 50 list. Nadodi was close behind, rising 37 ranks from No. 99 to No. 62.
Here’s the extended list:
51. Jin Sha (Hangzhou, China)
52. Adachi Sushi (Taipei, Taiwan)
53. Seventh Son (Hong Kong)
54. Mume (Taipei, Taiwan)
55. Jaan by Kirk Westaway (Singapore)
56. Euphoria (Singapore)
57. Shoun RyuGin (Taipei, Taiwan)
58. Esora (Singapore)
59. Karavalli (Bangalore, India)
60. Ta Vie (Hong Kong)
61. Pru (Phuket, Thailand)
62. Nadodi (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
63. Vea (Hong Kong)
64. Godenya (Hong Kong)
65. Anan Saigon (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam)
66. Bukhara (New Delhi, India)
67. Refer (Beijing, China)
68. Xin Rong Ji (Beijing, China)
69. TIE — Comorin, Gurugram (India)
69. TIE — Gallery by Chele (Manila, Philippines)
71. L’Effervescence (Tokyo, Japan)
72. Liberte (Kaohsiung, Taiwan)
73. Dum Pukht (New Delhi, India)
74. Antonio’s (Tagaytay, Philippines)
75. Lolla (Singapore)
76. Obscura (Shanghai, China)
77. Xin Rong Ji (Hong Kong)
78. Sushi Saito (Tokyo, Japan)
79. Avartana (Chennai, India)
80. Americano (Mumbai, India)
81. Eat and Cook (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
82. Batard (Hong Kong)
83. Amber (Hong Kong)
84. Golden Flower (Macao)
85. The Table (Mumbai, India)
86. Baan Tepa (Bangkok, Thailand)
87. Lerdtip Wanghin (Bangkok, Thailand)
88. L’Envol (Hong Kong)
89. Jade Dragon (Macao)
90. Topaz (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)
91. Quince (Bangkok, Thailand)
92. Thevar (Singapore)
93. Cilantro (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
94. Toyo Eatery (Manila, Philippines)
95. Maison Lameloise (Shanghai, China)
96. Chaat (Hong Kong)
97. The Eight (Macao)
98. Sushi Hare (Hong Kong)
99. Le Cote LM (Taichung, Taiwan)
100. 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana (Shanghai, China)
Singapore restaurants take a hit
About half of the Singapore restaurants on both lists saw a fall in rankings this year.
Meta — short for metamorphosis — was the only Singapore restaurant that saw a rise in rankings, climbing an impressive 40 spots to No. 20. The one-Michelin-starred restaurant won the “One to Watch” award last year.
Chef Sun Kim recommends trying his rendition of Korean barbecue. “It’s a dish that I hold close to me as it brings me a sense of nostalgia,” he told CNBC.
In contrast, Jaan by Kirk Westaway saw a drop in rankings for the third consecutive year, going from No. 21, to No. 42, and finally No. 55 this year. Euphoria also fell 15 places to 56th place.
Burnt Ends, an Australian barbecue restaurant, dropped 27 places from No. 14 to No. 41.
Lolla is Singapore’s highest ranking new entry this year at No. 75.
A representative of the Mediterranean restaurant told CNBC the person behind its success is head chef Johanne Siy, who joined less than two years ago. Siy was named the female “Chef of the Year” at last year’s World Gourmet Awards.
How the list is made
This is how voting works, according to the 50 Best organization.
Restaurants are chosen by more than 300 industry leaders, referred to as “the academy.” They are food writers, critics, chefs and restaurateurs from across the region. The academy regularly changes and has a 50-50 gender balance, and each voter must have visited a restaurant it votes for at least once in the last 18 months.
In 2022, voting rules were amended because of restrictions on international travel. Each member nominates eight restaurants, including up to six from their home country but with no obligation to vote for restaurants outside their home country.
After two years of livestreamed events, this year’s awards presentation was hosted live in three cities: Bangkok, Macao, and Tokyo. Events were also streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
The 50 Best organization publishes several lists to highlight excellence in the food industry, including “The World’s 50 Best Bars” and regional listings such as “Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.”