The announcement of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 saw Cantonese restaurant The Chairman take the number one spot, with last year's winner Odette, which helmed the list in 2019 and 2020, dropping to second place. Den in Tokyo, Japan retained its third place ranking from 2020, with Le Du in Bangkok rising from eighth place to take fourth position this year. In fifth place was the highest new entry, Gaggan Anand in Bangkok, Thailand, the eponymous new restaurant from the chef whose previous establishment, Gaggan, held the number one spot on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants between 2015 and 2018. The top 10 restaurants were rounded out by Sühring in Bangkok, Florilège in Tokyo, La Cime in Osaka, Narisawa in Tokyo and Mingles in Seoul.
Asia's 50 Best Content Director William Drew told Tatler Dining in a recent interview that there could be big changes in the list, given the impact of the last year on the hospitality sector, saying that this year’s ranking was “always going to be unusual.” While there was movement further down the list, eight of the top 10 restaurants remained in the top fifth, albeit with some shuffling in rank.
Overall, the list featured 11 new entries, including Gaggan Anand (#5) and Nusara (#20) in Bangkok; Logy (#24) in Taipei, Taiwan; Mono (#44) in Hong Kong; Cloudstreet (#31), Labyrinth (#40) and Euphoria (#41) in Singapore; Anan Saigon (#39) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Masque (#32) in Mumbai, India, and Born & Bred (#36) and 7th Door (#34), both in Seoul, South Korea.
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Hong Kong dominated the list with 11 restaurants ranked. It was also the first time that a Hong Kong restaurant claimed the number 1 spot.
"We're very happy. It feels unreal. I can't believe that we are number one," Yip told Tatler Dining shortly after the announcement. "The team is extremely happy, despite the tough situation. The reward comes with great timing. We could not open the restaurant for two months last year; and we could not open dinner for six months. It's been dreadful. But the award gives us all the energy, all the reasons to hang in there and devote more of our efforts to good food."
Yip is seemingly already planning how he can do this. "Looking forward, we need more staff in the kitchen. And instead of creating 10 dishes a month, we should create 20 good dishes. We want to be more innovative within the Cantonese cooking boundaries and to look for more interesting, forgotten Chinese ingredients from the southern part of China, to go deep into the villages and talk to people and see what treasures they have in hand. We will put 120% effort into that."
The honour of being named The Best Restaurant in Asia has been a positive boost after a challenging year for the F&B industry. "I think the whole of the Hong Kong food industry was looking forward to this event," says Yip. "It gives the whole industry an incentive to work harder, to work better."