Odette did it again.
Last year, the Singapore-based restaurant topped Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, stopping Gaggan from claiming a fifth straight year on top. Odette, led by 37-year-old French-born Julien Royer (below), now joins the recently shuttered Gaggan as the only restaurants to repeat at No. 1. Located in the National Gallery, the French restaurant recruited local Singaporean artist Dawn Ng to run an art program called A Theory of Everything, which includes deconstructed images of the primary ingredients.
Singapore also made the list with Aussie-led Burnt Ends at No. 5, Les Amis at No. 11, Jaan by Kirk Westaway at No. 21, newcomer Zén at No. 28 and Corner House at No. 42, all of which edged higher compared to 2019.
The Chairman, a Hong Kong-based restaurant that failed to crack Top 10 last year, surged to No. 2 and earned the Best Restaurant in China award. Hong Kong, which the list considers part of Greater China, claims eight entries on the list, including the restaurant where PRØHBTD paid $70 for a bowl of bird spit. Amber, at No. 31, won the Sustainable Restaurant Award for its new dairy-free menu that strives to reduce waste and its carbon footprint.
Saga Prefecture, located on one of the main islands in southwest Japan, was chosen to host the 8th annual awards, but the internet ultimately hosted the event as the coronavirus forced a virtual ceremony instead. Japan did, however, lead all countries for a second year with 12 entries, and Tokyo trendsetter Den finished at No. 3 as the country’s top restaurant for a third year. Den prides itself on defying culinary stereotypes with dishes like Den-tucky Fried Chicken served in a mock KFC take-out box, and the space features a small area with magic mushroom imagery.
Other entries representing Japan include Florilège at No. 7, Narisawa at No. 9, La Cime at No. 10 and newcomers Ode and Inua making their debuts at Nos. 35 and 49, respectively. Yusuke Takada of Osaka-based La Cime also won the peer-voted Chefs’ Choice Award.
Singapore’s Restaurant André regularly challenged Gaggan’s four-year run at top, finishing second in 2017 before closing in early 2018. Its namesake chef, André Chiang (above, on right), scored this year’s highest debut with Macau-based Sichuan Moon at No. 23. The Taiwanese chef is also at No. 36 with Raw, though the Taipei restaurant is largely run by fellow chef Alain Huang.
The absence of Gaggan enabled another restaurant, Sühring (below) at No.6, to win the Best Restaurant in Thailand award. Interestingly, the Bangkok-based restaurant serves modern German cuisine by twin chefs, Thomas and Mathias Sühring, who previously worked with chef Gaggan Anand at Lebua. Anand, whose new eponymous restaurant will likely make the 2021 list, convinced the brothers to open Sühring and is one of their main investors. (Bonus trivia: the Lebua hotel is also home to the sky bar made famous in The Hangover 2.)
Bangkok also claimed the Highest Climber Award for Sorn, which serves Malaysian-influenced Southern Thai. The restaurant debuted at No. 48 last year, despite having only been open for a few months, jumping to No. 16 after its first full year of operation. Thailand had seven entries on the 2020 list, all in the capital city.