For the restaurant industry, surviving this past year meant serving great food with continuous innovation and consistency — and in order to thrive amid these troubling times, the best of the best had to go even beyond that.
For those that were successful, they recently received recognition of those exemplary efforts — a culinary silver lining amid the pandemic. The World’s 50 Best released its latest list of Asia’s Best 50 Best Restaurants in 2021. This year, the ranks and votes were determined through a mix of experiences from before and during the global pandemic, submitted by a professional panel of more than 300 culinary experts, food writers, critics, chefs, and aficionados.
Seizing the crown for itself is The Chairman, which celebrates the 2000-year history of Cantonese cuisine through an original ingredient-oriented vision of tradition, skill, and quality. It is the first establishment in Hong Kong to take the top spot since the list’s inception. By virtue of this position, The Chairman has also naturally been honored as the Best Restaurant in China for 2021.
Having opened in 2009 on a side street close to Queen’s Road — Hong Kong’s central district — The Chairman has become a popular favorite among local connoisseurs despite its initial unremarkable appearance. Unsurprisingly, what makes it special is its commitment to procuring the best possible ingredients and honing the techniques with which they are prepared. One of its signature dishes, “Razor Clams Steamed with Aged Lemon and Herbs,” for example, is fragrantly garnished with lemons that are more than ten years old. Several of its ingredients, whether they be sauces or cured meats, are also processed personally with veteran expertise.
Unlike other authentic Chinese restaurants, however, The Chairman does not serve traditional luxuries such as shark fin soup or bird’s nest soup, instead opting for other more interesting and eco-friendly delicacies that can make the simplest ingredients shine. Given its dedication to quality, it is, of course, no surprise that The Chairman was also awarded a star from the prestigious Michelin guide.
Prior to this, Odette was recognized as the Best Restaurant in Asia for two consecutive years. Although the modern French-themed establishment dropped to second in the region, it still retains its title as the leading restaurant in Singapore. Other restaurants comprising the top five also include Den (Japan), De Lu (Thailand), and Gaggan Anand (Thailand).
Making yet another consistent return to Asia’s Best 50 is the Philippines’ own Toyo Eatery, which ranks 49th on the prestigious list. This marks the third consecutive time that the traditional Filipino eatery has been honored, having placed 43rd and 44th respectively in 2019 and 2020.
Asia’s Best Chinese Restaurants
Aside from The Chairman, there are also several other restaurants that feature their own distinct takes on Chinese cuisine. Here are some of the best that Asia has to offer:
16. Vea (Hong Kong)
This fine dining establishment features a 25-seat counter that provides guests with the perfect view of their culinary journey with Vea — an open kitchen that masterfully blends flavors from both the East and the West. Under the lead of Chef Vicky Cheng, Vea carries out an original philosophy, creating an elevation of French cuisine embroidered with the intricate details of Chinese heritage and memory.
22. Fu He Hui (Shanghai)
Here exists an artistic vision expressed distinctively by a showcase of China’s exotic fungi. Through the carefully crafted plates of its vegetarian tasting menus, Fu He Hui delivers an experience of haute cuisine that unquestionably deserves its highly sought-after Michelin star.
47. Lung King Heen (Hong Kong)
In the Hong Kong branch of a Four Seasons Hotel sits Lung King Heen, the first Chinese restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars. Guests of this innovative dining room receive the exquisite experience of both traditional and modern local cuisines paired with the fantastic view of Victoria Harbour.
48. Seventh Son (Hong Kong)
Established in 2013, this Hong Kong-based restaurant specializes in fine Southern cuisine, with an elegant focus on authentic Cantonese dishes. Aligned with its pursuit of serving excellence, Seventh Son offers its diners nothing more than the finest ingredients, including premium selections of abalone, fish maw, bird’s nest, and fresh seafood in its sumptuous menu.
50. Wing Lei Palace (Macau)
True to its name, Wing Lei Palace is a paragon of luxury, set amidst an imperial setting steeped in beauty, tradition, and history. Spotlighting the most glorious of what Cantonese cuisine has to offer, this Michelin-star kitchen is headed by Executive Chef Tam Kwok Fung, who was once crowned as the world champion of Chinese cooking.
The World’s 50 Best has also provided an expanded list of the next 50 restaurants that deserve a spot in the Asian limelight. Here’s a rundown of other exemplary kitchens that raise the bar for Chinese cuisine:
- 61. Xin Rong Ji – Nanyang Road (Shanghai)
- 68. The Eight (Macau)
- 69. Ensue (Shenzhen)
- 75. Xin Rong Ji – Linhai (Taizhou)
- 89. Jin Sha (Hangzhou)
- 93. Yong Fu – South Maoming Road (Shanghai)
- 95. Sichuan Moon (Macau)
- 100. Jade Dragon (Macau)
Want to read more about delicious Chinese food? Check out our Supports Local feature on Chinese restaurants to try out in the Metro here!