Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Announces 2017 Winners

Before an audience of the region’s most celebrated chefs, industry VIPs and international media, the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, was announced at an awards ceremony at the W Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. The 2017 list welcomes 10 new entries, while China, Japan, Singapore and Thailand each count 9 restaurants on the list.

Gaggan in Bangkok claims the No.1 spot for a third consecutive year. Gaggan retains the dual titles of The Best Restaurant in Asia, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, and The Best Restaurant in Thailand, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. Chef Gaggan Anand is renowned for his creative twists on Indian cuisine, reinventing traditional dishes through contemporary techniques.

Also representing Thailand are familiar favourites Nahm (No.5), Issaya Siamese Club (No.21), Eat Me (No.31) and Bo.Lan (No.19), the latter making a welcome return to the list. 2017 marks the debut of four Bangkok restaurants: Sühring (No.13), The Dining Room at The House on Sathorn (No.36), Le Du (No.37) and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Bangkok (No.40).

Individual Country Awards:

Rising one place to No.2, chef André Chiang’s Restaurant André retains the title of The Best Restaurant in Singapore, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. Other Singapore entries in the top 20 include Burnt Ends (No.10), Les Amis (No.16) and Waku Ghin (No.20).

Amber (No.3) in Hong Kong is again named The Best Restaurant in China, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. The seven Hong Kong restaurants in the 2017 list include longtime favourites, such as Lung King Heen (No.17) and The Chairman (No.47), as well as newcomer Ronin (No.45).

Narisawa (No.6), one of six Tokyo-based entries in the top 20, is named The Best Restaurant in Japan, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, for a fifth successive year. Florilège, the 2016 recipient of the One To Watch Award, debuts on the list at No.14.
Maintaining its No.15 ranking, Mingles in Seoul retains the title of The Best Restaurant in Korea while Gallery Vask (No.35) in Manila keeps The Best Restaurant in the Philippines honour.

At No. 30, Indian Accent is awarded The Best Restaurant in India for the third time. The winners’ circle also includes RAW (No.24), winning The Best Restaurant in Taiwan title, Ministry of Crab in Colombo (No.29) securing honours as The Best Restaurant in Sri Lanka.

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Other award winners announced include:

Highest New Entry Award, sponsored by Mekhong:
Odette, Singapore

Launched in November 2015, chef-owner Julien Royer’s restaurant at the iconic National Gallery Singapore debuts at No.9, the highest new entry in the history of the list. Serving Asian-inspired modern French cuisine, each dish at Odette is presented with impeccable style and characteristic perfection.

Asia’s Best Pastry Chef:
Kazutoshi Narita, Tokyo

Japanese chef Kazutoshi Narita began his career alongside the ‘Picasso of Pastries’ Pierre Hermé -currently The World’s Best Pastry Chef Award holder – before honing his skills at Joël Robuchon restaurants in New York, Las Vegas and Tokyo. At Esquisse and the recently opened Esquisse Cinq, both in Tokyo, the award-winning pastry specialist combines the delicate artistry of Japanese cuisine with the nuances and creative flair of French pâtisserie.

Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Peroni:
Dave Pynt, Singapore

An apprenticeship at Asador Etxebarri in Spain helped spark Australian-born Dave Pynt’s passion for playing with fire. Since 2013, Pynt has been turning up the heat at Burnt Ends, a gourmet barbecue restaurant in Singapore. Pynt’s mastery of various cooking techniques – from smoking and slow roasting to grilling – has earned him the respect of his regional peers. Burnt Ends debuted on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2015 at No.30 and this year Pynt is the recipient of the Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Peroni.

The Art of Hospitality:
Den, Tokyo

Rising 26 places to No.11, Den delights in surprising and entertaining its guests, making it a worthy recipient of the inaugural Art of Hospitality Award in Asia. The approach is playful, personable and inventive, reflecting the personality of Den’s chef-owner, Zaiyu Hasegawa.

Highest Climber Award:
Locavore, Bali

Celebrating Balinese culture and using only sustainably sourced local ingredients, Locavore rises 27 places to No.22, earning the title of The Best Restaurant in Indonesia.

Other award honourees include chef-restaurateur May Chow of Little Bao in Hong Kong and Bangkok, who is named Asia’s Best Female Chef 2017. TocToc in Seoul earns the Miele One To Watch Award for its creative use of seasonal Korean ingredients and refined French-influenced menu. Celebrated Italian chef Umberto Bombana of 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana is this year’s recipient of the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award.


Source & images: Catch On

Foodie Quotes #72

My work has gotten more political over time, but once you start exploring food, you find you’re up against economics and politics and psychology and anthropology, all of these different things you have to deal with.

– Michael Pollan

Chef Umberto Bombana is the 2017 Winner of The Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award

Umberto Bombana, the renowned Italian chef of 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong, is the 2017 recipient of The Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award. Honoured for his ability to push the limits of traditional Italian cuisine, Bombana will be presented with his award at the fifth annual Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony on Tuesday, 21st February 2017, hosted at the W Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.

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Part of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards programme, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, The Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award is voted for by members of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, comprising over 300 leaders in the restaurant and culinary industries throughout Asia.

A native of Bergamo in Northern Italy, Bombana’s culinary talents took him around the world, eventually leading him to Hong Kong in 1993 where he was appointed Executive Chef at Toscana at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. His creative flair and passion for refined Northern Italian cooking made Toscana an iconic destination on Hong Kong’s fine-dining scene. Showcasing his mastery of Italian cuisine and seasonal ingredients, he earned the title, ‘King of White Truffles’. During Bombana’s 15-year tenure at Toscana, he was named ‘Best Italian Chef in Asia’ in 2002 by the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners (ICIF) and appointed Worldwide Ambassador of the White Truffle by the Piedmontese Regional Enoteca Cavour in Italy.

Following the 2008 closure of Toscana and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Hong Kong, the Italian maestro launched 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in 2010. Inspired by Italian film director Federico Fellini’s 1963 movie 8½, the restaurant pays homage to Bombana’s native cuisine, serving refined Italian food with the finest seasonal ingredients sourced from around the world. Otto e Mezzo Bombana debuted on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2013 at No.39 and ranked within the top 10 of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list for three consecutive years. Since 2012, the restaurant has also boasted a coveted three-star ranking in the annual Michelin guide, the first and only Italian restaurant outside Italy to receive such a distinction.

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Extending his culinary influence in Asia, the popular chef launched 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana Shanghai in 2012 and Opera Bombana in Beijing a year later. In December 2013, he opened Hong Kong’s first refined Italian trattoria, CIAK – In The Kitchen, and has since expanded to a second outlet. More recently, he opened a further branch of Otto e Mezzo Bombana at Galaxy Macau.


Credit: Bombana & Catch On

Halal 101: The Ingredient Substitutes – Frog Legs

Keberadaannya terasa cukup kontroversial mengingat bentukan hewan, habitatnya, serta memang tidak terlalu familiar di kalangan warga yang sehari-harinya menikmati masakan halal.

Namun di beberapa jenis masakan terutama Chinese food, kaki kodok adalah sebuah kelaziman tersendiri. Nah, rupanya ada penggantinya yang cukup mirip dengan tekstur yang serupa.


FROG LEGS 

Substitusi:

Daging ayam putih.
Empat pasang kaki kodok setara dengan satu pon daging ayam.


Information credit: Eat Halal

Thank the Ottoman Empire for the taco al pastor (via PRI)

Tacos al pastor from Carmela’s Mexican Restaurant in Beaumont, Texas

At the Supermercado Mexico in Portland, Oregon, you’ll find a turning spit of pork, basted with chili and onions, dripping fat and flavor. Shave some off into a tortilla and you’ve got a taco al pastor, the classic Mexican street food.

It’s a similar scene halfway across the world in Jerusalem. At the hole-in-the-wall Al Waary restaurant, there’s a vertical rotisserie of beef spinning next to the flames, flavored by tangy vinegar. Shave some off into a pita, and you’ve got shawarma — the quintessential Middle Eastern street meat.

If you’re thinking these beloved dishes might be linked, you’re right. So we hit the street food trail to find out, starting in Jerusalem.

“Shawarma is very, very interesting,” says Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, sitting at the Al Waary shawarma joint. The origin of the word shawarma comes from the Turkish word çevirme, which means “turning.”

Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, in front of Al Waary shawarma stand in Jerusalem

You can find some version of shawarma everywhere in the Middle East where the Ottoman Empire once reigned.

“Turks call it döner kebab; Greeks call it gyro; Iraqis call it kas,” Qleibo says. “This shows you the all-pervasive influence of the Ottoman Empire, because all the subjects of the Ottoman Empire eat shawarma even though they call it by different names.”

Of course, the people of the Ottoman Empire didn’t all stay there. About 36,000 people under Ottoman rule left for Mexico between the late 19th and early 20th century.

“People came from as far as Egypt. I found some people [who] came from Iraq,” says Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp, a history professor at Sonoma State University who has tracked the migration of Middle Easterners to Mexico. “The majority came from the Levant, as it was called during that time, which is now modern-day Lebanon and Syria.”

The migrants left for the usual reasons: looking for economic opportunity, dodging army conscription and escaping sectarian violence. And when they arrived, they brought their food with them. “By the 1930s, there were restaurants that served shawarma,” says Jeffrey Pilcher, a historian and author of the book “Planet Taco.”

A shawarma sandwich in Jerusalem. Swap in pork for lamb, and a tortilla for a pita, and you’ve got the Mexican classic, Taco al Pastor

Then the cuisine morphed: “During the 1960s, the Mexican-born children of these Lebanese migrants … start opening up their own restaurants, and they start to create a kind of a hybrid cuisine,” Pilcher says.

“They take the technology that they grew up with in these Lebanese restaurants, the vertical rotisserie — but instead of using lamb, they use pork,” Pilcher says. “They marinate it in a red chili sauce, which gives it that distinctive color, and they cook these up and serve them and call them tacos al pastor.”

Even the term “al pastor,” which means “in the style of the shepherd,” is a nod to the original Middle Eastern lamb version of the dish.

When Mexico’s economy boomed after World War II, tacos al pastor moved from small towns to bigger cities and eventually into the US.

The fact that this classic dish was a relatively recent import from the Middle East doesn’t necessarily make it any less Mexican, adds Pilcher, the taco historian. “Authenticity isn’t always something that dates back to the ancient Aztecs and Mayas,” he says. “That meaning of Mexico is continually being recreated in every generation.”

But whether it’s lamb or pork, tortilla or pita, Jerusalem or Portland, the essentials have remained the same: Fat and fire, a handful of spices, a quick meal —  and a taste of tradition.


Source: https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-05-07/thank-ottoman-empire-taco-youre-eating

Photography: Daniel Estrin, Randy Howards, Joanne Rathe

The exciting gastronomic escapades of a foodie journo!

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