Good luck getting reservations at RAW, named Taiwan's Best Restaurant by Asia's 50 Best
Asia's 50 Best Restaurants were counted down earlier this year at an awards ceremony in Bangkok, where chefs eagerly waited to hear what place they had earned on this year's list. Nominees invited know they are guaranteed a spot in the top 50, but they do not know where on the list they rank until is announced at the ceremony.
"Even the regional chairmen don't know who the voters voted for, or who got the votes. So it is very exciting for chefs to attend." said chef Richie Lin from Mume, a new entry on this year's list from Taiwan.
RAW's chef Zor Tan recalled, "It is the time of year when you want to see your report card to know if you outdid yourself the previous year."
This year, Gaggan, a progressive Indian restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, retained his spot at number 1 for the third year in a row- an impressive record considering that Asia's 50 Best has only been around for five years. Gaggan will be familiar to those who have seen him on Netflix's "Chef's Table" series, or spotted his emoji menu or Japanese influenced, modern Indian tasting menu on Instagram.
Taiwanese chef Andre Chiang's Restaurant Andre in Singapore moved up one spot to number 2. Third place is Amber in Hong Kong. The list includes restaurants from Singapore, Thailand, Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Philippines. Chef May Chow from Hong Kong's Little Bao was named Asia's Best Female Chef of 2017 and Otto E Mezzo's Umberto Bombana was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Chef Zor Tan who is involved with both Restaurant Andre and RAW said, "It's a gratifying feeling knowing both restaurants got into top 50 and best restaurant in Singapore and best restaurant in Taiwan. I am humbled that both restaurants are well accepted by our audience. It is a team effort that is recognized by our fellow peers in the industry."
Unlike the Michelin Stars Guide, which awards highly coveted stars given by anonymous food critics in specific cities, Asia's 50 Best held a series of events where the chefs could eat, party and gather together. Chef Zor Tan, "This is where we pause for a moment from our busy schedule and gather."
"The most valuable part of this experience is to connect, a chance for all the chefs to meet each other from different countries, share ideas and exchange knowledge." said chef Richie Lin.
But both lists skew towards fine dining, higher priced restaurants that serve intricately plated dishes rather than the casual, mom and pop restaurants that could arguably also be a "best" restaurant on a list. Some critics also point out the lack of restaurants helmed by female chefs, as well as voter bias towards restaurants already on the list or in cities where tourism boards actively woo voters.
Taiwan landed three restaurants on this year's list, with RAW (number 24), Le Mout in Taichung (number 28), and Mume, debuting at number 43. RAW jumped ahead from last year's 46th place past Le Mout to take over the title of Best Restaurant in Taiwan. Reservations at RAW are already nearly impossible to get through their online booking system, and with the additional publicity, diners will have an even tougher time.
Without flying to another country, you can also try the Taipei branch of Ryugin #7 and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon which placed for its Bangkok and Hong Kong restaurants, at #40 and #41. Keep an eye out for pop ups and "four hands" collaborations with chefs from other countries, such as Restaurant Andre (#2) at RAW, or Den (#11) at Mume. Regent Taipei has also brought Sri Lanka's Ministry of Crab #29 and Seoul's Jungsik #25 to Taipei.
First time hearing about this list and these restaurants? Here's a brief introduction to the Taiwan's best restaurants, according to Asia's 50 Best.
Who are the chefs at RAW?: Andre Chiang, Alain Huang and Zor Tan.
What is the menu like?: RAW has a seasonal menu that changes every few months and has featured a Best of the Year menu at the end of the past two years. Comprised of eight courses, the menu lists just three key ingredients for each dish on a word puzzle like sheet. Dishes such as beef tongue shavings on top of a beef tongue cracker or miniature bbq corn are inspired by Taiwanese snacks with a modern gastronomic twist. Every menu highlights local produce, sourced with the island's local farmers, such as the spring 2017 menu's sliced tomatoes with green chili sorbet and gazpacho foam, with tomatoes from Yilan, Nantou and Yang Ming Shan.
How to make reservations: Book at a table though RAW's website. Reservations can be made two weeks in advance and are released at 12Noon everyday. Try your luck with the waitlist by messaging RAW through "Contact" on the page to snap up last minute cancellations. For an upgraded menu (at a slightly higher price) and view of the bustling kitchen, or if you have a larger party, try to get chef's table seats, which are usually released on the first Tuesday of every month at 3PM.
Check out this video interview by the Culinary Institute of America with RAW's chefs Alain Huang and Zor Tan, featuring dishes All About Duck, Taco Tako TACOS, Onion Onion Onion and Mango Snowball. I worked on this as a location producer/Taipei fixer last year for the CIA and they captured everything so beautifully.
LE MOUT #28
Who are the chefs at LE MOUT: Lanshu Chen, Jimmy Lim and pastry chef Makito Hiratsuka. Chef Lanshu Chen was named Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2014.
What is the menu like?: Modern French dishes such as Blaze mushrooms, veal sweetbread, dried tangerine rind, chestnut, rice essence or American prime filet with French goose foie gras poele and sautéed chanterelles topped with a green peppercorn sauce.
59 Cunzhong St, West District, Taichung City, Taiwan 403 +886 4 2375 3002
Who are the chefs at MUME: Richie Lin, Kai Ward and Long Xiong
What is the menu like?: The Modern European menu features Snacks, Small, Bigger and Sweets on an a la carte menu. Signature dishes include the waygu beef tartare with clam mayo, confit egg yolk and preserved daikon; summer salad of nearly 30 different vegetables from local producers dressed with fermented black beans and crispy amadai with
How to make reservations: Book a table through the reservation tab/link “Book a Table” on Mume's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/mume.taiwan/). Call (02) 2700-0901 or e-mail: email@example.com for private dining room reservations, which seats 8-12 people serving a set menu only.
Check out this video interview by the Culinary Institute of America with Mume's chefs Richie Lin and Kai Ward . I worked on this as a location producer/Taipei fixer last year for the CIA's World of Flavors and love how these videos turned out.
No. 1 GAGGAN, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 2 RESTAURANT ANDRÉ, Singapore
No. 3 AMBER, Hong Kong, China
No. 4 8 1/2 OTTO E MEZZO BOMBANA, Hong Kong, China
No. 5 NAHM, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 6 NARISAWA, Tokyo, Japan
No. 7 NIHONRYORI RYUGIN, Tokyo, Japan
No. 8 ULTRAVIOLET BY PAUL PAIRET, Shanghai, China
No. 9 ODETTE, Singapore
No. 10 BURNT ENDS, Singapore
No. 11 DEN, Tokyo, Japan
No. 12 L'EFFERVESCENCE, Tokyo, Japan
No. 13 SUHRING, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 14 FLORILEGE, Tokyo, Japan
No. 15 MINGLES, Seoul, South Korea
No. 16 LES AMIS, Singapore
No. 17 LUNG KING HEEN, Hong Kong, China
No. 18 QUINTESSENCE, Tokyo, Japan
No. 19 BO.LAN, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 20 WAKU GHIN, Singapore
No. 21 ISSAYA SIAMESE CLUB, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 22 LOCAVORE, Bali, Indonesia
No. 23 CORNER HOUSE, Singapore
No. 24 RAW, Taipei, Taiwan
No. 25 JUNGSIK, Seoul, South Korea
No. 26 SUSHI SAITO, Tokyo, Japan
No. 27 TIPPLING CLUB, Singapore
No. 28 LE MOÛT, Taichung, Taiwan
No. 29 MINISTRY OF CRAB, Colombo, Sri Lanka
No. 30 INDIAN ACCENT, New Delhi, India
No. 31 EAT ME, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 32 JADE DRAGON, Macau, China
No. 33 TA VIE, Hong Kong, China
No. 34 HAJIME, Osaka, Japan
No. 35 GALLERY VASK, Manila, Philippines
No. 36 THE DINING ROOM AT THE HOUSE ON SATHORN, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 37 LE DEU, Bankgkok, Thailand
No. 38 LA YEON, Seoul, South Korea
No. 39 THE TASTING ROOM BY GALLIOT, Macau
No. 40 L'ATELIER DE JOËL ROBUCHON, Bangkok, Thailand
No. 41 L'ATELIER DE JOËL ROBUCHON, Hong Kong, China
No. 42 JAAN, Singapore
No. 43 MUME, Taipei, Taiwan
No. 44 SHINJI BY KANESAKA, Singapore
No. 45 RONIN, Hong Kong
No. 46 WASABI BY MORIMOTO, Mumbai, India
No. 47 THE CHAIRMAN, Hong Kong, China
No. 48 FU HE HUI, Shanghai, China
No 49 NIHONBASHI, Colombo, Sri Lanka
No. 50 TAKAZAWA, Tokyo