Credit: Odette

French fine-dining restaurant Odette at the National Gallery Singapore retains its No. 1 position on this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list (read also “So Proud Of You, Singapore: Rulers Of The Restaurant World“). This makes it the Best Restaurant in Asia and Singapore for the second year in a row.

Another Singapore establishment – modern Australian barbecue restaurant Burnt Ends in Teck Lim Road (previously No. 10) – climbs five spots to No. 5.

Credit: Instagram @burntends_sg

The other three restaurants in the top five are Tokyo’s Den – retaining its third place spot – as well as Hong Kong’s Belon at No. 4 (previously No. 15), and The Chairman at No. 2 (previously No. 11).

The annual list was livestreamed online on Tuesday (March 24), instead of taking place in Japan’s Saga prefecture. The on-site event was cancelled last month (February) in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Odette’s chef-owner Julien Royer, 37, and his team watched the online ceremony together at the restaurant, he told The Straits Times, which helped them to temporarily forget their worries over the past few weeks.

He said: “It’s a challenging time for us all in the food and beverage industry. It’s difficult to celebrate at the moment, but we take this as a sign of positivity and optimism for us. We have to find solutions and hope for a better future.”

The restaurant has been hit by a spate of cancellations in the last few days, said chef Royer, as about 30 per cent of their diners are tourists who have cancelled their trips to Singapore. He also expressed concern over their supply of ingredients as they rely heavily on imported produce. 

Overall, it was a strong showing from restaurants in Singapore. 

Restaurant Zen – by Swedish chef Bjorn Frantzen, who runs the three-Michelin-starred Frantzen restaurant in Stockholm – debuted on the list at No. 28. The restaurant in Bukit Pasoh Road – which has been hot on the foodie radar – was also awarded two Michelin stars in its debut on last year’s Michelin Guide (“Find Out Which Singapore Restaurants Now Have A Michelin Star“).

French restaurant Les Amis at Shaw Centre (previously No. 33) shot to No. 11 and also won the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award.

Credit: Instagram @lesamisrestaurant

British restaurant Jaan by Kirk Westaway (previously No. 32) at Swissotel The Stamford jumped 11 spots to No. 21; while modern European restaurant Corner House (previously No. 49) in the Singapore Botanic Gardens rose seven spots to No. 42.

Fine-dining restaurant Nouri, which debuted at No. 39 last year (2019), slipped 11 spots to No. 50; while Japanese restaurant Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands – ranked No. 40 last year – was not on the list. The restaurant has been closed since June last year (2019) for renovations.

Other accolades went to Best Female Chef Cho Hee-sook of Hansikgonggan in Seoul, whose restaurant is a new entry at No. 34; Highest New Entry Sichuan Moon from Macau at No. 23; and Bangkok’s restaurant Sorn – named Highest Climber after catapulting to No. 16 from No. 48 last year.

The upcoming Asia’s 50 Best Bars ceremony takes place on May 14 as an online ceremony as well; while the World’s 50 Best 2020 list will be announced in Antwerp on June 2.

Credit: Instagram @ odetterestaurant

Mr William Drew, director of content at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, started the announcement of the eighth edition of the awards on a more sombre note. He said: “Given the circumstances globally with the pandemic and the horrendous effect it is having on the world and the hospitality sector, among many others – this year’s announcement is not a celebration, but still an important recognition of the hard work and talent of restaurants, chefs (read also “5 Rising Chefs In Singapore Who Should Be On Your Radar“) and their teams across Asia.

“As always, there are some fantastic newcomers on the list, along with perennial favourites. We hope this list and awards provides at least some positive rays of light in these dark days.”

This article was first published in The Straits Times.