5 of Asia’s top 20 restaurants are in Japan
AS the “Oscars of the Asian gastronomic world” draws to a close for 2018, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants have been chosen and announced to the world for culinary pleasure.
For any foodie who knows Asia’s gastronomy scene, it probably comes as little surprise Gaggan in Bangkok took the top spot once again.
The Bangkok restaurant is run by the wildly imaginative Gaggan Anand along with a team of multi-national culinary alchemists.
Over 300 voters crowned this boundary-pushing restaurant winner but just because it’s at the top, it doesn’t mean it’s the only restaurant on the list worth visiting.
Each featured eatery has made it onto the prestigious list for its unique flavors, distinct dining experience, and progressive cooking methods.
Japan saw 10 restaurants make it onto the list, with five of them coming among the top 20.
Given that Asia is the biggest continent on Earth, this is quite the accolade but unsurprising as the tastes and experiences on offer at the joints are exceptional.
Take a sneak peek at Japan’s hottest restaurants and decide which one you’re going to try first.
Coming in just behind Gaggan, Den in Tokyo was opened by Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa with the simple philosophy of making people happy.
“Homemade food is food prepared while thinking about others being happy,” Zaiya wrote on the website.
“Every day, I think about the people who come to the restaurant and cook with the ingredients that arrive each day. For a homemade dish that brings a smile.”
Each dish is playfully presented without compromising taste or technique. The style of cuisine is a modern take on kaiseki, involving a series of small intricate dishes.
Zaiya takes influences from something as simple as a garden salad and jazzing it up with over 20 vegetables.
Considering Den only entered the awards list in 2016 at a well-deserved number 37, it’s now close to being the best in Asia.
- Signature dish: Aged fish for sashimi.
- Address: 2-3-18 Jingumae Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
- Average spend: US$170 without wine.
Coming in at number three, Florilege is headed by chef Hiroyasu Kawate and dishes up imaginative modern French cooking.
The concept of the beautiful restaurant is focused around respect and passion which can be seen as the chefs deliver the dishes to tables and talk to eager diners through the history of the ingredients and the heritage of the dish.
Each dish almost looks too good to eat with vibrant ingredients served on an array of incredible plates and bowls displaying the skill and techniques gone into every bite.
From the green tiger prawns to the manju dumplings stuffed with pigeon and simmered in port wine, every dish on the menu could be considered a delicacy in that moment.
- Signature dish: “Sustainability”.
- Address: Seizan Gaienmae B1F, 2-5-4 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
- Average spend: US$90 without wine.
Once again, Tokyo is home to another divine restaurant run by world-renowned Yoshihiro Narisawa, who’s considered a pioneer in Japanese cuisine.
Each menu correlates to the season and chef Narisawa prides his restaurant in cooking with a conscious and approaches his restaurant with the ethos, “beneficial and sustainable gastronomy”.
The restaurant aims to take its guests through a sensory voyage incorporating sound, sight, aroma, texture, and taste.
- Signature dish: Satoyama scenery.
- Address: Minami Ayoyama 2-6-15, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062.
- Average spend US$202 without wine.
Aptly named Nihonryori Ryugin, meaning “Japanese cuisine” and RyuGin meaning “dragon voice”, Nihonryori Ryugin focuses on traditional Japanese dishes with contemporary methods of making them.
Head chef and owner Seiji Yamamoto changes the menu to reflect the season but goes beyond just using seasonal ingredients.
Currently, the menu themes revolve around the prodigality of Japanese nature, incorporating the finest ingredients Japanese nature has to offer.
Past menus have incorporated ingredients such as bamboo shoots and wild herbs in spring, sweetfish in summer and the wild mushroom of fall.
Nihonryori Ryugin emphasizes that although it’s a Japanese restaurant, it does so much more than just crab or fugu (blowfish).
- Signature dish: Fugu and matsubagani.
- Address: Ground Floor, 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-0032.
- Average spend: US$250 per person without wine or sake pairing.
The only one on this list not found in Tokyo is La Cime.
The restaurant is run by Japanese chef Yusuke Takada with inspiration taken from France where he worked at Taillevent and Le Meurice before bringing his excellent culinary skills to Osaka.
The constantly changing menu has a theme which consists of three amuse-bouche, three plates of hors dʼoeuvres, meat dish, pre-dessert, dessert, mignardises and coffee.
Another constant on the menu, however, is the boudin dog, which Takada’s take on a hotdog
- Signature dish: Boudin dog.
- Address: 3-2-15 1F Kawaramachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 5410048.
- Average spend: US$170 per person without wine.