Asia’s best fine-dining restaurants of 2016

Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand

Celebrated Indian chef Gaggan Anand’s fertile imagination and culinary wit are played out in a lengthy but always fun tasting menu, which balances the soulfulness of Indian street food with hyper-modern cooking techniques to unrivalled effect in this progressive Indian restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand. Despite still being in his 30s, Kolkata-born Anand is already something of a superstar in the food world, as much for his effervescent personality as his boundary-pushing dishes. After a life-changing stint in the kitchen at El Bulli, the chef opened his eponymous Bangkok restaurant in 2010.

Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan

Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa is a trail-blazer in the world of Japanese cooking, taking a cuisine baked in tradition and applying new techniques learned through experience and years working with top chefs across Europe. With an acute interest in epicurean ecology, Narisawa approaches his kitchen with the theme of ‘harmony of sustainability and gastronomy’. His dedication to sourcing produce from organic farmers has been recognised in the industry with multiple awards.

Restaurant André, Singapore

Octaphilosophy is owner-chef André Chiang’s set of guiding principles, centred on eight qualities he deems essential to the restaurant’s DNA: unique, pure, texture, memory, salt, south, artisan and terroir. What does that mean on the plate? Chiang brings to his work the intriguing perspective of Taiwanese heritage, Japanese childhood, French training and a Singaporean setting, so his reach is wide.

Amber, Hong Kong, China

Though Dutch-born chef-director Richard Ekkebus sets the culinary dial firmly to western, he capitalises on his location in one of the world’s great ports to access fine ingredients from all over Asia as well as Europe and Australia, creating a unique cuisine framed by courtly eastern service. His signature dish is sea urchin from Hokkaido set in lobster gelée (chef Ekkebus likes to call it lobster jell-o), with caviar and cauliflower—possibly the most Instagrammed dish in Hong Kong.

Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo, Japan

Chef Seiji Yamamoto marries Japan’s kaiseki tradition with a style and sensibility that is both contemporary and highly accessible, even for those visiting Tokyo for the first time. For 11 years, Yamamoto trained under one of Japan’s most revered chefs, Hirohisa Koyama of Aoyagi restaurant. After opening Nihonryori RyuGin in 2003, he gained acclaim for his use of modernist techniques. These days his approach is more traditional but always with an emphasis on premium seafood and produce at the peak of its season.

Waku Ghin, Singapore

Teppanyaki? Not exactly. At Waku Ghin, diners are treated to up-close-and-personal attention from the chefs in small dining rooms, where seating surrounds a dining bar and teppan plate, which the chefs work with rare grace and creativity. And plenty of the good, raw stuff? Not least the signature dish, a luxe arrangement of marinated raw botan ebi shrimp and caviar served in a sea urchin replete with plenty of its roe.

Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China

Founded in 2012 after more than a decade’s gestation, Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet is considered by many to be the most avant-garde restaurant experience in the world. The brainchild of the aforementioned French chef, just 10 guests per night experience the ultimate in immersive dining in a secret city location. Here’s how it works—the high-tech gastronomic production utilises elements including video, audio, bespoke lighting, piped-in scents and, of course, good old food and drink to stimulate every sense, with each course its own self-contained mini drama.; it’s also described as ‘a story in 20 courses’.

Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand

Get ready for flavour. Chef David Thompson and his team take exquisite pains to ensure their dishes are perfectly balanced, but when Thai food is your metier, there’s an undeniable power to the flavours on the plate, with smoke, heat, sourness, funk and bitterness all playing their part. Not your everyday Thai food, then? Not unless your local does a fine line in the likes of clear soup of termite mushrooms with prawn, stir-fried crayfish with white turmeric, or smoked fish curry with chicken livers, cockles and black pepper.

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