1. Hiroyasu Kawate
It was in 2009 that Kawate set up Floriège, a 22-seater modern French restaurant in Tokyo’s Minami-Aoyama neighbourhood dedicated to using sustainable ingredients grown in Japan. A former sous chef at three-Michelin-starred Quintessence, Kawate cultivated his own style of combining traditional French cooking techniques with his own creativity. Floriège was named the 2016 One To Watch, an award which acknowledges an eatery with the potential to break into the 50 Best list in the near future.
2. Tony Lu
Fu He Hui, Shanghai
Chef Lu must be excited to see what this year brings. After all, his restaurant was the highest new entry to last year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, taking the 19th spot. Currently the executive chef of “Fu” restaurants collection, he previously worked at Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou’s popular Cantonese eatery Jin Sha, Four Seasons Hotel Beijing’s Cai Yi Xuan and Mandarin Oriental Pudong Shanghai’s Yong Yi Ting.
3. Kim Sung-il
La Yeon, Seoul
As the head chef of La Yeon, chef Kim, working with Head of Culinary Research and Development Seo Sang Ho, ensures the fine dining Korean eatery only uses the highest quality local, seasonal ingredients in its menu. He also takes pride in spicing up the traditional cuisine, offering four set menus with optional wine pairings. It’s no wonder then that La Yeon, located on the 23rd floor of upmarket The Shilla hotel, was selected by judges last year as the One To Watch.
4. Gaggan Anand
Beating out the competition, the Kolkata-born chef’s eponymous restaurant went up two places from 2014 to take home the coveted title of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015. On the world stage, it debuted at 17th place in 2014, before rising to 10th position last year. Adding yet another feather to Anand’s cap, his Indian restaurant was also awarded the S. Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Thailand accolade. Will Anand be able to retain his Asian champion title once more?
5. Dave Pynt
Burnt Ends, Singapore
Singapore’s own Modern Australian barbecue Burnt Ends made it as a new entry to the coveted list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants last year at 30th place. Helming the kitchen is Australian-born Pynt, who has an impressive culinary background working with legends the likes of Tetsuya Wakuda (Waku Ghin) and Rene Redzepi (Noma) to name a few. He opened Burnt Ends in 2013 with the backing of multiple award-winning chef-restaurateur Andre Chiang.
6. Hajime Yoneda
Chef-proprietor of two-Michelin-starred Hajime, Yoneda left a career in engineering for the culinary world. His style combines French classics with his Japanese heritage, which saw his namesake restaurant win a host of awards since it opened in 2008. Last year, his restaurant shot up the ranks in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list to 14, up 28 spots from 2014 to emerge the highest climber.
7. Manish Mehrotra
Indian Accent at The Manor, New Dehli
Set within the upscale The Manor hotel is Manish Mehrotra’s brainchild, Indian Accent. The S. Pellegrino Best Restaurant in India winner is the only restaurant in its country on the prestigious World’s 100 Best Restaurants List. Chef-patron Mehrotra received his training at the esteemed Institute of Hotel Management, where he honed his culinary skills. He was also given the title of Best Chef in India by American Express and has put Indian Accent on the map, with a second outlet to open in New York City’s Le Parker Meridien by early 2016. Number 22 on last year’s list, Indian Accent is expected to continue its ascent to the top.
8. Yim Jung Sik
The executive chef of Jungsik fell into the culinary scene during his army days, where his commanding officer recognised his talent and made Yim his personal chef. It inspired him to enrol in the Culinary Institute of America, followed by apprenticeships at renowned New York restaurants Aquavit and Bouley, as well as two-Michelin-starred Zuberoa and three-Michelin-starred Akelarre in Spain. He returned to Seoul in 2009 to open his eponymous restaurant to become the S.Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Korea. Last year, his restaurant shop up 10 spots to 10th place.
9. Dharshan Munidasa
Nihonbashi was opened by Japanese-Sri Lankan chef, Dharshan Munidasa, in his early 20s, where he saw an obvious gap in the Sri Lankan market for authentic Japanese cuisine. Since then, he’s spent over a decade ensuring it becomes one of the best in the segment — and very successfully, having won the title of the S.Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Sri Lanka. Seen as an innovator in his field, Dharshan is known to have pushed boundaries and has been awarded the Japanese Ambasasador’s Special Commendation in 2013 by the Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka. He also founded Ministry of Crab, another entrant in the Asia’s 50 Best list.
10. Paul Pairet
Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai
Taking third place last year, Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, the S.Pellegrino Best Restaurant in China winner, is an avant-garde experimental restaurant that serves each dish in a multisensory manner — with images, music, fragrance and lighting matching each course for a fully immersive dining experience. Pairet is also the owner of French eatery Mr & Mrs Bund, which last year took the 21st spot on the same list.
The Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 results will be announced at the annual awards ceremony in Bangkok on February 29, with full results to be available later online.