KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 – For the first time ever, Asia's 50 Best Restaurants has announced an extended list of restaurants for 51st to 100th. And three Malaysian restaurants – Dewakan, Gēn 根 and Nadodi – are on it.
Previously in 2019, Dewakan was ranked 46 in the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.
The F&B industry in Asia has taken a big hit from the pandemic and the extended list is to help support their recovery.
Asia's 50 Best Restaurants Director of Content William Drew explained, “This year we have decided to publish the list of restaurants ranked from 51-100, created from the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants voting process, in order to recognise a greater number of venues than ever before."
Together with the unranked Essence of Asia collection that recognised street vendors, time honoured institutions and philanthropic businesses and more, they hope to create more diverse dining experiences for all.
The extended list includes a first-time entry for the Maldives where Aragu located in the Velaa resort is ranked number 96. Singapore's Meta, which is this year's recipient of the American Express One to Watch – clocks in at number 60.
Chef Supinya "Jay Fai" Junsuta who picked up the 2021 Icon award has her restaurant Raan Jay Fai listed at number 62.
Japan and Thailand scooped up a lion's share of the listing with nine restaurants each, while Mainland China claimed eight entries. South Korea has four places on the list.
In Malaysia, Dewakan which champions locally sourced produce is ranked at number 66. Back in 2019, the restaurant run by Darren Teoh was Malaysia's first restaurant to be in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.
After the accolade, Dewakan relocated to Skyviews, Naza Tower at Platinum Park, where your dining experience includes a breathtaking view of the Petronas Twin Towers.
Their current tasting menu showcases the best of local produce interpreted as exquisite dishes. Standouts from that menu include a cloud-like serabai made with Job's Tears (rather than the traditional overnight rice) layered with briny oyster emulsion and fish serunding.
Even porridge is reinterpreted into much more than just an invalid's meal when it is cooked with beras keladi and has smoked eel jelly, goat's milk and water chestnuts.
Penang is proving to be more than just a hawker paradise with Gēn 根 (which means ground roots in Chinese) being ranked Number 92.
Spearheaded by Johnson Wong, their focus is on recreating their food memories using local produce in completely different ways.
Wong had studied at Le Cordon Bleu and worked at Rockpool in Sydney and Joel Robuchon in Macau. The Johorean has also staged at Noma in Copenhagen.
What's unique about Wong's approach is his team is built with people from all over Malaysia. He believes this generates a rich pool of ideas as everyone has different palates and different ideas towards ingredients.
Freedom is also given to members of the team to create various dishes that will be voted to be included in the menu.
In a previous interview with Malay Mail, Wong said, "There is no reference or cookbook to follow for this type of restaurant so it is important for idea-sharing from the team and information from those selling the produce, to create new dishes."
Listed as number 99, Nadodi has made a mark in Kuala Lumpur for elevating humble South Indian food into a more delicate, fine dining experience.
The team headed by S. Kartik Kumar, reinterprets age-old recipes using contemporary techniques to give diners a memorable experience. One of their iconic dishes is the Monsoon Ritual where the humble rasam is given the royal treatment with the use of three different tomatoes brewed in a siphon to create a spiced nectar that leaves a lasting memory of its taste and presentation.
Their unique cocktail pairings also gives you a 360 degree immersion into the whole culture.
On March 25, you can catch Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony online from 4.30pm.