Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2024: Chefs Revisit Nostalgic Flavours


imgAsia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2024 held the first #50BestTalks, in Seoul, South Korea, since the pandemic, celebrating top-tier Asian gastronomy leaders who shared a variety of concepts chronicled from the experiences of their food journey. The chefs rejoiced in the beauty of ordinary dishes, fermentation techniques and dishes they grew up with, which they have reimagined to suit the taste buds of today’s customers. Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards went to the best restaurants in Asia whose head chefs spent years curating fine dining experiences to connect people through food.

Before we head into interesting tales shared by the global gastronomic luminaries, here’s a small detail about the event. It is deemed the world’s most esteemed international culinary event, which was flagged off in 2002 with its first edition held in Seoul. It is organized over five days and awards the top 50 restaurants in Asia, attended by several industry enthusiasts. This year’s event took place at the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, presenting dishes prepared from scratch and memory through techniques that have been passed down from generations. The guests, talks, and live demonstrations highlighted real people’s real food journey, including cooking the simplest of meals and preserving age-old recipes and traditional dishes.

Winner of Icon Award - Michelin Star Restaurant Owner, Danny Yip: A Torchbearer to Local Produce

This year’s Icon Award was given to chef-owner Danny Yip for his Cantonese restaurant, The Chairman in Hong Kong. Yip is one of the many chefs and restaurant owners in Hong Kong whose expertise added a new essence to Cantonese cuisine.

Promoter of Local Fisheries and Fishermen Community

He earned his name for constantly championing regional food, with the abundance of fresh fish and other seafood varieties in and around Hong Kong waters. Even his restaurant’s signature dishes serve steamed flower crab with chicken fat and Shaoxing wine. To further contribute to sea life, the restaurant built a chain of fisheries, supporting fishermen for years, and even established a small organic farm in the new territories of Hong Kong. Thus, he is known as an advocate for local produce.

His Stewardship is Focus and Human Connection

In 2021, the Chinese restaurant was the first to be listed in Asia’s 50 greatest restaurants. His move to shift the restaurant to a smaller space in the Central, from its original location in Kau U Fong in Central, on Hong Kong Island, sparked intrigue. The reason he gave was that his goal was to be more focused. Normally, people would interpret the expansion of such a renowned restaurant, yet the chef chose a place with little room for guest accommodation and a bigger kitchen.

The reason Yip chose that place is that it gives more space to plan and make everything better and delicate.


One of the main reasons it shares a top position as a worthy award recipient lies in its standing as a force for human connection.

The Three Experts of Fermentation

Pickle preparation is deeply rooted in Asia’s cuisine culture. Different regions use techniques for preparing pickles, symbolizing the specialty of the natural crops and the traditions that thrive there. Since a lot of regions are witness to harsh weather and economic conditions, fermented food became the best source of survival in these times. This year’s event featured three different experiences with fermentation from three experts.

Peter Cuong Franklin - Banker Turned Chef

Meet Peter Cuong Franklin; a banker turned chef whose backstory carries a bit of wartime life. Franklin’s birth was during a war engrossed in Vietnam, who fled the country as a child in 1975 and settled in the US. He started his career as a banker, successful yet unsatisfied. His thirst for adventure is what took him into culinary life. He relates his time of fleeing Vietnam to attributes such as adaptability and creativity to his unconventional life. He believes that these attributes became the stepping stone to success in his culinary life.

Embracing of Vietnamese Street Food

For this year’s event, he shared his famous fermented fish sauce prepared with locally produced chillies and seasoned ferments. His fermented fish sauce can be paired with prawn crackers and traditional Vietnamese dishes. He also serves a plethora of dishes inspired by street food at his restaurant, Anăn Saigon. This restaurant is located at the oldest wet market in Ho Chi Minh City and is known for listing in Asia's 50 Best 2023. The place pays homage to Franklin’s mother in the name of a traditional noodle cafe that serves Pot Au Pho.

Johanne Siy - Asia’s Best Female Chef

Johanne Siy, Asia’s Best Female Chef, hails from experience working at some of the best restaurants in the world, such as Fäviken, Restaurant André, and Noma. Her venture into culinary arts began way before her corporate life. Her home visits as a marketing executive is what rekindled her passion for food and cooking—looking at mothers expressing love to their children and fathers through cooking or what they bring to the table. It was then she realized how meaningful of an act cooking actually is.

Range in Fermented Foods - International Feel Complimented by Traditional Filippino Accents

Her restaurant, Lolla, in Singapore, has an international feel to it; the menu draws close to the chef’s childhood in the Philippines. Her presentation of dishes at the event exposed guests to a range of traditional Filippino fermented food, from rice and fish to pickles.

Richie Lin’s Chef Style is a Mix of Flavors, Techniques and Sophisticated Presentation

Richie Lin is the chef/owner of Taipei's Michelin-starred MUME, which serves Asian-fusion dishes inspired by his background of working in Australia, Denmark, and Hong Kong. This restaurant symbolizes an amalgamation of flavors, techniques and sophisticated presentations.

Preparing Traditional Dishes with Modern Techniques

He crafts Taiwanese cuisine that has never been tasted by guests before by combining cutting-edge methods learned from working at renowned restaurants like Noma with hyper-seasonal ingredients from nearby farmers and fishermen. Lin showcased the subtleties of Taiwanese pickling and preserving techniques.

Niyati Rao - Focus on Individuality

The food of Niyati Rao's eatery, Ekaa, in Mumbai, is the result of the young chef's exploration of the country, dispelling myths and preconceptions along the way. Rao's concept of an area focused on individuality is perfectly embodied by the name ‘Ekaa,’ which means one or unique.

Jishnu AJ - Supports that Individuality with a Mix of Indigenous Ingredients

Head mixologist Jishnu AJ keeps a close eye on this idea at Ekaa's bar. AJ creates a cocktail menu that features indigenous ingredients like Kashmiri jatamansi, utilizing India's vast and varied terrain as his personal pantry. Along with discussing India's varied culinary traditions, rich background, and ingredient diversity, the pair will serve up two delectable delicacies that perfectly capture the essence of Ekaa's kitchen and bar.

Do-yun - Brings a Symphony of Flavors in a Bowl of Cold Noodles

Chef Do-yun With a passion for finding new ingredients and inventive ways to use them in his restaurant, Kim has been cooking for over 30 years. His work with naengmyeon, or cold noodles, which have evolved locally over the past 200 years and can be traced back to the Joseon Dynasty of the 18th century, is one of the best examples of this. Kim is always working to create a more complex and well-balanced symphony of flavors from what may appear to be a straightforward bowl of broth and noodles. His next task was to make noodles with unique ‘scents.’ Attendees of #50BestTalks have the opportunity to taste some of Kim's homemade cold buckwheat noodles and see him prepare his signature broth live on stage.

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