It was the sound of jaws dropping and hitting the floor, as much as corks popping.
A culinary hat trick. A gastronomic threepeat. Amidst literally millions of restaurants in Asia, one reigned supreme against them all, again: Gaggan.
At the fifth edition of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, for a wholly unprecedented third year running no restaurant could hold a candle to the innovative Indian cuisine it serves – not in India, but in Bangkok, Thailand.
“I wish I could break the award in 50 pieces and share it with every chef in the room,” chef/owner Gaggan Anand said, thanking his family, his team and the award sponsors. “I’m humbled. This is for my country where I came from, India. For Tara my daughter and my family. The 67 people in my restaurant are the best team I’ve ever worked with.”
Gaggan’s triumph followed voting by 318 independent experts led by six academy chairs across the region. The victory was sweet, but clearly not without challenges including time apart from his wife and new child.
“I just told the organizers that next time we should have a sponsor from a hospital,” he joked.
Meet Gaggan Anand, the ‘world’s best’ Indian chef
Tattoo on the menu?
The Thai capital laid out the red carpet as the great and the good of Asia’s food scene came together to celebrate the crowning of Gaggan as the continent’s top restaurant.
Being a culinary starfest, the pressure was on to keep the attendees fed and watered, a task more than accomplished with everything from cheeses by Les Frères Marchand to fiery northern Thai curries by Bangkok’s Maan Mueang restaurant.
The stunning final result drew audible gasps from hundreds in the room and doubtless thousands more watching live streams from around the world. The countdown of the top 10 was teased out, with three restaurants in the running for the top three spots, but in which order would they appear?
When the second place restaurant was announced as Singapore’s Restaurant Andre, there could be no doubt that Gaggan reigned supreme – yet again.
To the cranked-up sound of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die,” he took to the stage, by now a familiar sight for those in the room.
The bubbles flowed, both water and grape based, as the evening reached a crescendo, continued in the early morning at after-parties for those really in the know. Gaggan said he may even end up with a permanent reminder of his three wins.
“If my team gets a tattoo to celebrate, I’ll get one.”
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 – the list of winners
Asia’s 50 best restaurants in 2017
1. Gaggan, Bangkok
2. Restaurant Andre, Singapore
3. Amber, Hong Kong
4. 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo, Hong Kong
5. Nahm, Bangkok
6. Narisawa, Tokyo
7. Nihonryori Ryugin, Tokyo
8. Ultraviolet, Shanghai
9. Odette, Singapore
10. Burnt Ends, Singapore
11. Den, Tokyo
12. L’Effervescence, Tokyo
13. Suhring, Bangkok
14. Florilege, Tokyo
15. Mingles, Seoul
16. Les Amis, Singapore
17. Lung King Heen, Hong Kong
18. Quintessence, Tokyo
19. Bo.Lan, Bangkok
20. Waku Ghin, Singapore
21. Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok, Thailand
22. Locavore, Bali, Indonesia
23. Corner House, Singapore
24. Raw, Taipei
25. Jungsik, Seoul
26. Sushi Saito, Tokyo
27. Tippling Club, Singapore
28. Le Mout, Taichung, Taiwan
29. Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka
30. Indian Accent, New Delhi
31. Eat Me, Bangkok, Thailand
32. Jade Dragon, Macau
33. Ta Vie, Hong Kong
34. Hajime, Osaka, Japan
35. Gallery Vask, Manila, Philippines
36. The Dining Room at The House on Sathorn, Bangkok
37. Le Du, Bangkok
38. La Yeon, Seoul, Korea
39. The Tasting Room by Galliot, Macau
40. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Bangkok
41. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Hong Kong
42. Jaan, Singapore
43. Mume, Taipei
44. Shinji by Kanesaka, Singapore
45. Ronin, Hong Kong
46. Wasabi by Morimoto, Mumbai, India
47. The Chairman, Hong Kong
48. Fu He Hui, Shanghai
49. Nihonbashi, Colombo, Sri Lanka
50. Takazawa, Tokyo
For more on the winners, visit the official Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants website.
Chris Dwyer is a Hong Kong-based food and travel writer and communications consultant. Follow him on Twitter at @chrismdwyer or visit www.finefooddude.com.