Burnt Ends is back in the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants top 10

Perth-born chef Dave Pynt is behind Singapore's Burnt Ends.
Perth-born chef Dave Pynt is behind Singapore's Burnt Ends. Photo: Simon Pynt

They are the Golden Globes of south-east Asia's restaurant industry; the form guide to the "Oscars" of the World's 50 Best Restaurants 2019 awards, to be held in Singapore in June.

It's a double whammy for the dining region closest to our shores. And just like the Globes, the glittering award ceremony had diversity, colour, movement, great frocks, tears and lots of hugs.

The seventh annual Asia's 50 Best Restaurant Awards sponsored by S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna was held at the glitzy Wynn Palace Cotai in Macau for the second year, before moving to Tokyo in 2020. 

David Thompson left his restaurant Nahm (No.22) to open Aaharn in Hong Kong.
David Thompson left his restaurant Nahm (No.22) to open Aaharn in Hong Kong. Photo: William Furniss

No disrespect to Indian-born chef Gaggan Anand, but had his restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok won the top spot for the fifth consecutive year, it could have buried the awards in an avalanche of snoring. 

Instead, there was movement at the pointy end as Singapore's very French restaurant Odette stole the top spot, pipping Gaggan at the post. Chef Julien Royer thanked his three sous chefs, calling them "my team machine" as he donned the trademark crimson scarf of the winner as if born to it. Opened four years ago in Singapore's National Gallery, Odette is his "loving tribute" to French gastronomy, which he calls a "timeless destination". (Cue guinea fowl with celeriac risotto and foie gras croquette; and confit beetroot with smoked eel cream, caviar and horseradish).

But how relevant are these awards to food-loving Australian travellers looking for a dining bucket list for their next trip? While it's a great celebration of the Asian scene, it tends to showcase a certain type of restaurant; and there's a distinct lack of Asia's legendary street food heroes on the list.

If you're hanging out for a high-end French dining experience without the long-haul flight to Europe, or you just want to find out what's hot in Bangkok, Shanghai and Tokyo, it's going to come in handy. Just don't swallow the "Best Restaurants in Asia" tag as gospel, without exploring the streets for the (equally) best tonkatsu, ramen, dim sum, bak chor mee and pho.

The 2019 list features 10 new restaurants, including Dewakan (Malaysia), and Toyo Eatery in the Philippines. Japan leads with a record 12 entries, followed by Hong Kong with nine restaurants and Thailand with eight. But where are all the Australians?

Perth-born Dave Pynt's hot, hot, hot wood-fired restaurant Burnt Ends in Singapore (with head chef Jake Kellie) sizzled its way up the ranks, moving from number 12 in 2018 to return to number 10 this year. Other than that, the news for Australia isn't great. 

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David Thompson relinquished his place in the top 50 by leaving Nahm in Bangkok, to open Aaharn in Hong Kong, which didn't make the final cut. Sam Aisbett's elegant, contemporary Whitegrass in Singapore, which debuted at number 50 last year, closed in December 2018. 

Tetsuya Wakuda's Waku Ghin in Singapore moved from Number 16 to number 40 in 2019, but is expected to feature heavily as a host restaurant when the World's 50 Best crowd heads for Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on June 25.  

"It's so great that the world is coming to Singapore to see what we are doing," says Burnt Ends' head chef Jake Kellie. "Omigod, there will be so many parties."

Full list: Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2019

1. Odette, Singapore

2. Gaggan, Bangkok

3. Den, Tokyo

4. Suhring, Bangkok

5. Florilege, Tokyo

6. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai

7. Mume, Taipei

8. Narisawa, Tokyo

9. Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo

10. Burnt Ends, Singapore

11. The Chairman, Hong Kong

12. 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong

13. Mingles, Seoul

14. La Cime, Osaka, Japan

15. Belon, Hong Kong (highest climber)

16. Gaa*, Bangkok (highest new entry)

17. Indian Accent, New Delhi

18. Il Ristorante Luca Fantin, Tokyo

19. Bo.Lan, Bangkok

20. Le Du, Bangkok

21. Amber, Hong Kong

22. Nahm, Bangkok

23. Sazenka*, Tokyo

24. La Maison de La Nature Goh, Fukuoka, Japan

25. Sushi Saito, Tokyo

26. L'Effervescence, Tokyo

27. Jade Dragon, Macau

28. Paste, Bangkok

29. Fu He Hui, Shanghai

30. Raw, Taipei

31. Shoun RyuGin, Taipei

32. Jaan, Singapore

33. Les Amis, Singapore

34. Vea*, Hong Kong

35. Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka

36. Wing Lei Palace*, Macau

37. Neighbourhood, Hong Kong

38. Lung King Heen, Hong Kong

39. Nouri*, Singapore

40. Waku Ghin, Singapore

41. TocToc, Seoul

42. Locavore, Bali (Sustainable Restaurant Award)

43. Toyo Eatery*, Manila, Philippines

44. Seventh Son*, Hong Kong

45. Quintessence, Tokyo

46. Dewakan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

47. Sugalabo*, Tokyo

48. Sorn*, Bangkok

49. Corner House, Singapore

50. Ta Vie, Hong Kong

*New entry