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SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Gourmands have chosen restaurants run by French chef Joel Robuchon as the best in Asia in the latest edition of a regional dining guide which showed the love of good food could triumph over the economic downturn.
Parisian Robuchon, whose restaurants across the globe are believed to have the most Michelin stars for any chef, topped this year's list of Asia's 20 best restaurants in the 2009/2010 Miele Guide which features 450 restaurants in 16 Asian countries.
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong was voted the region's number one restaurant, while his Macau and Tokyo venues came in at number 3 and 20 respectively. The chef has 5 restaurants in Asia.
"A lot of us in the culinary scene look at this recession as a time for weeding off," said Aun Koh, director of Ate Media, the Singapore-based company that publishes The Miele Guide.
"It shows who's really on top of the game, who's really worth it. And those are the places that patrons know will offer a consistently good dining experience, and so they didn't feel as pinched as the others."
Dining out is still a top priority for many in the Asia Pacific region despite the global recession, according to a recent poll conducted by MasterCard, and Koh said the guide, partly compiled through public voting, showed diners in the region had become more choosy.
"A lot of restaurants that were good, but not amazing, were hit by the downturn. Asian diners prize consistency and having a great time -- give them that, and they'll forgive certain faults," he said.
Overall, China had the most restaurants in the top 20 list, cementing Hong Kong's gourmet status and also highlighting the rise of Macau, Shanghai and Beijing.
But while only one restaurant in Japan made it to the top 20 -- L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Tokyo -- the country has the most restaurants in the guide, making it this year's best country in Asia in which to dine.
"If you look at our list, you can see the full scope of restaurants that Asians diners pick for different occasions, as dining out is very much a communal event here," Koh said.
"From a pure gastronomic basis, the list might not be the same, but for the lay person looking for a top dining experiences, this is great."
The Miele Guide was created in 2008 to better recognize Asia's best chefs and restaurants, and is selected after several rounds of public voting and judging by experts. This year, it drew 98,000 votes from diners in 98 countries across the globe, a third more than a year ago.
The 16 countries featured in the guide are Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
The guide is available online at www.mieleguide.com and for $15 at bookstores.
Following is a list of Asia's top 10 restaurants, according to The Miele Guide:
1. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Hong Kong, China
2. Iggy's, Singapore
3. Robuchon a Galera, Macau, China
4. Jaan par Andre, Singapore
5. Les Amis, Singapore
6. Mozaic, Bali, Indonesia
7. Gunther's Modern French Cuisine, Singapore
8. Laris, Shanghai, China
9. Ku De Ta, Bali, Indonesia
10. Yung Kee, Hong Kong, China
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith