Chef Joel Robuchon wins top marks in Asia dining list

Wed Sep 30, 2009 10:18pm EDT
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By Miral Fahmy

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.   Continued...