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Miele Guide Top 20 2009/2010


Julian Teoh
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Another edition of the Miele Guide, intended to be Asia's "up yours" to San Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants, has been published. I am pleased to set out this year's Top 20 below (actually, I had no idea where to put this but am following last year's practice, as China/HK contributed most of the list):

1. L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (HK)

2. Iggy's (Singapore)

3. Robuchon a Galera (Macau)

4. Jaan par André (Singapore)

5. Les Amis (Singapore)

6. Mozaic (Indonesia)

7. Gunther's (Singapore)

8. Laris (China)

9. Ku De Ta (Indonesia)

10. Yung Kee (HK)

11. Bukhara (India)

12. Beijing Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant (China)

13. Zanotti (Thailand)

14. M on the Bund (China)

15. Nobu (HK)

16. Caprice (HK)

17. Antonio's (Philippines)

18. Aubergine (Philippines)

19. Fook Lam Moon (HK)

20. L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Japan)

I don't know what to say about this list that hasn't been said before. But it is nice to see that the best Japanese cuisine restaurant in all of Asia is an American chain outlet in Hong Kong, and that the best restaurant in all of Asia is an informal French counter diner. The Japanese also apparently love this style of dining, seeing that the highest ranked restaurant in Japan is the Tokyo L'Atelier. So félicitations a M. Robuchon!

It is also interesting to contrast this against the Michelin Guide's results for HK and Macau; for example, that the restaurant Michelin deemed fit to be its first Chinese cuisine three-starrer is nowhere to be seen on the Top 20, or that L'Atelier HK had beaten out its plusher three-starred cousin in Macau. And I guess it is also now official that roast fowl are China's greatest culinary contribution to the world, given Yung Kee's and Da Dong's rankings as the best Chinese cuisine restaurants in Asia.

For me, the only saving grace is that André Chiang at Jaan (no. 4) is getting the plaudits he deserves. It is without a doubt one of the best restaurants in Singapore at the moment, if not the best, though again, the preponderance of Singaporean restaurants 3 out of the Top 5 and 4 out of the Top 10) probably reflects the fact that the Miele Guide is a Singaporean project and, despite their best efforts, is best known and followed by Singaporean voters.

Any thoughts?

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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:rolleyes:

Yes, I'm quite sure those two restaurants in the Philippines top, say, any of the best restaurants in Japan. The Philippines is a hotbed of fine cuisine, doncha know. :wacko:

I can't believe the publishers of the Miele Guide actually think it has any relevance or value. Seriously, why do they bother? Perhaps I should mosey on to to Chubby Hubby's site and ask him. . .

edited twice because my proofreading skills suck.

Also, do the publishers of the Guide actually make any money off of it? I'm just wondering why they do it, other than the thumbing their noses thing.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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Another edition of the Miele Guide, intended to be Asia's "up yours" to San Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants, has been published. I am pleased to set out this year's Top 20 below (actually, I had no idea where to put this but am following last year's practice, as China/HK contributed most of the list):

1. L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (HK)

2. Iggy's (Singapore)

3. Robuchon a Galera (Macau)

4. Jaan par André (Singapore)

5. Les Amis (Singapore)

6. Mozaic (Indonesia)

7. Gunther's (Singapore)

8. Laris (China)

9. Ku De Ta (Indonesia)

10. Yung Kee (HK)

11. Bukhara (India)

12. Beijing Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant (China)

13. Zanotti (Thailand)

14. M on the Bund (China)

15. Nobu (HK)

16. Caprice (HK)

17. Antonio's (Philippines)

18. Aubergine (Philippines)

19. Fook Lam Moon (HK)

20. L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Japan)

I don't know what to say about this list that hasn't been said before. But it is nice to see that the best Japanese cuisine restaurant in all of Asia is an American chain outlet in Hong Kong, and that the best restaurant in all of Asia is an informal French counter diner. The Japanese also apparently love this style of dining, seeing that the highest ranked restaurant in Japan is the Tokyo L'Atelier. So félicitations a M. Robuchon!

It is also interesting to contrast this against the Michelin Guide's results for HK and Macau; for example, that the restaurant Michelin deemed fit to be its first Chinese cuisine three-starrer is nowhere to be seen on the Top 20, or that L'Atelier HK had beaten out its plusher three-starred cousin in Macau. And I guess it is also now official that roast fowl are China's greatest culinary contribution to the world, given Yung Kee's and Da Dong's rankings as the best Chinese cuisine restaurants in Asia.

For me, the only saving grace is that André Chiang at Jaan (no. 4) is getting the plaudits he deserves. It is without a doubt one of the best restaurants in Singapore at the moment, if not the best, though again, the preponderance of Singaporean restaurants 3 out of the Top 5 and 4 out of the Top 10) probably reflects the fact that the Miele Guide is a Singaporean project and, despite their best efforts, is best known and followed by Singaporean voters.

Any thoughts?

I don't think there will ever be a restaurant guide - including ones published in a city, reviewed and written by people who live in that city, and targeted at the people who live there - that can be published without controversy or criticism.

The Miele Guide uses a complicated way of compiling votes that is sort of a mix between Michelin, Zagat and Restaurant Magazine: a panel of people (mostly journalists, I believe) who live in Asia nominate their favourite restaurants in the country where they live, the list of these restaurants is put online, and then others can vote. Voters include the general public (I don't think there are any restrictions on who can vote), plus invited F&B professionals. Voters don't have to stick to the online list; they can also nominate other places they like. As with Restaurant Magazine's 50 Best Restaurants in The World (and that list is much more controversial than the Miele Guide), voters can only pick a certain number of restaurants within their country, and the rest of their votes have to go to places in other parts of Asia. The top 20 most popular restaurants are listed by ranking; while the next 430 most popular restaurants are compiled in the guide by country.

I think the reason some of the restaurants made it into the top 20 list is that so many of the voters know of them: if they're visiting HOng Kong, it's easier (and safer) for a hotel concierge to recommend places like Nobu, Atelier de Joel Robuchon or Yung Kee than some small restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui with rude waiters who don't speak English, no matter how good the food there may be.

As for the lack of restaurants in Japan on the top 20 list, Chubby Hubby said that the chapter on Japan is twice as big as the chapters on any of the other countries. It sort of makes sense: there are so many good restaurants in Japan (and many of them are very small) that even people who live there might not have heard of them or eaten at them. As he says, the Japan vote is divided because of the high quality of so many places; while in the other countries, the people know which restaurants to vote for because there are fewer places of such high calibre. In the Philippines, probably all the voters living there picked the two that made it onto the top 20 list, so they got a good, concentrated block of votes.

I have to add that I am one of the panelists on the Miele Guide, just as I am one of the members voting in the Restaurant Magazine list.

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Hi Rona,

I guess if it were not for the Miele Guide, I may not have heard of Antonio's or Aubergine, so I guess some value has been added there! :biggrin:

Aprilmei, you make a very good point about the multiplicity of great restaurants in a single country like Japan or the concentrations of the Filipino vote. And that's the major problem with the popular voting / Zagat model. There is no code of honour - no one is accountable, very few voters are known to anyone else and God knows if they have actually eaten at the restaurant or not. And I do apologise if this sounds appallingly snobbish, but I refuse to concede that the views of the teenage girl down the road who happens to have Internet access are worth as much as experienced eaters like you, Rona or me. For me, that is the single greatest advantage of the SP Best 50 system over the Miele system.

Whatever one says about Michelin's ultimate judgment, at least on their format, there is no competing for a finite number of spots on a list and the restaurant gets whatever acclamation it is perceived to deserve.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Hi Rona,

I guess if it were not for the Miele Guide, I may not have heard of Antonio's or Aubergine, so I guess some value has been added there! :biggrin:

:laugh:

True, so true. But it will only have true value if the list encourages you to go to the Philippines and dine at those places.

Aprilmei, you make a very good point about the multiplicity of great restaurants in a single country like Japan or the concentrations of the Filipino vote. And that's the major problem with the popular voting / Zagat model. There is no code of honour - no one is accountable, very few voters are known to anyone else and God knows if they have actually eaten at the restaurant or not.

It wouldn't surprise me if many of the Filipinos who voted had never dined at either Antonio's or Aubergine. It's a matter of national pride--despite the very obvious flaws in the voting system, Filipinos can say their restaurants beat out the best in Japan, nevermind that there's a very large difference between "best" and "most popular".

Which brings me to. . .

It sort of makes sense: there are so many good restaurants in Japan (and many of them are very small) that even people who live there might not have heard of them or eaten at them. As he says, the Japan vote is divided because of the high quality of so many places; while in the other countries, the people know which restaurants to vote for because there are fewer places of such high calibre. In the Philippines, probably all the voters living there picked the two that made it onto the top 20 list, so they got a good, concentrated block of votes.

The website isn't clear--are people allowed to vote more than once? Is there anything preventing people from voting 100 times for their favourite restaurant?

Another issue I have with the guide is the reference to the "Top 20". "Top" implies "best" (in my opinion). Although the website is very clear that placement on the list is based on number of votes, more emphasis needs to be given to the fact that "most popular" does not in any way mean "best food". The average person sees "top" and thinks "best", and I highly doubt more than maybe five of the restaurants on that list belong on a list of the best 20 restaurants in Asia. Why not rename the list what it really is, which is "Most Popular" (and if people are allowed to vote more than once, then the restaurants aren't even that)? Why not scrap the Top 20 list, and just do the "Five Most Popular" for each country (they already do "top 5", so it's not much of a hardship just to concentrate on those and skip the top 20 altogether)?

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I found this about the online voting system

One email address, one contact number, one voter. Each voter gets 10 votes. Voters living in any of the 18 Asian countries surveyed by The Miele Guide will be allowed to vote for a maximum of 3 restaurants in their countries of residence. All other votes should be cast for restaurants outside of their home-countries. Voters can only vote for any one restaurant once. Voters also have the option to nominate restaurants that may be missing from the shortlist.

Do they also have a system to check IP addresses? Because I have 8 e-mail addresses and 4 phone numbers I can play around with to get more votes counted.

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Even the Restaurant Magazine list - which has voting by a limited number of people, most of whom are knowledgeable about food - can be seen sort of as a popularity contest, rather than the absolute "best" (which is hard to define, anyway). For one thing, the number of European/American/rest of the world voters coming to Asia is fewer (proportionately) than the number of Asian voters going to Europe/America/rest of the world, which means the results tend to favour restaurants outside Asia. Also, the voters from outside Asia who do come here will be coming for a limited time, and be will be going to different countries - so their votes will probably be split between Japan, Hong Kong/Macau/China, Singapore/Malaysia/Indonesia, India, etc. And whatever country they visit, they'll probably go to restaurants they've heard of - in HK that would be places like Hutong, Zuma, Nobu, Yung Kee (I've eaten some absolutely amazing meals at YK). So their votes will go to those places, whether or not they're really absolutely the "best" - but they're the best they tried here.

And I must confess, that when I have visitors who are making their first trip to HK, I will take them to places like Hutong, because the view is spectacular, the restaurant space is really great, and the food is good. Unless they are real foodie types, I won't take them to hole-in-the-wall places with grumpy waiters (I draw the line at Nobu and Zuma, though; I just won't take them there because I don't really like the food). So that perpetuates the popularity of places like Hutong - when they go back to wherever they're from, they'll tell their friends about it.

Michelin - the assessments come from people who are supposedly knowledgeable about food - but they can't review restaurants they've never heard of. Which means (again) the "big names" are in there, not the hard-to-find holes in the wall.

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This thread is prompting me to ask, what is the state of fine dining in Asia? In the US or Europe, if someone wanted to find the "best meal" in any given city, the consensus is usually pretty clear & easy to find. In addition, if you wanted to find the "best X meal" (seafood, japanese, farm-to-table, vegetarian etc.), this would also be relatively easy to ascertain and largely uncontroversial. However, I don't have any idea whether this is even remotely similar in Asia.

I read in jayrayner's latest book that, in Japan, the very best restaurants are secret affairs that require an introduction to even get in the door and you have to be found worthy of eating there. Such restaurants tend to seat only a dozen or so people and are run by a single chef.

Conversely, I've taken several trips to China with my family and we ate very, very well as we always had local friends who helped arrange everything. The "finest" dining experiences we had were always in private dining rooms of massive restaurant palaces that served 20 - 30 impeccably tasting courses. Is there a level of fine dining above this or is this the fine dining paradigm in China?

PS: I am a guy.

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In today's Straits Times , a foolish young writer criticised the Miele Guide for putting on a sub-quality spread during its awards ceremony (and also criticising the Guide itself). Here is a extract from an acerbic response by Aun Koh aka Chubby Hubby, the editor of the Guide:

"The Miele Guide is the hard work of a lot of people, including many of SPH's most credible restaurant critics, who kindly volunteer their time to help us shortlist Asia's best restaurants. What I explained to this rather zealous young writer is that in certain markets, Zagat dominates but in others, due to its purely democratic nature, i.e. results based only on public voting, fails to properly catalog a city's best restaurants. You only have to look at the Zagat guides to mainland Chinese cities for examples of this. Further, I explained to this writer that Zagat zeroes in first and foremost on cities. Hence how the term "local" came into play. Michelin, on the other hand, has a clear point of view in assessing restaurants, and in Asia, also city by city. The focus is clearly on fine-dining restaurants.

"The Miele Guide is trying, as difficult as this enterprise may be, to capture the general sentiments and tastes of the Asian dining public. It is this reason why our process--working with 85 or Asia's most respected restaurant critics, followed by public polling and also a vote by a jury--is as complicated as it is. At the end of the day, our results speak for themselves. The top 5 restaurants in Indonesia include both a super-fancy gastro-temple helmed by a chef who has worked alongside luminaries like Thomas Keller and David Bouley. But it also includes a road-side al fresco shack with communal tables that just so happens to serve the best ribs and martinis in Bali, if not the country. The Top 20 list also reflects the diverse dining habits of Asian diners; restaurants range from serious fine-dining establishments like Jaan par Andre where the emphasis is clearly the food and the food alone to restaurants like Ku De Ta, where the overall experience is what is prized."

Doesn't this fall on all fours with a "most popular" description? Capturing the general sentiment and tastes of the general public, I think, can in no way equate with "the best" when we are talking about restaurants.

April, I note your criticism of Michelin, but is there anything in the Michelin system to stop them recruiting knowledgeable local people who will have knowledge of the holes-in-the-wall, and then to review the establishment based on their criteria? I think the NY Michelin is a case in point, where the inaugural Guide attracted a hell of a lot of criticism, but a few years down the track, has gained credibility because their team has a lot more knowledge and experience of the NY dining scene. It may have been better for them to take their time instead of going off half-cocked in 2005, but that's another story.

As for the Restaurant Magazine list, it is undoubtedly a popularity contest, but allegedly, the more select and smaller jury body are more discerning about their food than the average Joe. If they are more educated and experienced about their subject, surely that would have a lot more credibility in a "best of" list?

Back to my earlier point, I have read food blogs based in Singapore, many of them by teenage girls who happen to have parents rich enough to spoil them with a good camera, and let me just say some of these blogs are appalling, whether through language abuse or sheer ignorance of their subject matter. I hate to think that these are the people influencing the rankings to a large extent.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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"But it also includes a road-side al fresco shack with communal tables that just so happens to serve the best ribs and martinis in Bali, if not the country."

Which one is that? They neglected to mention.

Is that the only hole-in-the-wall place on the list?

I rather like Michelin New York but it definitely does not have anything as hole-in-the-wall as an "al fresco shack".

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  • 3 weeks later...

Another edition of the Miele Guide, intended to be Asia's "up yours" to San Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants, has been published. I am pleased to set out this year's Top 20 below (actually, I had no idea where to put this but am following last year's practice, as China/HK contributed most of the list):

1. L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (HK)

2. Iggy's (Singapore)

3. Robuchon a Galera (Macau)

4. Jaan par André (Singapore)

5. Les Amis (Singapore)

6. Mozaic (Indonesia)

7. Gunther's (Singapore)

8. Laris (China)

9. Ku De Ta (Indonesia)

10. Yung Kee (HK)

11. Bukhara (India)

12. Beijing Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant (China)

13. Zanotti (Thailand)

14. M on the Bund (China)

15. Nobu (HK)

16. Caprice (HK)

17. Antonio's (Philippines)

18. Aubergine (Philippines)

19. Fook Lam Moon (HK)

20. L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Japan)

I don't know what to say about this list that hasn't been said before. But it is nice to see that the best Japanese cuisine restaurant in all of Asia is an American chain outlet in Hong Kong, and that the best restaurant in all of Asia is an informal French counter diner. The Japanese also apparently love this style of dining, seeing that the highest ranked restaurant in Japan is the Tokyo L'Atelier. So félicitations a M. Robuchon!

It is also interesting to contrast this against the Michelin Guide's results for HK and Macau; for example, that the restaurant Michelin deemed fit to be its first Chinese cuisine three-starrer is nowhere to be seen on the Top 20, or that L'Atelier HK had beaten out its plusher three-starred cousin in Macau. And I guess it is also now official that roast fowl are China's greatest culinary contribution to the world, given Yung Kee's and Da Dong's rankings as the best Chinese cuisine restaurants in Asia.

For me, the only saving grace is that André Chiang at Jaan (no. 4) is getting the plaudits he deserves. It is without a doubt one of the best restaurants in Singapore at the moment, if not the best, though again, the preponderance of Singaporean restaurants 3 out of the Top 5 and 4 out of the Top 10) probably reflects the fact that the Miele Guide is a Singaporean project and, despite their best efforts, is best known and followed by Singaporean voters.

Any thoughts?

the Miele Guide is a Singaporean project and, despite their best efforts, is best known and followed by Singaporean voters ?

Then, why the NO.1 is a HK restaurant ...

welcome to my blog: chinese food picture

http://www.chinesefoodpicture.com

It's mainly about Chinese food and drinks.

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I totally agree about the teenage food bloggers, especially in Singapore.

I had a teenage group of 3 come to my restaurant and they found an eye lash of the side of a plate of one of the dessert samplers

We replaced the dish with apologies et al also informed them that it will be 10 more minutes as it had a hot pudding on it

They replied in the tone of " what can you do for me now that this has happened" were the exact words, expecting a stiff discount on the bill

we said its our standard policy as on nearly all restaurants that we replace the said dish. They paid in full and went away with sullen faces as they did nt get the discount they were looking for

The next day on a popular food blogging site in Singapore there was the whole story without the quoted 'what can you do for me,I am a cheapo wanting serious discount', not to mention the fact that in todays sense of food hygeine and the like bla bla

The girl who blogged about it has never blogged about any other restuarant before and just did this to get back at the restaurant!!! talk about spite!

Fortunately a few other bloggers commented about her empty and needless drama and made sense of the whole episode

She also tried to write to the newspapers online forum to even comical effect!!

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