After three very successful years in Singapore the fourth edition was recently held at W Hotel Bangkok on Monday 29th February 2016. The voting is done by international leaders in the restaurant community based in the geographical area covered by the awards. Each member can cast seven votes. Of those seven, at least three votes must recognize restaurants outside of the academy member’s own region.

For the second consecutive year Gaggan in Bangkok has claimed the top spot in the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. This year’s list welcomes 10 new entries, including three from Japan. China counts 13 restaurants on the list while Singapore and Japan each have 10. With 13 nations represented, the 2016 list includes restaurants from more countries than ever before, showcasing a rich variety of dining experiences across Asia. Host country Thailand is also represented by Nahm (No.8), Issaya Siamese Club, rising 20 places to No.19, and Eat Me at No.23. Sadly for Thailand Bo.lan has dropped off the list. What is more concerning is the repeat of the same names one would have hoped that the next generation of restaurant’s in Thailand notably LeDu and Aston 31 would have been recognised.

Australian born Chef David Thompson justifiably was recognised with the2016 Dinners Club Achievement Awards for Asia for his 30 years culinary career. His restaurant Nahm in London was the first Thai restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star. Nahm in Bangkok was the first restaurant in Thailand to be recognised on the World’s 50 Best restaurant list and the first to win Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. A passionate advocate of Thai street food he has moved on to open Long Chim at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore in 2015 and in Melbourne this year.

These awards are uniquely independent in the way the results are achieved. There is no fixed criteria for selecting the wining restaurants, rather it’s the collective opinion of which restaurant gave the best dining experience. This is decided by a panel in each region is made up of food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs and highly regarded ‘gastronomes’. Members list their choices in order of preference, based on their best restaurant experiences of the previous 18 months. There is no pre-determined check-list of criteria, which hopes to make the list as varied and open as possible.

This selection process isn’t without criticism some do see it as opaque and obscure. But to put the list into context it can only be a snapshot of current tastes which are ever evolving. Nothng is perfect but they aim to do the best job possible.