Essence of Asia

Essence of Asia

The local hero restaurants that embody the culinary spirit of the continent

In 2021, the 50 Best organisation aimed to recognise and support restaurants of all types and at all levels across Asia. In particular, through the Essence of Asia collection, we shined a light on those establishments that have had a positive impact on their local culture, communities and cuisines, whether during the recent crisis or over a sustained period.

In one of the most challenging periods for the hospitality sector, this unranked collection highlights local – and often more casual – spots that are integral to Asia’s culinary ecosystem. These restaurants stand out through their preservation of culinary traditions, their honouring of authentic flavours and by providing a vital service for, and a direct link with, their communities. 

Presented in association with 50 Best’s main partner, S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, the Essence of Asia collection spans 49 cities across 20 countries, stretching from Karachi to Kyoto, and from Beijing south to Bali. The selection reflects the region’s diversity and rich traditions, celebrating the broad range of restaurants that embody the spirit of the continent including everything from hawker stalls to innovative contemporary projects, guardians of culinary heritage to sustainability pioneers.

This selection, with no ranking or hierarchy, sat alongside the ninth edition of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, which was revealed on 25th March 2021.

In the spirit of collaboration, the collection was created based on the recommendations from the chefs of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 & 2021, the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy Chairs, and trusted gourmets in the region. Essence of Asia is arranged by country and celebrates each restaurant equally, while recognising what it symbolises for its region.

You can find the full listing by country here, profiles of each restaurant in an article here, and a video showcasing the Essence of Asia below.