Rotating images: Baby squid sundae with spicy pork belly from Mingles (image: La Main); the interior at Raw; water shield of tomato jelly at Den (image: Sergio Coimbra)
If, like us, you can barely wait until February 29th for the new Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list, you may be pleased to discover six of the region's hottest restaurants, as voted for by the experts behind The World's 50 Best Restaurants.
In part four of our Diners Club® 50 Best Discovery Series, you can feast your eyes on everything from chick-shaped potato cakes to vibrant green pork ear alongside cutting-edge interiors. Which one is top of your wish list?
1. Mingles – Seoul, Korea
758, Seolleung-ro, B1, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, 135-948
+82 2 515 7306
Smoked duck breast with mulberry sauce (image: La Main)
What's in the name? This hip restaurant in Seoul's buzzy Cheongdam-dong district lives up to its name by 'mingling' Korean and European influences to create 'new Asian cuisine'.
On the menu: The set seven-course tasting menu changes every few weeks, but guests can expect traditional Korean fermented soy sauces and vinegars to play an integral part in the meal. Think charred beef tenderloin with truffle ‘jang’ sauce or soybean paste-marinated lamb, grilled over charcoal and covered in vegetable powder.
Discover more about Mingles
2. Den – Tokyo, Japan
Jimbocho, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Mature potato cake filled with white miso preserved foie gras... made to look like a chick, of course (image: Sergio Coimbra)
What makes it special? Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa makes diners smile at his kaiseki restaurant in Tokyo with technically accomplished modern dishes imbued with a playful sense of humour. Think chicken wings presented in a fast food takeaway box or dessert served on a garden shovel.
The food: Hasegawa's no-choice eight-course menu is rooted in Japanese traditions but not strait-jacketed by them. International influences can be seen in a savoury take on the Japanese confectionery 'monaka', and the signature garden salad is a tour-de-force of more than 20 vegetables cooked in a variety of ways.
Discover more about Den
3. Raw – Taipei, Taiwan
No.301, Le Qun 3rd Road, Taipei City, Taiwan
Tomatoes, rose champagne, ohba sansho
A trio of chefs: Taiwanese chef André Chiang goes back to his roots with this Taipei venture, teaming up with two young chefs, each with his own role in the concept. Zor Tan is known as ‘the brain’ for his ability to conceive exciting flavour combinations; Restaurant André owner Chiang is ‘the eyes’ for his meticulous analysis and refinement of dishes; and Alain Huang is ‘the hands’, putting the finishing touches.
On the menu: Expect beautifully presented plates full of colour and flavour on the eight-course tasting menu. Stand-outs could include crunchy chicken masala skins topped with cauliflower, couscous and Indian spices or a dainty tomato salad with king fish sashimi, shiso sorbet and rosé champagne vinaigrette.
Discover more about Raw
4. Ronin – Hong Kong
8 On Wo Lane, Central, Hong Kong
+852 2547 5263
Kagoshima beef, maitake and egg yolk
A brief summary: Seafood and excellent libations are the twin pillars of Matt Abergel's trendy izakaya-style dining bar, which has been a smash hit since day one.
On the menu: Signatures include crab shells piled with crab meat, mitsuba (wild parsley) and fresh sea urchin or smoky, seared eel and sushi rice blended with kinome (a spicy Japanese herb). The drinks list has been designed to match the food, featuring more than 100 Japanese whiskies, umeshu, shochu and sake, plus craft beer, wine and cocktails.
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5. Serge et le Phoque – Hong Kong
3 Wan Chai Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
+852 5465 2000
Serge et le Phoque shrimp
In a nutshell: Set up by a trio of influential Frenchmen, there's plenty of Parisian cool at this stripped back bistro in the Wan Chai market district, which serves progressive French food showcasing local and international ingredients.
What to order: Choose between the chef's tasting menu or smaller plates on the à la carte – designed to be shared – with an excellent selection of natural French wines. Highlights include oyster ceviche and frozen coconut with raspberry and avocado, or butterflied quail cooked on a Josper grill and dressed with pea shoots and onion juice. Finish with a classic dacquoise – a layered cake of almond biscuit, vanilla cream and nougatine.
Discover more about Serge et le Phoque
6. The Tasting Room – Macau
Estrada do Istmo, Cotai, Macau
+853 8868 6681
Turbot cooked with lemongrass, fresh clams with coriander, salsify and avocado in vinaigrette (City of Dreams, Macau)
What makes it special: There are numerous ways to get your kicks in the City of Dreams – a huge entertainment and hotel complex in Macau – from boutique shops and shows to nightclubs and restaurants. But The Tasting Room stands out in the pleasure stakes for the sheer quality of its ingredients and wine list.
On the menu: French chef Guillaume Galliot, who previously worked for the Raffles Hotel group, goes to extraordinary lengths to source luxury ingredients from around the world. Kick off with foie gras ravioli and pumpkin purée, followed by slow-cooked turbot with Culatello ham and a Comté cheese emulsion.
Discover more about The Tasting Room