The Jakarta Post
To eat the best meals in all of Asia one need not venture further than Bali, according to the 2013 Miele Guide Best of Asia top 20 list released last month.
Three Indonesian restaurants, Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique, Sarong and Metis Restaurant and Gallery, all located in Bali, took fifth place, 13th place and 19th place respectively.
The Miele Guide is Asia’s first independent guide to the region’s finest restaurants. Now in its fifth year, it lists and profiles the top 500 restaurants across 17 Asian countries. The top 20 are decided after a rigorous voting process involving input from restaurant critics, food writers and the foodies of the public.
First and third place went to restaurants run by French celebrity chef Joel Robuchon in Macau and Hong Kong, and Singapore newcomer with Japanese chef Tatsuya Wakuda’s Waku Ghin placed second.
Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique in Bali came in at fifth place, up seven places from last year. Tucked in the quiet artist’s community of Ubud, it is popular for its intimate garden setting and food that mixes French and progressive techniques with local flavors.
Founder and chef Chris Salans is considered at the forefront of modern international Balinese cuisine. After working in restaurants in the United States, France and Indonesia, the Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef eventually returned to Bali. He opened Mozaic 10 years ago.
Salans, who was born in the United States but raised in France, has developed techniques to bring flavors of Indonesian cuisine to Westerners’ palates. He said his love for his Indonesian wife and her culture, her mother’s food, eating at traditional warungs and his experience in modern cuisine allowed him to express his own style of cooking.
“Based on the ingredients in season and my environment, I apply the cooking techniques that I know and the flavors that I like … I guess Mozaic’s cuisine is modern French cuisine using the Balinese terroir.”
Salans said he was proud to have been part of a movement that saw three Balinese restaurants make it to the top 20. “I wanted Bali to become a culinary destination, and I guess we’ve achieved it,” he said.
“I am honored so many voters still believe in what I had set out to do when I opened Mozaic. I wanted to make sure the world knew the culinary treasures we had in Bali.”
Another Balinese restaurant on the list, Sarong, came in at number 13 — climbing up five spots on the list for this year.
Founding chef Will Meyrick, an Australian who set up several successful restaurants around the Asia-Pacific region, said he conceptualized Sarong as a place to showcase the recipes he sought out from street food vendors around Asia, so Thai starters are featured alongside Indian tandoor items and Chinese-style stir-fries.
“I’ve gone out across Southeast Asia and dug deep, met the families who have had these recipes for generations, made them their own. Cooked with them in their kitchens. Listened to the stories. Learnt the techniques,” Meyrick said.
“The dishes that make it to the menu at Sarong all help to preserve unique culinary cultures, and knowing this we do try to tell the stories that make them what they are.”
Meyrick said he aimed to focus more and more on Indonesian food to champion it on a larger, international level and introduce it to new audiences.
“I feel very proud to be flying the flag for Indonesia in terms of Asian fine dining,” he said.
Metis Restaurant and Gallery, number 19 on the list, was established in 2009. As described by the Miele list, its culinary style is “classic French-Mediterranean cuisine punctuated with a playful incorporation of Asian influences”.
Chef Nicholas “Doudou” Tourneville said making the list was not only rewarding for himself and his business partner, Said Alem, but also for the staff who had all put in so much work. “We try to make the best of ourselves and keep our standard at the highest to surprise our customers. But the most important think is to be consistent.”
Tourneville confirmed there was something new coming to Metis this year, but he said he would leave it a surprise. “We always want to improve ourselves, to keep it up,” he said.
Pride in Asia’s cultures was a common thread seen in 2013’s top 20 list, said a press release from Miele Guide. “Though progressive restaurants prevail, behind their modern facades are often rooted in centuries-old Asian culinary history.”
The 2013 top 20:
1. Robuchon au Dome in Macau
2. Waku Ghin in Singapore
3. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong
4. Iggy’s in Singapore
5. Mozaic in Bali, Indonesia
6. Pierre Gagnaire a Seoul in South Korea
7. Caprice in Hong Kong
8. Amber in Hong Kong
9. 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong
10. Les Amis in Singapore
11. Restaurant Andre in Singapore
12. Tippling Club in Singapore
13. Sarong in Bali, Indonesia
14. Mr & Mrs Bund in Shanghai, China
15. One Harbour Road in Hong Kong, China
16. Dakshin in Chennai, India
17. Antonio’s in Tagaytay, Philippines
18. Nihon Ryori RyuGin in Tokyo, Japan
19. Metis Restaurant and Gallery in Bali, Indonesia
20. Bukhara in New Delhi, India