French fine-dining restaurant Odette at the National Gallery Singapore retains its No. 1 position on this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. This makes it the best restaurant in Asia and Singapore for the second year in a row.

Another Singapore establishment – modern Australian barbecue restaurant Burnt Ends in Teck Lim Road (previously No. 10) – climbs five spots to No. 5.

The other three in the top five are Tokyo’s Den – retaining third place – and Hong Kong’s Belon at No. 4 (previously No. 15) as well as The Chairman at No. 2 (previously No. 11).

The annual list was livestreamed online yesterday. The on-site event, originally meant to be held in Japan’s Saga prefecture, was cancelled last month amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Odette Julien Royer
Chef-owner Julien Royer of Odette, which is No. 1 again this year on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

Odette’s chef-owner Julien Royer, 37, and his team watched the ceremony together at the restaurant, he told The Straits Times. He said it helped them to temporarily forget their worries of the past few weeks.

He said: “It’s a challenging time for us all in the food and beverage industry. It’s difficult to celebrate at the moment, but we take this as a sign of positivity and optimism for us. We have to find solutions and hope for a better future.”

The restaurant has been hit by a spate of cancellations in the last few days, said chef Royer, as about 30 per cent of its diners are tourists who have cancelled their trips to Singapore. He also expressed concern over the supply of ingredients as it relies heavily on imported produce.

Overall, it was a strong showing from restaurants in Singapore.

(Related: Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019: Singapore’s Odette is the top restaurant in Asia)

Restaurant Zen – by Swedish chef Bjorn Frantzen, who runs the three-Michelin-starred Frantzen in Stockholm – debuted at No. 28. The restaurant in Bukit Pasoh Road was also awarded two Michelin stars in its debut in last year’s Michelin Guide.

French restaurant Les Amis at Shaw Centre (previously No. 33) shot to No. 11 and also won the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality award.

Chef Sebastien Lepinoy in kitchen
Chef Sebastien Lepinoy of Les Amis

British restaurant Jaan by Kirk Westaway (previously No. 32) at Swissotel The Stamford jumped to No. 21, while modern European restaurant Corner House (previously No. 49) at the Singapore Botanic Gardens rose to No. 42.

Fine-dining restaurant Nouri, No. 39 last year, slipped 11 spots to No. 50, while Japanese restaurant Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands – No. 40 last year – was not on the list. The restaurant has been closed since last June for renovations.

The Best Female Chef was Cho Hee-sook of Hansikgonggan in Seoul, whose restaurant is a new entry at No. 34; Highest New Entry was Sichuan Moon in Macau at No. 23; and Highest Climber was Bangkok’s restaurant Sorn, after catapulting to No. 16 from No. 48 last year.

The upcoming Asia’s 50 Best Bars ceremony takes place on May 14, also as an online ceremony, while the World’s 50 Best 2020 list will be announced in Antwerp on June 2.

Mr William Drew, director of content at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, started the announcement of the eighth edition of the awards on a sombre note. He said: “Given the circumstances globally with the pandemic and the horrendous effect it is having on the world and the hospitality sector, among many others – this year’s announcement is not a celebration, but still an important recognition of the hard work and talent of restaurants, chefs and their teams across Asia.

“As always, there are some fantastic newcomers on the list, along with perennial favourites. We hope this list and awards provide at least some positive rays of light in these dark days.”

This article was originally published in The Straits Times.

(Related: Odette Singapore: Chef Julien Royer’s food is now being served on Air France flights)