These Filipinos made it to this year's Asia's Best

Toques off to Jordy Navarra, May Navarra, Stephan Duhesme, Karen Ramos, and Johanne Siy and their contemporaries in Tokyo and Bangkok

At a glance

  • Helmed by Stephan Duhesme and Karen Ramos, Metiz has made it to number 48 on this year’s list, a remarkable feat for the restaurant that plays on Filipino flavors using fermentation.

Featured image: OYSTER ADOBO Johanne Sy’s signature dish at Lolla

The Lion City, Singapore is home to bustling and unpretentious hawker centers, fine dining restaurants, and multi-cultural food destinations. Influenced by its cultural diversity, food here is the center of everything. From old-world Peranakan home cooking and Indo-Malay cuisine to top restaurants specializing on anything and everything, such as Zén, the Singapore stablemate of Björn Frantzén’s eponymous Nordic-Kaiseki restaurant in Stockholm, or Odette, Julien Royer’s modern French restaurant inspired by his grandmother, Singapore is paradise for any gourmand.

Home to a handful of Michelin starred fine dining restaurants and Bib Gourmand-awarded eateries, Singapore hosted the Asia’s 50 Best this year. To be on the prestigious list is a dream for every cook and chef. Akin to an actor’s Oscar or a musician’s Grammy, a 50 Best Restaurants plaque is the pinnacle for chefs all over the world, especially since the recognition, sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Aqua Panna, is not only from food critics, but also from fellow chefs and restaurateurs. If won, it earns a restaurant respect for its creativity, its unique character, and of course its superbly executed food.

Winning this year’s Best Female Chef is once again a Filipina, Johanne Sy of Lolla in Singapore. A native of Dagupan, she plays around with a casual Asian-inspired Mediterranean menu with Filipino touches, cooking up her signatures like the Normandy Oyster Adobo and Carabineros shrimp with a potato bread similar to pan de sal. Lolla also holds the 79th place on Asia’s Best 51-100 list.

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ASIA'S VERY BEST 2023 From left: Jordy Navarra of Toyo Eatery; Ton Tassanakajohn, chef at Le Du; Stephan Duhemse of Metiz

The Icon Award for 2023 was given to Shinobu Namae of L’Effervescence, a sustainability-focused restaurant in Tokyo. He leads the Japanese movement for a more mindful way of cooking, which won him the inaugural Sustainable Restaurant Award back in 2018 and in 2021, as L’Effervescence jumped 29 places from 2020, it also won the Highest Climber Award.

What grabbed the Highest Climber Award this year is Labyrinth of Singapore helmed by LG Han. It champions Singapore’s hawker dishes, turning them into elegant and refined plates, by which it has also earned quite a reputation as a forerunner of modern Singaporean cuisine as a tasting menu restaurant.

ASIA'S NO. 6 Lamb presentation at Odette, sixth on Asia's Best Restaurants 2023, inching up from the eighth slot in 2022

Winning the Inedit Damm Chefs’ Choice Award 2023 is Hiroyasu Kawate of Florilège in Tokyo. His peers, many chefs from all over Asia, chose him to be the recipient of this award for his work that is renowned for its focus on “locality, seasonality, and sustainability” and the innovative ways by which he marries Western techniques with Japanese ingredients.

Making a comeback to Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants, as well as winning the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award, is a leader in progressive Filipino food in the Philippines, Toyo Eatery by Jordy and May Navarra, which placed 42nd on this year’s list, which makes it the best restaurant in the Philippines today. When the couple behind Toyo Eatery was asked how essential the Asia’s 50 Best list was to their restaurant, Jordy Navarra said, “We need it for wider development, a more rounded industry. It’s also needed for our local industry to grow.”

EDIBLE TIES From left: Angelo Comsti, LG Han of Labyrinth, Hiroyasu Kawate of Labyrinth, and Dennis Hipolito

May Navarra added that such an award should inspire other Filipino chefs and restaurants to aim for the best. “Having other chefs rising helps the industry as a whole, from having more farmers and sustainable producers,” she said. “Now that we have more chefs pushing Filipino food, it helps everybody.”

A new Filipino restaurant has made it on the list as well—Metiz. Helmed by Stephan Duhesme and Karen Ramos, the restaurant made it to number 48 on this year’s list. It’s a remarkable feat for the restaurant that plays on Filipino flavors using fermentation. When asked how gaining the recognition would change the restaurant, Stephan said, “We will stay the course. We’re going to work on improving every day, but we will stay the way we are.”

TOP RESTAURANT IN THE PHILIPPINES Toyo Eatery’s main dining room

The cream of the crop of this year’s list is comprised of restaurants that have been on the list in the past, but have climbed higher on the list.

Third on the 2023 list is Nusara of Bangkok, with ThiTid Tassanakajohn, Chef Tonn to his friends, behind it.

Second on the list and top in in Japan is Sézanne of Tokyo, the kitchen run by Daniel Calvert cooking up his take on modern French cuisine.

THE METIZ TEAM From left: Kevin Soliven, Stephan Duhesme, Karen Ramos, and Arlo Gregorio

Crowned best on the Asia’s Best Restaurants 2023 list is another restaurant by ThiTid Tassanakajohn—Le Du, which serves up a seasonal Thai tasting menu through a French lens.

The Asia’s 50 Best Awards not only recognizes the efforts and dedication of these talented chefs and their restaurants but also celebrates their identity and vision as expressed in their craft and the food they serve. The award, sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Aqua Panna, champions creativity while giving those who take up the craft the opportunity to shine.