It seems like de rigueur to provide the Top 5, 10 or 20 list of restaurants in guide books and food blogs alike. I suppose it’s an easy reference, to be used and compared against a buttload of information available “on the line” nowadays, always with a pinch of salt and a dash of skepticism. Food is a personal affair, and so is this list I suppose.
After sampling 48 Michelin starred restaurants, and totalling 93 stars thus far (including a repeat at the French Laundry, Han Ting, and River Cafe), I had the privilege to dine at some of the best restaurants in the world, and with a few duds along the way. Without further ado, here are my favourite, Top 5 Michelin starred restaurants thus far:
- Noma – I’m one of the lucky few to literally strike the lottery and nab a table at Noma in Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo. It still amazes till this day that they constructed a menu from scratch using foreign ingredients, and created a masterpiece of a degustation menu that blew my mind away. From Botanebi shrimp with Nagano forest ants, to Monkfish liver toast. It was undoubtedly one of the greatest meals of my life thus far. Rene Redzepi will be opening another pop-up in Sydney between late January till April in 2016, then back to Copenhagen for the remainder of the year until the planned move to the new restaurant location in the Christiania neighbourhood within Copenhagen.
- Fat Duck – A gastronomic experience for all the senses by the legendary Heston Blumenthal, whom along with Ferran Adria, changed the face of the restaurant world by crafting witty and delicious dishes, recreating food memories albeit with their own twists and surprises. His BFG or Black Forest Gateau is still my favourite dessert ever. Period.
- The French Laundry – Had the chance to dine twice at this culinary institution in Yountville, California. Helmed by Thomas Keller, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest American chefs in history. His Oysters and Pearls were amazingly decadent, and the restaurant served the most magnificent Wagyu steak I’ve ever had. It was certainly a sight when my fellow dinners and I were eating the meal in quiet reverence.
- L’Astrance – One of my favourite food memories was scoring a table with my mom at L’Astrance, which was in my mind, one of the best restaurants in Paris. The chef, Pascal Barbot, has the deepest respect for amazing ingredients and believed that the dish will never be better than the produce. My mom still reminds me of that amazing teriyaki glazed cod with green peas. The dish seems simple enough, but the execution was flawless and had an amazing depth of flavour. The fish was cooked to perfection and luscious to the bite, and my god, what a pea! The green peas truly tasted like peas, and I guess what peas should really taste like! Green, flavourful, and of the season.
- Coi – Another produce driven restaurant that I truly enjoyed during my recent trip to San Francisco. The meal seem to consist predominantly of vegetables, but the chef, Daniel Patterson, managed to extract so much flavour from each ingredient and present it at its peak potential. With the exception of dessert, each course seem to top the previous course and blow our expectations out of the water. Truly an amazing meal. It’s a pity that he’s moving on to other projects, so better book a table by December if you want to catch him.