Critics' guide to best restaurants

Critics' guide to best restaurants

Another worldwide food guide has entered the market.

Foodie Top 100 Restaurants, which is put out by Glam Media, a Silicon Valley lifestyle media company, is compiled by the who's who of the food critics world.

Its top 100 list features one Singapore restaurant - Iggy's at the Hilton Singapore. The list does not rank restaurants but lists them alphabetically, according to country and city.

There are 15 contributing food editors including Patricia Wells, cookbook author and former global restaurant critic for the International Herald Tribune and French publication L'Express; Ruth Reichl, former restaurant critic for The New York Times and last editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine; and Gael Greene, novelist, author and former restaurant critic of New York magazine.

Singapore's contributor is Aun Koh, known for his food blog Chubby Hubby. He is also the co-founder of The Miele Guide, a restaurant guide for Asia which has since halted print production and likely to go digital.

Glam Media's guide offers details on the dining experience, standout dishes and critics' tips that range from telling diners what time the restaurant starts taking reservations, to which season is the best time to eat there.

It also uses symbols to denote features of the restaurant such as if it is scenic, romantic, takes cash only or offers only prix fixe menus.

The 272-page guidebook, published by Chronicle Books, was launched on Aug 13, and will be published annually.

Modern European restaurant Iggy's opened in 2004 at The Regent Singapore hotel and is one of Singapore's top restaurants. It was the first Singapore restaurant to debut on the coveted S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list, which also ranks restaurants 50 to 100, in 2006. Its highest ranking to date is No. 26 last year, when it was also the top placed restaurant in Asia.

Co-owner Ignatius Chan, 50, says that to be included in this new guide is "pure surprise".

He adds: "We are very honoured to be included in a food guide compiled by big and well-known food writers and columnists. There are a lot of recognisable restaurants on the list and we are very proud to be among them."

Other restaurants in the top 100 include Michelin-starred ones such as Per Se in New York in the United States; Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain; Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo, Japan; and award-winning restaurant Tetsuya's in Sydney, Australia.

Mr Chan says that a representative from the publisher contacted the restaurant last month about a photo shoot. He then received a package from the company about 10 days ago, with medals, a plaque and copies of the guidebook.

He adds: "This kind of recognition is so important today, especially given the competitiveness of the dining scene not just globally but also in Singapore, where every month, new and exciting venues and concepts open.

"It is very timely for us, and is also a good way to reconnect with people who may have forgotten us."

He adds that some of those on the panel have dined at the restaurant in recent years including Greene, and French food writer and critic Bruno Verjus.

Glam Media says it saw a need in the market for "reliable restaurant recommendations that were from known, trusted sources", based primarily on the quality of food.

Erika Lenkert, managing executive editor of the guidebook and Glam Media, tells SundayLife!: "For the diner, we hope to become known as a useful, trusted source for recommendations on where to dine.

"For the restaurant industry, we strive to perpetuate a more contemporary, inclusive and less-narrow approach to identifying and rewarding the 'best' restaurants."

She says the entire process of putting the book together, from approaching critics to publication, took a year.

Each critic was tasked with ranking what they viewed as the top 100 restaurants in the world, and justifying why each one deserved to be on their list.

Koh, 41, says: "It was an individual list of the best restaurants according to each critic, not the 100 chi-chi-est restaurants. But it was up to us to decide, which ones, in our opinion, were the top. It took me a couple of days because I had to sit down and think about it."

The editors of the guidebook then sorted the restaurants geographically and edited the list accordingly. Glam Media is also behind social recipe and restaurant sharing site Foodie.com.

Of the list, Lenkert, says that the editors did their best to ensure that a wide range of countries was covered, and diners will "see more global expansion" as the guide evolves.

It also includes top 100 lists for restaurants in France, Japan, the US, and an amalgamated top 100 list for the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Singapore restaurants on the regional list include Chinese restaurants Crystal Jade Golden Palace, Imperial Treasure Teochew Cuisine, My Humble House and Taste Paradise, and French restaurant Jaan.

The decision to offer regional lists stemmed from the large number of restaurant nominations. The guide's editors wanted to share these nominations with readers as well as give restaurants due recognition.

Asked if the guidebook is meant to compete or go head-to-head with other lists and food guides such as the World's 50 Best Restaurants list, Lenkert says: "We would like to consider ourselves a useful alternative because our restaurant recommendations are based squarely on the best food, and crafted from known and trusted sources rather than anonymous reviewers."

Koh adds: "It is, in a way, a commemoration, that, at this moment , these bunch of foodies think these are some amazing restaurants to go to. It is a fun thing to have and for people who love food, it is another reference tool that will help them plan their eating holidays."

Foodie Top 100 Restaurants Worldwide from Amazon.com at US$19.99 (S$25.50), and available for order at Books Kinokuniya for S$33.95.


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