Bangkok's progressive Indian restaurant Gaggan may have clinched the No. 1 spot on the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2015 list on Monday night, but it is Singapore that dominated the list with 10 restaurants - beating foodie favourites Hong Kong and Japan.
Hong Kong has nine restaurants on the list, followed by Japan with eight. China has six restaurants, while Bangkok has five.
Other destinations on the list include India, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Taiwan and Macau, with new entries from the Philippines and Cambodia.
The third edition of the list was announced at an award ceremony at Sentosa's Capella Singapore on Monday night. About 500 chefs, restaurateurs, sponsors and media attended.
Many gave a standing ovation and rousing applause for Indian chef Gaggan Anand (below).
Overwhelmed by his win, the teary-eyed Kolkata- born and Bangkok-based chef, who is 35, called himself "blessed".
He said: "My heart is in India, but my soul is in Thailand. My wife is Thai, so I'm half-Thai already. The list has motivated me to do better."
Singapore features prominently on this year's list, with Restaurant Andre (5), Waku Ghin (9), Jaan (11), Les Amis (13), Iggy's (18), Burnt Ends (30), Shinji by Kanesaka (32), Tippling Club (36), Osteria Mozza (45) and Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck (47) doing the Republic proud.
Mr Aun Koh, 41, chief executive officer of Coriander Leaf and former jury member of the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list, said: "I'm happy to see our Singapore star chefs like
Julien Royer (Jaan) and Sebastien Lepinoy (Les Amis) recognised. To me, they are the best chefs in the region and more will continue to make it on the list."
A jubilant chef Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre applauded the strong showing of Singapore restaurants this year and said: "We've got to keep it up."
At No. 5 this year, he moves up by one place, back to his original spot in 2013's list.
The 39-year-old Taiwan-born chef added: "For Singapore, I have to keep it in the top 5, it is my responsibility. It is also the responsibility of Singapore chefs to keep our restaurants on top."
An equally ecstatic chef David Pynt, 30, of new entry Burnt Ends, called his debut on the list "f***ing amazing".
He said: "I'm so stoked to be a part of it and I've got a really good team that worked hard for this. This will make us work even harder."
More solemn was chef Ryan Clift, 38, of the Tippling Club, who was relieved to still place on the list, after dropping 13 places to No. 36 this year.
He said: "It's a shock that we lost so many places. We moved the restaurant a year ago, and myself, the staff and customers know we have a better product.
"But, at the end of the day, we're still part of the list. We did a great job this year and the staff should be happy with our placement. Moving forward, I'm not sure what we can do differently, but we won't stop."
Ms Eve Felder, managing director of The Culinary Institute of America, Singapore, is confident that the recognition for Singapore restaurants will continue to grow with the young generation of chefs.
She said: "The more we recognise our region and country, the greater for our palates to be exposed to Asian flavours."
And while Australia-born chef David Thompson, 53, is glad that a restaurant from Bangkok has retained the No. 1 title, he expressed relief that it is no longer his restaurant. Nahm dropped six spots to No. 7 this year.
He said: "It's hard for a restaurateur to meet the expectations set for the No. 1 restaurant.
On how the change in the voting process - previous editions were voted by a global panel - may have affected his standing, he added: ""With the change in the voting process, the list has become more relevant to Asia as it is Asians voting about Asia, as opposed to the rest of the world. That may be the reason Nahm was No. 1 last year, because I know everyone in the world."
But moving forward, he remains focused on opening Thai restaurant Long Chim at Marina Bay Sands on Monday.
He said: "It's a step into what I want to be and I hope we can do the right thing by it."
This article was first published on March 11, 2015.
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