100 Restaurants Worth a Pilgrimage: Asia and Australia
Shanghai: 100 Century Avenue
On the 91st floor of the Park Hyatt in the Shanghai World Financial Center, 100 Century Avenue is currently the world’s highest restaurant. Six open kitchens fire dishes from the Chinese, Western and Japanese canons, such as sushi, Peking duck, steamed lobster and excellent fresh oysters. The bar offers 200 different Scotches and 500 wines. shanghai.park.hyatt.com
Hong Kong: Lung King Heen
This Cantonese seafood and dim sum palace in the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong serves what chef Laurent Tourondel proclaims to be “the best Peking duck in the city.” It also holds the distinction of being the world’s first Chinese restaurant to earn three Michelin stars. fourseasons.com
Hong Kong: Tim Ho Wan
Dim sum obsessives wait in line for hours for the char siu bao (pork buns), served crisply fried rather than in the traditional steamed preparation, at this Michelin-starred chain. The original Mong Kok location has now spurred branches around Hong Kong and abroad.
In a lush garden, with tropical trees surrounding white-clothed tables, chef Chris Salans creates elegant French-Indonesian tasting menus. Local ingredients like ginger flowers and cardamom turn up in dishes such as crispy seared duck foie gras with mango puree and slow-roasted pigeon with coffee infusion. mozaic-bali.com
Kyoto, Japan: Kitcho
Chef and Japanese-food expert David Myers raves: “Kitcho is an iconic restaurant. You can only get there by boat and the place perfectly exemplifies a place where nature meets food. Their techniques and traditional ways of crafting their dishes is truly art.” kitcho.com
Osaka, Japan: Kashiwaya
Superstar chef Daniel Boulud loves the restaurant at this riverside guesthouse. Its menu changes monthly, serving only eight dishes in the traditional Sukiya style of Japanese tea ceremonies, wherein guests sit on the floor around low tatami tables.
Reverence for the natural world informs chef Yoshihiro Narisawa’s ethereal 10-course tasting menus, which he bases on the themes of sustainability and gastronomy. His famous dishes include soil soup, made by boiling soil from his village with burdock root to distill the essence of the earth’s flavor. narisawa-yoshihiro.com
Tokyo: Nihonryori RyuGin
Every detail of this three-Michelin-starred gem is carefully considered, from the obsessively fresh ingredients to the ceramic plates on the walls. Chef Seiji Yamamoto creates tasting menu dishes that juxtapose traditional Japanese cuisine like charbroiled fish and game with contemporary techniques such as using squid ink to write on plates. nihonryori-ryugin.com
Chef David Chang puts this jewel box ramen joint at the top of his Tokyo list. “This tiny shop hidden away in a train station is without a doubt the best ramen I’ve had in years. I won’t go to Japan without a trip here.” rokurinsha.com
Tokyo: Sukiyabashi Jiro
Sushi experts have long known about this 10-seat seafood shrine, the life’s work of octogenarian Jiro Ono and recently the subject of a highly praised documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Japan has even named the chef a national treasure. sushi-jiro.jp
Tokyo: Sushi Dai
Patrons brave long lines for an early morning sushi breakfast at this no-frills shop in the renowned Tsukiji fish market. The fish are among the city’s freshest, and the location is a perfect staring point for touring the immense wholesale market. tsukiji-sushidai.com
Tokyo: Sushi Shin
Chef David Myers waxes poetic about this sushi spot: “This restaurant is truly one of a kind—from the rare selection of boutique sakes to the handcrafted ceramic sake cups and plates that are specifically designed for the chef. Outside the fact that this is some of the best sushi I’ve ever had, the very serene environment really makes this a fantasy restaurant for me.”
Toritama serves some of the city’s best yakitori—skewered chicken parts and other grilled foods—and is great for groups. The staff is superfriendly, and there’s usually jazz playing in the background.
Chefs Andrew Carmellini and David Kinch are among this high-end kaiseki restaurant’s high-profile fans. Jun Yukimura, a veteran of Kyoto’s Wakuden, celebrates that city’s cuisine with ingredients imported from his hometown. His sought-after cooking makes Yukimura one of Tokyo’s toughest tables to book.
Seoul: Samwon Garden BBQ
Surrounded by exquisite gardens featuring waterfalls, tropical fish ponds and outdoor seating, this Korean barbecue spot serves classics like kalbi (beef short ribs) and bulgogi (sliced rib eye steak) to visiting dignitaries and locals. samwongarden.com
Seoul: To Sok Chon
The specialty here is samgyetang, a spicy, long-stewed chicken soup made with ginseng, garlic, dried jujube fruits, rice and ginkgo. The dish is reputed to boost energy during the hottest summer months, when diners—sluggish from the heat—form long lines outside this small restaurant.
Singapore: East Coast Seafood Centre
This food stall mecca spans three blocks and is the go-to spot for one of the region’s best street food offerings: spicy chile crab.
Singapore: MAD—Modern Asian Diner
A young crowd flocks to this multitasking newcomer from the popular local singer Dick Lee. Customers use iPad menus to order excellent pastries from the team behind the local bakery Bakerzin, Euro-Asian fusion dishes (from tapas to dim sum) and bespoke cocktails by superstar mixologist Kino Soh at night. modernasiandiner.com
Kyoto: Muromachi Wakuden
Says chef David Myers of this modern kaiseki temple: “You get to see a mixture of new styles and classic principles of cooking come together. The food here is paired in ways that you’ve never imagined.” wakuden.jp
Singapore: Waku Ghin
Tetsuya Wakuda’s first restaurant outside Australia is located in the Marina Bay Sands, an extravagant hotel-casino. A cult figure among chefs, Wakuda offers only Japanese-inspired tasting menus of at least 10 courses to just 25 guests per seating. marinabaysands.com
Taipei, Taiwan: Din Tai Fung
Originally founded in Taiwan, the Michelin-starred Din Tai Fung serves dim sum, rice and noodle dishes. The popularity of the restaurant’s steamed pork dumplings and red bean buns launched a global enterprise with locations in the United States, Japan, China and Korea. dintaifung.com
Australian chef David Thompson gleaned his expansive knowledge of Thai cooking from old books and training sessions with women who worked in the royal palace. He uses the best possible ingredients, from heirloom herbs to pla chorn, a rarely seen indigenous freshwater fish. comohotels.com
Melbourne, Australia: Attica
Chef Ben Shewry is both high tech (he uses molecular techniques) and primal (he forages ingredients). His complex Thai-Australian dishes, like an electric bong–smoked trout, have cemented his reputation as one of the country’s most promising young talents. attica.com.au
Melbourne, Australia: Coda
Chef Adam D’Sylva’s incredibly popular bistro has both European and Vietnamese influences. Pork buns with pickled vegetables, crispy buffalo mozzarella fritters and archetypal steak tartare all find a place on his menu. codarestaurant.com.au
Melbourne, Australia: MoVida Aqui
The larger, more casual offshoot of the original MoVida in Sydney offers sensational Spanish tapas, like Catalan-inspired chorizo-filled potato bombas (“bombs”), and large-format, seafood-studded paellas. movida.com.au
Adelaide, Australia: Orana
Like Danish chef René Redzepi, Orana’s Jock Zonfrillo is a naturalist. He explores a wide range of native Australian ingredients—saltbush, samphire, green ants—in remarkably simple dishes. Pictured, the most magnificent prawn. restaurantorana.com.