Sorry, I Can’t Find Your Continent on This List

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We were sitting on a friend’s rooftop the other night, sipping wine and celebrating her 30th, when David, a fellow guest, and co-owner of a fabulous Hong Kong restaurant called Aqua, told me that he’d hired a chef who used to work at Tetsuya’s in Sydney. David seemed quite proud of this, but I didn’t know how to receive the news because any of David’s chefs could – in the lovely parlance of the English streets – “have” any of Tetsuya’s boys any day, and I told him so. He probably thought I was high, or being polite, because Tetsuya’s is desirably foreign and Aqua is merely local, and because the person of chef Tetsuya Wakuda is cloaked in the mantle of minor celebrity and David’s chefs are not. Or then again, perhaps it’s because Tetsuya’s is currently at number five on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, and David’s isn’t even in the footnotes.
But that’s my point. Have you seen this list? Does it seem strange to you that the only Asian restaurant to have made it this year is that stuffy old tandoori place in the New Delhi Sheraton, which, for some deeply messed-up reason only known to the compilers, was adjudged the best restaurant in Asia? A Sheraton hotel restaurant is the very best this entire continent – with its ancient and multifarious culinary traditions and two-thirds of humanity – can do? This is from a list that is billed as “the most credible indicator of the best places to eat on Earth.”
Ever get the feeling you’re being patronized?
The world’s best restaurants do not, apparently, include any Japanese restaurant in Japan. There’s rien in mainland China, nyet nichevo in the culinary capitals of Hong Kong and Singapore. Sweet f.a. in Bangkok, Saigon, Seoul and KL. So sorry, Asian people. Excusez-moi, Monsieur petit Asian Chef.
Which restaurants are on the list? Well, what a surprise, there’s a dozen from France (tired looking places with names like Les Ambassadeurs and Troisgros); seven from the UK (the gouty Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, the counterfeit Chinese Hakkasan); eight from the U.S. and there’s even one from Belgium. Pause to take that in for a moment. Belgium out-cooks East Asia.
A fatwa upon the publishers of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List. May they meet with raving Chinese waiters, chopper-wielding sushi chefs and fistfuls of msg everywhere they go.