In the age of social media, eating is no longer just eating – it’s an entire production of getting the right lighting and angle to snap a photo or recording the right moment to share with others. And when you live to eat, you’re always on the lookout for an out-of-the-ordinary degustatory experience.
So if you’ve been searching for innovative Michelin-starred restaurants in Asia that add a dash of theatricality and a generous serving of creativity to their dishes, these establishments have all that and more:
Gaggan | Bangkok (**)
Gaggan needs no introduction to serious foodies – helmed by Indian chef Gaggan Anand, it’s been lauded as Asia’s best restaurant for several years running. Housed in a beautiful colonial-style building, the restaurant serves what Gaggan calls “progressive Indian cuisine”, aimed at promoting fine Indian food as being on par with French and Japanese cuisine.
Known for his signature charcoal prawn Amritsari, “yogurt explosion” and a 25-course emoji tasting menu, Gaggan announced that he will close the eponymous restaurant in 2020 to pursue other projects. So you’d better make your way to Bangkok sooner rather than later!
68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Phathumwan, Bangkok.
Tel: +66 2 652 1700 | +66 65 229 5511 | +66 63 464 9954
Opening Hours: 5.30pm (First Seating); 9.30pm (Second Seating) | Closed on Sundays
VEA Restaurant & Lounge | Hong Kong (*)
With Hong Kong quickly rising up the ranks of global culinary cities, VEA’s quirky modern French cuisine and impeccable service has earned the restaurant a loyal following. The two-story restaurant, comprising the restaurant on the top floor and a cocktail bar below, derives its name from its founders’ initials: Chef Vicky Cheng ‘et’ mixologist Antonio Lai.
In the restaurant, the open kitchen and counter seating means that diners get to watch the chefs put on a show as they expertly prepare the 8-course menu. You can opt to pair your meal with a cocktail or wine. Each dish is carefully prepared using unconventional techniques that complement the French and Chinese influences. Signature dishes include Roasted Sea Cucumber and Taiyouran Egg served with truffle, parmesan and caviar.
VEA Restaurant & Lounge
29 & 30/F, 198 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong.
Tel: +852 2711 8639
Opening Hours: 6.45pm (First Seating); 8.15pm (Second Seating); 8.45pm (Third Seating) | Closed on Sundays
Tapas Molecular Bar | Tokyo (*)
Situated on the 38th floor of the luxurious Mandarin Oriental in Nihonbashi, Tapas Molecular Bar offers an intimate dining experience with only eight seats available per seating, so be sure to make your booking ahead of time. Renowned for its experimental molecular cuisine, diners are served bite-sized meals that come in unique flavor and texture combinations.
Seated at the open bar, you’re in for a mesmerizing show as the chefs work their magic, deftly creating the tempting delicacies right in front of your eyes. Molecular gastronomy encompasses both art and science, so expect your food to come in fun and unusual forms. Don’t miss out on the chance to interact with the chefs, who will happily explain the techniques, concepts and inspiration behind each dish.
Tapas Molecular Bar
Level 38, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-8328.
Tel: +81 (3) 3270 8188
Opening Hours: 6.00pm (First Seating); 8.30pm (Second Seating) | 1.00pm (Lunch, Sat-Sun & Public Holidays)
Labyrinth | Singapore (*)
Don’t know what Neo-Sin is? You’re missing out – better known as “New Singaporean” cuisine, one of the best places to get a taste of it is at Labyrinth. You’ll experience a different take on familiar elements from Singapore’s wide culinary range, with owner and Head Chef Han Li Guang’s focus on bold flavors and artistic presentation.
Using locally-sourced ingredients, Chef Han reimagines local favorites into dishes worthy of a Michelin star, such as “Nasi Lemak” Cheong Fun, Ah Hua Kelong Lala Clams and Labyrinth’s own take on the well-loved rojak.
Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue #02-23, Singapore 039802.
Tel: +65 6223 4098
Opening Hours: 12.00pm – 2.30 pm (Lunch, Tue-Fri) | 6.00pm (Pre-Theatre, Thu-Sat) | 6.30pm – 11.00pm (Dinner, Tue-Sun) | Closed on Mondays
Exquisine | Seoul (*)
Don’t expect the typical fancy-shmancy fine dining trappings at Exquisine – the restaurant has a very laid-back and unpretentious vibe, much like its Owner-Chef Jang Kyung-won. But that doesn’t mean you should underestimate what the restaurant has to offer: according to Michelin Guide inspectors, Chef Jang “has a knack for reinventing Korean flavors” using his knowledge and understanding of local ingredients.
The restaurant offers a single tasting menu for lunch and dinner that changes on a whim when inspiration strikes. Working with Korean methods and ingredients, Exquisine’s dishes look like what you’d normally find in a Western-style fine dining restaurant, but that’s where the resemblance ends. If you’re used to Korean cooking, you’ll find its unique umami flavor in Jang’s creations, thanks to his use of fermented fish and seafood broth.
6 Samseong-ro 140-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
Tel: +82 2 542 6921
Opening Hours: 12.00pm – 2.00pm (Lunch) | 6.00pm – 10.00pm (Dinner) | Open daily
Going for a Michelin-starred meal doesn’t have to mean blowing the travel budget – we’ve found the 50 cheapest Michelin meals and ranked them by the price of an individual meal so you can eat beautiful, delicious, Michelin-worthy food wherever you go in the world.