The number one spot went to El Cellar de can Roca (Girona, Spain), which last held the title in 2013. Copenhagen’s Noma, which has won four times, lost the top spot and placed third. Modena’s Osteria Francescana placed second.
How did Thailand fare? Unsurprisingly, given the earlier ranking for Asia’s 50 Best Resaurants, Gaggan and Nahm made the cut. Gaggan Anand’s molecular, El Bulli-inspired version of Indian cuisine placed 10th (he’d won the top spot in Asia’s 50 Best). And David Thompson’s historical and traditional Thai cooking placed 22nd (Nahm had placed seventh in Asia).
This year, criticism of the awards has intensified, with claims that the judges are an insular clique of chefs and writers and that the entire process lacks transparency. The judges, or voters, are anonymous and there is no guarantee they have actually dined at the restaurants they are voting for.
As the makers of a restaurant guide ourselves (Top Tables), we see how lists do serve to reward great restaurants. The New York Times quotes William Drew, the head of World’s 50 Best, saying, “Of course not everyone is going to agree with this list, or any list. My list of favorite restaurants is going to be different from yours. But we believe that the collective opinions of food experts around the world has value.”
Still, many will ask whether Gaggan and Nahm deserve their rankings. I have eaten at Gaggan and Nahm within the past couple months. They are amazing restaurants, arguably Bangkok’s two best kitchens, albeit in very different ways. But to compare two edgy-slash-molecular kitchens, I’ve also eaten at Alinea (Chicago, USA), ranked 26th, and I’d rank it higher than Gaggan. The fact that I’m even writing this is the beauty of lists, though. However flawed, they stimulate conversations about exciting venues.
Finally, here’s a scoop: Asia 50’s Best Restaurants 2016 is confirmed to take place in Bangkok!
The full list of 2015 winners is here.