By Chris Dwyer
Jan 7, 2022
DINING OUT HAS NEVER BEEN more of an escape, letting us truly travel through our tastebuds, so we can’t wait to get our chopsticks and forks into some of the hottest new restaurants in Asia-Pacific for 2022.
From brilliant Neapolitan cuisine in Hong Kong to Japanese down under, tapas in Bangkok to Malay heritage dishes in Singapore, these spots are where you need to be looking – and booking – for some true culinary escapes.
1. Mora, Hong Kong
Mora from multi-awarded chef-proprietor Vicky Lau is a modern Chinese restaurant with French accents, sitting in Hong Kong’s picturesque and antique shop-filled Upper Lascar Row. One of her particular passions is soybeans, showing the beloved ingredient’s true versatility in clever creations such as a tofu bouillabaisse stew or a croquette of tofu skin with a rich Bordelaise Sauce. Beautifully cooked sustainable fish and meat also feature on the intimate and familial space’s menu.
2. Rempapa, Singapore
Chef Damian D’Silva is a judge on Masterchef Singapore, so diners are already flocking to his new spot Rempapa, a portmanteau of the Malay word for ‘spice paste’ and ‘papa,’ speaking to the 65-year-old’s standing in the local food scene. Open all day, the kitchen reflects the Lion City with vibrant flavors from Chinese, Peranakan, Eurasian, Indian and Malay dishes. Stir-fried chee cheong fun, aka rice noodle rolls from Malaysia’s Ipoh; seafood bee hoon; and braised beef with roti and raita all sound seriously tempting.
3. Yakimono, Melbourne
Photo by Adrian Lander/Courtesy of Yakimono (2)
A charcoal-fired binchotan grill is the draw at this sizeable new spot in the city’s prestigious 80 Collins St project, where up to 300 diners can eat on the terrace, in booths and around the grill. Chicken tsukune meatballs offer a beguiling blend of smoke and fat, while squid-ink somen noodles with chili as well as udon with smoked eel are some of the non-grill options. Creative cocktails and an extensive sake menu may ensure that you stay longer than you anticipated.
4. Tom’s, Jakarta
Courtesy of Tom’s by Tom Aikens (2)
British chef Tom Aikens has won multiple Michelin stars over his career and his recently opened eponymous spot at brand-new The Langham Jakarta has already packed in the diners. Sixty-two floors up the views are spectacular, but the plates are also pleasing on the eye, especially when delivered with old-school tableside service. Roast beef doesn’t get more British, while seafood towers make for Instagram gold as well as great eating. As always, save room for dessert with a creamy Eton Mess and very sticky sticky toffee pudding two of the highlights.
5. JW Kitchen, JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai Fengxian
Since you always want what you can’t have, many of us in Asia are pining to get back to China in 2022 with new restaurants just one reason. South of Shanghai, Fengxian is a popular getaway spot thanks to national parks and Hangzhou Bay’s picturesque beachfront. A recent arrival is JW Kitchen at the JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai Fengxian. The hotel’s all-day dining outlet serves up a selection of tempting local and international dishes at live cooking stations. We all love a buffet, but the only challenge is prioritizing, so our tip is to go for their seafood cooked to smoky perfection on the charcoal grill.
6. El Willy Spanish Kitchen, Bangkok
Already a firm favorite on the Bund in Shanghai, El Willy has made its way to Bangkok as globe-trotting Spanish chef Guillermo (Willy) Trullas Moreno introduces the Thai capital to his “sexy tapas.” Although classics like the Bikini sandwich of Ibérico ham and cheese, or salmon with truffle honey are bite-sized, there are also much more substantial options. Foremost amongst them Arroz Mariscos, a paella pan of mixed seafood under freshly squeezed lemon and the garlic kick of aioli. It is also a crime not to indulge in their Basque-style cheesecake.
7. The Baker and The Bottleman, Hong Kong
Any venture from British chef Simon Rogan is underpinned by true sustainability and his latest venture in Hong Kong, The Baker & The Bottleman, follows that trend. This combination of modern bakery by day and natural wine bar come evening lets executive chef Oli Marlow show his considerable talent across pastries, cakes and bread, as well as small plates. Everything in the new Wan Chai locale is crafted in-house from scratch, while the sommelier-curated wines make for perfect pairings.
8. Claudine, Singapore
No self-respecting food fan in Asia needs to be introduced to Frenchman Julien Royer, the multi-talented chef behind Odette, formerly No. 1 in Asia of the 50 Best Restaurants list, who comes into 2022 with a new venture named after his mom. Claudine is a more relaxed affair at a more modest price point, but you can expect the same attention to detail, seasonal ingredients and impeccable execution. An elegant 1930’s-era building is the perfect setting for dishes including his take on the Provencal fish stew bouillabaisse, a crazily decadent vol-au-vent and profiteroles like they should be.
9. Kobe Jones, Manila
Tom Hines, a British chef championing Japanese cuisine in the Philippines, is arguably the definition of culinary globalization. His new Kobe Jones, in the heart of top restaurants destination Salcedo Village, takes its name from the Japanese capital of wagyu and a quintessential British surname—indicating its oh-so 2022 mash-up of Asia and Europe. From the menu, kingfish with edamame and cauliflower rice is light and balanced, but decidedly more decadent is the Prime Angus filet with foie gras and black truffle.
10. Estro, Hong Kong
Courtesy of Estro (3)
The Italian word for ‘inspiration’ couldn’t be more fitting for the name of this sleek spot from Neapolitan chef Antimo Maria Merone. His mission is creating memories, something he does time and again through deeply personal dishes that make you reconsider everything you know about the food of Naples. Tomato Homage brilliantly shows the fruit’s complex versatility, while Pigeon Under Ashes is inspired by the volcanic ruins of Pompeii. Most of all, an insanely tasty Geonovese Neapolitan Ragû features onions cooked for 24 hours. Thought provoking, surprising—and utterly delicious.
11. Peppina, Hobart
The Tassie capital of Hobart has long attracted in-the-know foodies thanks to its stellar produce and laid-back feel. A new luxury hotel, The Tasman sits on the city’s iconic Salamanca Place and is home to Peppina where Tasmanian native Massimo Mele’s cuisine celebrates his Italian heritage. Seasonal and produce-driven dishes come from a wood-fired oven and open firepit that make for culinary theater. Think chargrilled lamb rump with mint, fennel and olive pesto or cavatelli pasta with broccolini, broad beans, anchovy and pecorino.