It's easier to book a table at Asia's best restaurant. But it definitely helps to already be in Singapore.
Odette was named the top restaurant in Asia, earning the coveted prize for the second year in a row when Asia's 50 Best Restaurants were announced last week.
Helmed by French chef Julien Royer, the French-Asian inspired restaurant, housed in Singapore's sprawling National Gallery, was also named the 18th best restaurant in the world in 2019.
The awards are voted on by 300 industry leaders throughout the region. The list is produced by William Reed Business Media, which also publishes The World's 50 Best Restaurants.
This is the eighth year for the awards, which traded their usual ritzy ceremony presentation for a more muted online announcement in response to coronavirus-related lockdowns and travel bans around the world.
Pursuant to measures announced on March 24, Singapore restaurants can remain open as long as tables are set one meter apart.
Odette is typically fully booked every night, but same-day reservations are now available as the restaurant — like many around the world — grapples with the effects of the global pandemic.
Around 80% of Odette's customers are from Singapore. Mandatory 14-day stay-at-home requirements apply to anyone (resident or traveler) who arrived in the country after midnight on March 20. Many Singaporeans are exercising social distancing and staying home.
In contrast to top New York restaurants such as Le Bernadin, Daniel and Per Se, which have announced temporary closures, Odette remains open. The restaurant is instituting safeguards, such as extra cleanings and sanitization of the interior, thermal temperature checks and travel declarations for guests upon entry. It's adding extra space between tables.
"It's been a challenging time for the (food and beverage) industry, and we feel extremely fortunate to be able to remain open," said Royer.
Other Singapore restaurants also fared well on the list, especially when considering that the country of just 5.6 million people is competing with culinary powerhouses like Tokyo and Bangkok.
Singapore's Burnt Ends rose in the ranks from No. 10 last year to No. 5 in 2020. And French restaurant Les Amis — which was also awarded the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality award this year — climbed 22 spots to finish in 11th place.
Jaan by Kirk Westaway — the restaurant where Royer cut his teeth before opening Odette — ascended 11 spots to No. 21. And Corner House, which several days ago announced the hiring of new head chef David Thien, climbed seven places to No. 42 on this year's list.
Singapore newcomer Zen — which founder Bjorn Frantzén describes as "Nordic kaiseki with French perfume" — debuted at No. 28 on the list. With a fixed dinner price of SG$450 ($310), Zen is known as Singapore's most expensive restaurant.
Finally, globally-inspired Nouri scratched out a place in the No. 50 spot.
In addition to the overall list, restaurants were singled out for individual awards. The Highest New Entry award was given to Macau's Sichuan Moon, the latest venture by chef Andre Chiang, who once fronted Singapore's Restaurant Andre before closing it in 2018.
Natsuko Shoji — nicknamed "Japan's queen of cakes" — of Tokyo's single-table restaurant Été was named Asia's Best Pastry Chef for 2020; she serves four guests at one table per night.
Hong Kong's Amber, which reopened last year, took home this year's Sustainable Restaurant award. Chef Richard Ekkebus's menu includes sustainably caught seafood and no dairy or gluten. The restaurant banned straws five years ago.
Japan garnered the most spots on the list with 12 restaurants (10 of those in Tokyo), followed by Hong Kong with eight awards. Singapore and Bangkok each took seven, Taiwan and mainland China four, South Korea three and India took two spots. Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines each had one restaurant on the list.
Bangkok's Gaggan — which was named the best restaurant in Asia for five consecutive years until 2018 — officially closed in August 2019, making room for new restaurants to shake up the top five spots.
See the full list here.
1. Odette, Singapore
2. The Chairman, Hong Kong
3. Den, Tokyo
4. Belon, Hong Kong
5. Burnt Ends, Singapore
6. Suhring, Bangkok
7. Florilege, Tokyo
8. Le Du, Bangkok
9. Narisawa, Tokyo
10. La Cime, Osaka
11. Les Amis, Singapore
12. Vea, Hong Kong
13. Indian Accent, New Delhi
14. Mingles, Seoul
15. Gaa, Bangkok
16. Sorn, Bangkok
17. Il Ristorante Luca Fantin, Tokyo
18. Mume, Taipei
19. Neighborhood, Hong Kong
20. Fu He Hui, Shanghai
21. Jaan by Kirk Westaway, Singapore
22. Wing Lei Palace, Macau
23. Sichuan Moon, Macau
24. Nihonryori Ryugin, Tokyo
25. Seventh Son, Hong Kong
26. JL Studio, Taichung
27. Toctoc, Seoul
28. Zen, Singapore
29. Sazenka, Tokyo
30. Ministry of Crab, Colombo
31. Amber, Hong Kong
32. 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong
33. Lung King Heen, Hong Kong
34. Hansikgonggan, Seoul
35. Ode, Tokyo
36. Raw, Taipei
37. Locavore, Bali
38. Paste, Bangkok
39. Bo.lan, Bangkok
40. La Maison de la Nature Goh, Fukuoka
41. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai
42. Corner House, Singapore
43. Shoun Ryugin, Taipei
44. Toyo Eatery, Manila
45. Bukhara, New Delhi
46. Sushi Saito, Tokyo
47. 80/20, Bangkok
48. L'Effervescence, Tokyo
49. Inua, Tokyo
50. Nouri, Singapore
Earlier this week, the company behind the awards announced the cancellation of the World's 50 Best Restaurants, which was originally scheduled for June 2020. 50 Best will also not release a ranked list this year either. The next event is scheduled to take place in Antwerp, Belgium in 2021 "if the situation allows."
"Given the circumstances globally, in 2020 we will put all our efforts into helping the restaurant sector to fight for its future, as well as assisting in the work that chefs and restaurateurs are themselves doing to help others," said William Drew, director of content for The World's 50 Best Restaurants on the company's website.