Ever wondered how the diferent restaurant award-giving bodies in Thailand produce their winner’s lists? Here are some insights:by Laurence Civil
All restaurant awards create some controversy in terms of how the results are achieved. They are driven as much by what is fashionable at that moment in time as they are to a change in standards. Like the Oscars, they will be subjective as they reflect the opinions of a group of experts. As we have just come to the end of the awards season for 2015, Look East spoke with the editors of those magazines that hold awards and/or publish restaurant guides to understand how each of them produce their list.
Thailand Tatler’s 150 Best Restaurants
Tim Footman, assistant editor of Thailand Tatler, said that their restaurant guide is based on reader recommendations with the editorial team making the final selection of 150. Then a reviewer visits each of the restaurants, scoring the experience with marks out of 10 based on the categories of setting, food, drink, and service. The objective is to produce an authoritative guide to the best dining in Thailand, for both their readers and interested overseas visitors.
Bangkok Best Dining’s Editor’s Choice
They give two awards in each of their categories. The “Editor’s Choice” are chosen by a panel of five industry professionals, who visit the chosen restaurants anonymously as paying guests and assess the restaurant on criteria such as ambiance, food, wine, and service.
The “Reader’s Choice Awards” is voted for by postal ballot or online. The awards ceremony is one of the most prestigious events (by invitation only) and is attended by industry professionals, socialites, and dignitaries with each of the award-winning restaurants hosting a booth for guests to sample the delights they serve.
BK Magazine’s Top Tables
Gregoire Glachant, managing editor of BK Magazine said that their awards start from a short list of restaurants that the magazine has reviewed in the past 12 months. This is then sent to their judging panel of 12 foodies, chefs, and industry experts who are asked to decide which of those chosen will remain on the list, be removed or get the “I don’t know” comment, which allows for the fact that not everyone has eaten everywhere in the past 12 months. They can also suggest worthy places that the magazine may have overlooked. The result is a list of around 100 restaurants. Each judge then picks their Top 10 restaurants that score 1-10 points, depending on their ranking.
All of the restaurants are visited anonymously and are not influenced by advertising.
Thailand Restaurant’s Top 20 Restaurants
Narong Roojum, editor of Thailand Restaurant News, told us for their awards he invites judges drawn from chefs, food and wine suppliers, and the media. Each are invited to submit their Top 10 eateries in order of preference.
To ensure to ensure impartiality and that the result is free from outside influence, the list of judges remains confidential.
While each has their own way to decide which restaurants are their favorites, the consensus of opinion is similar. The variation is usually the order in which each of the restaurants appear on the different lists.
Currently, they identify two trends. The first is that internationally famous chefs are opening their own restaurants, which is raising Bangkok’s profile as a regional dining destination. The most successful in this category is L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, which topped the list in BK Magazine’s ‘Top Tables.’ Located on the fifth floor of The Cube MahaNakorn at Chong Nonsi, it brings a unique, excellent modern dining experience delivered with informality, conviviality and a high level of interaction between chefs and diners. At its core is a dining experience that gives pleasure to their guests.
The second trend is that many new restaurants are serving Thai food as creative fine dining. The best example of this is LeDu, where Thitid Tassanakajohn serves modern Thai-inspired cuisine made with 99 percent local ingredients, cooked with traditional Thai flavors using the latest techniques. Rated third on “Top Tables,” it is also their highest-rated Thai restaurant.
Eat Me is always there or thereabouts in the awards, rated 7th on BK’s “Top Tables” list and 25th at “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015.” Here, New Yorker Tim Butler’s fresh, progressive approach presents dishes with a global mix of ingredients and influences ranging from Australian Wagyu beef to line-caught Japanese black cod and Manila clams with a fresh nam & coriander lime broth.
But our most internationally recognized award-winning restaurant is Gaggan, rated first in “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015” and 10th in the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015.” Currently, it is Bangkok’s most popular destination restaurant.
This is where we are in 2015. Next year, the rankings could, and most likely will, change. That is a reflection of the controversial nature of restaurant awards – it’s a fluid landscape.