Malaysian restaurant Dewakan named in Asia's 50 Best list for 2022 | The Star

Last year was marked by constant upheavals, one felt intensely by local restaurants, which withstood a constant merry-go-round of dine-in/no dine-ins, from which the industry is still recovering.

But finally, there is reason for some celebration. Kuala Lumpur’s own homegrown eatery Dewakan was named the Best Restaurant in Malaysia at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards 2022, coming in at No 50.

The awards, which is in its 10th installation, celebrates the best restaurants (of the fine-dining variety) in Asia.

Teoh helms Dewakan and is known for championing and utilising local ingredients in his menus. — YAP CHEE HONG/The StarThis marks Dewakan’s second time on the list, having ranked No 46 in 2019 and No 66 in last year’s extended list. To date, Dewakan is also still the only Malaysian restaurant to have broken into the list.

“This year’s inclusion into the list means something really different to us. We are reminded to celebrate every accomplishment. Big and small.

“So thank you to the best team ever, the best guests ever and to the best friends ever,” posted the eatery on Instagram after its momentous win.

The restaurant is helmed by maverick chef Darren Teoh, who initiated the fine-dining haunt seven years ago on the grounds of the KDU University College (now UOW Malaysia KDU) in Glenmarie, Shah Alam. In 2019, Dewakan moved to more salubrious surrounds at Skyviews Naza Tower and now boasts stunning views of the Petronas Twin Towers.

Since its inception, the maverick Teoh has led a movement aimed at embracing and appreciating local, indigenous ingredients and his menus reflect this patriotism, with produce like kulim (forest garlic), perah (a kind of nut), buah keluak (often called the truffle of the East) and local goat elevated and reconfigured in novel ways.

It is no small coincidence that his approach to Malaysian food – often billed modern Malaysian cuisine – has inspired and influenced a brigade of young chefs equally eager to celebrate and champion this spirit of locavorism.

Interesting (and constantly changing dishes at Dewakan) include this tofu and crab broth, hand-cut in a technique called the chrysanthemum tofu. — FilepicInteresting (and constantly changing dishes at Dewakan) include this tofu and crab broth, hand-cut in a technique called the chrysanthemum tofu. — Filepic

While no other Malaysian restaurant made it on to Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2022, what is heartening is that three restaurants did actually make it onto the extended list (which ranks restaurants in Asia from 51 to 100).

These include fine-dining stalwart Cilantro, headed by the redoubtable Takashi Kimura, which came in at No 93. Progressive south Indian eatery Nadodi helmed by talented young chef Sricharan Venkatesh has also climbed up the rungs, moving up from No 99 last year to No 62 this year.

An eatery that is primed for great things is newbie contender Eat and Cook. Run by enthusiastic chefs Lee Zhe Xi and Soh Yong Zhi, the Bukit Jalil restaurant only opened in 2020 but is already sitting pretty at No 81, having also scooped up the American Express One To Watch Award.

Interestingly, both Nadodi and Eat and Cook actively champion indigenous ingredients and cooking styles, with Eat and Cook’s Malaysian omakase menu (currently in its third chapter) proudly proclaiming love for ciku pie, asam prawns and Ipoh mountain duck.

Nadodi is helmed by talented young chef Sricharan Venkatesh. — FilepicNadodi is helmed by talented young chef Sricharan Venkatesh. — Filepic

The top four spots on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2022 are dominated by restaurants in Tokyo and Bangkok.

No 1 on the list is the revered Den in Tokyo, Japan while Bangkok’s southern Thai haunt Sorn takes the No 2 spot, followed by Tokyo’s Florilege at No 3 and Bangkok’s Le Du at No 4. Singapore eatery Odette is the highest ranked eatery from the island nation, coming in at No 8.

For the full list, go here.