A new award that recognises the best in Asian dining in Singapore has been launched.
The annual Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao Best Asian Restaurants Awards celebrates excellence in a diverse industry that includes Chinese, Japanese, Indian and modern Asian fare.
The results will be announced at a gala reception at Mandarin Orchard Singapore on March 29.
Guests will enjoy a spread from the national culinary team from the Singapore Chefs Association which won the Culinary Olympics in Germany last year.
A panel of six food critics from both dailies will decide on the winners. They are Straits Times Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun and deputy Life editor Wong Ah Yoke, Lianhe Zaobao Fukan (zbNOW) associate editor Glenn Low, Lianhe Zaobao food correspondents Marcus Yeo and Ng Chin Chin, and Ms Ng Yimin, a correspondent at Lianhe Zaobao.
The winners will be ranked in gold, silver and bronze categories.
Contenders will be judged on the quality of food and service.
The panel shortlisted between 70 and 80 Asian restaurants.
Panel members have been dining incognito at the eateries to determine the winners.
The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao Best Asian Restaurants Awards is part of the year-long gourmet extravaganza Asian Masters, which kicks off today.
It will feature events throughout the month, from specially designed dinners to cooking workshops as well as monthly dining promotions that will run until February next year.
It is organised by Sphere Exhibits, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings, and food and beverage consultancy Poulose Associates.
Sphere Exhibits chairman Chua Wee Phong, 56, who is also SPH's executive vice-president of circulation, said: "Through these awards, we hope to provide a platform to recognise deserving Asian restaurants in Singapore, and provide discerning diners with better-informed choices."
The judges said the creation of an annual award dedicated to Asian restaurants is long overdue.
Ms Tan, 49, said: "It used to be that chefs of Chinese and other Asian restaurants would shy away from the limelight. That is slowly changing but we hope that these awards will speed things up. Working in a Chinese restaurant kitchen may not be glamorous but I hope there will be young chefs willing to take on the challenge. These awards will inspire them, I hope."
Mr Wong, 55, said: "The restaurant awards here are often dominated by Western restaurants, with Asian restaurants sometimes underrepresented. We thought we should shine the spotlight on Asian cooking instead. We are in Asia after all."
Mr Yeo, 42, said: "There is a need to recognise the quality of Asian restaurants as well as the efforts by their owners and chefs to stay relevant in the food and beverage industry."
• For more information and reservations, go to www.asianmasters.com.sg
• For more stories on Asian Masters, go to http://str.sg/4n39