SINGAPORE - Shinji by Kanesaka scored three wins in one evening at The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao's Best Asian Restaurants Awards, held at the Grand Hyatt Singapore on Monday (April 16).
The sushi restaurant at Carlton Hotel in Bras Basah Road, which was also in the gold category last year, is one of three gold recipients in this year's awards, together with Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine at Ion Orchard and Summer Pavilion at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.
Shinji's St Regis Singapore outlet won again in the silver category, and its master chef Koichiro Oshino, 48, also picked up the Chef of the Year title.
Ms Joni Ong, 57, managing director of Shinji by Kanesaka, said: "Both restaurants are similar in concept and in terms of the food that we bring in. What differentiates them is the chefs, and the personalities of the chefs appeal to different groups of people.
"We feel that both restaurants are equally good, operating under the same philosophy of always putting the customer first and being very consistent in our food offerings and service level. Winning both silver and gold is a testament to the hard work and efforts by both chefs and their teams."
Mr Cheung Siu Kong, 49, the Chinese executive chef of Summer Pavilion, said in Cantonese: "I am very happy and thankful to our team and also to our customers for their support. The pressure that comes with winning this gold award will serve as motivation to continue maintaining our standards."
Mr Jimmy Leung, 75, group operations manager of the Imperial Treasure Restaurant Group, said: "I am very happy that we have gone from bronze to gold. It is because of our customers who have continued to support us. This award gives us more energy to carry on improving. We hope to take our service and food to the next level and do much better as a way of saying thank you to all of our customers."
The annual awards programme, which celebrates the best in Asian dining in Singapore, is into its second year. Winning restaurants are ranked in bronze, silver and gold categories.
In the silver category are 22 restaurants, including Peranakan restaurant Candlenut at Como Dempsey, Ki-sho in Scotts Road and newcomers Majestic Restaurant at Marina One and Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill at Clarke Quay.
Restaurants were judged on the quality of food and service. The judges are The Straits Times' Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun, deputy Life editor Wong Ah Yoke and food correspondent Eunice Quek, as well as Lianhe Zaobao food correspondents Marcus Yeo, Ng Chin Chin and Ng Yimin.
Mr Wong said: "Our standards are high. And although more restaurants have opened, we found that many have yet to find their feet. The judges went through the list of restaurants carefully to discuss their merits before deciding on the winners. Some restaurants may seem humble but the effort they put into the food makes them more memorable than more expensive places."
The 29 bronze winners received their awards from the editor of Lianhe Zaobao and Lianhe Wanbao, Mr Goh Sin Teck. Straits Times executive editor Sumiko Tan presented the silver awards, and Singapore Press Holdings' deputy chief executive officer Anthony Tan presented the Special Recognition (master chefs Sin Leong, 90, and Hooi Kok Wai, 79, founders of Red Star Restaurant), Manager of the Year (Irene Yue, 62, of Hua Ting at Orchard Hotel), Chef of the Year (master chef Koichiro Oshino, 48, of Shinji by Kanesaka at Carlton Hotel) and Lifetime Achievement (Violet Oon of National Kitchen by Violet Oon and Violet Oon Satay Bar and Grill) awards.
SPH's chief executive, Mr Ng Yat Chung, who presented awards to the three gold category restaurants, said: "We have such a wonderful collection of Asian restaurants in Singapore. It's our privilege to be able to showcase many of them in one night."
Some 200 people from the food and beverage industry attended the awards ceremony and invitation-only gala reception.
The annual awards programme is part of the Asian Masters, a year-long gourmet festival which kicked off in March and will continue with dining and cocktail promotions until next February.
Asian Masters is organised by Sphere Exhibits, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings, and food and beverage consultancy Poulose Associates.
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Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine
Shinji by Kanesaka
Crystal Jade Golden Palace
Hashida Sushi Singapore
Imperial Treasure Fine Shanghai Cuisine
Jade Palace Seafood Restaurant
Hua Ting Restaurant
Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant
Paradise Teochew Restaurant, Scotts Square
Shinji by Kanesaka, The St Regis Singapore
Si Chuan Dou Hua
Spring Court Restaurant
Violet Oon Satay Bar and Grill