Singapore chilli crab ranked 17th, Malaysia's 'curry laksa' 2nd on Lonely Planet's list of best food experiences

Chilli crab from No Signboard Seafood. The dish has been ranked 17th in a league table of the world 's 500 best gustatory experiences.
Malaysia came in second with its curry laksa. PHOTO: JOYCELINE TULLY

Singapore's well-loved chilli crab has been ranked 17th in a league table of the world's 500 best food experiences, with Malaysia coming in a lofty second with its curry laksa.

The global list was revealed in the pages of Ultimate Eatlist, a new book by travel guide publisher Lonely Planet.

Top of the list was pintxos - Spanish small snacks typically eaten in bars - from the Basque coastal city of San Sebastián.

Other Asian delicacies beating the local crustacean dish were sushi from Tokyo (third), som tum (papaya salad) from Bangkok (fifth), bibimbap (a mixed rice dish) from Seoul (eighth), and Hong Kong's dim sum (10th).

Makansutra founder and food consultant KF Seetoh criticised the ranking and said that it "doesn't make sense". He said: "The reviewers are just a bunch of backpackers who went to each country and tried maybe 20 to 30 dishes and ranked them. This doesn't do justice to the few thousand other dishes around the world. Nobody is fit to say what food is best."

He added that the "shallow and empty" reviews, which are simply a thumbs up or thumbs down, are lacking in rich detail and fail to help the reader understand a country's food culture.

Chef Shen Tan, who specialises in Mod-Sin cuisine, said: "I don't think chilli crab is really a good representation of Singaporean food culture, but to say that one dish would represent Singapore food culture is also simplistic and reductive. That's the issue with rankings like this."

Restaurateur Violet Oon, however, thought that the list was fun and said that it gave her ideas on what to eat around the world.

The doyenne of Singapore cooking said she used to organise "gourmet safaris" in Singapore, taking guests by tour bus to eat six courses in six different restaurants in one night.

"Maybe I can now hire a private plane and bring a group of foodies to fly around many cities and eat a dish in each city. Isn't this truly a millennial experience!" she quipped.

The culinary recommendations in the book came from experts including world-renowned chefs like Elena Arzak and Eric Ripert, television chef Andrew Zimmern, and BBC MasterChef judge Monica Galetti.

Staff and contributors around the world were also asked to nominate their favourite food experiences. The list was then narrowed down to 500 by Lonely Planet's food editors, with the help of Australian celebrity chef Adam Liaw and food blogger Leyla Kazim.

Lonely Planet destinations editor Matt Phillips said that the book was more than just about the best dishes, CNN reported on Tuesday (Aug 14).

"When you have a salad Nicoise in New York, you might think, oh this is nice. When you have it where it came about (in Nice, France) you realise why these ingredients are together," Mr Phillips said.

"I get it in this place. It's the perfect dish on this hot day. The dish goes with the environment you're in," he added.

While the Lonely Planet website only featured the top 10, CNN reported a list of the top 20:

1. Pintxos in San Sebastián, Spain

Pintxos at a bar in Spain. PHOTO: WIKIPEDIA

2. Curry laksa in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

3. Sushi in Tokyo, Japan

4. Beef brisket in Texas, USA

5. Som tum in Bangkok, Thailand

Som Tum from Un-Yang-Kor-Dai restaurant. PHOTO: UN-YANG-KOR-DAI

6. Smørrebrød in Copenhagen, Denmark

A Smørrebrød sandwich. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

7. Crayfish in Kaikoura, New Zealand

8. Bibimbap in Seoul, South Korea

9. Pizza margherita in Naples, Italy

10. Dim sum in Hong Kong

Shrimp siew mai. PHOTO: WIKIPEDIA

11. Ceviche in Peru

12. Pastéis de nata in Lisbon, Portugal

13. Oysters in Freycinet, Australia

14. Cheese experiences in France

15. Jerk chicken in Jamaica

Jamaica's traditional jerk chicken. PHOTO: DENISE LIM

16. Lamb tagine in Marrakech, Morocco

Lamb and vegetable tagine. PHOTO: ST FILE

17. Chilli crab in Singapore

18. Moules frites in Brussels, Belgium

Moules frites. PHOTO: COCOTTE

19. Peking duck in Beijing

20. Pho on the Hau River, Vietnam

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