Asia’s 50 Best Dining places: What it is really like to take in at Japan’s ‘Den’

(CNN) — Tuesday evening, Den in Tokyo was given top rated honors by the World’s 50 Finest group, recognizing it as the best restaurant in Asia.

Den is no stranger to accolades. It has two Michelin stars and has been in the prime 10 on the World’s Best checklist in a long time previous. But it also just transpires to be where I ate one particular of the best foods of my existence.

Going to good dining restaurants can be overwhelming, specifically to a solo traveler. Some of the massive-name eating places I seemed at for my November 2019 vacation to Tokyo would not even acknowledge a reservation for a one diner.

I set my name on the wait checklist at Den, though, and a 7 days right before the vacation acquired a cell phone simply call confirming I would scored a seat thanks to an odd-numbered bash at the desk subsequent to me. It was like getting out I was likely to a interesting child social gathering or currently being approved into my “get to” university.

Left: Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa with his beloved pup; right, a pillar at Den where customers leave thank-you messages.

Still left: Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa with his beloved pup suitable, a pillar at Den the place prospects depart thank-you messages.

Lilit Marcus/CNN

While I was thrilled to get a reservation, I was also anxious — would the working experience be stuffy, formal, and whole of component names I might by no means read of? Would I depart the restaurant feeling like I’d just crossed a thing off of a record, or would I truly enjoy the foods?

Delightfully, I can say that the solution was the latter.

Den is superior-conclude foods with a silly perception of humor.

In the salad, carrots are sliced thinly and slice in the condition of smiley faces. Japanese-fashion fried hen arrives in a mock rapid food takeout box coated in jokes and a goofy photo of the chef. A person program comes with every single diner’s national flag trapped in it — a rapid survey about the modest eating area that night time shown very small American (hello), Chinese, Japanese and Canadian flags, which make for excellent souvenirs of the meal.

A serving of "Dentucky Fried Chicken" at Den.

A serving of “Dentucky Fried Rooster” at Den.

Lilit Marcus/CNN

And that isn’t all.

Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa isn’t really the sort of dude who hides out in the kitchen and allows the foodstuff do the chatting. He is humorous and chatty, with his extended-haired chihuahua Puchi often in tow when he pays a visit to the eating place.

Tokyo is one of the world’s fantastic foodstuff cities. Throughout my weeklong vacation — my initial-ever go to to Japan — just about anything I ate was delightful, from minimart onigiri to late-night ramen to tremendous-pricey sushi ready in entrance of me.

Now, I can say that 1 of the most unforgettable eateries I’ve at any time frequented has been voted the greatest restaurant in all of Asia.

But I can also say that my night at Den was a full ton of exciting.

Asia’s 50 Most effective Eating places for 2022

1. Den (Tokyo)

2. Sorn (Bangkok)

3. Florilege (Tokyo)

4. Le Du (Bangkok)

5. The Chairman (Hong Kong)

6. La Cime (Osaka)

7. Suhring (Bangkok)

8. Odette (Singapore)

9. Community (Hong Kong)

10. Nusara (Bangkok)

11. Sazenka (Tokyo)

12. Fu He Hui (Shanghai)

13. Ode (Tokyo)

14. Villa Aida (Wakayama, Japan)

15. Narisawa (Tokyo)

16. Mingles (Seoul)

17. Sezanne (Tokyo)

18. Joo Okay (Seoul)

19. Ensue (Shenzhen, China)

20. Meta (Singapore)

21. Masque (Mumbai)

22. Indian Accent (New Delhi)

23. Les Amis (Singapore)

24. Caprice (Hong Kong)

25. Blue by Alain Ducasse (Bangkok)

26. 7th Doorway (Seoul)

27. Mosu (Seoul)

28. Da Vittorio (Shanghai)

29. Sushi Masato (Bangkok)

30. Onjium (Seoul)

31. Samrub Samrub Thai (Bangkok)

32. Mono (Hong Kong)

33. Gaa (Bangkok)

34. Wing (Hong Kong)

35. Ministry of Crab (Colombo)

36. La Maison de la Nature Goh (Fukuoka, Japan)

37. Zen (Singapore)

38. Logy (Taipei)

39. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet (Shanghai)

40. Labyrinth (Singapore)

41. Burnt Ends (Singapore)

42. Ete (Tokyo)

43. Cenci (Kyoto)

44. Cloudstreet (Singapore)

45. JL Studio (Taichung, Taiwan)

46. Raan Jay Fai (Bangkok)

47. Wing Lei Palace (Macao)

48. 8 1/2 Mezzo Bombano (Hong Kong)

49. Megu (New Delhi)

50. Dewakan (Kuala Lumpur)

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