By Elaine Lies
TOKYO, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Singapore restaurant Iggy's fell from first place as the top dining spot in Asia after holding the crown for two straight years, while a Japanese restaurant in the city state soared to second place in a regional dining guide.
Celebrity chef Joel Robuchon saw his Macau restaurant Robuchon au Dome, previously known as Robuchon a Galera, top the list of Asia's 20 best restaurants in The Miele Guide 2013, the guide's fifth edition, while L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong took third place.
Iggy's came in at fourth in the guide, which went on sale on Wednesday, its first time in less than either first or second place since the guide began in 2008.
Typical of the region's diverse cuisine is Waku Ghin, a new Japanese restaurant in Singapore run by Australian chef Tetsuya Wakuda, that surged into second place in its debut on the list, said Koh Yuen Lin, the guide's Editor-at-Large.
"Asia has historically been a melting pot of different cultures and people, especially with our colonial history, and thus it is not surprising that up until today we still continue to embrace many culinary influences," said Koh.
"It has shown that with sufficient dedication and talent, chefs can reach the top in any type of cuisine they set their minds to - after all, food is one of the few things that can transcend our differences."
China had the most restaurants in the top 20 with seven, five of them in Hong Kong, followed by Singapore with five and Bali, Indonesia, with three.
Regional dining over the past year has been marked by increasing appreciation of chefs who incorporate local ingredients and culinary cultures into their cuisine, a reflection of the locavore movement around the globe, Koh said.
"For example, in Singapore there is a hot Latin-American food trend, in Jakarta the tapas trend is just coming up," she added. "In Shanghai, they are showcasing extremely high-quality made in China produce, such as farmed caviar and hams."
A wobble in Chinese luxury demand last year, far from damaging the scene, has meant that the quality of restaurants, particularly in Hong Kong, may have actually improved.
"It is indeed true that people have tightened their belts and spent less on dining out - this means that restaurants have to be better than they used to be in previous times to even survive," she said.
The Miele Guide, published by the Singapore-based Ate Group, was created in 2008 to better recognize Asia's best chefs and restaurants, and is selected after several rounds of public voting and judging by experts.
The guide covers restaurants in Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Following is a list of Asia's top 10 restaurants, according to The Miele Guide:
Robuchon au Dome, Macau, China
Waku Ghin, Singapore
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Hong Kong, China
Mozaic, Bali, Indonesia
Pierre Gagnaire a Seoul, Korea
Caprice, Hong Kong, China
Amber, Hong Kong, China
8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong, China
Les Amis, Singapore (Reporting from Tokyo by Elaine Lies; editing by Paul Casciato)