Give it a swirl.
Dec 07, 2016|
Last year, France decided it was time to stand up to World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the yearly list which tends to favor upstarts like Spain, The Netherlands or even Thailand. “Ridicule!” countered the country which gifted humanity with enlightenment and first elevated cooking to a profession.
Out came La Liste, 1,000 restaurants throughout the world picked by a computer. No more pesky panels and judges, this would be a perfectly rational selection made in the tradition of Pascal and Descartes. Its tagline: “Deliciously objective, objectively delicious.”
So here’s how it works. La Liste goes to chefs and asks them to rank guides, instead of restaurants, and then it uses that feedback to attribute a weight to each guide and combine all the guides’ rankings accordingly. One star in France’s Michelin Guide is therefore worth a lot more than five stars in TripAdvisor. The final tally is a percentile score, starting from Guy Savoy, in France, at 99.75 percent, and ending with Fu He Hui, in China, at 83.25 percent.
And yet, we are bit confused. The French may have invented direct universal suffrage, La Liste is more like an electoral college. Why is it better for people to vote on guides rather than for people to vote directly on restaurants? How is La Liste’s appointment of chefs on its panel more objective than the panels on other guides? And no matter how you cut in, all the data in La Liste still comes from guides, those same unreliable, subjective guides they complained about in the first place. What were they thinking? Did they not see what just happened in the last US presidential election?
Here in Thailand, the shortcomings of La Liste’s “objectivity” are readily apparent. For the second year in a row, it stubbornly continues to state that of the dozen or so greatest restaurants in all the kingdom, Ocean 11 in Samui should make the cut. Why? For all of La Liste claims of transparency, we simply can’t tell. Ocean 11 doesn’t have the best TripAdvisor or Google ratings on the island and its only accolades are having made it into the Thailand Tatler Samui dining guide for a few years.
The rest of the upcountry picks are equally bizarre, while the bulk of the Bangkok list is made up of the usual suspects: Nahm, Bo.lan, Issaya, Sra Bua, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Le Du, Gaggan, Water Library Chamchuri, Le Normandie... No major complaints there except maybe for the eighth spot where, ahead of Gaggan (#14), we find Breeze. What is Breeze? A quick Google search reveals it could be a detergent, a spa, or a restaurant at Lebua State Tower.
Here’s the full ranking with each restaurant’s score:
Nahm. Bangkok, Thailand. 98.00%
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon - Bangkok. Bangkok, Thailand. 95.00%
Issaya Siamese Club. Bangkok, Thailand. 93.25%
Bo.Lan. Bangkok, Thailand. 90.75
Le Normandie. Bangkok, Thailand 90.50%
Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin. Bangkok, Thailand. 86.00%
Mezzaluna. Bangkok, Thailand. 86.00%
Breeze. Bangkok, Thailand. 85.50%
Ocean 11. Ko Samui, Thailand. 85.25%
Farang Ses. Chiang Mai, Thailand. 84.50%
Water Library Chamchuri. Bangkok, Thailand. 84.25%
Da Maurizio. Patong, Phuket, Thailand. 84.00
Baan Rim Pa Patong. Patong, Phuket, Thailand. 83.75%
Gaggan. Bangkok, Thailand. 83.50%
Le Du. Bangkok, Thailand. 83.50%
The other downside to making your list by recycling existing lists is that this is all very 2013. Where are Suhring, 80/20 and Ginza Sushi Ichi? Don’t get us wrong. We love lists, mostly because you get to disagree with them. So do go try all the above venues and tell us what you think. In March, we’ll also be coming out with our own ranking in Top Tables 2017, a completely subjective list we make by asking a few friends where they like to eat. In the meantime, bask in the glory of France’s objectively objective dining guide at www.laliste.com.
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