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Tastemakers T.Dining's Best Of The Year Awards 2020

T.Dining's Best Of The Year Awards 2020

T.Dining's Best Of The Year Awards 2020
Photo: Open House
By Samantha Lim
By Samantha Lim
December 13, 2019
Stellar examples in their respective categories, these restaurants, individuals and companies stand out among their contemporaries
 

1/5 Best Sustainable Restaurant: Flock, W Kuala Lumpur

Marriott International Hotel
Flock. Photo: W Kuala Lumpur

Here's a fun fact: it was Flock's close relationship with local growers that inspired T.Dining's #MeetTheMakers video series.

Watch: Go Behind The Scenes With Weeds & More, Chocolate Concierge, and T'lur Caviar

While independent restaurants have more leeway when it comes to selecting their suppliers, it is a laborious process for hotels and hotel groups to initiate even the slightest change, which is why we tip our hat to the W Kuala Lumpur for choosing the right instead of the easy route.

Look out for the large block of Tualang honeycomb when at Flock's iconic Sunday brunch! It's just as good for your health as Manuka honey, and rakes up much less miles than the imported stuff.

2/5 Best Service: Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Sautéed lobster meat with cilantro avocado dressing. Photo: Shang Palace
Sautéed lobster meat with cilantro avocado dressing. Photo: Shang Palace

A reliable indicator of employee satisfaction, the turnover rate at Shang Palace is well below the average. As such, it makes sense why the senior staff members are able to recite the entire menu by heart. Waitress Lee Ah Loy, who has stood by the restaurant since its official opening, is one such loyal employee. 

The 3.5-decade-old restaurant (some members of our editorial team are younger!) proves that solid service isn't a thing of the past. You'll lift not one finger throughout the duration of your meal—empty tea cups are refilled and soiled servingware is replaced instantaneously. Repeat customers are also greeted by first name.

"We strive to deliver memorable experiences and we’re so thankful for the support we’ve received over the years," said Daniel Lau, art director of Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur. "Thank you for this wonderful award!"

3/5 Best Interior Design: Open House

Interior design by Quirk & Associates. Photo: Open House
Interior design by Quirk & Associates. Photo: Open House
Interior design by Quirk & Associates. Photo: Open House
Interior design by Quirk & Associates. Photo: Open House

A labour of love by design firm Quirk & Associates, the interior design at Open House suggests a new luxurious lifestyle that isn't informed by Western ideals, but inspired by our locality. Take the octagonal staircase, for instance; some see a Chinese lantern whereas others say it mirrors a gilded birdcage—neither is inaccurate. 

"The bar, with its melange of Arab, Chinese and Indian inspired colours and prints, is a nod to our past as a spice trading port," explained co-owner Andrew Wong. "Whereas the smoking room, with its Chesterfield sofas and wingback chairs, is a vestige of our colonial past."

While the main dining section takes cue from plantation estates by employing charpoys as screens, the private dining room sees an explosive riot of colours favoured by the Baba Nyonyas of the Straits settlements.

A total of 174 different fabrics, including some vintage fabrics, are used for the soft furnishings.

4/5 The Tatler Legacy Award: Soul Society Group

Michelle Kwok, co-founder of Soul Society Asia. Photo: Malaysia Tatler
Michelle Kwok, co-founder of Soul Society Asia. Photo: Malaysia Tatler

The Soul Society Group, the parent company of Tujo, Goa by Sapna Anand, Hubba Hubba, WIP, and all four branches of Souled Out, has catered to Malaysians of all walks of life for more than 20 years. (This writer recalls much merriment surrounding her high school socials at Souled Out Kuala Lumpur, long before a litany of cafés mushroomed in Sri Hartamas.) The group's prices are always reasonable, their North Indian dishes delectable, and the ambiance relaxed and unintimidating.

"To be recognised for The Tatler Legacy Award is about the most meaningful recognition that Soul Society has ever received," expressed Kwok. "It makes our 24 years of blood, sweat and tears worth everything. We are humbled and grateful."

5/5 Best Restaurateur: Cavaliere Modesto Marini

Modesto Marini sitting inside the Lexus LS | Photo: Kim Mun/Hopscotch Photography
Modesto Marini sitting inside the Lexus LS | Photo: Kim Mun/Hopscotch Photography

Encompassing Marini's on 57, Marble 8, M Marini Caffé, Marigin, Marimbar, and Maracana 33 (coming soon), the Marini's Group is a mega operation to oversee—something Cavaliere Modesto Marini does with panache.

F&B runs in the restaurateur's family, who oversee farms, cornfields and a small vineyard in Northern Italy. "I can't really tell when (my family farms) started. People in those days were not cash rich; we had lots of land and it was the logical way to survive—to grow your own food." Never did his younger self picture presiding over one of nation's largest restaurant groups, but as the Italian saying goes, "Aiutati che Dio t’aiuta." (Help yourself and God will help you.)

See also: Fine Italian Cuisine & This Luxury Car Have More In Common Than You Thought

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