Thursday, November 25, 2010

Time Out KL Food Awards 2010 Winners

Four Colour Tomato Salad from Lafite

The winners for Time Out KL Food Awards 2010 was announced last night at a special award ceremony at MAPKL, Solaris Dutamas. Picked by the public through voting vide the computer, here are the winners:

* Best Continental - La Bodega
Specially Commended in the Best Continental Category - El Cerdo

* Best Healthy Eating/Vegetarian - Marmalade

Best Chinese - Chynna, Hilton KL (2009 winner)

Best Indian - Bombay Palace (2009 winner)

Best Italian - Prego, Westin KL (2009 winner)

Mentai Sushi from Fukuharu

Best Japanese - Fukuharu, Terrace at Hock Choon (2009 winner- Kampachi, Specially Commended - Zipangu)

Best Malay - Bijan (2009 winner)
Specially Commended in the Best Malay Category - Enak, Starhill Gallery (2009 winner)

Best Middle Eastern - Al-Amar (2009-Specially Commended)
Specially Commended in the Best Middle Eastern Category - Tarbush (2009 winner)

* Best Mamak - Nasi Kandar Pelita

Best Pub Grub - Jarrods & Rawlins (2009 winner - Finnegan's)
Specially Commended in the Best Pub Grub Category - Sid's Pub

Monkfish from High Tide

Best Seafood - High Tide, Menara Taipan (2009 winner - Fatty Crab, Specially commended - Magnificent Fish & Chips)

* Best Steakhouse - Prime, Le Meridien KL
Specially Commended in the Best Steakhouse Category - QBA, Westin KL

Best Thai/Indochinese - Tamarind Springs (2009 winner - Tamarind Hill)

* Best Independent Restaurant - Albion, Jalan Berangan
Specially Commended in the Best Independent Restaurant Category - Rama V, Jalan U-Thant

Best Fine Dining - Lafite, Shangri-La KL (2009 winner)

Outstanding Chef This Year - David King from Westin KL (2009 winner, Specially commended - Damon Campbell from Lafite)

*Best New Restaurant of the Year - The Pressroom, Bangsar Shopping Centre

*Best Restaurateur - Edward Hyde of Gastrodome
Specially Commended in the Best Restaurateur Category - Benj Conway of the Nero Group

*new categories

Unlike last year, the announcement of the winners is just a beginning as Time Out KL has now partnered with American Express for a year-long dining programme that will run till end of 2011. Hopefully this partnership will yield dining promotions that will ease our pockets a little since salaries don't seem to moving upwards as much as our daily expenditure.

So what's your opinion on the awards? I must admit I was a little surprised with some of the winners that made me think whether a readers' choice award is good enough.

In Hong Kong, I managed to pick up Time Out Hong Kong Dining Awards issue (it's done in November since they need to pre-empt the Michelin awards that comes out in December) and their format is different as it's a 2 prong approach. An expert panel of 9 judges (food critics, journalists and food bloggers) pick their favourite places to dine that is also written up with the readers' choice. Strangely enough, only one category (from 20 categories) saw the experts agreeing with the readers' choice. I know it's a matter of taste for their choices but these differing results kinda makes you think what's the best way to approach these type of food awards.

Opinions are welcomed including bouquets and brickbats.

Full list of winners and the comparison with 2009 results can be found at this spreadsheet.


Sean said...

Albion is quite an interesting choice. It seems to have gained a loyal following... Also kinda nice to see that Prego's brilliant menu revamp this year appears to have been rewarded :D

Michelle Chin said...

I was hoping Senses would get in. I voted for it.

J said...

Well I guess it's hard to have everyone agree what the perfect system is but at least with this, it is something that they can say the public has agreed on/chosen...

There were a couple of places on the shortlists that raised huge question marks for me actually! :)

boo_licious said...

Sean - yes, Albion was definitely a big surprise in that category.

Michelle - it was the crowd favourite as everyone was shouting for Senses to win during the award ceremony too.

J - did I miss you? There was so many bloggers in that room, I was saying hi to everyone. Yeah, I know there's no perfect system (if there is, pls point it to me).

Ciki said...

haha.. u know the answers di la now;D

PureGlutton said...

Nice meeting up with you & many other bloggers & foodies! This was the 1st time I attended TOKL Awards - must say I was surprised at the choice of some of the nominees though. But of coz there were some deserving ones as well. Wld be interesting to see if they will revamp the system a bit next year!

Bangsar-bAbE said...

Like many, I was quite surprised with some of the nominees and winners.

While I don't agree with some choices, the readers seem to like them. I guess it's a case of "one man's meat is another man's poison." ;)

KY said...

nasi kandar pelita jumped out.. emmm

Paranoid Android said...

Oh Dear. How should one begin. No matter how meticulous one can be in designing a statistical survey, it can never be 100% accurate. Time Out KL should be commended for trying to include the public in their appraisal of the restaurants in KL but I do have serious reservations about the accuracy and reliability of their polls.

The first and most obviously serious fault is attempting to work with inaccurate data. The voting process itself forces voters to choose contenders from all categories. Let's take a scenario where I have not been to any of the restaurants listed under the fine dining contenders and am forced to vote.

I would vote for Lafite as it is the oldest and most well known fine dining establishment in KL and unknowingly nudged a restaurant serving French Laundry rip offs and appallingly BAD service up the ladder without having been there myself.

The designers of the polls/survey cannot expect all the voters to have dined in all the restaurants in all categories and force them to vote.

Despite the skew to Singaporean restaurants, The Miele Guide seems to be more balanced, with Food writers selecting the restaurants to be polled, public voting on the selection, followed by Michelin styled secret reviews by a panel.

One cannot deduce anything with flawed data gained from a badly designed poll. The Poll/Survey has only a entertainment value and should not be taken too seriously. To bandy it around and have a big media event over it is something I would not do, especially if I knew it was flawed in the first place.

Asian Malaysian said...

I have to say Im not surprised in the least by the results. The absense of credible local cuisine in the list is emblematic of how far TOKL dining recommendations have deteriorated since Robyn Eckhardt left the helm. If the result reflects the taste of the typical reader of the TOKL, I can only presume that the readership has also deterorated to the point that Ive probably bumped into every single reader of the magazine at some point some where between Bangsar Shopping Center and the Pavillion.

thule a.k.a leo said...

OMG.. I've only been to 3 restaurants that had been awarded :(

fatboybakes said...

hahah, speeechless on some of the winners. but oh well, one man's food is another man's poison, so congratulations to all the winners. thanks for posting the results so fast boo.

eiling lim said...

i believe to be fair, it should be 50 -50 with panel of judges and readers voting because many readers vote according to what they have tried and they might not know that the other restaurant is better!

So terrible, didn't see you yesterday!

Rebecca Saw said...

Ok, I think what I want to say has been said by PA & Asian Malaysian! ;p

Rarebeet said...

I think you guys hit the nail on the spot. Although there was only one winner that REALLY shocked me. Interesting because its always empty. Hmmmm

Matt_TOKL said...

Hi all,

It's Matt from Time Out KL. Thanks everyone who could make it last night, hope you all had a good time.

I'm not going to comment on individual winners as more than 30,000 people got there ahead of me on that one(!) but I do want to address something Paranoid Android said.

We actually changed the voting platform this year so that the public did NOT have to vote in every category. I don’t believe there was anything flawed in our data or polling but would welcome any further comments and am happy to discuss here or on private mail if you prefer.

The change came about largely as a result of constructive comments from blogs like this, so thank you all once again everyone for participating in the discussion and for casting your own votes. If your favourites didn’t come out on top then better luck in 2011 – we’re already talking about making that even bigger and better and I hope to be able to invite even more of you for the celebrations then.

All the very best

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but there are some absolutely shocking results in there - "La Bodega" - best Continental !! If anyone doubts what a farce this is, just go and eat their Albondigas meat balls. Prego is terrible I'm afraid - miserable food and service. The Westin machine clearly knows how to rack up the votes though - their chef (who are you?) has now won two years in a row. What a corrupt pointless exercise.

Paranoid Android said...

I have to beg Boo's indulgence for replying to Matt's comments here.

I did try not to vote in the Chinese Restaurant category this year but was not allowed to proceed. I am not sure whether it was due to a glitch in the system.

Was 30k your sample size? What were the mechanisms TOKL employs to prevent rigging from the owners and the staff of the nominees? I think this is not the right place to discuss statistical methods and would be glad to email you.

My comment was not to disparage TOKL. I think getting the readers involved is an excellent idea to stimulate outnlocal dining scene and do commend you for embarking on this Herculean task of designing and compiling this poll.

Thank you, Boo. And thanks to Matt for clearing the air.

AugustDiners said...

Thank you for posting the results because shamefully i did not sit through the whole thing. (only up to the point of best italian restaurant) because silver spoon is not in it ma. mwahahhaa..
Mmm.. i do have some reservations about some of these winners, but i guess it's all fair and square since the results were derived from 30K individual voters.

Another observation, notice how most nominees are from hotels, and possibly most are familiar expat places, i do feel theres other deserving restaurants that should be on the list, im not sure how the nominees came about at the first place, maybe matt of TOKL can share with us, thanks! :D

fatboybakes said...

coulda sworn i left a comment here. maybe it was a mental comment. congratulations to prime and bijan, i love those two restaurants. apart from that, well, all i can say is obviously one man's food is another man's poison.

suffice to say, some of the results were quite erm, surprising la. its like mawi winning a grammy lor.

Matt@TOKL said...

Hi again,

Paranoid Android, I'm surprised and sorry to hear that. I'll look into that as I checked personally throughout and was very confident that the system was set up differently this year.

To support this, we ended up with quite different amounts of votes in each category. Italian, for example, had 50% more votes than some other categories, hence why we had a longer shortlist for that.

Our mechanism to prevent rigging was old-fashioned but I hope effective - me!

I personally checked the email data on entries and dismissed any votes which were clearly from over-zealous staff! Not that I can share who, how many or where those may have come from!

Your quite correct observation that plenty of winners came from hotels or larger outlets demonstrates the power of their marketing. I watched outlets get good boosts to their voting following a marketing drive, social networking promotion, email shots, or on-site marketing. Not all hotels came out on top though so you have to respect that each of our winners are genuinely popular enough to have attracted support.

I'm sure only the most cynical of us would consider this marketing unfair. I am confident that votes were cast in good faith and encouraging your supporters and regular clients to vote is all fair game. The winners and shortlisted outlets I spoke to on Wednesday were all planning how they can generate more votes next year - not just through marketing but other ideas included special menus and promotions for the public during "voting season" - something that benefits all of us!

Which is why we do what we do. I spoke on Wednesday about further growing the dining scene and encouraging excellence in KL. The identity of the "winners" in a category is entirely secondary to supporting ALL the best places and making KL-ites feel that they have a say in the food scene in their city.

AugustDiners - the nominees were also ALL voted for by readers/web visitors. The top 5 (or more in categories where significantly more votes were cast like Best Italian) were taken into a Shortlist.

Thanks again everyone for the discussion. I really value all feedback and if you would like to discuss anything further, please do email me at

All the best

Unknown said...

Many menu items would be healthy if it weren't for the way they were prepared. Ask for your vegetables and main dishes to be served without the sauces. Ask for olive oil and vinegar for your salads or order the dressing "on the side" and spoon only a small amount on at a time. If your food is fried or cooked in oil or butter, ask to have it broiled or steamed.Sushi Naples

Unknown said...

We believe it is inappropriate for restaurants to charge customers without their consent. First, review the bill to see whether this is the actual charge or the authorization. Restaurants will sometimes authorize an amount that includes an estimated tip, to make sure there is adequate credit. If the unapproved tip appears on your final statement, we recommend you contact the restaurant for a refund. Seafood Naples

Unknown said...

Well likewise, the Hong Kong equivalent of the Timeout Awards could be a little more convincing or even do with more proof reading.


Would you award Ming Court as the best dining restaurant in Hong Kong? I read that you visited this whilst traveling to Hong Kong? I certainly hope not. And what is Ah Yat Harbour Restaurant or One Harbour Road even doing sitting on that list? It is so far off the mark, regardless of whether its Judge Panel awarded or a Reader's Choice.


And here we see Judges who can't even seem to be able to distinguish the differences between a Goose leg and a Duck one before they write up on it and present it an award. This same problem is also found with another similar even more popular place 清真惠記 Wai Kee in Wanchai. Roast duck continuously and erroneously identified as a roast goose, again and again, by the same judge who's on the panel.

Whisk and Zuma as the Runner Up's of 2010 Restaurant of the Year? Oh Pluueezee!

Anonymous said...

Looks like I missed out quite a night. :D

Quay Po Cooks said...

I totally agree with PA & Asian Malaysian!

boo_licious said...

C&C - nice catching up with u!

Pure Glutton - well, we can only hope that since it's a choice of the people, they also listen to feedback from the people.

Bsar Babe - true, tastebuds differ for everyone but kinda surprisingly it differs so much. Maybe the more popular or well known ones will get voted since the names stick to people more often.

KY - yes, kinda weird.

Asian-Msian - yes, I also sorely miss Robyn's articles on the local food scene.

thule aka leo - nvr mind, go pace yourself and try them out for the whole year. Voting starts again in Oct/Nov.

fbb - u did post twice. Guess it got caught up with all the words. One does love your analogy abt Mawi winning the grammy.

eiling - sorry we didn't get to say hi but there was so many people. Yes, I do agree since not every reader would have tried so many places and have no comparison. A panel and readers choice type awards will definitely balance out the votes. Not perfect but a step towards something better and more reflective of the dining scene.

Hi Becky - nice seeing u at the awards!

Paprika - guess the only way to tell is by eating there?

Clyde - that sounds like spam.

Phil - shock, horrors on the goose and duck leg mix up (I know its similar but you can generally tell based on the texture of the meat). Sigh, there's really no perfect system out there. I thought Ming Court was good stuff (the dim sum stood out for me) but I felt since we only tried so few things, it was hard to give a proper review of it. Moreover, kinda hard for me to also compare with others unless I've eaten in lots more Chinese restaurants in HK.

boo_licious said...

PA & Matt - appreciate your comments as we now know how the voting system works. I'm grateful that Matt has also been listening to us and hopes he continues to.

What I did notice in the event was how packed it was with everyone from the dining world so kudos to the Time Out team for creating that great buzz. I'm looking fwd to yr dining promos for the upcoming year.

There's no perfect system and winners will always be analysed right left and center esp if they don't fit out usual favs.

While I do believe in the people's vote, in terms of dining choices it is a little different. How can you compare unless you have dined out in many places? An average reader may only have dined out once a month or just Italian food so how would that person be a discerning voter? I think eiling has hit it on the spot as she said, a 50-50 awards, one to the panel and one on to votes. It won't be A-perfect but its a start. For the San Pellegrino Awards (now the biggest one), the choices are voted by international chefs, restaurateurs, gourmands and critics. Most imptly, they must have eaten at these places they vote for, a criteria that has been missed out here. Even Michelin claims they have dined at all the restaurants. Since the awards are getting bigger, why not budget for dining at the nominees before final results are cast. Fried Chillies is doing something similar for their Love Their Street Food awards. They organise food crawls to their nominees. Maybe Time Out KL shld consider doing that also for their readers so they can make their own choices after they dine there & have a benchmark to compare. There's always room I reckon to change & improve.

Gina - it was great fun!

Quay Po Cooks - Hiya, nice to meet a new blogger.

August diners - sorry I missed u in the awards and Silver Spoon didn't win. Hope yr queries got answered in the flurry of comments here.

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