The winners of the first Asian Restaurant Awards were announced at a glittering awards ceremony, held at the Manchester Hilton, on Monday 5th March. The evening, attended by over 500 leading restaurateurs, chefs, food journalists and VIP guests, was hosted by TV news presenter and BBC World Service news anchor, Barbita Sharma.

The shortlist, was determined by over 100,00 votes from members of the public were able to nominate their favourite Bangladeshi, Burmese, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Middle Eastern, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese restaurants and takeaways.

The winners were:  Hakkasan, London (Best Chinese Restaurant); Rasa Sayan, London (Best Malaysian),  Asha’s, Manchester (Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year);  Kookoo, Surbiton, Surrey (Best Middle Eastern); Istanbul, Manchester (Best Turkish); Palm Pan Asia, Winchester (Best Pan Asian Restaurant); Aagrah Group, North of England (Best Chain); Ziya Restaurant,  Manchester (Best Indian); The Naz,  Manchester (Best Bangladeshi); Royal Nawaab,  Manchester (Best Buffet Restaurant), Urban Kohinoor, Bristol (Best Newcomer); Sigiriya,  Altrincham (Gourmet Restaurant of the Year);  Mushtaqs, Hamilton (Just Eat Awards for the Best Takeaway/Delivery; Sapna, Southall, London (Best Event Caterers);

Asian Entrepreneur of the Year awards went to:    Asma Khan (Female), of Darjeeling Express,      London and Mohammed Abdul Ahad (Male) of Millennium Balti, Royal Leamington Spa(Male). Abdul Ahad of Nazma Group of restaurants (Scotland) collected a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Regional awards went to     Urban     Tandoor, Bristol (South West); Usha, Burnley (Lancashire); Tipu Sultan, Birmingham        (W. Midlands); Akbar’s Café, Bradford (Yorkshire); Millennium Balti (Warwickshire); Light of Bengal, Aberdeen (Scotland, North); Charcoals, Glasgow (Scotland, South), Moksh, Cardiff (South Wales) and Sopna Tandoori (North Wales).

The Asian Restaurant Awards were organised by the Asian Catering Federation (ACF) which represents the nation’s 30,000 Asian and Oriental restaurants.

Like their sister accolades the Asian Curry Awards which take place in London and are in their eight year, the Asian Restaurant Awards are national.  The Manchester location was chosen to make the event more accessible to venues outside London and the south east.  Avoiding the term ‘curry’ means the awards reflects the rich diversity among many of the world’s great cuisines.

In his keynote speech, ACF Chairman Yawar Khan declared the Asian Restaurants Awards a great success and promised to return next year with “an even bigger and better event.”

On 13th March, the ACF hosted a special dinner at the House of Lords to celebrate the achievements of the country’s top Asian & Oriental Chefs and to launch the 8th Asian Curry Awards, which will be held on 18th November.  Spice lovers can vote via www.asiancurryawards.com.

In his programme notes, Asian Restaurant Awards judge, George Shaw, commented: “Over 25 years ago culinary pioneer Madha Jaffrey told me that too many Asian restaurant owners were in a race to the bottom, undercutting each other’s prices, with enormous menus of poorly cooked dishes. Tonight, we celebrate the achievements of those in a race to the top.”

The awards are sponsored by Just Eat and Booker Wholesale and supported by ACF Utilities, the Asian Hospitality Federation of Europe, Aroma Ice Cream and Mohammed Shah & Co Accountancy.

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