More thoughts on Michelin in China

Posted by Fuchsia on May 04, 2009
Awards, Chefs, Chinese restaurants, Hong Kong, Restaurants

Some time ago I wrote a piece for the Financial Times about the Michelin Guide’s awarding of its maximum accolade, three stars, to a Chinese restaurant, for the first time. ¬†While researching the article, I interviewed the director of the Michelin Guides, Jean-Luc Naret, on the controversy over whether one could judge Chinese and Western restaurants by the same criteria. Since I spoke to him, I’ve had one more niggling question, which is: with most Chinese restaurants, you really need to go with a large group to see what they can do, so aren’t they at a disadvantage when the judging is done by lone Michelin inspectors on repeated visits? Perhaps the inspectors don’t go alone, but it’s hard to imagine that their expenses budget would cover repeated visits with a party of people. If you visit a typical high-end Chinese restaurant alone, or with one dining companion, you are likely to be able to try only a few dishes, and to miss the excitement that comes from a really well-planned and diverse dinner for a group, which can be a kind of showcase for different cooking methods. In general, it is international hotels with Chinese restaurants that offer something equivalent to a Western tasting menu: could this explain the much-criticised focus on hotel restaurants in the inaugural Michelin Guide to Hong Kong and Macau? Hmm…


1 Comment to More thoughts on Michelin in China

5 May 2009

I agree with your assessment. Chinese food, particularly formal banquet-style meals, which made up the majority of restaurants reviewed in the Michelin Guide (no “cha chan teng” or hole-in-the-wall noodle joints), really do need a large group of people to do justice to a meal of 10+ courses.

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