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How do you feel about the Michelin guide spurning L.A.?? [moved from L.A. board]

So our neighbors to the North scored the first West Coast Michelin guide and now the city of San Francisco is gloating at us.

What do you think about what they had to say? (LAT, 10/3/06)

From Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin guide: " 'San Francisco is a natural choice after New York City. When you go to restaurants [in SF], everyone is a foodie. Everyone talks about the food all the time. In L.A. maybe you have incredible and beautiful movie stars. But here, the celebrity stars are the chefs.'"

From Daniel Scherotter, vice president of the Golden Gate Restaurant Assn.: " 'The reason Angelenos come to San Francisco to eat is because our food is more about ingredient-driven, organic, free-range, sustainable, fresh-right-from-the-backyard, seasonal food than it is about some chef's ego and how high he can pile' it."

Are they right? Semi-right? Dead wrong? Are the French incredibly irritating?

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  1. i wrote the author of the article agreeing with nancy silverton. who needs guide michelin when you have CHOWHOUND?!? it's interesting that chowhound wasn't even mentioned in the article.

    i do like michelin for areas where there is nothing like chowhound.

    1. No



      Aaacchhhoooyess. Just playing. Honestly, no. French-opinionated Michelin guides are irritating, but only if you let it bother you. It shouldn't bother Chowhounds, because we know what's good. LA.

      1. I'd have to agree. The food in Southern California doesn't compare to New York or San Francisco. At least not yet, but keep trying.

        33 Replies
        1. re: 212

          Really? I have yet to have a remarkable Mexican or Vietnamese meal in NYC or SF. You guys can keep trying at that and talk to us later.

          1. re: Ernie

            I have yet to find good Chinese or Indian in Southern California??

            1. re: 212

              You are not looking hard enough. Try Monterey Park or the Artesia area. Perhaps you live in the middle of OC?

              1. re: 212

                As far as "good" Indian food in Southern California, maybe you haven't been pointed in the right direction(s) yet? May I suggest you clink the link below and scrow down to "losfelizhound"'s discussion of a sampling of what L.A. has to offer:


                1. re: 212

                  You couldn't find good Chinese food in Southern California? Is this some sort of weird joke?

                  1. re: 212

                    Are you kidding? The San Gabriel Valley has the largest Asian population in the U.S.. And although SF will challenge it, the food is generally considered the best the country has to offer.

                    1. re: biscuit

                      There are Chinese places in Monterey Park and Alhambra that are definately at the top in North America but to say overall LA/SVG bests SF is a pushing it a bit. The big seafood houses in SGV are great but LA does less well on low end, volume and longevity vs. SF.

                      In LA you can still get away with serving so-so Chinese food on the Westside (and charge more)...in SF the competition is very stiff on price and quality. If you don't one either one okay, you could be out of business fast.

                      Also there are things in SF you can't get in SGV (but possibly LA), like old ladies selling homemade Zongzi/Tsungtze/Dung Ti or (Chinese "tamales") and old school places that have been around for 80-100 years. There's still a few old school places in LA Chinatown but you know the story there...lofts are moving in and the old is nearly gone.

                      1. re: ML8000

                        Sorry about the old lady dearth here. go to the mall on valley blvd north side of street just west of New (where the mr baguette is). There's a professional (sorry no old ladies) place selling about 15 kinds lof Zongzi.
                        If you want old ladies, go to the corner of Irolo and 8th st in koreatown, sw corner, jons market parking lot- ladies there selling excellent tamales, mexican tamales, and atole and champurrado.

                        I've had awful awful chinese food in San francisco and in the bay area which is about 2 1/2 million people. Please.

                        I've been to a place in lafayette that served excellent shanghai/huaiyang food but just to me and my party. the rest of the clientele ordered and still orders beef and broccoli and cantonese-influenced mediocrities (at this kitchen) and won't order the xlb. Lilly's. Ate there with Melanie Wong. One of the guests lives and works in lafayette, had eaten at the place a few times - just the lunch special, thought i was crazy inviting him there and was blown away by the banquet we had - none of which was familiar to him.

                        Vancouver gives the SGV a more serious run for its money than either flushing or sf proper - i hear the silicon valley area is quite something - maybe next time.

                        You know what's great in SF? Swan's Depot. And never a star. And marvelous and all kinds of longevity.

                        In any case, the SF/LA and NY/LA comparisons are worse than tired. you can get excellent chinese food in los angeles county, maybe just not in your neighborhood. you can also buy 10,000's of dollars worth of jewelry in Los Angeles County, again maybe not in your neighborhood.

                        1. re: Jerome

                          the only chinese i love in the BAY AREA is jade café.

                          even the chinese from HK, shanghai, and canada all say the best chinese food in the world is in the SGV.

                          looks like your OC-based. you have really decent chinese and indian in irvine, but cross the curtain and get yo'self to artesia and the SGV.

                          time to start your new adventure.

                          1. re: revets2

                            can you give me some specific places to try. So far the places that we've been sent to have been fair.

                            1. re: 212

                              where have you been thus far? it will help to know why you thought they were fair.

                        2. re: ML8000

                          The comment about getting so-so Chinese food on the Westside is rather disingenuous. Nobody goes to the Westside for Chinese food. That's like saying that the sushi in Bernal Heights sucks.

                          1. re: choctastic

                            It's disingenuous until you get on a freeway in LA. Going from the Westside to Monterey Park or Chinatown is a major hassle, esp. in commute traffic or the weekend typical weekend jam up.

                            Sure you might stop in Chinatown on the way home if you work near it but if you live on the Westside and don't work near...you're not going to stop by and/or make a few freeway changes. Not going to happen. Say you live near LAX and work in the South Bay, no way you're going to Chinatown, let alone Monterey Park.

                            OTOH, I can get from Bernal to J-town or anywhere else in SF in about 20 minutes...of course parking is another story. Bernal to Market/Castro, Potrero, Mission, 10 - 15 mins., etc., etc., etc.

                            1. re: ML8000

                              I work by LAX/South Bay, live on the westside and Go to school twice a week in SGV immedately after work... it's not problem for me at all. It comes from being an L.A. native, you learn the rhythms of the freeway, side and main streets. Of course my car is just turning four years old and has 75k on it. But that is why I got a great car and I've had LOTS of fun and great chow getting there... ;)


                              1. re: Dommy

                                Sure if you're on the road and on the move, going from work to school, etc. I can easily see stopping in the SGV on the way to or from...but would you really stop in Chinatown on this route?

                                That's my point, if it's out of the way I just don't see it happening. I can see making a stop in non-commute traffic but when isn't it commute traffic now? BTW, born and raised in SoCal, family still there, South Bay, Silver Lake.

                                1. re: ML8000

                                  Yeah, Chinatown is right next to little tokyo which I stopped first day of class for Ramen. The next class day, I stopped over for a taco table in bolye hights. Going from work to class, a girl has to pick something up... (And this is all documented on the L.A. board if you care to check it out), like any good chowhound I make most of my travels to try new things. You just have to know what free way exits, what cross streets, and how to get back on the freeway. And of course you have to have a realistic sense of timing (In my two years I've only been late to class ONCE and that was because of massice pile up that happened infront of me, c'est la vie!) But, I have a friend who has a thomas guide (no car in L.A. should be without one, even if you own a Treo!) with chow notes written on the margins of pretty much every page...


                              2. re: ML8000

                                So traffic is the only reason why you stick with Westside Chinese....lol!

                                I suppose that means I should stop doing the hour drive from San Fran (due to traffic) to Koi Palace for dim sum. Instead perhaps I should stop by one of the craptastic dim sum joints in Chinatown because I'm lazy and it's more convenient. This is the stupidest reason ever to eat on the Westside.

                                BTW you totally missed the point about Bernal Heights sushi. It may take you 10 minutes to get to Bernal Heights from wherever you are in Frisco (it's a small city) but the sushi still SUCKS.

                                1. re: choctastic

                                  Yeah sushi sucks in Bernal and you drive 20 minutes to get some decent stuff, i.e., Kabuto. Any way, whatever the food in LA is simply fab, you have freeways and the weather is nice, so be happy.

                                  1. re: ML8000

                                    Kabuto changed hands and from all reports is no longer worth a detour.

                                  2. re: choctastic

                                    I live in LA but was visiting SF this weekend. We had dim sum at Koi Palace on Sunday and it was very pleasant. But it was not worth driving an hour for from SF.

                                    1. re: JudiAU

                                      actually the dim sum is pretty good at least for Frisco area but you really need to try some of their seafood offerings which can be really good.

                        3. re: Ernie

                          Ernie, have you been to THE SLANTED DOOR in SF?

                          1. re: revets2

                            I have, and except for the amazing view, it ain't all that. There are about a dozen Pho stands in LA serving better food.

                          2. re: Ernie

                            Wow. Mexican I will go along with, but Vietnamese?? Then you arent trying. Between SF, SJ, Milpitas, Mt View etc. I can think of 10 truly very good Vietnamese. Next trip, search the SF board and you will find em, from hole in the wall, to Slanted Door level

                            1. re: tomritza

                              There's great Mexican food in Oakland.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Can you recommend some good places in Oakland for chiles en nogada, cochinita pibil, costillas en salsa negro, or calabacitas con puerco?

                              2. re: tomritza

                                San Jose & Milpitas are about 50 miles away from SF. In LA about 8 miles to Alhambra or about 30 to Westminster, each with more than 10 excellent Viet choices. I looked at the Slanted Door menu and it does not resemble any Viet region I am familiar with.

                                1. re: Ernie

                                  You can get great Vietnamese in SF proper and Oakland. No problem. I don't see anyone driving to Westminster from LA except on a weekend or it's on your way. Of course there is good Vietnamese in LA, in Chinatown, or you have to search for it.

                                  1. re: Ernie

                                    Some of Slanted Door's dishes are straight-up traditional Vietnamese. The nem cua, ca kho to, and bo luc lac are all excellent versions of those standards.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      I don't see ca kho to, which is a fish dish. They do have a chicken claypot but that is not the same. Are we looking at the same menu?

                                      1. re: Ernie

                                        I was just going by memory. It's called catfish claypot on the menu:


                                        I think the nem cua (crab and black mushroom rolls) are on the menu only during Dungeness crab season.

                                        We should really discuss this on the SF board.

                            2. Who cares! Los Angeles offers soooo much more that any ONE guide can handle. Let Frisco have their Three stars, all of us in Los Angeles know where the best food can be found from the top of the chart Chef's to the corner Taco Truck.
                              Los Angeles is where REAL foodies like, and CHOWHOUND is where we talk about our latest finds.

                              1. i was in san francisco a few weeks back and i ate at boulevard. several years ago, i had to take weekly trips to san francisco and every week i was able to eat at the best restaurants in the city ( blvd, one market, fleur de lys, aqua, 5th floor, gary danko, charles on nob hill, masa, and many more ) - i really liked blvd so i wanted to see if it was able to maintain it's service/food quality that i enjoyed in the past...let me tell you...i actually thought it might be better now ( maybe my palate has changed...not sure ) and it made me think - which fine dining establishments in la have "withstood the test of time" and so far i'm drawing a blank...i enjoyed spago a few years back...didn't care for it last time i was there ( about 4 months ago ) - i really like joe's but i'm just not sure if i could put it at the fine dining level...but i do like it. have not been to aoc in awhile - i really liked it the 4+ times i've been there. I was very disappointed when they changed the chefs at that nice french restaurant on melrose place...i forget the name of it, but it was one of the most memnorable meals i've had ( so memorable, i can't remember the name of the place...lol )
                                i also thought highly of melisse but i have not been there this year....i'm just wondering if this is a factor in getting the so-called respect of the michelin people - i tend to agree with the prior posting - who needs them anyways !!!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: kjs

                                  thanks for the BLVD update. it's a great restaurant and we love it. i, too, commuted to SF for a long time and was able to do the same as you. your post brings back these great culinary adventures. on our last visit to BLVD. (january), we learned our waiter, who's been there since the opening of the restaurant is a surfer, a wharton grad, and is now brewing beer belgian-style with bagels. it's called bagel brew. thanks for the great post.

                                  1. re: kjs

                                    Wow, I just hated Boulevard. Went there when it was still fairly new (but not just-opened new). Some of the food did not match my expectation based on the menu descriptions; the appetizers didn't really go with the entrees; clearly the focus was on the desserts. Plus it was so annoyinging crowded, and the bill came out to a tidy even dollar amount, which couldn't be right.

                                    1. re: slacker

                                      you ate there once over a decade ago?

                                  2. I don't think Los Angeles is as popular a destination for the French as New York and San Francisco are.

                                    There aren't all that many titles in the Red Guide series:

                                    Great Britain & Ireland
                                    Spain & Portugal

                                    Europe: Main Cities
                                    New York City
                                    San Francisco

                                    The most logical next title might be USA: Main Cities.

                                    1. I think you have to take the Michelin Guide with a grain of salt. Certainly in the Bay Area that's happening because there were surprises. Example: Chez Panisse received one star. Everyone I know was surprised, some shocked. Of course the French have their own criteria and filters and some of it doesn't translate well. The analogy I think of is if AAA reviewed places in France...the French would probably laugh at it as well.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: ML8000

                                        I wasn't surprised but I expected it to be prejudiced against non-French chefs and non-French restaurants.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          I was surprised that CP didn't get 2 stars. I didn't think it would get 3 given the service is not the French model, but one?

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Thanks - I've posted a few messages there already.

                                      2. I've been having this exact same conversation for six months now:

                                        People in SF talk about food before, during, and after meals.

                                        People in LA talk about TV shows and which movies they just went to. They find it incredibly irritating when all one wants to talk about is food.

                                        As one who's not rich enough to dine at most of the Michelin restaurants, I can say nothing about whether their criteria are "good" or "bad." I can only say that it seems obvious why a guide with their type of reputation would choose NYC and SF before (or instead of) LA.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Pei

                                          I don't know any people who talk about food before, during and after the meal and I know a few foodies and industry types. Certainly at a place like French Laundry food is the center of the discussion but even then it can be the full meal.

                                          Anyone that talks about food before, during and after the meal is a full-on food geek and really not that much fun to have dinner with. Sort of like the baseball fan that spews stats after stat after stat out during a game...you know, stop it. Sometimes you have to just enjoy it and shut up.

                                          The food certainly is important but dining is more then the food, it's about the experience as well.

                                          1. re: Pei

                                            And that is a trait they share with the French who also talk about food during sex.

                                            1. re: NAspy

                                              LOL. Great response. That's exactly what I mean--for better or worse (food geek or not), that's what Michelin is looking for. They're not looking for the type of food culture that flourishes in LA.

                                            2. re: Pei

                                              Um, not my friends. Maybe you need a wider social circle...

                                              1. re: Pei

                                                Hmmm, I should introduce you to my circle of friends in LA or my little sister. My family talks about food before, during, and immediately after meals (meaning, before the table is cleared).

                                              2. Hi... It's interesting that the two 'talking heads' (cited by the OP above) who share the same pro-SF opinion, essentially contradict each other via their own quoted words. Naret (the Michelin dude) says that the true celebrities in SF *are* their chefs (apparently as opposed to L.A.'s 'stella vulgaris', i.e., common movie stars). Then the fellow Scherotter states that in SF it's not about the chefs at all, but about wonderful products. So which is it, chefs or ingredients? How can Naret refer to SF chefs as _celebrities_ and not fall into the ego trap abhorred by Scherotter? Isn't the investiture of the very title 'celebrity' a nod to a sense of the elite, the charmed, the chosen? In fairness, I understand what Naret is driving at, but the juxtaposition of those two snippet-quotes certainly mixes the message... And for the record, this Angeleno *loves* San Francisco and it's chow. I applaud SF its' recognition; just wish it wasn't framed at the cost of L.A.'s diminution...

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: silence9

                                                  silence9, that's really beautiful. that's exactly what i wanted to say but didn't know how. as a former bay area student who still misses it terribly, i deeply appreciate the genuine interest in food and good-- not just artful-- cuisine up there.

                                                  But as an L.A. native who's spent enough time here to see beneath the surface that the media reflects, I am tired of the French and New Yorkers and everyone else in the media ragging on L.A. in one big lump. Sure, we may have an irritating celebrity culture that seeps into the biggest names in our restaurant culture... but this city is so big and quirky we are lucky to have the special finds and intelligent innovation as well. You just have to get in your car and go find them! We are supposed to be hounds, aren't we??

                                                  1. re: amandine

                                                    you're right amandine - people find it easy to "hate LA" b/c of the celbretity culture, but yet no one seems capable of turning off the TV or not going to movies or avoiding gossip rags.
                                                    surprising that 'sophisticated palates' are incapable or separating their disgust with/ dislike of "LA culture" (which is really the worlds mass culture) with their tasting of our food.

                                                    1. re: amandine

                                                      As another native Angeleno, I tune out to LA bashing by NYCers, especially since most of them are not NYC natives to begin with.

                                                      1. re: Ernie

                                                        Amen... I've met more Native Manhattanites living in L.A. than I did ever visiting and working in NY... LOL!!


                                                  2. Anyone care to predict how Michelin would rate LA. This is what I think they would say (as opposed to what I would say):

                                                    Urasawa: two stars
                                                    Sona: one star
                                                    Spago: one star
                                                    Melisse: one star
                                                    Valentino: one star

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: sku

                                                      honestly, I doubt they would be so generous with our restaurants...

                                                      1. re: sku

                                                        Since Masa got 2 in NYC, Urasawa should get 2. Sona's tasting has the best shot at 3 stars. Aside from that, like you said, all the french influenced places in LA are probably 1.

                                                        Which is fine. LA's strengths don't lie in french-influenced cuisne. People don't go to LA for french food. They go for asian and mexican. The michelin guide is unable to rank such places. Hell, I'd go to Beverly Soon Tofu 9 out of 10 times over anything the guide would consider 3 stars.

                                                      2. I think Los Angeles' finest restaurants are underappreciated in part because the city is so hard to figure out, it's so sprawling and visitor-unfriendly. L.A. has the best Chinese, Korean and sushi in the U.S., for example, but few people here go for all three of those types of food regularly, and if they did they'd have to drive about 75 miles or more to sample the best spots.

                                                        The same goes for L.A.'s big-deal restaurants. There's no one, compact part of the city you can go to sample the top ones. Few visitors, including critics, have the time or the wherewithal to drive all over the place night after night after night, so they sample one place or a few, and then leave with the impression that there aren't that many good restaurants here.

                                                        It's also been said that L.A. is a great food town but not a great restaurant town. There may be some truth to that, but nevertheless, if you make a list of top restaurants here, it's a long list.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Mr. Cookie

                                                          Thank you, Mr. Cookie. You expressed eloquently what I could not. LA is a great place to live, but not such a great place to visit.

                                                        2. the michelin guide is only relevant if you're talking about high-end restaurants. maybe SF and NY are better at that. But no one eats at those kind of spots every day.
                                                          LA has the best cheap to mid-range food destinations in america. That's all i care about.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: mr mouther

                                                            it's particularly true that they're most interested in French or French-derivative restaurants, and SF has more of those than LA.

                                                          2. I don't think there are any places here that would get michelin 3 or two star ratings. A three star place is innovative, mindful of classical haute-cuisine tradition, gracious, beautifully appointed, FORMAL, bearing a deep and interesting French heavy winelist, serviced professionally in a style reminiscent of the french style, etc. A meal should be the evening's entertainment and it is not an everyday experience, any more than the opera is an everyday experience.
                                                            The style of eating here, even the most refined style here, doesn't meet the criteria of the michelin guide. Urasawa comes closest, but the style of food, the serving at the bar, the range of the service, the style of beverages move outside the classifications of the michelin system.
                                                            Example - at one time Pyramide in Vienne outside Lyon(s) was a big enough draw that people went to Vienne just to eat there. L'Auberge de l'Ill in Illhaeusern (alsace) was another such place. I don't know if they still have 3 stars. Adria's El Bulli is another place like this. French Laundry - yes people go to Yountville just for that - Larkspur Inn hypothetically was that kind of place, as was Chez Panisse about 20 years ago.
                                                            There was a time when some of the nouvelle palaces in southern california were innovative enough to be destination spots - like Michael's or St Estephe. But the style of service, the depth of the kitchen - no. A little like the cuisine minceur places. Today, what is there on that level here? Is that kind of clientele even here? I doubt it. Melisse attempts it but the dining room is silly - overcrowded table settings, people packed cheek by jowl, not really world-class innovative, the waitstaff is occasionally silly in overexplaining without being questioned, not doesn't work in the same well-oiled manner as a multi-star French place. But it and the late bastide were close. And they were good to have around. L'Orangerie is wonderful but old-fashioned and a place like that would not rate a star in a Michelin guide in france today.
                                                            As well, the culture here AND IN SAN FRANCISCO don't really support the same idea of formal dining. No matter what the press says, michelin is looking for these palaces of gastronomy, temples of an approach to food and dining. The best porcelains, perfect service, sterling etc. Or chic in a modern way. And the clientele's demands affect what the restaurant can provide. Think for a moment how some of the best sushi chefs in town will accomodate crispy spicy tuna roll requests. Most will. And realize how indignant many folks are on this board when they hear that some chef didn't accomodate that request. Now take it on the level of a grande cuisine restaurant and you can be sure that there is no way it could survive here or frankly in san francisco that long.
                                                            Just today, I ate with someone who was looking at the menu in a simple place and just said to the server, look all i want is a romaine and baby green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, no garlic. And could i have some grilled salmon on the salad? Great. And if there is garlic in the vinaigrette, just some oil and vinegar. How often have we dined with people who start with what's in the X, is there pork or salt or msg or what kind of fat is that in , and could i just get it grilled?
                                                            the search for youth immortality potency or third-eye greatdharmapower through diet is rampant - no salt please, is it processed flour, sugar, buckwheat - and the requests often grow with the perceived purchasing power of the client.
                                                            This kind of healthfaddism diet and the often sawdusty products one can find at places like real food daily and mani's (both of which i have patronized and both of which offer some dishes which are quite tasty). Combine this with another element in our diverse culture whose idea elegance is four stiff manhattans and a 24-oz culotte with brown butter in a room studded with more muslin curtains than a 1965 Vegas brothel and louder than a frat house watching the world series, and pretty dark too so that the fading beauties might not have their collagen lips and enhanced bodies viewed too closely - well that's not three star anything.
                                                            I'm not saying these places aren't fun, don't provide great evenings, etc. But that's not what a michelin rating is about - and in order to have places that are going to provide cuisine that is going to get a star, you need a wide base of places providing high quality french-style food that aren't going to get stars. I love Babita's but that place isn't going to get a star. And what do the folks up north imagine the Sl Door is providing? Do they really think it's Taillevent?

                                                            rant over.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Jerome

                                                              Ahh, Yes , Taillevent! We went 3 times in one week. One of my all time faves. Keller spent 6 months there then came back and the French Laundry was born a few years later.

                                                              1. re: russkar

                                                                Russkar-- Did you have the pigeon at Tallievent. Lovely stuff...

                                                                And yes, I doubt that LA would make the grade either. Even our most formal restaurants serving the most ambitious food aren't very formal.

                                                                1. re: JudiAU

                                                                  JudiAU, I actually have had the Squab once there but am not a fan of it normally. I like everything else though.

                                                              2. re: Jerome

                                                                I think you hit on it when you used the word formal. Many of the top restaurants in the Bay Area are quite formal, and even stuffy. It's not a style of restaurant that has gone over well in L.A.

                                                                1. re: Jerome

                                                                  well put, mr. jerome. well put.

                                                                2. I actually hope Michelin never releases a guide to LA. The French are ill-equipped to rate the non-European cuisines here that shine, i.e., namely Mexican and Asian.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Ernie

                                                                    That's what I thought too. MIchelen is good at rating French and French-inspired food and atmosphere only.

                                                                    So it's natural that they would look to the American cities that most try to emulate that model, and L.A. for better or worse, is below both NYC and SF in that regard.

                                                                    We simply aren't formal enough (or there aren't enough of us who are), to start with, to want to go to a formal, hushed dining room with tables 8 feet apart to partake of a 10 course degustation that will take all night, and where all conversation is centered around the food.

                                                                    L.A. could maybe support one restaurant like that. Maybe one.

                                                                    1. re: Ernie

                                                                      Exactly. In fact, a French restaurant guide writer who lives in L.A. confidently told me that there is "no good Mexican food in L.A." Who knows whether she's ever been east of La Cienega, but this is the sort of thing I would expect if they tried to rate our excellent ethnic restaurants.

                                                                      1. re: Chowpatty

                                                                        That is precisely the type of LA-ignorant mindset that irks me to no end. I bet you this French writer thinks the City of Los Angeles is some nebulous amalgamation of Beverly Hills and Santa Monica only.

                                                                        1. re: Ernie

                                                                          This is very true. Visitors I've had are always shocked that the neighborhoods are not like what they see on T.V. They seem to think that everyone is blonde and for that matter, Caucasian. They seem to think that everyone has boob jobs and drives a porsche. I recently drove with a visitor to Silverlake who thought it was going to be chock full of lesbians like in the L Word. So it's no surprise that a French restaurant guide writer would say there is no good Mexican food in L.A. or that Pei (after a very short time here) would proclaim that all people in L.A only talk about movies and t.v. shows or whatever while all people in Frisco talk about is food. On that last subject, having lived in both LA and San Fran Bay Area, I can attest to the fact that these gross generalizations are not very good ones.

                                                                          1. re: choctastic

                                                                            Anybody who hung out with Alice Waters and her crowd in the
                                                                            old days knows that the only thing Berkeley foodies talk about
                                                                            is movies! Film people, on the other hand, tend to spend a lot
                                                                            of time talking about food.

                                                                    2. LA is not a Michelin Guide food town. LA is a Chowhound kind of food town, a Jane & Michael Stern's Roadfood kind of food town. Michelin has not a clue about eclectic eating. Its orientation is CLASSIC, meaning a very narrow definition of what defines Fine Dining: formal atmosphere, formal menu, formal presentation, and then impeccable cooking and service on top of that. Nothing wrong with that - if I could afford to eat at French Laundry I'd go worship at Keller's feet for a week, and no doubt have a glorious time. And I *LIKE* sitting at a white-clothed table wielding nice heavy knives and forks to attack my lapin au moutarde or whatever. But I also like wielding chopsticks to fish shreds of barely-cooked brisket out of my pho, cheap stainless to cut up my country-fried steak, or my fingers (over my wife's fierce objections) to get the last crunchy bits off my heavenly Pann's chicken wings.

                                                                      I have no doubt that the Michelin gang will turn their attention to LA in due course, and will give us a valuable outsider's view of our culinary scene from their very specific perspective. I look forward to that. I also look forward to all the lovely arguments which their report will certainly generate!

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                                        The folks who are/were trying to provide either a michelin style expreience or meld local style with what would at most garner one star -
                                                                        Melisse - if they would cut the tables to half, etc.
                                                                        the old Ken Frank restaurant La Toque - again too crowded and understaffed in service for michelin but beautifully prepared, appointed, etc.
                                                                        Bastide for about six months.
                                                                        I'm happy that Frank seems to be working again in northern california. he was an incredible asset.
                                                                        People should also remember that most Parisian restaurants aren't starred. Most regional french restaurants aren't starred, most traditional french restaurants aren't starred. I doubt you will find a star in the rouergue or in the auvergne. Don't believe for a moment that the michelin writers don't adore those places as well and wouldn't and couldn't get the way LA eats. They could, just fine. I promise you that the food writers would adore Quality Seafood in redondo and the live uni. it just wouldn't get a star. great places in paris that provide textbook choucroute garnie aren't getting stars. neither are great brasseries with amazing seafood offerings. The star is a particular restaurant - where, by the way, the conversation DOES NOT only center on the food. It might be on the linen and porcelain as much as the food, it might be on other things - there will be some discussion of the food but the setting and the food should set up the evening for discussions of all kinds of thing - it's a social lubricant and a sensual experience that you share. You will find french folks talking about all kinds of things at these evenings - talking only about the food for four hours or how the wine brings out X flavoring is clunky and dull.
                                                                        I will note though, as noticed by others, i have been to restaurants in the bay area with local folk who do go on not only about secrets about this or that kitchen but will, in the middle of a fine lunch, be discussing where they're going for dinner.

                                                                        1. re: Jerome

                                                                          I'm not sure what your criteria is, but if its just food - and taste - I have no problem with Melisse getting ***. I've had at least 10 terrific meals there. All were better (not by a long shot, but simply more satisfying) than ANY meal at Le Bernadin. Comparable with my experience at The French Laundry, and of the *** in europe, I'd say definitely in the running. Near the top. Le Calandre? Melisse was simply tastier, more luxurious, and hitting my monkeybone more directly.

                                                                          But La Toque? Wow, may it was luck of the draw, but when they were in LA I'd say I given them 5 or 6 tries and never once had a great meal. Never a bad meal either, but nothing close to exceptional. Last time I was in Napa I agonized - should I give him another try? Nah..

                                                                          Bastide I tried only once - and that was in their initial incarnation. I had the tasting menu and though very good - was almost identical to something I would do at a dinner party.

                                                                          Providence is in the ball parkpark of a ** or ***.

                                                                          Spago is a great restaurant, I just don't go there. But when I do, I have terrific meals. Better than the old Spago's which was always good, but never an event. I've had events at the new Spagos. Could easily be a ***, but probably too noisy for Michelin judges.

                                                                          I also ate at "The Ultimate Dinner" at Rockenwagers. He would do it for 6. Not 7 or 5, but 6. He made a special table for it. It was not a formal dining experience, but an experiment in whimsy. It was, by far, the most inventive, creative and fun dining experience I've ever had. And the food was terrific. But there was a course where the plate was set up at a backyard - a little clothes line that had a variety of fried chips hanging from the lines to accompany appetizers found in a miniature tiny pool, etc. A plate with five soup tureens - each and everyone one was decandently delicious. If he'd had a restaurant like that - and didn't share it with the other restaurant - that would've gotten ***. Splichal's first and second restaurant - Patina was very good, but not as good in my memory. Ditto with the one downtown. I'll have to give it more thought.

                                                                      2. No biggie. I would think it might be disappointing for the big name chefs here. but then again, it might save them some grief and the pressure of having to live up to yet another subjective standard. For those of us who live in LA, we know what we got.

                                                                        As someone else posted, chowhound is all you need.

                                                                        1. I believe the discussion so far is missing the point. What should be considered is not so much if L.A "deserves" a red Michelin guide. It's rather the opposite, or rather: is Michelin still relevant, not just for USA, but in general?
                                                                          In fact, most of the big names in French cuisine have in very low esteem the Michelin, just think of Lucas Carton's Senderens. Let's face it, Michelin was born in the early 1900s. Its ideas, concepts & ratings are no match for a reality entirely different after almost a century. The static authoritarian model is way past it's prime. Instead, dynamic, democratic and interactive models, of which Chowhound is the best example I know of, are the right model for food critic -and much more...- for the present times.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: RicRios

                                                                            yes, i agree. it increasingly seems to me that the people of the guide and those who are celebrated by it are the only ones pushing for its legitimacy as THE measuring stick against which all the world's restaurants should be judged.

                                                                            the michelin system is great to judge a single genre of restaurants (no holds barred french type), but very few restaurants aim to fall into that genre. perhaps none in L.A. but then so what? there are a lot more fish in the sea, so to speak.

                                                                            now, if the michelin guide would stop thumbing its nose at everyone else and admit that the whole restaurant world doesn't revolve around its standards, then i'd have no problem with the people of michelin. it's their self-centeredness that i find so incredibly irritating.

                                                                            and you know what? i don't care so much that L.A. got "passed over" anymore. thanks guys!!

                                                                            1. re: amandine

                                                                              "i don't care so much that L.A. got "passed over" anymore. thanks guys!!"

                                                                              HURRAH!! Good, now you can do what I always do, ignore the naysayers (Although a couple do deserve the bird every now and then just to keep them grounded... ;)) and put the focus where it belong in this city... sniffing out the good chow... ;)


                                                                              1. re: amandine

                                                                                This isn't france. Why should the restaurants, even those which are in that tradition, be expected to function at the same level, esp. when the clientele isn't french or french-educated?
                                                                                All this notwithstanding - i have eaten at some starred establishments and it's a wonderful experience. going to la scala is also a wonderful experience and it's different than going to the Disney Hall or even (gasp) the SF opera house.

                                                                            2. So the Michelin guide and LA may not be a good match. How would Urasawa compare with the top Japanese restaurants in Japan? And which of the SGV Chinese restaurants would you hold up to the best in Hong Kong, in Shanghai?

                                                                              1. How do I feel about the Michelin guide spurnning LA? Or a zillion other cities, towns and villages with great chow? Nothing. It's not important enough.

                                                                                I think it's quite obvious that chowhounds don't consider "authorities" important, and much prefer to decided what's good on their own. In that light, is it significant to have a city "annointed" by a guidebook? I think we should be willing to accept that it's merely one opinion of many, whether it agrees with our own or not, and not given it more importance than it really is.

                                                                                I think that the old generalizations that city X is better than city Y is irrelevant, I think most hounds want the best of everything in every city, and wouldn't be willing to compromise, and would seek the best that they can find insofar as time, money and other resources allow. Chowhounding doesn't have borders.

                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                1. re: limster

                                                                                  That the food in city X is better than the food in city Y is relevant to why chowhounds prefer to live in certain places.

                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                    No city has the best of everything, that's why it's irrevelant. Best to keep one's horizons broad and not just chow in one place or stick to one type of food. I haven't been to a city that is not a compromise.

                                                                                    1. re: limster

                                                                                      I know that the SF area lacks first-rate versions of some cuisines I've had elsewhere, but I'm too far behind in keeping up with what we do have to feel like I'm missing anything.

                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                        Robert L - isn't that kind of off topic in any case? SF has some decent places. It has some very popular places that i don't get, etc. as does every city. Certainly your statement should hold true for someone living in southern california, for the new york area,probably for chicago and dc as well.
                                                                                        The michelin guide is for tourists. It's for them to find things in your town that they can't get elsewhere. I'd much rather take someone for sand dabs than for daube de boeuf in LA, or for live uni at Quality seafod or simple corn at neptune's net or a bbq at philip's in leimert park or ribs up at newcombs ranch in the angeles crest. or a french dip sandwich at philippe's near union station. or even an early morning walk around the wholesale produce market. These are things which are special here. The French laundry is special worldwide. If a tourist in town wants to try some unusual chinese or japanese or korean places (guilin noodles at eight cafe, white soba at otafuku or tempura omakase at komatsu, or a set Kaesang meal at yongsusan) i'm up for it.
                                                                                        for a tourist what does SF do so well that they should eat it or try it? the answer is for another thread of course, but it isn't adria-style food. it's more likely simple things - dungeness crab cocktail, a real irish coffee at the buena vista, pacific oysters, a tasting of napa and sonoma valley wines, maybe a hangtown fry, maybe some abalone somewhere if available. Even the mission style sf burritos with i believe eggs (shudder)... If the visitors are from china or hong kong, the chinese offerings aren't going to be that interesting, etc.

                                                                                        What the michelin tries to showcase are local specialties incl wines and then palaces of innovative haute cuisine (read french and french influenced). Frankly, it's wonderful that so many places were starred at all in bay area. Enjoy the level of food you have available up there. I know I enjoy what we have here, and no reason a person can't enjoy both.

                                                                                        1. re: Jerome

                                                                                          Actually the Michelin star system steers French tourists to what's most like what they could find in France.

                                                                                          1. re: Jerome

                                                                                            Instead of "..simple corn at neptune's net..", might I strongly recommend the corn dishes at Fresh Corn Grill in Westwood next time the corn mood strikes you.


                                                                                            1. re: JBC

                                                                                              I'm guessing this is a relatively new place. In any case, though, I'm sure there are better and more delicious things in the world than the corn at Neptune's Net. It isn't the corn that's so good. It's sitting at Neptune's net, across from the beach, on a breezy and (better if it's) warm afternoon, and eating fresh corn while smelling the sea and looking at the birds and the ocean and the folks all around. One can't do that in Paris. It's a relatively open almost wild spot.

                                                                                    2. re: limster

                                                                                      Limster, what I meant by "spurning L.A." was not so much the fact that Michelin picked SF over L.A. (or over any other city for that manner), I was more taking issue with the comments that were made about L.A. by the guide's director and others. I found them unwarranted and downright offensive, but was curious to find out what other Angelenos thought about it. (which is why I originally posted this on the L.A. Board but it got moved)

                                                                                      1. re: amandine

                                                                                        Absolutely -- agree entirely that making comments like that aren't nice or warranted, and my response is similar, that these statements stems from a certain narrow vision of the world where there are authorities that tell us where we should eat and what is delicious. And that is irrelevant in the world of chowhound, where the goal is to find deliciousness ourselves, instead of having it handed down from above.

                                                                                        Many hounds are willing to go to another country for deliciousness insofar as they can afford it, let alone another city in the same state. In that light, isn't this kind of oneupsmanship in their attitude rather irrelevant and even counterproductive?

                                                                                        There's no reason to take sweeping generalizations seriously, either about the food or about the people who live there. Chowhounds live for the details and the exceptions and for their idea of what's delicious.

                                                                                    3. I never understood this "thing" in the media among SF-ers always making snide comments about LA food. But I do agree that SF makes a better 2nd Michelin choice than LA. SF still has European roots as does Chicago and NYC. With Los Angeles, I feel that the city's uniqueness is that it has no connection to Europe. The city is much more rooted in Asian and Latin American cultures where Michelin style dining is non-existent.

                                                                                      When the city's best food is Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Korean and many others, the city's strengths are really a different standard that can't be rated by something like the Michelin guide. I sort of hope that they don't come to the city, because I don't see there standard culturally sensitive enough to rate LA's more "chowhoundish" restaurants that is really the city's greatest strength.

                                                                                      1. Ah yes, those annoying French!
                                                                                        We'll have to return to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast to show them a lesson!
                                                                                        Sorry, but I guess I don't see the drama here. There aren't many Michelin guides, and it doesn't seem especially surprising (or at all disturbing) that they've failed to do one for LA.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: sophie fox

                                                                                          Los Angeles is the 2nd largest city in the country. the area including orange county has nearly 14 million people. It is also a big tourist destination, not only for americans. There is a huge variety of cuisine available here, a considerable portion prepared at a high level of competence. Michelin guides perform a service by listing places esp for european visitors. the stars don't really matter. how many starred restaurants are there in marseille(s)? not too many. but there are tons of listings. It's a bit of a surprize. SF is nice, but kinda like carcassonne - touristic, a little twee, a destination.
                                                                                          Los Angeles is a megacity - for good or ill, like tokyo or rio or sao paolo or lagos with the problems and benefits of such a large concentration.
                                                                                          I'd be very surprized btw for d ubergeek below that michelin wrote up Flint's in Oakland or any number of small korean places in san francisco. anyway...

                                                                                        2. I'm not at all surprised -- SF is much more into French food and French-influenced food that LA. Yes, we have a handful (maybe a couple of dozen in a county of 10 million) of French-inspired places that would show up on a Michelin radar (though not necessarily receive a star)...

                                                                                          I don't care. I live in the Valley, which is looked down upon by LA the same way LA is looked down upon by SF... yet, for some reason, I manage to eat INCREDIBLY well in the Valley while almost never going "over the hill" to eat.

                                                                                          Why? Because we have most of the ethnic holes-in-the-wall in the City of LA, the places that serve the communities that actually do all the real work in this city, the communities who can't afford to live on the ethnically-barren (by comparison) Westside.

                                                                                          It's such a huge component of our food milieu in this area, but do you think that these Michelin inspectors are going to dive into a taqueria in Sun Valley, a pho shop in Rosemead or Westminster, a kabobery in Glendale, a wooden-tables-and-brusque-service soon tofu restaurant in Koreatown? Of course not. Can you imagine some Michelin inspecteur trying to blend in at Tacos Baja Ensenada or Las Quenas? Never happen.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                            Why? Because we have most of the ethnic holes-in-the-wall in the City of LA, the places that serve the communities that actually do all the real work in this city, the communities who can't afford to live on the ethnically-barren (by comparison) Westside.

                                                                                            I have been one of those Valley detractors... I went to high school in Granada Hills (thanks to the school busing system)... and back in the 90's the valley (outside of San Fernando-Pacoima) was an ethnically barren, food wasteland.

                                                                                            Things have changed in the last 13 years... I now admit.

                                                                                          2. Any idea when/if the LA Michelin ratings are coming out?

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: stollingrone007

                                                                                              November 2007, also Las Vegas at the same time. Here's more on Michelin in L.A.

                                                                                            2. LA is at best, the 4th best food city. New York, San Francisco, Chicago come first. If I say to you "LA food", what do you think? It's certainly not as clear as the first 3. And then you could make arguments for New Orleans, Las Vegas, Philly, Seattle, etc.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: JCap

                                                                                                Not sure what your criteria for ranking best food cities is. All of those cities certainly have good food but it is hard for me to distinguish one significantly better than the other. I suggest you go live in L.A. for a year not just base it on reputation and you will find that LA has some of the best cheap and expensive eats around. IMO L.A. has the most diversity of quality restaurants. I guess it’s how you evaluate what makes a good food city. NY certainly has amazing French and Italian, which LA cannot compete (not to say that LA does not have quality Italian or French) but most people cannot afford those restaurants that supposedly set NY apart. In LA you will find amazing and cheap Vietnamese something that maybe only Seattle is able to compete with. You will find unrivaled Mexican. Some of the best Thai in the nation. Korean food that is as good as it is in Korea. And if you can afford it, there is plenty of fine dinning. All those other cities have qualities that outweigh LA but I think you a juristically underestimating the LA food scene.

                                                                                                1. re: dagrassroots

                                                                                                  Listen, I wouldn't grieve over not getting a Michelin guide in LA. The NYC Michelin guide is an embarrassment; the writing is awful and the restaurant coverage dubious at best. It's a sham.

                                                                                              2. I've never heard of the Michelin guide. The only reason I'd look at it is because I read this post. :)

                                                                                                (I realize this is an old post that was resurrected.)

                                                                                                I do find the negative comments about LA to be a bit annoying, but I guess I'm used to it because those comments are more common than rare. I love the diversity of food in LA, and it is my favorite food city. Over 18 million people live in the greater LA metro area, representing more than 140 nations. The population of the SF metro area is less than 1/4 of that size. ("Size matters," to quote an old Guinness beer campaign.)

                                                                                                I also agree with those who said, "Who needs the Michelin Guide when we have Chowhound?"

                                                                                                1. Just read an article today I think it was in yesterday's Washington Post about Michelin, expanding. I know LA was coming out soon next month I think, with Vegas, as well. And thinking of further expansion. I would love a DC guide. So there ya go, argument will soon be over, unless then you will debate who has a thicker book, I think you should!

                                                                                                  1. I think the Michelin guide in LA will be valuable when I am looking for a special-occasion restaurant where I expect to drop $$$ and have excellent leisurely, multi-course, many hours meals with great service. I think they rate for consistency, which is important when the meal is expensive or special.

                                                                                                    For ethnic eats I would think it's obvious that a better resource will be Jonathan Gold's recs and Chowhound recs (at least the restaurants that have a lot of consensus - I had visited duds recommended by others on this board before).

                                                                                                    As a reference point, even a 1 star Michelin in Paris is better than any of the 'good' restaurants I tried here - Patina, Campanile, AOC, Lucques, Opus, Craft...

                                                                                                    Lastly, I think the variety of good food in SF and Napa is just staggering. Don't get me wrong - I love the chinese and mexican food here in LA, but I still have to drive up North occasionally to get my fix.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                      The list is out, and I don't know if I can trust it at this point. Really - Tre Venezie gets 1 star?!

                                                                                                      Makes me want to wonder if I should my Michael Mina reserveration at LV.

                                                                                                      1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                        Michael Mina in SF is not worth eating at... I can't imagine it possibly being better in LV

                                                                                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                          Thought I saw good things about M Mina in SF. I didn't have luck at the celebrity satellite restaurants in LV (Emeril, Keller), but there are quite of few of those awarded multiple stars in the Michelin guide for LV.

                                                                                                          1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                            IMHO... the Michelin Guide is little more than rough toilet paper. Alright that was harsh. I do believe they have different standards for different cities. It is my impression that the S.F. version is more lenient than the French version... and the L.V. version is just a plain joke.

                                                                                                    2. I'm (sadly) an ex-pat No. Cal Foodie needing to live the rest of my employable years in education (4) in Smoggy, culturally-deficient So. Cal. So I really enjoyed having the S.F. Michelin Guide for reference as my No. Cal Family & I restaurant-hopped for the duration of a recent long visit. I quickly realized that I couldn't update my 2009 Michelin L.A. Edition because a more recent edition hasn't been published for L.A. While it doesn't surprise me, I am curious to know how often Michelin does publish for this region? Does anyone use the other (blue covered) L.A. Restaurant Guide I spied on Amazon.com or the perfunctory Zagat, or any other regional guide for this area? After my recent sojourn to the Mandalay Cambodian Restaurant in S.F., I am longing for their uniquely wonderful Tea-Leaf Salad (much better that the more hyped-up Burma-Superstar) with it's lack of lettuce-filler & concentration on multitudinous crunchy elements. Yes, I am already planning to try to replicate it at home. Any others longing for the good old Bay Area, &/or those with food evaluation suggestions in the form of a recentbound edition?

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Jet

                                                                                                        In a way, I'm sorry you weren't here in the 60's and 70's when the Smog really was something. Well, maybe a bad day in San Jose might remind us. Lately, the views have been great. That said
                                                                                                        I find this board to be a very good asset. Michelin was best for places approaching classic French and ferran adria style food - La Botte was wonderful (michelin 1 star), but the idea of sitting for 3-4 hours for a full evening of dining is something Angelenos i know do on vacation, but not at home. That's where the real 3 stars come - Taillevent back in the day, etc.
                                                                                                        Of course, nothing here serving nearly 10 million people could compare to what you had back home, but if you feel like exploring southeastern LA County, Golden Triangle has been serving Burmese food for decades and i'm pretty sure they have a tea-leaf salad. You could call and check. Again, itwon't be as good, but you won't have to make it yourself.
                                                                                                        Golden Triangle Restaurant
                                                                                                        7011 Greenleaf Ave
                                                                                                        Whittier, CA 90602
                                                                                                        (562) 945-6778
                                                                                                        Laphet Thoke is apparenlty on the menu.
                                                                                                        You might be surprised as to how many people here are also serious about food and can find excellent dishes.
                                                                                                        Again, so sorry you had to leave your happy home. (full disclosure, I enjoy visiting the bay area - after three days i'm ready to leave - then again, i have my faves here and don't want to start a flame war x. is better than y. you love it there and there's no reason for you to change your mind).
                                                                                                        PS a quick google search also shows a place with tea leaf salad in the San Gabriel Valley
                                                                                                        Yoma Myanmar on 713 E Garvey blvd. NOt that I'd go... in that area, i love China Islamic, Cafe Eight for Guilin noodles, Giang-nan for huaiyang food, and quite a few other places. But they seem to have it. again call
                                                                                                        (626) 280-8655

                                                                                                        ah heck. No, have no longing whatsoever for the good old Bay Area. So someone else can help.

                                                                                                        NOTE: for Cambodian food, there's a huge cambodian population in Long Beach. Anaheim st has some old known places like Siem reap If you feel like exploring, i'd love to read your reviews of the many places they have. Again, maybe not as good, but there's a large number, plus there are probably events with homemade cambodian food like the dance performances at the Cambodian Cultural Center in Long Beach.
                                                                                                        Here's a fun youtube with an alternative to restaurant eating
                                                                                                        and this page has as list of cambodian places. Enjoy your exploration, as long as you're here.