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Nov 10, 2007 09:33 PM

Michelin [Moved from Los Angeles Board]

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  1. Thanks for posting. Glad some of my favorite restaurants got recognized by Michelin.

    1. I am thrilled about La Botte getting the star. The prices are reasonable and the food is great. we went for lunch a few months back on a thursday and it was empty. i hope the star helps it attract business, even if it will be harder to just walk in off the street.

      21 Replies
      1. re: Jerome

        So am I! I've been to La Botte and had their chef tasting dinner 3 times, and loved it each time!

        1. re: fdb

          la botte is good, but so is

          Via Veneto
          La terza
          All Angelo
          il grano
          Angelini Osteria

          Also, Where the heck is grace, lucques, opus, hatfields, A.O.C., Jar, Josie, Michaels, Campanile, etc.?

          ALso, Mori Sushi?!?!

          It is VERY good but I can think of 10 sushi places that can blow Mori out of the water. Sushi Zo in the same area for starters.

          Actually, I could have a field day on what restaurants are BETTER than the michelin star places.

          Spago!?!!? Patina!?!? WTF?

          Well, I guess if the world famous Gary Danko in SF gets only one star, I have to be skeptical about these rankings.

          The michelin guide is worhtless in my book.

          1. re: jlrobe

            I read there are 5 people covering LA AND Las Vegas. Five!?!?!? YOu couldnt go to all of the best sushi places in Los Angeles with 5 people.

            My list of 20 sushi restaurants would garner at least 10 selections of one star. No chinese food from San Gabriel? Where is babita?!?

            Well, I will say this. Only chowhounds have the resolve to really evaluate the vast cuisine offered in los angeles.

            1. re: jlrobe

              I agree that the Michelin Guide is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great eating in L.A.
              But don't forget, there is an entire guide outside of the stars with some hundreds of pages of restaurants. Their criteria for giving stars is very strict, you can debate the criteria, but they're never going to give more than two dozen or so restaurants stars. And it's unlikely that Chinese restaurants would meet their criteria for service and consistency no matter how amazing the food. (Do the New York and San Francisco guides give stars to any "authentic" ethnic restaurants?) It will be interesting to see the list of good value restaurants as well as the picks for moderately priced restaurants, for example. Those lists should be available Monday when they officially release the stars.

              1. re: Chowpatty

                Per the interview from Eater LA, they only go for one lunch and one dinner. For such a prestigious award, two meals really is not an ample criterion, I'd say. If a Michelin inspector happened to end up at Lucques on a Sunday night, for example, his or her perspective of the restaurant would be entirely skewed.

                The James Beard Award-winning Lucques' exclusion is especially glaring.

                1. re: Woolsey

                  At the risk of making myself extremely unpopular here, I don't have the problems with Michelin choices that others do. I think perhaps Europeans have had more time to get used to the idea that getting even a SINGLE Michelin star is very difficult, indeed. I like almost all the restaurants noted herein as "overlooked" a great deal but I also feel very comfortable saying none of them reach the level of one-star restaurants I've visited in Europe, which takes service almost as seriously as food. I suspect that something of the informality of LA's service sector, with its actors moonlighting as waiters, is a strong factor. I'd also suggest that something Michelin rewards is consistency, so if there's really such a wild swing between a Sunday and Monday at Lucques, then that would almost de-facto disqualify them.

                  I'm not saying there aren't problems with the shortage of inspectors, or the inherent subjectivity of this kind of thing. But unlike the democratic Zagats, Michelin has never pretended to democracy. It's also never been about good food, or even very very good food - it's about food that's extraordinary enough that it's worth making a detour or special stop for. And I think if we accept that as a measure, then once we set aside our personal preferences, perhaps we can accept that these are different standards of excellence. I'm second to no one in my love for AOC, for example but the noise, sloppy service and unevenness of the kitchen is precisely the kind of thing that would sink it with Michelin and, frankly, makes it a place I don't necessarily go out of my way for any more.

                  Just a dissenter's view.

                    1. re: Mark Sarvas

                      i more or less agree with your post, mssr. sarvas, but i'd say you need to add to that: "it's about food (in the WESTERN-CENTRIC, HAUTE tradition) that's extraordinary enough that it's worth making a detour or special stop for"

                      the inclusion of any asian or ethnic restaurants in their rating systems is like sticking the token ethnic actor of the moment on a tv show or in a movie and claiming, "hahey! we're diverse!"

                      to the michelin dudes:
                      just leave out sushi places altogether, so that the guide can't pretend to be something it's not. i wouldn't go off and start a truffle website for instance, so don't try to be an expert about something you know jack about.

                      1. re: rameniac

                        it's not just about sushi in any case. it's also about innovation and chef specialties. and mori is big on innovation (which i'm not gaga over in a sush place). urasawa isn't just the quality of the fish, but the presentation and the service. Western-centric and haute? haute is enough.
                        Urasawa isn't real real kaiseki. We don't have a real kaiseki place in Los Angeles. Given the price, time and training in connoisseurship of the intended audience, it just wouldn't fly here. We also don't have any chinese restaurants that serve banquets with the appropriate time, care and service that was available in beijing or shanghai a scant few years after the cultural revolution. There are no chinese places here that routinely carve vegetables and fruits intricately for garnishes, that provide tableware of HIGH-GRADE Chinese porcelain, that have multiple waitstaff concerned with just the one banquet group, refilling drinks, starting off service - it's hard enough to get the restaurants not to bring all the dishes at once.
                        it could be that the majority cultures here aren't that aware of that side of chinese cuisine, it could be that the ethnic chinese here don't especially care about that high-end part of chinese culture.
                        There are many popular end places here. The prettier ones tend toward hong kong styles, a very young place in chinese terms that only really exploded economically (big-time) after WWII and which doesn't have an old cultural core. (shanghai sort of took ningbo and hangzhou's merchant class over).

                        In any case, banquets here tend to be large family-style outings or wedding feasts. The last time I saw a lot of care in presentation was at the old Quanjude for a set banquet (carved garnishes, etc). New years banquets come close but again, it's "mass" eating.
                        Yong Su san is in the idea of what one can have in east asia, but it's still quite factory-like.

                        I know nothing about who the michelin judges are, but they might have spent as much time in Tokyo as anyone on this board, for all I know. Mori is very pretty, the service quite attentive, and the chef is considered innovative. innovation isn't always a plus, but michelin considers it.

                        Frankly, Shibucho on Beverly has a huge and deep winelist. It might have been a better fit than Mori. But it's just one guide. Even in France, there are others that people will use, like Gault-millau. .

                        1. re: Jerome

                          michelin can value innovation, presentation, and service, but i really do think they're coming at it from a very westernized perspective, as their aesthetic after all these years has primarily evolved through an appreciation of the haute and nouveau cuisine at europe's finest restaurants.

                          the michelin people know what they know, after all, and it's a fair assumption based on the evidence that they didn't grow up eating sushi, noodles, kimchi, or kaiseki, just like i didn't grow up with baguettes and terrines. their ratings system is fine, but to call a star a star, they can really only speak for the WESTERN world, and they've done nothing to demonstrate that they know what they're talking about when it comes to so-called "ethnic" foods from the world's other cultures. frankly, in that regard, they have no authority in my book.

                          even if michelin had eaten their way through tokyo or whatever (and i seriously doubt they have), the best they've managed, judging by their picks (rolls eyes) is to approach asian cuisine from an outsider's viewpoint - "oh, that's curious! and quite tasty!" or "that's the hip (mainstream) chinese restaurant in town!", which, if we were talking about anything other than food, would have relegated their entire system of judgement back to the 19th century colonial era.

                          there's plenty of innovation and creativity in japan, with a huge emphasis on presentation, ambiance, and service as well. and like you said, there's high cuisine in china that i doubt michelin even knows exists. but even if they did, i doubt i would trust any ratings they could come up for it.

                          as for the whole innovation thing, if you really think about it, food, like culture, is never completely static, whether it comes from france, new york, or central vietnam (chefs are always trying new things the world over, adding to recipes or inventing new ones). to be honest, i think this notion of "authenticity" in food is in need of at least a minor overhaul. just as how "ethnic" restaurants aren't all greasy spoons and holes-in-the-wall, a greasy spoon can (and will) evolve it's menu over the years, often to our laments.

                          if i go to france, i'll take a michelin guide with me and follow their lead. if i go to asia, a michelin guide (assuming they have one) wouldn't be worth its weight in my baggage.

                          ...but if fukuoka-based BRIDGESTONE came out with a guide to dining in japan... now that'd be something!

                        2. re: rameniac

                          I believe that "Michelin Dudes" do know about their sushi places.

                          I was at a panel discussion last night with Jean-Luc Naret the Director of the Michelin Guide; Leslie Benner, LA Times; Evan Kleiman,Angeli Cafe; & Barbara Fairchild, Bon Apetit.

                          They appear to know about their sushi since Jean-Luc said that they sent their Japanese Inspectors to the Japanese restaurtants in LA.

                          Tokyo's Michelin is coming out today.

                          1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                            Could you please describe where and under whose auspices the panel discussion took place?
                            Also, if you remember, were there any interesting reveals or questions?

                            Sounds fascinating.

                            1. re: Jerome

                              It WAS fascinating. It was at the Barnes & Noble at the Grove on Wed night. I learned about it last minute on the EaterLA site. The Michelin people hosted it. They also had a booksigning afterwards with Jean-Luc. He was very friendly and personable.

                              There were some interesting points about the LA guide. First they had about 600 restaurants on their original list then added about 300 more as they drove around and found more in the neighborhoods they were in. Then that got pared down to around 200 in the book. So just being in the Michelin Guide is a huge accomplishment.

                              The reason they don't have many ethnic restaurants is because they didn't go to those areas such as East LA & San Gabriell Valley. There is a map in the front of the guide which shows you what areas are included. Since this was the first guide they couldn't go everywhere in greater LA.

                              The west coast has the most women inspectors. 6 out of 10 are women! They are local people that have been in the food industry for at least 10 years.

                              When they go to critique a restaurant in the LA area 2 inspectors go together. Unlike in Europe where most inspectors dine alone since that is how many Europeans dine. In LA you don't see too many single diners. They go to each restaurant for a lunch and a dinner, but if they decide it is star worthy they may go up to 10 times more. When this happens more inspectors go and they also may go in larger groups. Jean-Luc is not an inspector.

                              They are trying to keep consistent in the star ratings. All the star rated restaurants would be the same quality restaurant anywhere in the world. One star would be a destination restaurant to the local people, Two Star would be national and Three Star would be for international travelers. I've been to Taillevent in Paris and Joel Robuchon at the Mansion in Vegas. Both were spectacular!

                              I saw a couple of people taking notes. I know one person was from the LA Times and I'm not sure of the other person. There may be a write up in the LA Times sometime soon about this panel discussion.

                              My views may be different than theirs since it seemed that Leslie Brenner was not complimentary about the guide. I don't agree with all the ratings, but I think most of it is fair.

                              Yes, I agree with Rameniac that Chabuya is not one of the better ramens places around, as a matter of fact, I thought it was pretty horrid. I can't believe that these people actually came from Japan! I'm Japanese and have never had ramen like that anywhere.

                              1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                thanks for posting this! this is all very interesting, and sheds some light into their process. it makes me a little bit more sympathetic to their point of view, if only slightly hehe.

                                1. re: rameniac

                                  Your welcome;o)

                                  When I originally heard that they only go to a restaurant once for lunch and once for dinner and that was it, I thought I couldn't trust the inspectors ratings. After finding out that they go many times more for a star rating it put me more at ease.

                                  I also laughed out loud at some of the places that were included in the book. It does seem that a lot of the trendy places made it.

                                  I'm sure it must be a little hard for the inspectors if they are local because they must already have their on personal list of favorites. They did go to Europe for 3 months of extensive training before being put out on the field on their own.

                                2. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                  A funny sidenote...Jean-Luc apologized to Evan Kleiman since her restaurant Angeli Cafe didn't make the list! She was the moderator of the panel. She kind of shrugged and mumbled something like "it's ok, I understand".

                              2. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                I don't think anyone investigating the sushi scene in LA would have that hard of a time really. Everybody knows Urasawa, Mori, etc. are tops.

                                But Chabuya for ramen? No, no, and no.
                                Yang Chow and Empress Pavilion for Chinese food? Thoroughly laughable.

                                I'll check out this Tokyo guide, but I won't be surprised if, like the LA guide, it's pretty much a distillation of either the most trendy or the most accessible (to the mainstream) places in the city, regardless of the real quality of the food.

                                ** ADDENDUM **

                                Just did a bit of googling, and found this blurb at about michelin's method:

                                "Stars judge only "what's in the plate," meaning the quality of the cooking. Five criteria are taken into account: product quality, preparation and flavors, the "personality" of the chef and the kitchen team, consistency over time and across the entire menu, and value for money. The number of stars that may be awarded ranges from one to three "

                                L. O. L.

                                If that's the case, methinks they don't actually go to that many restaurants! Probably just whatever they hear is hip.

                                Here's another short piece that basically summarizes my position in a nutshell:


                              3. re: rameniac

                                I would not disagree with your addition, rameniac.

                          2. re: Chowpatty

                            There are, in fact, starred Chinese and Vietnamese places in the French guide. Well, one of each.

                        3. re: jlrobe

                          "It is VERY good but I can think of 10 sushi places that can blow Mori out of the water. Sushi Zo in the same area for starters."

                          Urasawa aside, name 1 that blows Mori out of the water. I'm talking pure quality of fish, variety of fish, ability to do items like kohada, detail to rice, and fresh wasabi. Sushi Zo and Mori are too close to call in my book. Nishimura is pretty good quality but the attitude makes the place unpalatable. Kiriko and the likes are a notch below.

                          "Spago!?!!? Patina!?!? WTF?"

                          Agreed. Don't understand how Spago gets 2 stars and Providence gets 1.

                          "Well, I guess if the world famous Gary Danko in SF gets only one star, I have to be skeptical about these rankings."

                          Gary Danko in SF only deserves that 1 star. Especially if The Dining Room also gets 1 star. It's definitely not on the same level as Manresa which got 2 stars in SF. I don't think Michael Mina in SF deserves 2 stars though. That's my WTF?

                      2. re: Jerome

                        Have they lowered their prices??? They are one of a handful of non BYO restaurants in LA (and the sole Italian!), and from what I understand, it is among the priciest Italians in LA...with obscene wine markups to boot!

                      3. sorry - but given that list with AOC madeo etc.

                        i think la botte is better. i prefer it - period.

                        even to loud angelini osteria.

                        i think it's one of the most underrated places on this board. after i'd eaten there this summer, i looked for reviews and could find nothing useful here except for a few people bitching about corkage.

                        the good thing about thisfor the other places is that maybe the hype will die down for mozza etc a bit and all who love it can get in a little more easily.

                        and they will discuss the other places in the guide, probably. they just didn't get a star.

                        very few places do. even in paris.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Jerome

                          Michelin is very much about service and decor as well as food. I'm not shocked with the many exclusions.

                          I feel bad for Mozza. Not that it didn't get starred, but that everyone thinks it got snubbed by Michelin when I'm willing to bet that the place just debuted much too late to be included in the reviews.

                          1. re: Jerome

                            "a few people bitching about corkage"

                            Yours truly among them.

                            But there's a reason why I didn't bother dipping my toes in La Botte.
                            I patronized many, many times it's sibling Piccolo ( previously "Piccolo Cipriani" ), from the very beginning times of the no-toilettes, up until relatively recently, before the owners' "divorce". But they kept overdoing their bills & underdoing their dishes.
                            Sorry, I really tried hard to like the place. The owners' business model ended up being -at least for me and my group- a downer.

                            1. re: RicRios

                              piccolo always sounded too twee and difficult for me, so i just gave it a pass, untried (i confess, not laudable, but the whole dudley st restaurant scene was too much for me). No baggage, so i came to la botte without a history.
                              truth be told, i first went to la botte only because jiraffe (sic and good) couldn't accommodate my party on the first floor - one of us couldn't handle the stairs. best serendipity in recent memory for me, chow-wise.

                          2. The list of restaurants chosen to be included in the rest of the guide is fairly quirky, and obviously low on ethnic spots. The only Thai restaurants, for example, are Saladang Song, Cholada and Talesai!
                            Here's the list of Places to eat under $25:

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Chowpatty

                              Saladang Song, Yang Chow, NANBANKAN, and... for ramen... CHABUYA?!?!

                              LOL, I have nothing to add that wouldn't get this post deleted in the next two minutes for bilious sarcasm...

                              1. re: Chowpatty

                                these are places under $25. Sushi Zo, Shibucho not under $25 a head.
                                Frankly, getting "buddha jumps overf the wall" at Foo Chow raises the price of the meal to over $35 a head , for a table of 10 people, and that's just one dish (and the decor and service and tableware are hardly stellar).

                              2. I am still shocked about Tre Venezie having one star. I've been to both that and Patina, and I don't think they are 1 star material, comparing to the 1 star restaurants in Paris.

                                Not surprised that Lucques was excluded, especially if they evaluated each restaurant for lunch and dinner. I don't know about dinner, but the food was not good at lunch, the service even less so (the waiter actually pushed the crumbs off the table onto the floor). Didn't feel like going back after that bad experience.

                                Campanile went downhill for a while. Not that wonderful anymore. Mozza - overhyped and I don't see the decor & music fitting Michelin standard. Food at Babita is good, but the service and decor isn't 1 star material, unless you like your chef and server to be one and the same most of the time.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: notmartha

                                  Osteria Mozza opened too late. Pizzera Mozza is included in the guide, but with no stars.