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Michelin HK & Macao debut just out

c
chaxiubao Dec 2, 2008 02:57 AM

Restaurants awarded three stars are:
Lung King Heen
Robuchon a Galera (the only starred entry from Macao)

Restaurants awarded two stars are:
Amber
Bo Innovation
Caprice
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Shang Palace
Summer Palace
T’ang Court

Restaurants awarded one star are:
Fook Lam Moon
Forum
Hutong
Lei Garden (IFC)
Lei Garden (Tsim Sha Tsui)
Ming Court
Petrus
Pierre
Regal Palace
Shanghai Garden
The Golden Leaf
The Square
Tim’s Kitchen
Yung Kee

  1. FourSeasons Dec 2, 2008 03:11 AM

    Many of the above restaurants have been reviewed here. First surprise is that Summer Palace is on the list, I did not enjoy the food there. Second surprise is that Lei Garden (Wanchai) is not included; I thought it is as good as the IFC branch. Third surprise is that Yan Toh Heen is nowhere on the list though being raved here by many in Chowhound. Fourth surprise is that no Chiu Chow restaurant has been included in the list, perhaps it is considered not upscale and refined enough.

    Then the next question is: how will this impact their businesses on coming weeks? After all, the economy is depressed now.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FourSeasons
      Charles Yu Dec 2, 2008 05:08 AM

      Totally concur with Fourseason's comment! Yan Toh Heen's exclusion is a big surprise to me as well. No mentioning of a single Italian restaurant reflects HK's Italian food is still not yet up to snuff in their eyes - that includes Chowhound's fav., Da Domenico!

    2. Sher.eats Dec 2, 2008 04:17 AM

      here's the list again with cuisine style and hotel associations

      *** Lung King Heen (龍景軒), Cantonese, Four Seasons Hotel

      ** Amber, French Modern, Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel
      ** BO Innovations, Asian-flavored "molecular gastronomy", independent
      ** Caprice, Modern French, Four Seasons Hotel
      ** L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, French Modern, independent
      ** Shang Palace (香宮), Cantonese, Kowloon Shrangri-La Hotel
      ** Summer Palace (夏宮), Cantonese, Island Shrangri-La Hotel
      ** T'ang Court (唐閣), Cantonese, Langham Hotel

      * Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) Wanchai branch, Cantonese, independent
      * Forum (富臨), Cantonese, independent
      * Hutong (胡同), Beijingnese, independent
      * Lei Garden (利苑酒家) IFC branch, Cantonese, independent
      * Lei Garden (利苑酒家) Tsim Sha Tsui branch, Cantonese, independent
      * Ming Court (明閣), Cantonese, Langham Place Hotel
      * Petrus, French, Island Shrangri-La Hotel
      * Pierre, French Molecular, Mandarin Oriental Hotel
      * Regal Palace (富豪金殿), Cantonese, Regal Hotel
      * Shanghai Garden (紫玉蘭), Shanghainese, Maxim's Group
      * The Golden Leaf (金葉庭), Cantonese, Conrad Hotel
      * The Square (翠玉軒), Cantonese, Maxim's Group
      * Tim's Kitchen (桃花源小廚), Cantonese, independent
      * Yung Kee (鏞記), Cantonese, independent

      I live in Hong Kong and have eaten at most of the restaurants already:

      Caprice, L'Atelier and Amber are correctly given 2 stars, they are the best in Hong Kong but not good enough to get 3 (Robuchon Macau got 3). Missing is the famous Gaddi's of Peninsula Hotel, not sure yet whether they requested to not be listed or they didn't get a star. Petrus cuisine is solid but uninspiring, lucky they got *. Pierre has huge consistency problems (made worse when serving molecular) and hence only *.

      IMO the Chinese restaurants of the top tier hotels all offer very similar cuisine of similar quality, and the guide correctly allocated stars to them. I believe Four Season's Lung King Heen's edge was service and view.

      BO Innovations has always been a favorite among local foodies, no surprise here, but gourmands unused to Chinese flavours won't "get" the "play" on food (like how Keller hautes up "coffee donuts"

      福臨門 & 富臨 are famous for their braised dry goods (abalone, shark's fine, bird's nest etc). Tim's Kitchen is a speakeasy-like small-ish restaurant serving hotel quality food but without the "Pomp and Circumstance" and at good prices. Yung Kee is famous for being second-best for roast goose (best requires 1 hour drive).

      Unexpected:
      The only starred Beijingnese restaurant, 胡同, is only Beijing-themed but has a spectacular view, food is fine but way overpriced, most foodies I know of avoids it for the "tourist trap" factor

      The only starred Shanghainess restaurant Shanghai Garden cooks good food but not no way is the best Shanghainess restaurant in HK.

      No Italian nor Japanese restaurants have stars, understandable actually...

      16 Replies
      1. re: Sher.eats
        FourSeasons Dec 2, 2008 05:13 AM

        Can you share with us in your opinion which place (that requires 1 hour drive) serves the best roast goose?

        1. re: FourSeasons
          Sher.eats Dec 2, 2008 05:33 AM

          hey FourSeasons (haha 2* + 3*)

          IMO the best place for roast goose is 裕記 Yue Kee @ 深井Sham Tseng.

          They use geese raised in their own farm in the mainland, the geese are roasted with charcoal which gives it that special flavour and if you call in advance you can have a just-roasted goose on your table as you sit down, so once you've ordered the tea etc the goose will have rested enough to be carved.

          You need to speak Chinese though, else you won't be served the best and there's no point in traveling all the way then...

          1. re: Sher.eats
            FourSeasons Dec 2, 2008 06:06 AM

            Thanks for the recommendation! Any order signature dishes that we need to pre-order in advanced beside the roast goose?

            1. re: FourSeasons
              Sher.eats Dec 2, 2008 07:02 AM

              not really, the other dishes I would recommend are the "fa diu" (chinese sweet wine, sorry don't know technical name) marinated goose liver (from the same goose that is roasted of course) and soy poached intestines of goose. both need not pre ordering.

              btw where are you from?

              1. re: Sher.eats
                FourSeasons Dec 2, 2008 06:40 PM

                Living in Singapore now. Thanks again but not sure if I want to spend 2 hours in the car just to try the "best" roast goose itself. Language is not a problem.

        2. re: Sher.eats
          M_Gomez Dec 3, 2008 10:16 PM

          I'm just disappointed at the lack of Macanese restaurants in the Michelin list. Aren't Portuguese-Macanese restaurants good enough for them? Lots of Hongkongers come to Macau to eat as well.

          1. re: M_Gomez
            Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 10:32 PM

            well with a population of ~500,000 @ 9 stars = 55,555 capita per star

            France 65,000,000 @ 620 stars = 104,839 capita per star

            so in that sense you're already double that of France =)

            1. re: M_Gomez
              Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 10:38 PM

              .....

              1. re: Sher.eats
                M_Gomez Dec 3, 2008 11:35 PM

                Ha-ha, very funny, dear. Thanks for pointing that out! It's just that me & many of my HK women friends (we're more a bunch of middle-aged gluttons than "ladies who lunch") simply love Macanese food - it's different from HK cuisine, and restaurants like Fernando's, Clube Miltar & A Lorcha simply deserve more recognition, don't you think?

                1. re: M_Gomez
                  Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 11:53 PM

                  i think Fernando's Miltar and A Lorcha will all be in the guide, just that they didn't get any stars, which isn't out or order....is it?

                  I'm going to Macau tmr, having Fernando's for lunch and Robuchon for dinner, any other recommendations?

                  1. re: Sher.eats
                    M_Gomez Dec 4, 2008 01:09 AM

                    How I envy you! I simply can't think of anything that can top Galera a Robuchon in Macau. Fernando's got an absolutely wonderful setting, although my personal favourite for Macanese food permutates between Litoral and Fat Siu Lau (no, the latter is not a Chinese restaurant). A'Lorcha is another nice but old place - don't think the Michelin people will pop in there - thank god, I still want my old private places to remain just so.

                    One tip: if you must have Macanese-style Chinese food - do go to Old Neptune in the Venetian. It's actually an offshoot of the old Macanese favorite, Lou Kei, and offers the same menu.

                    1. re: Sher.eats
                      FourSeasons Dec 4, 2008 01:46 AM

                      I second Litoral, A'Lorcha and Old Neptune. The set menu at Aux Beaux Arts, the French restaurant at MGM, is great value for lunch. If you are into Italian, may consider Il Teatro at Wynn. For Macau Cantonese outside of hotel, you may consider Noble House. And for street food, I wrote a piece on a past thread sometime ago, I copy and paste here:

                      The most well known stall that sells the famous pork bun is near the Food Street 食街 at Taipa called 大 利来; I think they start selling the pork bun at 3pm and usually sold out within 1-2 hours. There is another Macau dish that is less mentioned is Crab porridge, that is served in a hole in the wall restaurant at the alley of the Food Street. You can identify the restaurant easily as there are many photos and news clips of celebrities and politicians who visited the shop on its window. Also Wong Chi Kee's shrimp paste wonton mee is famous in Macau too. And for Portugese egg tart, consider Lord Stow: http://www.lordstow.com/

                      Probably too much for you. How many days do you plan to be in Macau?

                      1. re: FourSeasons
                        Sher.eats Dec 4, 2008 02:11 AM

                        hey M_Gomez, FourSeasons,

                        Galeria lunch is changed to dinner.

                        For lunch would you advice me to go Fernando's or Litoral? (i've already neen to A'Lorcha)

                        re: Aux Beaux Arts, I only have 1 day in macau so maybe next time...who's the chef de cuisine?

                        I was considering Don Alfonso in the new lisboa (yes because of the branding) anyone tried it?

                        Thanks!

                        1. re: Sher.eats
                          M_Gomez Dec 4, 2008 04:36 AM

                          Sher.eats, if you have been to A'Lorcha, then by all means go to Fernando's - since Litoral is only a few doors away from A'Lorcha and you wouldn't have the benefit of a change of scenery. Fernando's has a lovely view of Hac Sa beach. It has no air-con though - I always bring along my foldable fan.

                          Four Seasons, you have such an amazing insight into Macau - have you lived there? The crab porridge place is something I have heard of, but had never had the luck of visiting (seeing that me & my friends always spend more time than we should in the casinos whence we're in Macau). Do keep us updated if you have any more Macau adventures.

                          1. re: M_Gomez
                            FourSeasons Dec 4, 2008 05:50 AM

                            Hi Sher.eats:
                            I prefer Litoral to Fernando's, but what Gomez wrote is correct, Litoral is just next door to A'Lorcha and I think they are quite similar. So if you want a change of scenery, Fernando's is perhaps better.
                            Sorry, I never check the name of the chef of any restaurant including Aux Beau Arts. I like to eat but I don't like to do research. I am the lazy type.
                            Yes, I have been to Don Alfonso once two years ago; it was quite disappointing, maybe it was just an isolated incident. I prefer Il Teatro at Wynn.

                            Hi M Gomez::
                            No, I don't live in Macau but I have visited there many times in the past 3 years. Crab porridge..hmmm...this is Michelin thread and the place that serves Crab porridge is an anti-Michelin: filthy, hole in the wall, if your crowd is small, your party may have to share the table with another party; noisy..I think you get my picture. If you are Cantonese and like porridge, I think you will enjoy it. But if not, maybe too much of a culture shock.

                            1. re: FourSeasons
                              Sher.eats Dec 4, 2008 09:59 AM

                              hey FourSeasons, M_Gomez

                              i started a new thread cause we're getting a little off topic =)

                              please reply there!!!!!!

            2. skylineR33 Dec 2, 2008 07:39 AM

              This list is very similar to the list in HK Tatler's, most of the restaurants are there as well. But at least HK Tatler's includes Yan Toh Heen and exclude Hutong. Well, I don't think the general public of HK will take this guide seriously. There will still be a long line up at Yung Kee and all the super rich people will still be a regular at Fook Lam Moon, not Lung King Heen. Decor and service are definitely a factor in this guide and not just food.

              25 Replies
              1. re: skylineR33
                Sher.eats Dec 2, 2008 08:25 AM

                hey skylineR33

                The Michelin guide was never intended for locals...was it?

                HK Tatler's sang praises for Petrus and Pearl on the Peak, both restaurants I believe are sub par, so for these I agree with Michelin more.

                Are you a HKer?

                1. re: Sher.eats
                  skylineR33 Dec 2, 2008 08:29 AM

                  Yes, I am a HKer now live in Toronto. Of course Michelin guide is not intended for local and I am saying local will not take this seriously, if you know what I mean.

                  1. re: skylineR33
                    Sher.eats Dec 2, 2008 10:18 PM

                    the most interesting aspect of the guide is knowing how good our French cuisine is compared to other countries, not so bad afterall =)

                    1. re: Sher.eats
                      k
                      klyeoh Dec 2, 2008 10:31 PM

                      Agree with you. The top 3 French restaurants in HK which made the most impression on me this year were given 2-stars each. But I'd rate Caprice as the first amongst equals, followed by L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, and Amber.

                      I was surprised that Pierre even merit one star - the food was simply awful. I still think the Michelin folks gave out the star, in this case, for Pierre's presentation, decor & service.

                      Like many other folks, I was also perplexed by Gaddi's absence - it used to be the yardstick which all other fine-dining restaurants in HK were measured on, but I haven't been back there for nearly a decade now, so can't comment.

                      1. re: klyeoh
                        Sher.eats Dec 2, 2008 11:19 PM

                        Pierre has its moments of excellent but its rare...I've staged in Gagnier Paris and considered working at Piere HK...made the right choice =)

                        As for Gaddi's, not sure whether Penin Hyatt Intercon boycotted the guide of did they three all screw up?

                        1. re: klyeoh
                          Charles Yu Dec 3, 2008 09:35 AM

                          Hello klyeoh!
                          Remember a while back we had a discussion/comparison on L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Tokyo vs HK? We both agreed that the Japanese establishment's food are more meticulously prepared and better presented. If currently, both L'Ateliers are awarded 2*, may be there's a need to start awarding half stars?! A one and a half for Hong Kong and two for Tokyo?! Ha! May be we Chowhounders should start our own rating system?! That said, none of the aforementioned HK/Macau should deserve 3*s?!

                          1. re: Charles Yu
                            Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 10:54 AM

                            well i'm a chef at l'atelier HK and i agree that tokyo > us.

                            "That said, none of the aforementioned HK/Macau should deserve 3*s?!" as you agree that no french resto in hk should get 3 or not?

                            1. re: Sher.eats
                              Charles Yu Dec 3, 2008 04:39 PM

                              Compare the best of Hong Kong French restaurants with the likes of North American 3* like French Laundry, Per Se, Jean George... or Parisian 3* like L'Arpege, Grand Vefour, Le Cinq, Pierre Gagnaire, Guy Savoy... or other French 3* like L'Esperance, George Blanc or Troigros... Yes, HK/Macau establishments are still a bit away from 3* calbre!!
                              (BTW, FYI, I've eaten in all of the aforementioned establishments)

                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                Peech Dec 5, 2008 06:28 PM

                                Completely agree here. While the top French food is good in HK, they get totally smoked by what you get elsewhere. None of them are mindblowing

                          2. re: klyeoh
                            Peech Dec 5, 2008 06:34 PM

                            Hmmm...when I did my own personal "world top 10" last year, I put Pierre as the only restaurant in HK. Amber has improved but I still don't like it. I would rate Caprice just a tad behind Pierre.

                            As for L'Atelier - I think the policy of serving tasting portions only at the bar is ridiculous. The food is good but I was horrified at the service I received last time. I would absolutely deduct a whole star from them just on that basis.

                            http://chi-he-wan-le.blogspot.com/200...

                          3. re: Sher.eats
                            skylineR33 Dec 2, 2008 10:54 PM

                            That's true, they pick four 2-starred French/molecular gastronomy restaurants, but only three 2-starred Chinese restaurants, the michelin judges (I heard all of them are non-chinese except 2 for translation) sure think French food is better than Chinese food in HK/Macau.

                            And BTW, all of them are in 5 stars hotels except one, which is very convenient and "safe" food choices for Europe/US foreigner with great service and english speaking staffs.

                            1. re: skylineR33
                              Sher.eats Dec 2, 2008 11:24 PM

                              the two asians were "voting members" and it's not implausible that a French guide prefers french food...although why would a French tourist eat french food in HK...

                              yeah all the chinese resto with star(s) should handle english speakers fine, maybe except Tim's kitchen...

                              does anyone know of any Tokyo resto which speaks little english but awarded stars?

                              1. re: Sher.eats
                                skylineR33 Dec 2, 2008 11:30 PM

                                The 3 stars Jiro at Ginza has no staffs speak English and they only take reservation if you know Japanese or you are going with someone who speaks Japanese and the washroom is shared as they do not have their own washroom in the restaurant.

                                Michelin emphasis they rate restaurant based on their food but I can see the inconsistency of how Michelin rates restaurants.

                                1. re: skylineR33
                                  k
                                  klyeoh Dec 2, 2008 11:40 PM

                                  I always thought Michelin bent over backwards in granting 3-stars to those tiny sushi restaurants for their Tokyo guide - maybe they had to "prove" to the potential Japanese market for Michelin guides that Frenchmen can also "rough" it out in cramped restaurants with shared toilets, whilst enjoying raw fish where it originated. In France, any restaurant which dared try that would have been pooh-poohed by the same Michelin folks.

                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                    Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 12:35 AM

                                    re: Jiro

                                    ah right, in which case the star ratings for most of the chinese restos are off then, majorly...

                                    as to why they had to "rought" it out in Tokyo but not Hong Kong hm....

                                    1. re: Sher.eats
                                      k
                                      klyeoh Dec 3, 2008 01:03 AM

                                      Face it - Tokyo (and Japan) is a huge untapped market for Michelin to sell their guide, which should more than make up for their declining sales in the US & Europe. For e.g. it was so difficult to even find the 2008 Michelin guides for San Francisco and Los Angeles these days (Zagat seems to be doing better over there). And the Japanese love anything French (re: Omotesando). Different case in HK altogether.

                                      As for Jiro Ono's restaurant, interesting to note that Joel Robuchon liked it so much during his Tokyo sojourn (post-1996 "retirement"), that he even measured Sukiyabashi Jiro's counter so he can build an exact size for his very first L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris. That piece of trivia probably caught the Michelin inspectors' attention.

                                      1. re: klyeoh
                                        Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 01:24 AM

                                        hey klyeoh

                                        from a business perspective, where does michelin expect to sell its guides, i.e. Japan guide mostly bought in Japan? I thought it was rather international...

                                        btw are they even profit driven?

                                        1. re: Sher.eats
                                          k
                                          klyeoh Dec 3, 2008 05:06 AM

                                          Of course they are profit-driven. Originally meant to guide drivers on where to eat/stop for the night, the Michelin Guide has taken on a life of its own subsequently. Back in the 90s, when I was in France to meet/recruit French chefs who's like to come work in Singapore, our consultant was an ex-Michelin inspector, but he seemed to be recognized everywhere we went eventhough I'd always thought they were always anonymous.

                                          1. re: klyeoh
                                            Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 05:13 AM

                                            If so why is HK a "different case altogether" compared to Tokyo being a "huge untapped market"?

                                            And do you think the michelin guide for a city will sell more copies in that city than the sum of sales everywhere else?

                                            1. re: Sher.eats
                                              k
                                              klyeoh Dec 3, 2008 05:30 AM

                                              Michelin Guide will be bought by those who visit that city & wants to know where to go for food there, especially fine-dining spots. I bought my Tokyo Michelin guide in Japantown San Francisco when it came out.

                                              HK, like Singapore, is reknowned for their many casual eating places (cha chan tengs, noodles shops, dim sum houses, restaurants specialising in roasts) and majority of their visitors nowadays are mainland Chinese & other South-east Asians - not exactly Michelin guide buyers. That's also probably one of the reason why Michelin has not considered a guide for Singapore yet as well - very limited market, HK has a larger Western expat population.

                                              1. re: klyeoh
                                                Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 09:20 AM

                                                i'm confused:

                                                "I always thought Michelin bent over backwards in granting 3-stars to those tiny sushi restaurants for their Tokyo guide - maybe they had to "prove" to the potential Japanese market for Michelin guides that Frenchmen can also "rough" it out...Face it - Tokyo (and Japan) is a huge untapped market for Michelin to sell their guide"

                                                but

                                                "Michelin Guide will be bought by those who visit that city & wants to know where to go for food there"

                                                huh? so are you saying they wrote the tokyo guide with selling most copies in japan, or not?

                                                and for "majority of (HK's) visitors nowadays are mainland Chinese & other South-east Asians - not exactly Michelin guide buyers" so...you're saying the hk guide is written to be sold to the international market and hence the preference for chinese restos to be in hotels? this i get.

                                      2. re: Sher.eats
                                        t
                                        tjr Dec 3, 2008 04:51 PM

                                        Even restaurants like Pierre Gagnaire Tokyo have no regularly-employed English-speaking staff.

                                        1. re: tjr
                                          Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 07:06 PM

                                          seriously? but french yes?

                                          1. re: Sher.eats
                                            t
                                            tjr Dec 5, 2008 05:06 PM

                                            Only the concierge and head chef last time I was there. Most restaurants have very few non-Japanese-speaking staff members, if any. The smaller the restaurant, the less chance. It's good to be multilingual :-)

                                  2. re: skylineR33
                                    FourSeasons Dec 2, 2008 11:36 PM

                                    Yes, 10 Europeans and 2 Chinese to "help us understand the cuisine". But then if they still need "help", how can they be the judges?

                          4. a
                            aburitoro Dec 2, 2008 07:55 AM

                            My girlfriend and I were taken to Lung King Heen tonight by a local friend of ours. The waiter gave us a complimentary glass of champagne and told us that they were just awarded 3 stars. We were pretty excited and surprised to hear this, as we hadn't heard Michelin were reviewing HK. Unfortunately, the meal didn't live up to our expectations.

                            The lamb we were served were served bone-in, but had small chards of bone in each bite. The fish dish also had some bone in it. The sticky rice dish was a bit too dry. The food was overall good, but nothing about it was spectacular or memorable.

                            Service was very good, and the staff were all very friendly and attentive. Our only criticism about the service is that the bowls given to us were still a bit wet from the dishwasher.

                            Would I go again? No, not by choice. Perhaps we just ordered the wrong dishes (btw, I didn't do any of the ordering, so I don't know the name of the dishes).

                            1. HKTraveler Dec 2, 2008 08:35 AM

                              Not sure if I would put Lung King Heen a step up at 3*. Maybe its dim sums deserve that but its other dishes just aren't that great. I would gladly take Tang Court or Lei Garden (Wanchai) any day.

                              Nice to see that Bo is at 2 star. Well deserved and i think they need all the help they can get in this environment. Was there on a week night and it was just 3 tables. Hope they can manage through this crisis so that I can get to go back again and again.

                              Don't think Summer and Shang Palace are that great even including the decor. The list feels a bit inflated and I wonder if this is because they can't find enough restaurants with good food and decor.

                              Surprised that Lei Garden IFC, the Square or Shanghai Garden are on the list. Did they actually taste the food or tried other restaurants in town?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: HKTraveler
                                FourSeasons Dec 2, 2008 10:33 PM

                                Hi HKT:

                                After so much rave on Bo from you, I really need to visit there on my next trip.

                                I am shock too Summer Palace is awarded 2 stars. I thought it was the worst Cantonese in that neighborhood hotels (compared to Golden Leaf and Man Ho) but Michelin actually thought it was the best there!!! I have not been back to Shang Palace for one decade so not able to comment on that one.

                                I am surprised you don't like Lei Garden IFC; I thought it is as good as the Wanchai branch and both are among my favorites in town.

                                1. re: FourSeasons
                                  Peech Dec 5, 2008 06:40 PM

                                  FS,

                                  Gimme a shout when you want to try Bo and maybe we can do this together.. It's time I tried it again. I stopped going because I thought it was going downhill, and I don't dig Alvin's "demon chef" thing...thought he was getting too full of himself.

                                  In my mind, any Chinese restaurant at any Shangri-la called Summer/Shang Palace serves sub-par food. Golden Leaf is so much better!

                                  1. re: Peech
                                    FourSeasons Dec 5, 2008 07:23 PM

                                    Hi Peech:

                                    Sure, love to meet you too as I have been a fan of your blog. I will be in Hong Kong for Christmas holiday but will be filled with family activities. Perhaps Feb or March on my next business trip. Charles Yu of Toronto CH is trying to organize another chow dinner (he plans to have it in a Shanghainese restaurant where he has connection to get a "special" menu) on Feb/Mar period too when he comes to town next year, I will try to coincide my trip at the same period, so we can try Bo during that time. Will keep in touch on this issue!

                                    1. re: FourSeasons
                                      Charles Yu Dec 5, 2008 07:59 PM

                                      Hi guys!
                                      Count me in on Bo as well! Love to meet you Peech and talk food and WINE!!
                                      BTW, the Shanghainese place is the ' Shanghai compatriot Association' in Central. Couldn't wait to try their Drunken Squab again!

                              2. e_ting Dec 2, 2008 09:16 AM

                                all i can say is - it's a very bizarre list, and if lung king heen made it to 3* (remember, el bulli is 3* too), then why, at least, wouldn't t'ang court?

                                and hutong, oh come on, give us a break.

                                just shows once again (like in NY) that the michelin is unrepresentative outside of france.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: e_ting
                                  Sher.eats Dec 2, 2008 10:19 PM

                                  it's quite accurate for French cuisine though, so "unrepresentative for cuisines outside of French"?

                                2. Charles Yu Dec 2, 2008 02:52 PM

                                  I would like to offer some further observations:

                                  Once again, results from this latest HK guide, especially those pertaining to 'Chinese Cuisine' establishments, clearly refuted the claim by Michelin that " decoration, service and comfort level have no bearing on the award "!! A closer look at the award list reveal that the 'majority' of these establishments are all claded in fancy and elaborated decorations and are located in lux hotels and/or high end office buildings. That said, I'm sure a few of these 'starred kitchens', if relocated to restaurants with a less sophisticated ' front of the house', will for sure not make the grade. I guess thats the reason why Lei Garden in IFC was chosen over the Wan Chai location even though common consensus all pointed to the latter serving better food! The Square, inside of Excahnge Square, with its mediocre food, is another fine example of decor and location over food quality! Also, to take Fourseasons' comment a step further, if some of Shan Wan's fine Chiu chow restaurants are placed inside a prime location such as 1 Peking Road and be given a view and decor to match, for sure 'stars' will be awarded.
                                  Lastly, if Michelin is really serious about food, they should take a closer look at some of the high calibre 'Private Kitchens' that had been sprouting up!

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Charles Yu
                                    k
                                    klyeoh Dec 2, 2008 05:46 PM

                                    Agree with you, Charles. Michelin-rated restaurants in France often pay an arm & a leg on decor in order to maintain their Michelin-star rating, and hopes of gaining another star. Some restaurateur-chefs nearly bankrupted themselves doing so. For the Michelin folks to say they base their ranking purely on the food served is pure hogwash. If what they say is true, shouldn't they give Mak An Kee a Michelin-star for being able to serve such ambrosial noodles & wanton soup amidst noisy, cramped conditions.

                                    Anyway, I'm mystified by their choice of Lung King Heen for 3-stars - it's very good, but definitely not the best in HK. Maybe the inspectors were staying at Four Seasons Hotel, so they were not exactly anonymous to the hotel/restaurant staff.

                                    1. re: klyeoh
                                      Sher.eats Dec 2, 2008 10:39 PM

                                      hey klyeoh

                                      i'm not saying Michelin does not consider service and ambiance but it is untrue one needs them to get stars, case in point Tim's Kitchen.

                                      btw Mak An Kee has gone downhill ever since the owner's children started to open up chains and even if they didn't, shouldn't a boulangerie in Paris or Pierre Herme get a star first? I'm not saying "street food" isn't important, it's as important for a cuisine as its 3 star restos, but I don't believe any real foodie will go to a place just to eat at starred restos!?

                                      I still think Lung King Heen deserves 2, not 3, it is no way French Laundry/Per Se or Pierre gagnier or Robuchon....

                                    2. re: Charles Yu
                                      Sher.eats Dec 2, 2008 10:31 PM

                                      hey Charles Yu

                                      The Michelin guide's primary audience is Euro-American right? So in that sense without service, for a westerner it's difficult to "approach" Chinese cuisine: the english menus are written pretty ambiguously and without a waiter who can comprehend "tough" questions and answer "usefully" it's difficult to appreciate the food.

                                      It would be more useful if the stars were given in pairs for food and service.

                                      I've eaten at most private kitchens and I do think they should not be listed, they are in legal grey areas and the only reason they stay that way is $. Those who are sucessful (like BO and Cuisine-x) has then moved to proper restaurant setting, it's market selection in action.

                                      1. re: Charles Yu
                                        FourSeasons Dec 2, 2008 11:33 PM

                                        Hi Charles Yu:

                                        I also doubt if the inspectors understand the niche and specialty of the restaurants, and if they know how to order and appreciate the right dishes. In many top end Cantonese restaurants, seasonal dishes are not shown on menu and only reserve for regular clients. The waiters will certainly not show them to non-Chinese. I also notice the strength of the hotel restaurants tend to cater to non-Chinese visitors, who tend to appreciate more on Dim Sum and meat-based dishes. Which is probably the other reason they excel in this type of survey.

                                        1. re: FourSeasons
                                          Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 12:17 AM

                                          glad someone agrees with me haha =)

                                      2. kosmose7 Dec 2, 2008 06:02 PM

                                        If Lung King Heen is a three star establishment, why wouldn't Yan To Heen? Why not Man Wah? Gaddi's has no star? The list to me is ridiculous.

                                        1. FourSeasons Dec 2, 2008 11:39 PM

                                          Many critics on the Michelin Guide so far. Anyway, this is how they defend themselves on the Press Conference:

                                          The journalists peppered Naret with questions on how foreigners could possibly understand Hong Kong food.

                                          He responded that it would take "years" to build up a team of local inspectors who were both food experts but not well known in the industry. He added that "you can be any nationality and understand French, or Chinese, or any food. Good cuisine is good cuisine."

                                          Naret warned Hong Kongers against hubris.

                                          "The good news is that we've come, the bad news is that we're going to stay a long time," he said. "It's difficult to get stars, but it's even more difficult to retain them."

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: FourSeasons
                                            Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 12:19 AM

                                            he's right. over time these "reviewers" will learn enough Chinese cuisine to venture out into non hotel restaurants are order "off menu"...takes time.

                                            1. re: FourSeasons
                                              skylineR33 Dec 3, 2008 09:41 PM

                                              Yes, there are many critics on the Michelin Guide, up until now, not a single one local food critics agree on the michelin rating. Some even gives some harsh comment on it. Let me point out one interesting comment like the one below.

                                              The famous cantonese cuisine chef who has been cooking for more than 40 years, columnist, hk popular food critics, 周中(Chow Jone), gives a few negative comment regarding the Michelin rating, the most interesting one is when he is asked about the dim sum at Lung King Heen, he said "it is ok, something that can be put into the mouth."

                                              Chow Jone is also the inventor of asian fusion cuisine in the 80s. He is also the consulting chef of a Cantonese cuisine in Tokyo which is named after him. The score of that restaurant is ranked no.1 in the cantonese cuisine section of Tabelog with a score higher than 4 and it's score is higher than any Michelin starred chinese restaurant in Japan.

                                              1. re: skylineR33
                                                Sher.eats Dec 3, 2008 10:01 PM

                                                Don't think much people will disagree with the fact that there are better chinese restos than Lung King Heen, let's hope that 1) more restaurants will have english speaking waiters so that a non chinese person can comfortably (and without too much difficulty) order food, and 2) the michelin people learn more about chinese cooking to appreciate the cooking of excellent restos not in a hotel...

                                            2. b
                                              bacalhau Dec 3, 2008 07:21 PM

                                              chaxiubao,
                                              just a correction on your list. there were a few more (not many) Macau restaurants that were star rated:

                                              Three stars
                                              Robuchon a Galera, Hotel Lisboa, Macau
                                              Lung King Heen, Four Seasons, Hong Kong

                                              Two stars
                                              Amber, Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
                                              Bo Innovation, Hong Kong
                                              Caprice, Four Seasons, Hong Kong
                                              L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, The Landmark, Hong Kong
                                              Shang Palace, Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong
                                              Summer Palace, Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong
                                              T’ang Court, The Langham, Hong Kong
                                              Tim’s Kitchen, Hotel Lisboa, Macau

                                              One star
                                              Fook Lam Moon (Wanchai branch), Hong Kong
                                              Forum, Hong Kong
                                              Hutong, Hong Kong
                                              Imperial Court, MGM Grand Hotel, Macau
                                              Lei Garden (both the IFC and TST branches), Hong Kong
                                              Ming Court, Langham Place Mongkok, Hong Kong
                                              Petrus, Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong
                                              Pierre (as in Gagnaire), Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
                                              Regal Palace, Regal Hongkong Hotel
                                              Shanghai Garden, Hong Kong
                                              The Eight, Macau
                                              The Golden Leaf, Conrad Hotel, Hong Kong
                                              The Square, Hong Kong
                                              Tim’s Kitchen (again!) Hong Kong
                                              Tung Yee Heen, Mandarin Oriental, Macau
                                              Ying, Crown Macau
                                              Yung Kee, Hong Kong

                                              bacalhau from macau

                                              1. a
                                                Asomaniac Dec 4, 2008 07:31 PM

                                                I ate at Lung King Heen and Hutong when I was in Hong Kong earlier this year. Lung King Heen was very good, but certainly not mesmerising. Three stars?? You must be joking. Other three star restaurants around the world exist in a parallel universe in comparison to Lung King Heen. I have in the past eaten at other, similar restaurants in Hong Kong (as in, upmarket Cantonese). There were all roughly the same standard, very good, beautifully executed dishes, immensely enjoyable - but also not spectacular, not stunningly original, and with very few to no truly memorable dishes. I can remember where I had the best foie gras in my life, the best deer, the best beef, the best truffle dish, the best dessert and so on, because each time they were so special, so utterly perfect and unique, that no matter how many more foie gras dishes I eat, I will always remember those best ones - simply a cut above.

                                                Lung King Heen? I remember thoroughly enjoying it, but I don't remember the dishes individually. I remember eating some great braised pork in Hong Kong, but was it at Lung King Heen or in another similar restaurant? I just don't know, they were all so similar.

                                                Hutong: I loved the place, but Michelin-starred cuisine? Really? Come on.

                                                24 Replies
                                                1. re: Asomaniac
                                                  skylineR33 Dec 4, 2008 07:54 PM

                                                  Don't take it too seriously, most people in HK do not think the food at Lung King Heen is the best. It is great food, safe food in a 5* hotel setting. The ranking is a joke to many people in HK. Now I understand why people in Japan are so fad up with Michelin ranking when it came out in Japan. I think I will not take Michelin seriously from now on.

                                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                                    FourSeasons Dec 4, 2008 08:46 PM

                                                    Hi skylineR33:

                                                    In my opinion, there is no doubt that it caters more to visitors especially Westerners, but I would, at the same time, not dismiss it as a joke. LKH is actually pretty good with Dim Sum, and just for Dim Sum itself, I think it probably is among the top ones in town (especially with the ambiance and service if one wants to include those two factors). I have my doubts on Summer Palace but I thought FLM, Lei Garden, Golden Leaf and Tim's Kitchen are all pretty good.

                                                    My only regret is they tend to focus on hotel restaurants, and if not, others with convenient location. It obviously ignores traditional non-Cantonese like our favorites Sheung Heng and Tien Heung Lau. And they have obviously ignore the comfort food. (Same case in Tokyo) But this is their first try, and since they said they are going to be here for a long time, let's see if they learned from the backlash and feedback since the release of the publication.

                                                    1. re: skylineR33
                                                      a
                                                      Asomaniac Dec 4, 2008 08:46 PM

                                                      I don't blame you. The food is excellent, and I would certainly love to eat there again, but it is just nowhere near three star special. What do you think though is the best restaurant in Hong Kong - a restaurant where the dishes are memorable enough to stay in your mind for years?

                                                      I think the Michelin Guide is useful in the sense that it does give you a good overview of very good restaurants. That is esepcially true from a foreigner's perspective in places where not many very high end food guides exist in a language they can read (like Tokyo). But the number of stars allocated to a particular restaurant should not always be taken seriously.

                                                      The Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo (where I live) are by and large very good and in my exerience in general deserve their stars. There are some real clangers, like Hamadaya at three stars (but to be fair, it is pretty highly rated in Japan, it just escapes me why - service and ambient, probably). I would also not give Robuchon three stars for his flagship restaurant in Tokyo, but fine. In general, the ratings are alright. The main craziness does not involve the restaurants in the guide, but the ones that were left out. Then again, we must accept that there are many great restaurants and people will always argue about taste. There are many arguments even in France itself.

                                                      One argument that does annoy me in Japan, and it seems that it is part of the argument in Hong Kong as well, is the notion that those pesky Europeans simply cannot understand Japanese / Chinese food. Hmmm... I can see that different cultures place different emphasis on different things in food. For example, the Chinese and to an expent Japanese tend to eat many things just for the texture. Texture is really important, and some items are highly regarded even though the actual flavour is really bland. Europeans find that odd, and clearly there is a cultural difference which means that people will judge the food differently, depending on where they are from. But: a good foodie with a very well developed palate, sense of smell, etc. (a rare creature) will be able to tell whether an ingredient is fresh, how different flavours harmonise to create a balanced dish, how carefully a dish was executed, how technically brilliant or flawed it is, and so on. To say that the foreigner can't "understand" the food is an easy accusation to use when people really want to say that they do not agree with the assessment of a restaurant.

                                                      In Japan, this has a strong tradition. Many people perceive their country as completely unique which outsiders could not possibly understand. Interestingly, you do not see Japanese people going around saying that they do not want to express an opinion on the French restaurant they most recently dined at, because as Japanese they could not possibly understand French food. Also interestingly, the criticisms of the new edition of the Japanese Michelin Guide pretty exactly mirror the criticisms of the first edition last year, even though this time, six out of the seven inspectors were Japanese...

                                                      1. re: Asomaniac
                                                        FourSeasons Dec 4, 2008 09:41 PM

                                                        Hi Aso:

                                                        Two points in response to your above post:

                                                        1. Re Michelin Tokyo: to be fair, Hamadaya has got a high rating at its taste category at Tabelog too. I think Michelin has covered a good job on sushi, tempura and kaiseki (whether Kyoto style, modern, fusion etc) but yet to be honest, these are food that is easy for Westerners or other traveling visitors. Many of such high ends already have set menu that the guest can just sit down without worry what the seasonal food is. And the inclusion of a few teppanyaki restaurants, in my opinion, is simply for tourists and corporates. But I don't think Michelin has addressed some traditional comfort food whether it is high end seafood izakaya, or other cheaper restaurants like izakaya, nabe, yakitori, yakiniku, ramen, oden etc etc. This is the same thing happening in the Hong Kong guide too, basically ignore all the comfort food, perhaps the inspectors regard them too cheap and unrefined. But one big problem arising from this is that many visitors, armed with the Michelin Guides, simply picked the 2 and 3 stars (and some 1 stars too) restaurants on their schedule and returned home thinking that they have understood well the intricacies of the local scene. I just noticed on the Japan Board recently one CH scheduled 3 Kyoto style Kaiseki restaurants in a row on his short trip because they are awarded 2 and 3 stars. I honestly think he will be tired of kaiseki very soon, and come back home telling his friends that is the Japanese dining scene.

                                                        2. European vs Chinese taste bud: actually "Chinese food" is too generic word, most often used by non-Chinese. Even among the Chinese, you will find many different taste buds; many Cantonese do not like Si chuan or hunan food; many Shanghainese don't like Beijing cuisine...So here I will just restrict to Cantonese food. I think texture is one issue but certainly not the only one. I will share my own experience and I hope others with more expertise views can join in to provide even deeper perspective. For example, shark fin, to most westerners, this is the most "politically incorrect" dish, and even if they do try it, most often the conclusion is tasteless. But the Cantonese would beg to differ; and it is not just the fine texture but the aroma that they know how to appreciate. Let me give another example, steamed fish. This is a dish that I think most hotel restaurants have not done very well, and to many Chinese chefs, one of the most difficult dish to cook well, to have the right heat and temperature, the right timing, and most often, this is one dish that clients test the skill of the chef too. Most hotel restaurants will present the fish on the table and proceed to slice the fish and share them in equal proportion to the customers. For serious foodies, this is a sinful act. It takes too much time, and with all the slices, the aroma and texture will be gone. Serious foodies will just directly help themselves with small slice that goes directly to the mouths. And the best part of the fish...well it is the fish head, which is always left for the VIP guest. And quite frankly, just the sight of the fish head disgust many Westerners and to taste it with so many bones still intact is not pleasurable. But there is where the Cantonese will say is the best part. Just two simple examples.

                                                        1. re: FourSeasons
                                                          a
                                                          Asomaniac Dec 4, 2008 11:04 PM

                                                          FourSeasons:

                                                          On 1, I do not think that the Michelin Guide should address simple comfort foods. They are great, they give people the most pleasure, I love them all, but they are hardly that hard to create. Sure, it is rare to find that really amazing yakitori place. But to give a place a star for skewers? I think that would be a bit of a slap in the face of chefs at, for example, French restaurants who struggle for years to create beautiful, balanced and complex dishes to get a star. It devalues the Michelin brand. If you want to go down that route, then you should award stars for the best in any category. Why not then a great burger joint? Or the best hot dog stand around? I get the same, often more, enjoyment out of those so-called comfort foods, and I am in the mood for them more often than I am in the mood for a Michelin star meal. But I don't want to see them in the Michelin Guide - it simply fulfills a different function. Perhaps that argument could be made against other (albeit slightly more complex) single food establishments, like tempura places, which do get stars. (I am not saying I would make that argument, but I can see it beign made.)

                                                          The chowhounder picking three kaiseki places has only himself to blame. The guide describes what the food is, and in the index even has separate sections for each type of Japanese food, so with a bit of thought he should be warned as to what he is doing.

                                                          On 2, I am aware of the many different Chinese cuisines (my personal preference being Szechuanese, after an unforgettable culinary time in Chengdu), but I think people from all of the various Chinese regions would make the argument that Westerners do not really understand their cuisine, so the point applies to all of them.

                                                          On the subtleties of aroma and manner of steaming, etc., I am sure that it is absolutely right to say that most 'normal' Westerners will not have that understanding.

                                                          However, again, if you are essentially a professional eater who will partially have been selected for his incredible ability to taste (the receptors of smell / taste are measurable, so this is an objective test, and often those tasters have receptors that are literally thousands of times more sensitive than those of other people), then one would hope - if the Michelin guide is as professional as it should be - that they would have done their research and would have had their local colleagues impart knowledge on them of what makes or breaks a great shark's fin dish. If not, then I am disappointed and their are not professional enough. But in terms of ability to smell, they will detect things in the aroma of any dish which normal eaters - Chinese or not - will not even perceive.

                                                          1. re: Asomaniac
                                                            FourSeasons Dec 4, 2008 11:44 PM

                                                            Aso:

                                                            1. Yes, you make some valid points to draw the line on comfort food. But I peg to differ on "hardly that hard to make" line. I know many comfort foods that need lots of work; sure it is a single product, so the chef simply routinely does the same thing everyday, but there is always some secret recipe to make one stand apart from the rest of the competition. I may argue that maybe harder to do so because of the intense competition on single product comfort food. But I do understand your main point. However, I have certainly also read a few blogs (again sorry to go back to the nationality issue, but mainly Westerners, including professional food critic) that wonder why Sushi is even included in Michelin, let alone awarded with 3 stars. The argument is always that they think it is just fish, how hard can it be, there is no new creation and complexity. Certainly there is not a view I share but just to say different people have different definition of what top end food is, and sometimes, it may not be that easy to draw the line.

                                                            Yes, I agreed the CH has himself to blame for picking the same type of food. But I think that probably was not in his mind; he probably just pick all the 3 stars and 2 star to think he will enjoy the best food.

                                                            2. I don't have any insight to the world of Michelin inspectors. I am sure they are much more professional trained than the rest of us to smell the slightest subtle taste. But then in this case when we know that the 10 inspectors were brought up and trained in the European tradition, can we expect them to let go of their own biases that they grow up with and embrace a different type of cuisine? And I don't think it is an objective test. Most inspectors are probably 30s to 50s; there must be lots of intangible values in terms of culinary taste that they have been brought up. Based on my own experience, I think it is easy for Westerners to like Dim Sum, Roast Goose, Wanton noodle but for some of the top end dishes I described or what skyliner wrote, I am really not too sure if even the professional food critics who do not grow up with that tradition will appreciate them.

                                                            Since skyliner wrote about pig stomach soup and snake soup, this is the other dish that seem to seperate European and Asian taste bud. That is broth: hot soup, nabe etc. I notice for most fine dining (please correct me if you think I am wrong), soup is more or less just an appetiser, and certainly not a star attraction for the course. But in Cantonese food, sometimes, the soup is the star attraction: the shark fin soup, the snake soup. (Just look at the number of soup skyliner quoted as his most memorable ones) And in Japan during winter time, I love to eat anko nabe, kue nabe (and these are pretty expensive nabe, not the comfort nabe type) but certainly would not get any introduction in Michelin too.

                                                            1. re: FourSeasons
                                                              a
                                                              Asomaniac Dec 5, 2008 12:13 AM

                                                              I agree with all that, esp. that the inspectors may not be able to let go off their own biases - fair point!

                                                              Just one thing about the comfort food - I had also considered the increased competition issue in terms of single item foods, and whether that should warrant entry into the Michelin Guide for the best examples. I concluded that on balance, probably not. Those chefs have the luxury to repetitvely do the same and over a long period of time make subtle changes, introduce small improvements here and there. Contrast and pity the poor bastard who at the same time is creating several innovative French courses simultaneously, and sometimes loses his star if his food is not evolving, as has happened in France! I do sometimes feel the criteria in France to an extent might be a bit harsher. It just seems a bit unfair to give the same award for culinary excellence. Then again, it is hard to compare different cuisines, and in any event, what do I know!!

                                                              I agree with you on the soup. While it can be a very important part of a top European meal (the Jerusalem artichoke / scallop soup I have had at some top French places was beyond divine, for example), it often plays second fiddle. As someone who absolutely loves all kinds of soups and adores broths in all their many wonderful guises, I can only concur!

                                                              1. re: Asomaniac
                                                                skylineR33 Dec 5, 2008 08:08 AM

                                                                Hi Asomaniac,

                                                                For those that are specializing in one item, it is not actually just one item, it is more like one or a few main attractions, but there are also many more items in the menu and items related to that main item as Chinese menu is always hugh. I also agree with Fourseason that the process of making these "single" item is not simple. I sure hope all these tradition restaurants in HK can be preserved and do not make change to please the Michelin standard in order to get a star, otherwise all these skills and tradition food will be lost !

                                                                In another word, the Michelin standard may not just apply to everywhere in the world and some fundamental change may need to be made when visiting other countries.

                                                                Eventhough star are not given to this kind of local specialties but there is a section ( a new section for HK ?) that it introduces HK local food, but the thing I don't understand is why they only put wonton noodle places in there.

                                                          2. re: FourSeasons
                                                            j
                                                            JiMaWu Dec 11, 2008 08:58 PM

                                                            You are absolutely right about the difference between a Cantonese and Western palate.

                                                            I'm western, but most of my Hong Kong friends are Cantonese Chinese. I am grateful that I've been able to eat with my friends on a several-times-weekly basis in restaurants and in their homes, because if I had not I would never have learned to "taste" the food in the way that people who have grown up with this cooking taste it.

                                                            (I should add that I'm still not completely "there"--although I now happily slurp pickled chicken claws and suck the marrow out of goose heads, and fight with my pals over fish cheeks, there are still some dishes that give me pause. The "pause" is usually texture-related. )

                                                            When Hong Kong people order at a Chinese restaurant, you'll find a much larger propotion of innards is ordered--everything from pig lung to fish throats. These are things that I didn't even know existed as culinary items before coming to Hong Kong. And yet they are key components of the cuisine. I can't imagine that the Michelin reviewers had much exposure to this.

                                                            What's more,if you grew up eating Western food, there are certain tastes that you have to adjust in order to appreciate the food like locals do. For instance, there's much more textural variation in Cantonese food--but Western palates haven't been developed so much in this way, so we read a lot of dishes as slippery, rubbery, too raw (don't get me started about chicken cooking styles!), etc.

                                                            Even though Hong Kongers would appreciate the artistry and first rate ingredients fine food at Lung Keen Heen, they would recognize that it is not DEEPLY Cantonese--that the dishes and flavors really are adjusted for the "international" audience.

                                                            I recently went on a foodie tour of Guangzhou, Foshan, Qingyuan and Dongguan with some Hong Kong pals--and let me tell you, that was DEEP Cantonese--and most of the meals were more amazing than anything I've encountered lately in Hong Kong.

                                                          3. re: Asomaniac
                                                            skylineR33 Dec 4, 2008 10:13 PM

                                                            Hi Asomaniac,

                                                            The following is just my opinion, so please don't take it personally :

                                                            I think the argument that European cannot understand Japanese/Chinese food is specifically for the michelin judges. It does not apply to you when you judges a Japanese restaurant or apply to me when I review a French restaurant. People has a much much higher standard/expectation for michelin, as it is like a bible for foodie's, Michelin is like GOD in the international food/restaurant industry. Michelin ( European judges) simply wants to tell the world with a fair standard that "these are the best Japanese restaurant in Tokyo" or "these are the best chinese restaurant in HK", but in fact there are lots of inconsistency in how they judge the restaurants and it can never be a fair judgement. This is part of the reason why there are so many critics from locals. It is not simply a review in Chowhound or a local TV food/restaurant show, it is at the international level. So if the judges does not fully in depth understand the cuisine, how can they tell the rest of the world what is the best of the best of certain cuisine that a city provides with the highest authority that the whole world is watching as in Michelin ?

                                                            I have many memorable dishes in Hong Kong such as the Pepper Pig Stomach soup at Chong Fat Chiu Chow restaurant, the braised shark fin at Fook Lam Moon, the "Ah Yat" fried rice at Ah Yat Abalone, the preserved salty lemon duck soup at Ah Dee (the guy is retired now...), the hairy crab dish at Tien Heung Lau, the Chiu Chow "lard" shark fin at Sheung Hing ..etc + a lots of places that is specified in just one things like snake soup, clay pot rice, hot pot .... it is strange that Michelin only recommend Wonton noodle places as the HK local cheap eateries, eventhough it is some of the best that can be found in HK.

                                                            1. re: skylineR33
                                                              a
                                                              Asomaniac Dec 4, 2008 10:16 PM

                                                              Hey skyline,

                                                              That all sounds like fair points you are making!

                                                        2. re: Asomaniac
                                                          FourSeasons Dec 4, 2008 08:35 PM

                                                          Hi Aso:

                                                          One of the issues I wrote above was whether the Michelin inspectors understand how to order the signature and seasonal dishes at top end Cantonese restaurants. I have often found that Westerners have not acquired the taste bud for high end Cantonese food, whether it is shark fin, abalone, goose web, sea whelk, steamed 老鼠班 or 苏眉 (two types of high end fish; I don't know what the English translations are), or other seasonal stuffs etc etc. And some high end places, one well known one is Fook Lam Moon that is awarded with 1 star, tend to favor only regular clients with high end stuffs and ignore the others for regular menu. This is culture that I think is still not well understood by non-Chinese. In recent years, the hotel restaurants have changed such culture, providing great comfort and ambiance, very straight forward easy-to-understand menu for every client. And they tend to focus their strength on safe and easy items- such as Dim Sum and others, that is also easily grasped by visiting foodies.

                                                          So for me personally, I have many memorable dishes in Hong Kong, example such as the braised shark fin and sauteed sea whelk at Sheung Heng (no star), steamed fish 苏眉 at Victoria Harbor (no star), flower crab with Hua Taio at Fu Shing (no star) etc etc. But to be honest, except with the last one, it is not an easy dish for Westerners to appreciate, in my opinion.

                                                          1. re: FourSeasons
                                                            a
                                                            Asomaniac Dec 4, 2008 09:06 PM

                                                            FourSeasons,

                                                            That makes sense - especially if those foreigners do not get to access the top foods. However, I must say that I have a bit more trust (or blind, foolish hope) in the inspectors in the sense that what bills itself as the top food guide in the world will have done some research about what kinds of food are seasonal at any given time, and what local people consider to be the top specialties at any given restaurants. If not, then they have simply not done their job and are not worthy of their reputation.

                                                            1. re: Asomaniac
                                                              a
                                                              Asomaniac Dec 4, 2008 09:18 PM

                                                              By the way, the below is from an earleir chowhound post. So Zagat also rates Lung King Heen top?!

                                                              Just curious whether other CHs agree with Tim Zagat's choice of HK's top restaurants. I had doubts about Zagat's choices in other cities but, for once, I think they're quite close. Perhaps because these choices were co-edited by Time Out HK's AngieWong:

                                                              1. Lung King Heen
                                                              2. Sushi Hiro
                                                              3. Gaddi's
                                                              4. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

                                                              1. re: Asomaniac
                                                                FourSeasons Dec 4, 2008 09:48 PM

                                                                There was a 6 month old thread that already discussed the Zagat issue:

                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/526789

                                                                1. re: FourSeasons
                                                                  koknia Dec 5, 2008 07:31 AM

                                                                  I was out with some local foodie friends tonight in HK. Some of them HKers, some Macanese. They all knew about the guide and thought it was hilarious.
                                                                  "For Westerners not Chinese!"

                                                                  (I don't eat at these restaurants, so I have no opinion.)

                                                          2. re: Asomaniac
                                                            Charles Yu Dec 7, 2008 02:15 PM

                                                            Hello Asomaniac!
                                                            You made an excellent point here!
                                                            Whether its because the level of the playing has been stretched out or chefs have become less creative and their culinary ideas over-saturated. Nowadays, I too find it easy to locate good restaurants but extremely difficult to locate one that provides 'Wow' dishes. A few years back, I have no problem remembering and reciting a whole list of dishes that wowed me, be it the ' Paupiette of seabass in a crisp potato shell with Barolo reduction' of Daniel Boulud, the 'Tarte fin aux truffe' of Joel Robouchon, the'Crispy skin salmon with sorel cream sauce of Triogros or the Bresse chicken dishes of George Blanc....etc. But nowadays, even if one step into a Michelin 2* like Michael Mina of San Francisco or even a 3* like Le Bernadin in NYC, their respective, so called signature dishes, like Diver Sea scallops three ways and Roasted red snapper in a ginger, scallion, lemon broth, though good but did nothing to blow you away!
                                                            However, I am more and more inclined to find 'mind-blowing wow' dishes in hole in the wall establishments, be it Hong Kong Or Tokyo. A fine example being the perfectly executed and uber delicious 'stirred fry pigs innards with scallions and ginger' of 'Cho Choy Koon' of Kowloon!
                                                            Cheers!

                                                            1. re: Charles Yu
                                                              w
                                                              winenipper Dec 7, 2008 06:00 PM

                                                              Hi Charles,
                                                              You are making me hungry. I'm going to visit Hong Kong in March and I was wondering if there was another 'Wow' dish or restaurant that you would recommend. I am looking for only Chinese food.

                                                              Thank You

                                                              1. re: winenipper
                                                                Charles Yu Dec 7, 2008 06:50 PM

                                                                Small world/Great timing!!

                                                                I too will be in HK during the first two weeks of March! There's a chance Chinese/Japanese food lover S'pore CH - Fourseasons will be in town on business too! Fancy a mini-chowmeet?

                                                                FYI, other 'wow' dishes I'm looking forward to re-try includes the 'Fried live sea prawns in pepper/spicy salt' and 'Roasted pigeon' of Fung Lam in Tai Wai/Shatin. The 'Stir fry fresh frog legs in black bean sauce rice noodle ( Ho-Fun )' of Heung Kong Shui Yuet at the corner of Nathan Road and Hillwood road. The amazing 'Crispy skin Har Gow with garlic dust' from the Dim Sum menu of Star of Canton in Causeway bay. The 'Drunken squab' and 'Stir fry shredded eel with yellowing chives and bean sprouts' from the Shanghai Compatriot Association, the 'Roasted Goose' at Yung Kee's club level, the simple yet ultra delicious 'Rose scented soya free range chicken' of House of Canton in Festival Walk, Kowloon Tong....to name a few. Unfortunately, a couple of the above captioned establishments require membership to get in. So I guess I have to bug my HK friends to take me there!

                                                                Lastly, do try having a Dim Sum lunch at the newly crowned Michelin 3* Lung King Heen, Four Seasons Hotel. Provides the whole package! Great, innovative nouveau dim-sum, attentive service and great view!

                                                                1. re: Charles Yu
                                                                  skylineR33 Dec 7, 2008 07:45 PM

                                                                  Yeah, the roasted pigeon of Fung Lam is so good ! Small size and perfectly roasted. The best way is to eat with hands as it can be requested to serve as a whole. Maybe the michelin judges ask the restaurant to cut it up nicely in to six pieces when serve ? Not sure, I don't think they use to eat by both hands to tear up the pigeon, but if that's the case, all the meat juicy inside are lost.

                                                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                                                    Charles Yu Dec 8, 2008 04:52 AM

                                                                    My friend! By mentioning it, now, you make me real hungry!! Ha!

                                                                    1. re: skylineR33
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                                                                      doctorandchef Dec 8, 2008 10:35 AM

                                                                      Oh Charles and Skyline,

                                                                      wish I had read about Fung Lam and the pigeons!! just came back from a 2 week trip to HK/Japan, looked forward to some really fat and tasty pigeon.

                                                                      settled for a reliable favourite Tai Ping Koon in Causeway Bay, it was pretty damn good but not mind-blowing. the swiss chicken wing was good, as was the Stir fried beef with rice noodle.

                                                                      My experience at Yung Kee was not spectacular either, the roasted goose was tasty enough but far too fatty and not enough meat, other dishes were not memorable and certainly not up to par of any other "one-starred" restaurants.

                                                                      Lei Garden at Elements was worthy of the Bib Gourmand status.

                                                                      The Chinese noodle restaurant at the new Lisboa casino was certainly "worth a detour" and deserves the Bib status. I haven't seen noodles made live like that for years (they had different styles including the pull noodles, and several styles of knife-cut noodles, I took a bunch of cool movies). It was surprisingly of very high quality for a casino "cafeteria" style noodle shop.

                                                                      well, february I get another chance to plan my meals WELL in advance, sure would like to hit up all of Charles' recs.

                                                                      BTW Fernando's was consistent as ever, but can't imagine eating there in summer. we waited almost 2 hours for our table.

                                                                    2. re: Charles Yu
                                                                      w
                                                                      winenipper Dec 8, 2008 09:20 AM

                                                                      Hi Charles Yu,

                                                                      Thanks for the great information. I'm very interested in a mini-chowmeet in Hong Kong. I'll be there from March 7, 2009 to March 12, 2009. I fly out late afternoon on March 12th.

                                                                      1. re: winenipper
                                                                        Charles Yu Dec 8, 2008 03:48 PM

                                                                        Great! I'll be in town during that period as well! Lets keep in touch by e-mail. My e-mail address is listed in my CH profile.

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