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Dec 2, 2008 02:57 AM

Michelin HK & Macao debut just out

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

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

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

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  1. 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

      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. 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).

      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

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

        1. re: FourSeasons

          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

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

            1. re: FourSeasons

              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

                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

          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

            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: Sher.eats

                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

                  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 it?

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

                  1. re: Sher.eats

                    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

                      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:

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

                      1. re: FourSeasons

                        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?


                        1. re: Sher.eats

                          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

                            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

                              hey FourSeasons, M_Gomez

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

                              please reply there!!!!!!

            1. 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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                            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.


                          3. re: Sher.eats

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  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

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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

                                          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

                                            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

                                              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

                                                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"


                                                "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"'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

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

                                          1. re: Sher.eats

                                            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

                                    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. 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. 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

                                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


                                  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

                                    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

                                      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!