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Michelin in Asia -- what is the deal?

chloehk Feb 8, 2011 08:36 PM

I just read the 2009 New Yorker article about one of Michelin's NYC inspectors:

In it, the inspector says their rating is "just technical. I mean, cooking is a science, and either it’s right or it’s wrong. And that’s something that’s very objective. Either a sauce is prepared accurately—or it’s not. A fish is cooked accurately—or it’s not."

Is having a well-developed French palate (i.e., you know all the sauces, cooking techniques, major ingredients) sufficient to judge the goodness of Chinese food for a Chinese audience? Is having a well-developed Chinese palate sufficient to judge French food for a French audience?

If you're someone who happily eats both, do you turn off one part of your brain when you're eating Chinese and the other when you're eating French?

I was just reading Thai Chef McDang's rant on how Michelin gave stars to two "Thai restaurants" run by non-Thais who don't treat rice as a central part of their cooking, which is apparently anathema to Thai cuisine.

I know that Michelin sells well in Japan, but I've heard a lot of crabbing about their guides for China (including HK/Macau).

Have they made any official statements on how exactly they're going about judging Chinese food?

If this is written up somewhere, can someone point me in the right direction?

  1. skylineR33 Feb 9, 2011 04:59 AM

    "just technical. I mean, cooking is a science, and either it’s right or it’s wrong. And that’s something that’s very objective. Either a sauce is prepared accurately—or it’s not. A fish is cooked accurately—or it’s not."

    This makes me laugh. Ask them the following technical question and I am sure they don't know how to answer.

    - What makes Ho Hung Kee in the technical way stands out from other wonton noodle places that make it the only one star michelin wonton noodle restaurant ?

    6 Replies
    1. re: skylineR33
      chloehk Feb 9, 2011 05:26 AM

      @ skyline33 -- good point ;-)

      I'll take a look at e_ting's and Peech's posts. And TomEatsHK, I'm looking forward to checking out your best of post, even if telling me about it was against the rules!

      1. re: skylineR33
        K K Feb 9, 2011 08:51 AM

        It only means that you don't have to be (and in some cases cannot be) traditional and old school to win the heart of a French rubber tire company. That way the locals and food lovers in the know can enjoy the likes of Mak's, Wah Jieh/Kwun Kee without people holding red books in their hands.

        But the rubber tire folks don't seem to want to go out of their way to Lau Fau Shan to taste "B" Gor's extraordinary seafood cooking either, who happens to be the youngest winner of the blue ribbon award (also French in nature), although I'm sure he's not as raved these days thanks to other nonworthy news.

        1. re: K K
          skylineR33 Feb 9, 2011 09:15 AM

          Just had a great meal at Lau Fau Shan too, it is the place to go for good quality good value seafood. I did not go to "B" Gor's, but the better one at Waterside Seafood (海灣海鮮酒家).

          1. re: K K
            chloehk Feb 9, 2011 03:27 PM

            What is the blue ribbon award and how did you learn about it?

            1. re: chloehk
              K K Feb 9, 2011 07:08 PM

              "B" Gor and his restaurant "Foon Look" seafood has been raved about in the local HK press since 2006/2007. He's virtually unheard of outside of HK or to the western media for some reason. I only knew about him through HK food books and TV shows, and researching (in Chinese) any online material of his, including interviews by local press. Yeung Koon Yat from The Forum might be a bit more high profile, since that restaurant used to have Michelin Stars (not sure about now since I don't keep up anymore). Yeung is also a blue ribbon award winner.

              I'm not clear on the exact nature of the blue ribbon award, but there are quite a few HK chefs that have won this award.

              Also Lau Fau Shan is not a foreign tourist destination stop, as it is not easily accessible unless you have a guide/a local take you (it's what, 30 mins from Yuen Long in the NT?), or you know the bus routes/willing to pay for a cab. This is where Sai Kung and the likes of Chuen Kee and Lamma Island's Rainbow Seafood fill that gap for visitors.

              1. re: K K
                chloehk Feb 9, 2011 08:32 PM

                Thanks K K.

                Are there any HK food reviewers whose opinion *you* trust that publish their articles in English?

        2. u
          Uncle Yabai Feb 8, 2011 11:05 PM

          I don't think Michelin and Naret are big in explaining themselves to you or to anybody else. It probably suits them fine, and the ruckus they raise is something they probably enjoy.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Uncle Yabai
            TomEatsHK Feb 8, 2011 11:55 PM

            If you look on e_ting's blog (a prominent HK food blogger) - in her best of 2010 blog posts she links to a few posts which discuss Michelin madness in HK.

            The one by Peech/ Diary of a Growing Boy is particularly worth reading. (Mine is less so and is more a rant about STL).

            I have been told off by Chowhound for doing links in my posts but if you go to google and put in "My favourite Hong Kong food posts of 2010" and "e_ting" it will come up.

            1. re: TomEatsHK
              The Chowhound Team Feb 9, 2011 03:45 AM

              We allow posters to link to blogs.articles they have not authored, or which they have no invested interest in promoting. A link to someone else's blog entry is generally allowed.

              1. re: The Chowhound Team
                TomEatsHK Feb 9, 2011 06:28 PM

                Ah understood. Thanks for the clarification.

                Really useful, I'll link away.

                1. re: TomEatsHK
                  erica Feb 11, 2011 03:31 AM


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