November 27, 2009

Michelin gets it wrong - again

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So the town is abuzz yet again over the stars handed out by the cute and chubby Bibendum, as the press release came out yesterday and some of us have been poring over the list ever since.  There are a lot more restaurants on the starred list, but once again I think that these people still got it wrong in terms of the Chinese side of things.

OK, let me start by talking about the improvements - a few things that they got right this year in my opinion:

Caprice - now elevated to the only 3-star French restaurant in town, shoulder-to-shoulder with its Cantonese sibling Lung King Heen.  Caprice has long been my favorite French in town, and I think this is fully justified.  Kudos to Chef Vincent, Jeremy and the team.

Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) - the flagship Wanchai restaurant now has 2 stars.  The food here is excellent, and I shouldn't complain so much about how often my friends want to go there...

Bo Innovation - lost a star and now has 1 left.  I do like Alvin's creativity, but a 2-star restaurant it is not...and no way should it rank ahead of Pierre!

Mandarin Grill + Bar - Uwe deserves to be recognized for his creativity.

Yan Toh Heen (欣圖軒) - historically one of my favorite places to take tourists, with impeccable Cantonese cuisine (some of the best steamed fish) and a unbeatable view of HK's skyline.

But here are a few "WTF" moments:

Farm House (農圃) - I think I've been here enough times to say that they don't deserve a star.

Island Tang (港島廳) - I've generally been a fan of this place, but star-worthy? It's basically another Hutong - decent food in a nice setting that tourists would like.

Morton's of Chicago - HELLLLOOOOO????!!!!  WTF?! A chain steakhouse in HK gets a Michelin star???!!!  Not even the Morton's in NY, LV or elsewhere get stars, so why should the one in HK get a star?  What were these people thinking?!

Din Tai Feng (鼎泰豐), Hung's Delicacies (阿鴻小吃), Tim Ho Wan (添好運) - the Bib Gourmand section of the guide was created just for this type of establishments, where the food is good (for what it's supposed to be) and everything is cheap and good.  I've always loved DTF but never thought it star-worthy.  Susan and I just went to THW last week with a group of friends, and none of us thought it was THAT special.  This is a clear example of the halo effect from the chef having been the dim sum chef at Lung King Heen...

I think I'll save my money for the WOM Guide instead...


Anonymous said...

The Michelin Guide says:
"For restaurants, Michelin stars are based on five criteria:

* The quality of the products
* The mastery of flavor and cooking
* The "personality" of the cuisine
* The value for the money
* The consistency between visits

Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants offering the finest cooking, regardless of cuisine style. Stars represent only what is on the plate. They do not take into consideration interior decoration, service quality or table settings."

I'm curious to know in which area you think Morton's is not worthy of one star, meaning "A very good restaurant in its category" (where its category is, presumably, "steak house".

Peech said...

I honestly don't think Morton's is the best steakhouse in town. And I cannot imagine that the Morton's in HK is better than the one in Chicago, New York,...etc. So if those outlets didn't get stars, why should the one in HK deserve its star?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, but isn't the rating supposed to be absolute rather than relative (at least at the one star level)? You may well have a case that the others you mention merit stars (which do you feel to be the best steakhouse in HK?) but that doesn't address the question of where you feel Morton's HK falls short on the specified qualities.

Not having your resources I don't visit expensive restaurants on a daily basis, but I feel I do it enough to judge four of the five qualities. I struggle to understand how food can have "personality", at least once the animal is on my plate. On the other four I can't see what Morton's could do any better.

(I am reminded of the amusing HHGTTG "Dish of the Day" scene at Milliways where the steak might qualify in the "personality" category.)

Michelle Chin said...

HI, I'm going to Hong Kong pretty soon. I came across your blog googling tim ho wan and lung king heen. Haha, can you recommend really good places to eat? I don't know if I can trust those tourist guides or not, fearing that such guides will be a little too touristy. :D

Babedolphin said...

I also think it 'strange' places like Tim Ho Wan, Ding Tai Fung and Morton's will get 1 Star! :)

DTF is pretty good, but not impressive. To suggest its on par with Ye Shanghai is a bit pushing it... Ye Shanghai's food has a lot of delicate steps to achieve some flavours and effects, even though its not very traditional.

Tim Ho Wan is honestly not that good, but unfortunately that and also new 2 Macaron'ed Macau's 紫逸軒 are both linked to Lung King Heen.

Just reading your Wagyu Kaiseki Den review now - do you think its worth 1 Star on credit, 2ndly when compared to some of the other Kaiseki shops avail in HK? Just curious of your opinion!

Anyway, I think the Morton's issue highlights the lack of really good Western Restaurants in HK. I think its infact, measured Relatively indeed! And I agree PIERRE should be at least 2 Stars, its honestly crazy to suggest otherwise. :)


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