Holy dim sum! Michelin Guide 2010 goes cheap and cheerful?

Holy dim sum! Michelin Guide 2010 goes cheap and cheerful?

The world's fine dining bible proves that local diners' opinions do matter in their latest edition of the Hong Kong and Macau restaurant guide
michelin guide
Michelin Guide-worthy cheung fun at Tim Ho Wan.

In an unprecedented move, the Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau 2010 handed out gold stars to restaurants serving meals that can be had for under HK$50. The news has the fine dining world reeling -- the Michelin goes cheap and cheerful? Is nothing sacred anymore?

Last year, the local foodie community rallied against the Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macau debut issue for being elitist and out of touch with local tastes. This year, the guide decided not only to give stars to restaurants serving local cuisine in a lower price range, but also to include an entire new category of 29 restaurants all of a moderate to low price range -- even though the head of Michelin insists it has nothing to do with last year's consumer and critical backlash.

“It had nothing to do with the criticism. We don’t listen to that,” said Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin guides at yesterday’s launch of the edition.

Whatever you say, Mr. Naret. We're just highly intrigued by the name they picked for the new category: "simple shops." It includes popular noodle shops, congee shacks and roast goose eateries and we're not quite sure what's so "simple" about boiling a perfect pot of congee that reaches the texture of a combination of melt-in-your-mouth and light-as-clouds, or cooking a perfect roast goose with crackling paper-thin skin and juicy meat, or running a full-house restaurant day and night for years.

So is the Michelin guide getting a better rap this year in Hong Kong?

Chef and local food writer Lau Kin-wai thinks so: "I think this is a big improvement that very local eateries have been included ... and this brings the guide closer to Hong Kong people's choices and tastes."

Good for them, because as Allen Zeman said on Bloomberg: “Until it gets recognized by the Chinese-restaurant community, a Michelin award will remain just another award.”

Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macau 2010

Notable entries include:

Three Stars

Caprice: Podium 6, Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance Street, Central www.fourseasons.com +852 3196 8888. See our listing.

Lung King Heen: 8 Finance Street, Central, Tel +852 3196 8888  

Robuchon a Galera: On the 3rd floor of the Lisboa Tower, Macao, +853 377 666. See our listing of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

One Star local new-comers

Loaf On: No. 49 See Chueng Steet, Sai Kung.

Hung's Delicacy: G/F, 84 Wharf Rd North Point, tal +852 2570 1108

Tim Ho Wan: Shop 8, Taui Yuen Mansion Phase 2, 2-20 Kwong Wa Street, Mongkok, Kowloon, tel +852 2332 2896

Other articles you might like are Hong Kong dim sum quest, Miele Guide 2009.