Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Michelin NYC 2009 Rankings


Adrian3891
 Share

Recommended Posts

2.  "It is a cuisine based more on differences in ingredient quality and sourcing rather than more subjective measures such as technique, seasoning, etc, so relative quality is much easier to get a consensus on."

says you.

Nope, says just about every expert on Japanese food on the planet, both here and there. Try to find a book on Japanese cuisine that DOESN'T say this. Arguing this point is kind of like arguing against the idea that the French like butter.

right. but:

a. that doesn't mean Michelin agrees.

b. doesn't mean that they're part of this supposed "consensus" as to Japanese restaurants in NY.

yes, Michelin is idiosyncratic (I mean, the Spotted Pig with a star but not Babbo? that's absurd). what I don't get is how you assume that because they differ with Egullet that therefore they're acting in bad faith.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please note, I'm not suggesting it's a crap list overall.  On the contrary:  I think it's the best list we have to work with of its kind in NYC...better than Bruni's cumulative opus and far better than Zagat.
Well, if it's better than the Times or Zagat, then it's the best we have. The worst you can say is that it could theoretically be better, but you're comparing it to an abstraction that does not exist.
I think you'll find that there is information (or lack thereof) in the paragraphs about JoJo, Del Posto and Etats Unis that suggest they may not have been to them very often (in the case of Del Posto) or at all (JoJo and Etats Unis) in the last year.

As I understand it, the inspectors don't write the text that you see in the book, and I agree this is a problem.

right. the blurbs aren't necessarily the product of the inspectors. they're hired to issue ratings not as copy writers. I don't disagree that Michelin's fact checking is poor. but that says nothing about the visits. even Frank Bruni calls the chef after he's done visiting a restaurant precisely to check all these details before writing a review. even something as drastic as getting the identity of a chef wrong doesn't mean that the reviewer didn't visit the restaurant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2.  "It is a cuisine based more on differences in ingredient quality and sourcing rather than more subjective measures such as technique, seasoning, etc, so relative quality is much easier to get a consensus on."

says you.

Nope, says just about every expert on Japanese food on the planet, both here and there. Try to find a book on Japanese cuisine that DOESN'T say this. Arguing this point is kind of like arguing against the idea that the French like butter.

right. but:

a. that doesn't mean Michelin agrees.

b. doesn't mean that they're part of this supposed "consensus" as to Japanese restaurants in NY.

yes, Michelin is idiosyncratic (I mean, the Spotted Pig with a star but not Babbo? that's absurd). what I don't get is how you assume that because they differ with Egullet that therefore they're acting in bad faith.

If the entire world food community agrees on something and Michelin does not agree, doesn't that seem to suggest that Michelin is either clueless or not very familiar with the restaurants in question? I'd say it's more likely that they haven't been to these places as recently as they say than that they're totally unfamiliar with how Japanese food works as a category. That would be a MUCH larger conspiracy theory.

I completely agree with you on their idiosyncrasy, although I personally feel that they intentionally try to achieve it to seem "hip" or clued in locally, rather than it being the product of the actual idiosyncrasies of their judges.

I don't feel that they are hedging on some of their reviews because they differ with eGullet. I feel that way because there seem to be empirical signs that they haven't recently visited some of the places they claim to with the frequency they claim to. While I wasn't aware that the prose was written by different people than the reviews were done by (as has since been pointed out by oakapple), it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why I feel that way. Harder to figure is why you're so determined to defend the indefensible aspects of their operation, regardless of whether it's the product of bad taste or incomplete journalism. More to the point, it seems odd that they wouldn't employ the information gathered by their reviewers or at least have the reviewers (or someone at all) fact check the incorrect and/or outdated info in parts of the guide.

Edited by LPShanet (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please note, I'm not suggesting it's a crap list overall.  On the contrary:  I think it's the best list we have to work with of its kind in NYC...better than Bruni's cumulative opus and far better than Zagat.
Well, if it's better than the Times or Zagat, then it's the best we have. The worst you can say is that it could theoretically be better, but you're comparing it to an abstraction that does not exist.

Yes, it is the best we have, in my opinion, especially when discussing the two and three star picks. My issue isn't how good they are, but how easy it would be to for them to be SO much better. It's not just theory, it's easy practice and manpower. And I chose to voice my opinion not to slag off Michelin, but because there is a major and obvious fix they could make. That's what discussion groups are for.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the entire world food community agrees on something and Michelin does not agree, doesn't that seem to suggest that Michelin is either clueless or not very familiar with the restaurants in question?

By my count, there are at most 2 or 3 ratings in the book that the "entire world food community" thinks are incorrect. There may not even by that many. It certainly is not enough to justify the accusation that their entire process is corrupt, given the scale of the book.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just want to point out that oakapple and I are in fact two different people.

Oops...duh. There goes my credibility:) Sorry, guys. Apologies to both of you for my sloppy reporting...there seems to be a theme going on here.

Edited by LPShanet (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the entire world food community agrees on something and Michelin does not agree, doesn't that seem to suggest that Michelin is either clueless or not very familiar with the restaurants in question?

By my count, there are at most 2 or 3 ratings in the book that the "entire world food community" thinks are incorrect. There may not even by that many. It certainly is not enough to justify the accusation that their entire process is corrupt, given the scale of the book.

Totally agreed. I simply think they cut corners in some cases, not that they are a categorically corrupt operation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just want to point out that oakapple and I are in fact two different people.

Oops...duh. There goes my credibility:) Sorry, guys. Apologies to both of you for my sloppy reporting...there seems to be a theme going on here.

You don't have to apologize to me. I got a compliment.

It's oakapple you have to worry about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't get this.

Michelin assesses restaurants by their own standard not by Japanese foodie conventions.

It's a serious accusation to say they are lying about visiting restaurants. I think the real explanation is much simpler.

It's a big world out there. Many times I've seen people write "wow, so and so wrote about such and such or described such and such; obviously they read chowhound or what have you." the reality is there are massive multiple foodie grapevines out there that are completely independent of the boards.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't get this.

Michelin assesses restaurants by their own standard not by Japanese foodie conventions.

It's a serious accusation to say they are lying about visiting restaurants. I think the real explanation is much simpler.

It's a big world out there. Many times I've seen people write "wow, so and so wrote about such and such or described such and such; obviously they read chowhound or what have you." the reality is there are massive multiple foodie grapevines out there that are completely independent of the boards.

So you're saying that you think they've been to Etats Unis, Del Posto, Jewel Bako, Aureole, Public and JoJo multiple times each in the last year and still found them all to be deserving of at least one star? If so, I think it speaks more to their wanting to cover for (or at least not admit to) past mistakes thank it does to their actual beliefs about those restaurants.

Edited by LPShanet (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't get this.

Michelin assesses restaurants by their own standard not by Japanese foodie conventions.

It's a serious accusation to say they are lying about visiting restaurants. I think the real explanation is much simpler.

It's a big world out there. Many times I've seen people write "wow, so and so wrote about such and such or described such and such; obviously they read chowhound or what have you." the reality is there are massive multiple foodie grapevines out there that are completely independent of the boards.

So you're saying that you think they've been to Etats Unis, Del Posto, Jewel Bako, Aureole, Public and JoJo multiple times each in the last year and still found them all to be deserving of at least one star? If so, I think it speaks more to their wanting to cover for (or at least not admit to) past mistakes thank it does to their actual beliefs about those restaurants.

yes, I think they've been to them. why they rated them as they did I don't know.

I know someone who eats out a massive amount with an almost unlimited budget and she's been doing it in NYC for 20 years..and eats plenty internationally. she also thinks Aureole is the best restaurant in NY. obviously I think she's wrong..but just because it's self-evident to you or I doesn't mean that it is. individual taste is an enormous factor when rating restaurants.

someone here in another conversation commented that we always agree on new restaurants when we eat at them at the same time but often have completely divergent conclusions when eating at them separately. the point being that our opinions are enormously influenced by others we know and what we may think of as a "consensus" might only be our own group.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with oakapple and Nathan: yes, the inspectors visited all restaurants included in the guide at least once in the last year. That's how a serious guide works.

In case it helps to clarify the process, I can tell you I interviewed mr Naret, director of Michelin guides, yesterday. He told me that they've got 10 full time American inspectors working on the 4 US guides they do each year (Las Vegas, LA, San Francisco and area, NY). And that extra inspectors came from Europe and Japan to help with the NY guide. Japanese inspectors went to many of the Japanese restaurants.

Even if they hadn't asked their Japanese inspectors to dine at Ny's Japanese restaurants, I am sure they would have done just fine. I must admit I am a bit sick of hearing that the French don't "get" Japanese food. That Americans don't "get" Japanese food. That nobody "gets" it. Isn't that a bit prejudiced? I guess I don't "get" it myself, since I had a much better dinner at Robuchon than at Masa.

Now... 10 Americans plus the "helpers" from abroad... that's quite a team, and they had a year to do their work. Seeing as they have a huge reputation to uphold, why the hell wouldn't they inspect all the places they should inspect? Why would they cut corners? I haven't heard any news of Michelin needing to cut budgets or fire inspectors, on the contrary, they seem to be expanding more and more (the first Hong Kong guide comes out in Dec.).

So, in short, I think people are trying to criticize a guide that does a better job than anyone else at providing useful and reliable - not perfect, but at least, carefully and independently put together - information to foodies who visit NY. They criticize because it's not a New York guide, or because they love Babbo or EMP, or because it's French, or because... just 'cause!

Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

Official Website

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In case it helps to clarify the process, I can tell you I interviewed mr Naret, director of Michelin guides, yesterday. He told me that they've got 10 full time American inspectors working on the 4 US guides they do each year (Las Vegas, LA, San Francisco and area, NY). And that extra inspectors came from Europe and Japan to help with the NY guide. Japanese inspectors went to many of the Japanese restaurants.

Even if they hadn't asked their Japanese inspectors to dine at Ny's Japanese restaurants, I am sure they would have done just fine. I must admit I am a bit sick of hearing that the French don't "get" Japanese food. That Americans don't "get" Japanese food. That nobody "gets" it. Isn't that a bit prejudiced? I guess I don't "get" it myself, since I had a much better dinner at Robuchon than at Masa.

Now... 10 Americans plus the "helpers" from abroad... that's quite a team, and they had a year to do their work.

I appreciate that you talked to the man and posted here.

Well, the fact is, they didn't do just fine. And myself, and probably plenty of people here, seem to "get" it better than their "Japanese inspectors". Maybe the problem is that they brought inspectors in from Japan to help with the NY guide when they should have employed people who are more familiar with Japanese dining in NYC

But, bigger picture, the question is the question of whether the Japanese coverage was symptomatic of a larger problem with the Michelin Guide NYC.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tend to agree with Alexandra. Being a non-American, my experience is that the Michelin Guide coupled with a local guide is the best resource to get to good and reliable restaurants.

It seems to me that many people tend to have a kind of biased opinion that a foreign appreciation of the restaurants is less reliable than a local. I believe they are...different. That's why I, for once, couple Michelin with a local guide. After traveling a while around you kind of get the Michelin criteria (which is pretty constant everywhere - of course you can question stuff, like why Spain have so few 3 stars, but that's another discussion) and see if theirs matches your criteria. If it does, with the other guide you get the local feel, taste and scene, thus giving you a better ground to make your choices.

Just trying to eat some good food and learn in the process with all the well versed foodies here. Please don't hold me too accountable for my so personal opinions! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's another data point that I think is relevant. At the end of last year, Adam Platt and Frank Bruni each produced a list of the ten best new restaurants of 2007. If you need to refresh your memory, they're here. And what's notable is that they agreed on only 6 out of 10. So, even limiting themselves to restaurants they'd reviewed in a calendar year, there was 40% disagreement. (Some of the disagreement, though not all, is probably attributable to a difference in which restaurants they considered eligible.)

Now, back to the Michelin stars. I suspect that if you asked any two competent people to assign stars using their system, and in roughly the same proportions, there would be anywhere from 20–40% disagreement. And I suspect that almost any such list would include, or fail to include, at least a few places that some of us would believe were utterly wacky.

With that in mind, the number of alleged errors on this list is pretty low. The alleged "mistake" most often complained about is Eleven Madison Park. Yet, there are a fair number of people (more than just 2 or 3) who point out bad experiences they've had there. If it could happen to food board participants, it could happen to Michelin inspectors.

Mind you, there's a huge difference between an outright error and an honest difference of opinion. If I were in charge, Chanterelle would have a star. But there's enough controversy about that place that I can't honestly say, "Chanterelle wuz robbed." I've never been to Jewel Bako, mainly because I believe what I read about it on food boards. But the misrating of one sushi place on an eclectic list of 42 restaurants doesn't come close to being sufficient to invalidate the whole guide.

Edited by oakapple (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been in one the lower circles of Dante's Inferno as of late and am finally re-emerging to the real world. I see that much proverbial water has passed under this bridge since I last visited.

While I agree with whoever it was that pointed out that the margin of "error" (which is a subjective calculation) seems small, I have to say that most of these "errors"l seem like rather egregious ones.

I'm sure I'm not adding anything new to this discussion when I say that I agree that EMP and Sushi Yasuda deserve on star.

This conversation might interest some of you.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After traveling a while around you kind of get the Michelin criteria (which is pretty constant everywhere - of course you can question stuff, like why Spain have so few 3 stars, but that's another discussion) and see if theirs matches your criteria.

The problem is that the Michelin NYC guide's ratings are irreconcilable with the Michelin criteria used elsewhere. That's a big problem with the book. I can't help but think that a European tourist used to the European Michelin guides would find their NYC ratings very puzzling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is that the Michelin NYC guide's ratings are irreconcilable with the Michelin criteria used elsewhere.  That's a big problem with the book.  I can't help but think that a European tourist used to the European Michelin guides would find their NYC ratings very puzzling.

I would be more sympathetic to that view if somone could produce a few European visitors[*] who relied on the book, and were puzzled. Otherwise, we run the risk of being indignant on the behalf of people who may not exist.

Four years ago, when the NY guide first came out, some folks here said that The Spotted Pig would never get a star in Europe. And then it was pointed out that Michelin has given stars to gastropubs in Europe, too.

[*] I prefer the term "visitor," because tourism is only one reason why people travel. It also avoids the pejorative connotation that food board participants tend to have in mind when they refer to "tourists."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's another data point that I think is relevant. At the end of last year, Adam Platt and Frank Bruni each produced a list of the ten best new restaurants of 2007. If you need to refresh your memory, they're here. And what's notable is that they agreed on only 6 out of 10. So, even limiting themselves to restaurants they'd reviewed in a calendar year, there was 40% disagreement. (Some of the disagreement, though not all, is probably attributable to a difference in which restaurants they considered eligible.)

Now, back to the Michelin stars. I suspect that if you asked any two competent people to assign stars using their system, and in roughly the same proportions, there would be anywhere from 20–40% disagreement. And I suspect that almost any such list would include, or fail to include, at least a few places that some of us would believe were utterly wacky.

With that in mind, the number of alleged errors on this list is pretty low. The alleged "mistake" most often complained about is Eleven Madison Park. Yet, there are a fair number of people (more than just 2 or 3) who point out bad experiences they've had there. If it could happen to food board participants, it could happen to Michelin inspectors.

Mind you, there's a huge difference between an outright error and an honest difference of opinion. If I were in charge, Chanterelle would have a star. But there's enough controversy about that place that I can't honestly say, "Chanterelle wuz robbed." I've never been to Jewel Bako, mainly because I believe what I read about it on food boards. But the misrating of one sushi place on an eclectic list of 42 restaurants doesn't come close to being sufficient to invalidate the whole guide.

Statistical arguments can be both helpful and distracting in support of this type of point. Certainly your point about the subjectivity of the food criticism field is well taken. In addition, each experience at a given restaurant is different, both for different diners and for the same diner on different nights. For that reason, it's pretty tough to make a unanimous case for the incorrect omission of a particular restaurant. Incorrect inclusions might be slightly more arguable, but still very subjective.

However, I would venture to say that in the case of the various Japanese cuisines, if you had a group of people who were truly Japanese food mavens (whether they were from NY or from Tokyo or from Des Moines), you would find that having them review the same group of 20 restaurants would result in a surprisingly homogeneous list, when compared to other cuisines. I think the "Nipponophiles" on this list will probably support that assertion. It's simply the nature of the form. I don't have statistical support for this, but I have many friends from various walks of life, who are Japanese food aficionados, and I can tell you that there are almost none who would disagree with each others overall lists of the best sushi, kaiseki, robata and ramen joints. Sure, one might swap their number two and three picks let's say, but the basic construction of their lists would be close to identical. You wouldn't find nearly the variation that you do with other cuisines. However, if you asked the most respected Western food experts to pick their favorite five French or "New American" restaurants in NYC, you would get a series of widely varying lists. This is not only because of the numbers of restaurants involved, but because the standards and qualities considered desirable in Japanese cuisine are much more uniform.

With respect to sushi, there are really only betwen 4 and 6 top level places in the city, and there would be a HUGE amount of overlap on a list of those places. (For the record, Jewel Bako would not be on it...although that specific choice isn't the point.) Then there is a second tier that might overlap slightly with the top ones. And then there are all the rest. The same would be true for ramen. (While there are dozens of places in town serving ramen, there are only about 4-5 that would be considered the best, and everyone's list would be 90% similar.) Check the threads on these topics not only on these boards, but on Chowhound and any other similar sites, and you'll find the same names over and over. The only times there are great variation is when some of the people involved haven't been to some of the places in question.

It is assumed that if Michelin is going to include Japanese food at all in their surveys, they would employ the same level of expertise as they do for other food. It is for that reason that one has to assume that something is strange in their reviews, when half of the Japanese places they include in their star ratings wouldn't even make that consensus list at all, and none of the others on it do make it. Further, it would seem that the obvious reason for their having made the strange choice in the first place is no longer valid (the presence of the original acclaimed chef). I would offer that since it's much more of a statement to remove a star than to offer it in the first place, that it's possible they simply haven't brought themselves to "correct" a mistake they made in a category they aren't experts in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After traveling a while around you kind of get the Michelin criteria (which is pretty constant everywhere - of course you can question stuff, like why Spain have so few 3 stars, but that's another discussion) and see if theirs matches your criteria.

The problem is that the Michelin NYC guide's ratings are irreconcilable with the Michelin criteria used elsewhere. That's a big problem with the book. I can't help but think that a European tourist used to the European Michelin guides would find their NYC ratings very puzzling.

I agree with that statement, based on my pretty thorough use of their guides in Spain, Italy and France, among other places. There's much more homogeneity to the restaurants in their guides in Europe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would be more sympathetic to that view if somone could produce a few European visitors[*] who relied on the book, and were puzzled. Otherwise, we run the risk of being indignant on the behalf of people who may not exist.

Four years ago, when the NY guide first came out, some folks here said that The Spotted Pig would never get a star in Europe. And then it was pointed out that Michelin has given stars to gastropubs in Europe, too.

[*] I prefer the term "visitor," because tourism is only one reason why people travel. It also avoids the pejorative connotation that food board participants tend to have in mind when they refer to "tourists."

Good points. In two weeks I'll be in NY for the first time since the Michelin Guide. If the dollar stops skyrocketing in my country, I shall be going to Per Se, JG and one or two 1 stars. I'm not so thorough/knowledgeable as most here, but I've been to a bunch of 2/3 stars so I can compare if the NY Guide works for me as much as it does in Europe. It did in LA in August anyway.

Just trying to eat some good food and learn in the process with all the well versed foodies here. Please don't hold me too accountable for my so personal opinions! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

although I've eaten in most of the NY starred restaurants, I've only eaten in a couple European three-stars (and not really any others).

so I'm totally going to talk out of my hat here.

since the Michelin guide first came out for NY I've been reading (and hearing) numerous people state that Michelin "dumbed down" their standards for NY in order to make sure NY had a enough highly rated restaurants.

I've long suspected this argument was entirely off-base.

here's why: cherrypicking. the primary problem with all discussions of this nature.

when American foodies go to Europe they often engage in obsessive research of where to eat. by no means solely relying upon the Michelin guide, but certainly keeping it in mind.

there are 26 three-stars in France. when it comes to travel accounts, I see the same 8-10 show up on everybody's list that they've visited. maybe those happen to be the 8-10 best of the 26? there's a reason why everyone is going to them. to compare NY you'd have to figure out what an average three star is like in France. i.e. not one of those 8-10. otherwise it's just cherrypicking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With respect to sushi, there are really only betwen 4 and 6 top level places in the city, and there would be a HUGE amount of overlap on a list of those places.  (For the record, Jewel Bako would not be on it...although that specific choice isn't the point.)

If your argument were, “Michelin doesn’t get Japanese cuisine,” I might be in your corner. Frankly, if I were looking for Japanese cuisine anywhere, a guide published by Frenchmen isn’t the first place I would look.

But you are making a much broader-based argument—suggesting, in effect, that their whole operation is a fraud, and that they really do not make the visits they claim they are making. That is where I disagree with you. I agree with the specific complaint that the inclusion of JB over Sushi Yasuda is incomprehensible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...