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Sher.eats

Michelin Guide Hong Kong 2009

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*** 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, Lei Garden Group

* Lei Garden (利苑酒家) Tsim Sha Tsui branch, Cantonese, Lei Garden Group

* 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).

Unexpected:

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...


Edited by Sher.eats (log)

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What surprised me most when I first saw the list was lack of restaurants from three of the big hotels: Peninsula, Grand Hyatt and InterContinental. Not just Gaddi's at the Pen, but also Spring Moon (I don't really like it that much but some people do, although to be fair it's been about seven years since I was there). And One Harbour Road at the Grand Hyatt can be very good.

I am glad, however, that Zuma and Nobu didn't get on the list. It's been irritating me that those two restaurants are the representatives of Japanese cuisine in some of the other guides.

Do you consider Lei Gardens to be independent? I thought they were part of the Lei Garden chain? The quality is very good.

I'm very glad Bo Innovation is on the list and like you, didn't think non-Chinese would "get" some of his combinations. Like if you don't know what lap mei fan is supposed to taste like, then how can you understand his lap mei fan ice cream?

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What surprised me most when I first saw the list was lack of restaurants from three of the big hotels: Peninsula, Grand Hyatt and InterContinental. Not just Gaddi's at the Pen, but also Spring Moon (I don't really like it that much but some people do, although to be fair it's been about seven years since I was there). And One Harbour Road at the Grand Hyatt can be very good.

I am glad, however, that Zuma and Nobu didn't get on the list. It's been irritating me that those two restaurants are the representatives of Japanese cuisine in some of the other guides.

Do you consider Lei Gardens to be independent? I thought they were part of the Lei Garden chain? The quality is very good.

I'm very glad Bo Innovation is on the list and like you, didn't think non-Chinese would "get" some of his combinations. Like if you don't know what lap mei fan is supposed to taste like, then how can you understand his lap mei fan ice cream?

hey aprilmei

haha yes good observation, can't be coincidence right? you think those 3 hotels refused to be listed (it can be done, but unusual, unless you know you really screwed up)?

you're right on Lei Gardens too, i should change that.

so overall, except the issue of those 3 hotels, everything else sounds right to you?

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Yung Kee is famous for being second-best for roast goose (best requires 1 hour drive).

I can't stand the suspense. Please... tell me tell me...

Where is the best-best for roast goose?

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I'm very glad Bo Innovation is on the list and like you, didn't think non-Chinese would "get" some of his combinations. Like if you don't know what lap mei fan is supposed to taste like, then how can you understand his lap mei fan ice cream?

Is "Bo Innovation" the one featured in the Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation show (one epidode on Hong Kong)? It is in Central, right?

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Hi Sher,

whether the list is "right" is difficult to say. As you mentioned, there are many other Shanghainese restaurants that are much better than Shanghai Garden - and there are also better restaurants in the Maxim's chain than Shanghai Garden. (I really like Hunan Garden). It is disappointing that the majority on the list are hotel Chinese restaurants when there are other independent restaurants where the quality is just as good. I'm not saying some of the hotel Chinese restaurants are undeserving but that there should be more independent restaurants.

There's been some criticism in other media about restaurants that didn't make it on the list: private kitchens were mentioned. I think that's unfair because we don't know if Michelin covers private kitchens. I, for one, never cover private kitchens except on boards like this, because the restaurant could get closed down if it's brought too much to the attention of authorities. Right now, the authorities might know about them but turn a blind eye, but if they become too big, the restaurants are difficult to ignore.

Hrtz8w, Bo Innovation has moved to Wan Chai. I'm actually in that episode (eating at Bo) - but it's "blink and you miss it". Even my mother had a hard time seeing me! I am a big fan of Alvins, the last few meals I've had there have been excellent. But I haven't tried his food at the new place yet.

One restaurant I think should be on the list but which isn't is Yin Yang. It used to be a private kitchen in Yuen Long (called Cuisine X at the time) - very small and extremely difficult to find, but it's since moved to a really great space in a heritage building. Funnily enough, it's very close to Bo Innovation.

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Yung Kee is famous for being second-best for roast goose (best requires 1 hour drive).

I can't stand the suspense. Please... tell me tell me...

Where is the best-best for roast goose?

I suspect Sher is alluding to Chan Kee or Yue Kee, in Sham Tseng. There are a cluster of famous roast goose places out there.

One thing missing from the list above is Macau's Robuchon a Galera, which got 3 stars.

Frankly, I find it hard to get excited about what a bunch of French guys think about our food. But I agree with the Peninsula getting shut out. They've been doing a lame job on F+B for at least a decade.

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I'm very glad Bo Innovation is on the list and like you, didn't think non-Chinese would "get" some of his combinations. Like if you don't know what lap mei fan is supposed to taste like, then how can you understand his lap mei fan ice cream?

Is "Bo Innovation" the one featured in the Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation show (one epidode on Hong Kong)? It is in Central, right?

yes, but they moved to Wan Chai (2 MTR stops from Central).

website: http://www.boinnovation.com/

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Yung Kee is famous for being second-best for roast goose (best requires 1 hour drive).

I can't stand the suspense. Please... tell me tell me...

Where is the best-best for roast goose?

I suspect Sher is alluding to Chan Kee or Yue Kee, in Sham Tseng. There are a cluster of famous roast goose places out there.

One thing missing from the list above is Macau's Robuchon a Galera, which got 3 stars.

Frankly, I find it hard to get excited about what a bunch of French guys think about our food. But I agree with the Peninsula getting shut out. They've been doing a lame job on F+B for at least a decade.

yup Yue Kee, they have their own geese farm in the mainlands. The geese are roasted in the premise's charcoal "pits". If you call in advance you can have a just roasted geese on your table as you arrive and sit down, when the tea has been ordered and poured the goose will have rested enough for carving. Yes carving not chopping because more juices stay inside as supposed to "chopping" which is more violent...The skin is of course much crispier (like a crouton as supposed to a chip) than Central's Yung Kee and you get to suck on the rib bones which Yung has removed for you...I can give you a link to a local foodie website with much more info if I'm allowed...

~

yeah I left out the macau ones, thought someone living in Macau can start a thread instead...I'm going on Friday to Galeria for a 20 course "celebration" gala...will report back.

~

I was only interested in star ratings for the French restos (very very pleased). hmm Gaddi's and Spring Moon are quite good actually...what happened on your visits? Any clues as to why Intercont Penin and Hyatt got shut out?


Edited by Sher.eats (log)

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Hi Sher,

whether the list is "right" is difficult to say. As you mentioned, there are many other Shanghainese restaurants that are much better than Shanghai Garden - and there are also better restaurants in the Maxim's chain than Shanghai Garden. (I really like Hunan Garden). It is disappointing that the majority on the list are hotel Chinese restaurants when there are other independent restaurants where the quality is just as good. I'm not saying some of the hotel Chinese restaurants are undeserving but that there should be more independent restaurants.

There's been some criticism in other media about restaurants that didn't make it on the list: private kitchens were mentioned. I think that's unfair because we don't know if Michelin covers private kitchens. I, for one, never cover private kitchens except on boards like this, because the restaurant could get closed down if it's brought too much to the attention of authorities. Right now, the authorities might know about them but turn a blind eye, but if they become too big, the restaurants are difficult to ignore.

Hrtz8w, Bo Innovation has moved to Wan Chai. I'm actually in that episode (eating at Bo) - but it's "blink and you miss it". Even my mother had a hard time seeing me! I am a big fan of Alvins, the last few meals I've had there have been excellent. But I haven't tried his food at the new place yet. 

One restaurant I think should be on the list but which isn't is Yin Yang. It used to be a private kitchen in Yuen Long (called Cuisine X at the time) - very small and extremely difficult to find, but it's since moved to a really great space in a heritage building. Funnily enough, it's very close to Bo Innovation.

Of the michelin panel of unknown size, only 2 were Chinese. Now, there is no way the French dudes can review a Chinese resto without someone explaining to them what each item is and why it's special etc, were those 2 chinese present in all their tastings?

I agree with you on private kitchens, the only reason they are private is finance. The selling points of menu custimiztion etc can still be done on a proper legal place...

On BO haha yes I'm actually surprised the French understood his plays on Chinese food. Alvin is the one who pursuaded me to be a chef.

I've had YingYang twice and both were excellent, but only oppened in March and the Michelin ppl came in Feb so next year?

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Of the michelin panel of unknown size, only 2 were Chinese. Now, there is no way the French dudes can review a Chinese resto without someone explaining to them what each item is and why it's special etc, were those 2 chinese present in all their tastings?

From what I read, they said 2 inspectors were "Asian" - not necessarily Cantonese or Chinese. There's no way there were at more than a fraction of the reviews.

There were 12 or 14 Michelin inspectors reportedly involved in the HK/Macau book. They claim to have visited 800 places, some up to a dozen times. Even if they averaged just 3 visits per place, that's still 180+ meal/visits per inspector assuming they dined alone each time - which would have been totally impractical at most Canto restaurants, so the visit count must have been much higher.


Edited by HKDave (log)

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I like Gaddi's - the chef is very talented. I was just saying I wasn't too impressed last time I ate at Spring Moon.

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Of the michelin panel of unknown size, only 2 were Chinese. Now, there is no way the French dudes can review a Chinese resto without someone explaining to them what each item is and why it's special etc, were those 2 chinese present in all their tastings?

From what I read, they said 2 inspectors were "Asian" - not necessarily Cantonese or Chinese. There's no way there were at more than a fraction of the reviews.

There were 12 or 14 Michelin inspectors reportedly involved in the HK/Macau book. They claim to have visited 800 places, some up to a dozen times. Even if they averaged just 3 visits per place, that's still 180+ meal/visits per inspector assuming they dined alone each time - which would have been totally impractical at most Canto restaurants, so the visit count must have been much higher.

They came to L'Atelier 9 times, all 14 of them came at least once. those 2 asians must be quite critical for the perceived quality, wonder if the media will find out who they are.

btw have you eaten at l'atelier?

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I've eaten at Atelier - several times upstairs but more often in the Salon de The (I love the steak tartare, besides, if I remember correctly, it's cheaper downstairs than upstairs). But I go to Atelier because I absolutely love the oursin: I think it's as good (in a different way) as the original caviar version (but the oursin one is more affordable).

At Atelier, you have a really good manager (not sure of his title) named Hugo. Do you know him?

But if I had to choose, I'd much rather make the trip to Macau to eat at Robuchon a Galera. I've had the most wonderful meals there, including the 16-course degustation, many five-course lunches (for the amazingly reasonable price of HK$588 [something like that]), a black truffle lunch (where we ate a whole foie gras poached en cocotte with black truffle jus) and the opening night dinner (ages ago), where I met Mr Robuchon for the first time.

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They came to L'Atelier 9 times, all 14 of them came at least once.

How do you know they came nine times? Did people at the restaurant recognize them, or did they let the restaurant know who they were?

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I've eaten at Atelier - several times upstairs but  more often in the Salon de The (I love the steak tartare, besides, if I remember correctly, it's cheaper downstairs than upstairs). But I go to Atelier because I absolutely love the oursin: I think it's as good (in a different way) as the original caviar version (but the oursin one is more affordable).

At Atelier, you have a really good manager (not sure of his title) named Hugo. Do you know him?

But if I had to choose, I'd much rather make the trip to Macau to eat at Robuchon a Galera. I've had the most wonderful meals there, including the 16-course degustation, many five-course lunches (for the amazingly reasonable price of HK$588 [something like that]), a black truffle lunch (where we ate a whole foie gras poached en cocotte with black truffle jus) and the opening night dinner (ages ago), where I met Mr Robuchon for the first time.

The steak tartar uses onglet (hanger) from a Charolais cow, it's $200 upstairs and i think it's no longer available downstairs...ah yes the oursin, there was a thread on the cooking forums trying to reverse engineer the receipe...quite off though haha. Hugo yes he's now acting manager (the manger has resigned), he ummmm has his pluses but lacks food knowledge.

robuchon macau totally 3 star worthy eh? they're moving to the new lisboa hotel next year.

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They came to L'Atelier 9 times, all 14 of them came at least once.

How do you know they came nine times? Did people at the restaurant recognize them, or did they let the restaurant know who they were?

using "third party" language, yes the restaurant recognized them =)

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Im curious about the penninsulas restaurant Felix, has anyone been? I saw it on Restaurant Magazines top 100 list a few years back...

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using "third party" language, yes the restaurant recognized them =)

I was trying not to out "anyone" :wink:

I didn't realize Michelin reviewers were widely known. I always imagined they were a non-descript sort. How were the staff able to recognize them, and did their presence affect the food (i.e. did the staff work harder than usual to make the food perfect)?

I'm a little surprised at Yung Kee's inclusion. I've only eaten there once, and only tasted 3 or 4 dishes (plus I had a bad cold at the time), but if Yung Kee is Michelin quality food, and if Michelin really does only rate the food and nothing else, then there should have been many many more restaurants included. I'm sure there are better places than Yung Kee out there.

Just out of curiousity, is it known if dim sum was eaten at any of the starred places?


Edited by prasantrin (log)

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Sher, do Michelin reviewers go on their own? is that how they were recognised? At Atelier, I've never had to talk to Hugo about the food (because I always know what I want) - but he's a really good "people person".

re: Yung Kee, with that restaurant you have to trust your waiter to guide you to the best dishes. I've had some really good meals there (not always having the goose) - their liver sausages are the best i've tasted, their rice birds are excellent, so is the mutton casserole and some of their hairy crab dishes, too. but I've heard of people having bad meals there, too. Until the last time I went, I never even looked at the menu before - would just ask the waiter what's good. This last time, my normal waiter wasn't there so I tested out someone else.

I've never been able to figure out how Felix got on any guide to top restaurants. People go there for the view, not the food.

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using "third party" language, yes the restaurant recognized them =)

I was trying not to out "anyone" :wink:

I didn't realize Michelin reviewers were widely known. I always imagined they were a non-descript sort. How were the staff able to recognize them, and did their presence affect the food (i.e. did the staff work harder than usual to make the food perfect)?

I'm a little surprised at Yung Kee's inclusion. I've only eaten there once, and only tasted 3 or 4 dishes (plus I had a bad cold at the time), but if Yung Kee is Michelin quality food, and if Michelin really does only rate the food and nothing else, then there should have been many many more restaurants included. I'm sure there are better places than Yung Kee out there.

Just out of curiousity, is it known if dim sum was eaten at any of the starred places?

haha prasantrin

umm how should i put it. restaurants have "intelligence" (names, photos, phone etc) and restos share their intel with other restos...

as to where the intel first started not sure?....

umm for l'atelier i don't think there was much difference, quality is kept pretty high all the time but the FOH might treat them different? there are some difference that applied to all western eaters like slightly more salt and rarer beef (medium rare to an average HKer = medium for French so)

Yung's 1 star is IMO for its roast items (goose, cha siu etc). As to why other "yummier" places weren't given stars, my interpretation is a place has good food but its waiters can't speak english it isn't that "useful"...?

The book is released tomorrow night, i'll report back if it mentions dim sum, and whether peninsula hotel is mentioned at all.


Edited by Sher.eats (log)

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Sher, do Michelin reviewers go on their own? is that how they were recognised? At Atelier, I've never had to talk to Hugo about the food (because I always know what I want) - but he's a really good "people person".

re: Yung Kee, with that restaurant you have to trust your waiter to guide you to the best dishes. I've had some really good meals there (not always having the goose) - their liver sausages are the best i've tasted, their rice birds are excellent, so is the mutton casserole and some of their hairy crab dishes, too. but I've heard of people having bad meals there, too. Until the last time I went, I never even looked at the menu before - would just ask the waiter what's good. This last time, my normal waiter wasn't there so I tested out someone else.

I've never been able to figure out how Felix got on any guide to top restaurants. People go there for the view, not the food.

umm as in when one of the 14 michelin come do they bring along people not from the 14? yes.

re: Yung Kee. Apart from the roast goose, the braised pork belly is good too, and there is a pot au feu of beef brisket too. 1 michelin star worthy...

re: Felix well with a view like this

306930035_0ad6b92681.jpg

i can't blame them =) (not the best pic)

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Im curious about the penninsulas restaurant Felix, has anyone been? I saw it on Restaurant Magazines top 100 list a few years back...

http://www.peninsula.com/Hong_Kong/en/~/me...463BEF1D5A.ashx menu

Been once, food is alright, it's not a foodie place.

I've been there a few times, although not recently. Back when they opened, they were rocking. They had a couple of hot fusion-ish chefs from Hawaii and the food was fairly unique for HK at that time. The atmosphere was always more about see-and-be-seen than what was on the plate, and the staff could treat you like dirt if you weren't someone important.

Since the Aqua/Hutong empire opened at 1 Peking Rd, Felix has lost much of the TST view-and-glam crowd, and the place is now much more tame. Last year they hired an America chef ex-Jean-Georges, and he moved the menu away from Pac-Rim fusion to more mainstream stuff. I haven't been since the menu change.

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"If you are a carpenter, and all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail".

I think we have a situation here where you have a bunch of Michelin guys who are used to looking for and rating restaurants just like this and lo and behold they come to HK and find a few who fit their mold. (hey, that even rhymed!) So, we got a list of fancy French restaurants in hotels which is pretty much what they pick everywhere else on earth, and then some fancy Chinese restaurants in hotels so they could sort of look impartial and down with the locals. Um, duh.

Honestly, I am pretty disappointed. This is like looking behind the movie set and seeing what's really there. If these guys can drop the ball so big time right here where we know what's what, then how much faith can we now put in them when we go to France or wherever? I had always assumed they had it right in France and used the guide (plus a few others) when I was there. So now if they blew it here, I have to assume they blew it there too? Eeeeee.

I reject the notion that you have to be Chinese to appreciate Chinese food. You need to know what you are talking about, culinarily, but I think any trained chef - or even grounded and intelligent amateur - can assess a dish to know if it is prepared and presented properly. Oily, overcooked, burned, muddy, heavy - it doesn't matter if it is Moroccan or Burmese, a pro can tell. Equally you can also see real accomplishment in a simple perfect bowl of Pho. You don't need to be Vietnamese to evaluate the technical quality, but possibly the visceral appeal, which is a little different, and anyway maybe irrelevant to a guidebook.

Anyway, my point is that this is beside the point. I think these guys look for stolid, hoity-toity traditional French and then local places in each market and validate the status quo for a bunch of old people in expensive clothes. No, it isn't about the food. It never was. The book even says so. It's about the "total experience" including service, decor, and ambience, plus food, as defined by them. And clearly they have a formula for elegant, clubby, oligarchical type places. Only Bo stands out on this list as being not that, which is rather the exception that proves the rule. They chucked it in there to try for some street cred with the homeys, dude.

I wonder why anyone thought they would wade in up at Sham Shui Po and try the siu mei or the shrimp egg noodles with one butt cheek on a plastic stool and one hand on a bottle of Blue Girl with a big ol fan blowing a clackety gale in your face on a steamy June afternoon and nine million people yelling in your ear? It doesn't really sit well with the Michelin formula, although we may all agree the best food is to be had in places like this.

I do have to say though, that I like the idea of evaluating L'Atelier twelve times before they made up their mind. I would too I suppose if it was totally free. Maybe even thirteen times. I would indeed save the bo jai fan experience in Lai Chi Kok for my own nickel and not tell anyone either. Maybe these guys got it right.

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