Foodie bible Michelin has unveiled its first-ever guide to Beijing.
The long-awaited restaurant guide was revealed on November 28 and awarded stars 23 restaurants in China‘s capital.
Stars and gripes
The only one to score the highest honor, three stars, was the Beijing outpost of Xin Rong Ji, a seafood-centric chain whose first location opened in Zhejiang in 1995.
In its official announcement, Michelin wrote of Xin Rong Ji: “From strictly selected ingredients to impeccable skills and exemplary service, every detail has been delivered to its best. It has been a complete and extremely enjoyable dining experience made possible by comprehensive orchestration and thoughtful arrangement.”
Two other locations of the restaurant were awarded one star each.
Another notable inclusion was Da Dong, a Peking duck restaurant whose chef, Dong Zhenxiang, has become a celebrity in China. Other high marks went to Mio, an Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons hotel (one star) and King’s Joy, which is famed for its vegetarian cooking (two stars).
Arguably, Temple Restaurant Beijing, better known by its initials TRB, suffered the biggest snub. The restaurant has received plenty of acclaim over the years — most recently winning the gong of most popular restaurant in the world by users of the US-based customer rating website TripAdvisor earlier this year.
Though Michelin did include TRB in its longer listing of recommended restaurants in Beijing, it did not receive any stars.
Dishing on the dishes
The Michelin Guide has received a fair bit of reaction online in Beijing, where locals have strong opinions about food. Beijingers took to social media site Weibo to share their thoughts.
“Whether a restaurant is good or not should be up to the individual’s feelings. So why do we need such Western formalism to speak out for our Chinese restaurants?” asked one commenter, whose Weibo username is WuSir-ZhaFi.
But some people found the Michelin decisions more encouraging.
“In general, I would say the guide met a lot of people’s predictions,” Robynne Tindall, a Beijing-based journalist and the former dining editor at local website The Beijinger, told CNN Travel.
“Beijing cuisine, particularly Peking duck, was well represented, with local heavy-hitters like Da Dong getting stars as expected. The restaurants skew heavily towards Chinese cuisine and I think that actually represents a strength of the Beijing dining scene — you can find great restaurants serving different regional cuisines from all over China.”
Michelin has also rated restaurants in other parts of China. The company released its first Shanghai guide in 2016 and has been rating restaurants in Hong Kong and Macao since 2009.
Beyond the book
The Beijing announcement comes at the end of a very busy week for Michelin.
Two separate chefs — one in France, the other in South Korea — are reportedly pursuing legal action against Michelin and encouraging the notoriously secretive company to be more transparent about its rating system.
French chef Marc Veyrat, whose restaurant La Maison des Bois was docked one of its three stars for what he claims is confusion over the exact ingredients of a souffle, is suing Michelin, saying he and his staff suffered emotional distress from the news. The trial opened on November 27 in the city of Nanterre.
Meanwhile, Korean chef Eo Yun-gwon went after the guide for a different reason — giving him stars.
Eo, who runs Italian restaurant Ristorante Eo in Seoul, called the food guide “a corrupt book” and is invoking a Korean law against “public insult” in his bid to be removed from the Michelin Guide.
The full list:
Xin Rong Ji (Xinyuan South Road)
Cui Hua Lou
Da Dong (Gongti East Road)
Da Dong (Dongsi 10th Alley)
Family Li Imperial Cuisine (Xicheng)
Fu Chun Ju
Il Ristorante – Niko Romito
In Love (Gongti East Road)
Jing Yaa Tang
Lao Ji Tang
Lei Garden (Jinbao Tower)
Sheng Yong Xing (Chaoyang)
The Beijing Kitchen
Xin Rong Ji (Jianguomenwai Street)
Xin Rong Ji (Jinrong Street)