When brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin first started the Michelin Guide in 1900, the book was meant to be a marketing tool to help the rubber factory they owned sell more tyres. The early guides – then, with a blue cover instead of the signature red it is today – told drivers where to buy gasoline at, along with straightforward listings of hotels and restaurants.
This changed in 1926, when Michelin introduced the ratings system for the first time.
How it works:
To get the coveted 3-stars, restaurants need to serve up “exceptional” cuisine where “distinctive dishes are precisely executed using superlative ingredients”.
A 2-star rating indicates an “excellent” establishment with “skilfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality”.
1-star is given to a “very good” restaurant that measures up to a consistently high standard.
Before the lead-up to tomorrow’s much anticipated event, here’s our list of predictions in alphabetical order for what restaurants we think will (and should) make it into the guide.
Claim to fame: Our hopes are high for this barely two-year-old restaurant in Botanic Gardens helmed by local talent Jason Tan (also named this magazine’s Chef to Watch in 2014). This year, Corner House was named Restaurant of the Year at our annual G Restaurant Awards, and it also made its first appearance on the 2016 edition of Asia’s 50 Best at a commendable 17th spot. Tan also honed his culinary chops at Robuchon au Dome at Hotel Lisboa Macau when he was just 25 years of age.
#QOTD: “The Robuchon kitchen is very disciplined. If a dish called for three flakes of salt and you put four, it would be rejected.”
02: Cut by Wolfgang Puck
Claim to fame: Acclaimed celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has stamped his name on the restaurant, but CUT holds its own just as well. From the smartly suited staff to the tray arranged with five types of warm house-made bread offered to every guest, standards are impeccable. Bonus points for the steakhouse’s daring to experiment with putting fine Chinese teas like Vintage Pu-erh, Silver Needle and Lion Mountain Keemun on their drinks menu.
#QOTD: “The staff is under a lot of pressure to deliver everything perfectly. Everyone is so serious all the time.”
03: DB Bistro & Oyster Bar
Claim to fame: International celebrity chef Daniel Boulud, who is no stranger to Michelin stars. Daniel, his flagship New York City namesake, has been bagging three Michelin stars since 2010, though it lost a star last year due to “lack of consistency”. Db Bistro & Oyster Bar also clinched an Award of Excellence at this year’s G Restaurant Awards for its dependable classics done well, like the original db burger, where braised rib and foie gras are sandwiched between two moreish parmesan buns.
#QOTD: “I had to sacrifice family, friendship, entertainment. You just work. Work, work, work.”
04: Din Tai Fung
Claim to fame: In November 2009, the restaurant’s first Hong Kong branch at Tsim Sha Tsui, earned its first Michelin star in the Hong Kong and Macau 2010 edition of the guide. It’s secret to success: steamed soup dumplings delicately crafted from 18 intricate folds that have Singaporeans predictably forming long queues at dinnertime, even after 13 years.
05: Fat Cow
Claim to fame: It is one of the very first Japanese-style restaurants on our island to specialise in offering cuts of premium beef. The restaurant has also consistently taken home the Award of Excellence in our annual G Restaurant Awards since it first opened its doors in 2011.
Claim to fame: The modern French fine-dining restaurant has a reputation for picking chefs that elevate it to illustrious heights. Think Taiwan-born Andre Chiang, who put the restaurant at 39th place on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2010 in just two years. Then there is Julien Royer, under which JAAN was listed on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for three consecutive years. Now helmed by Kirk Westaway, named our Chef to Watch in the latest issue of Gourmet & Travel, Westaway’s tenacity and commitment to the best produce looks set to steer the restaurant to its first Michelin star.
#QOTD: “I looked at Chef Raymond Patterson (Westaway’s mentor), who was 52 back then, and thought to myself, ‘if he can work 48 hours without sleep, why shouldn’t I be able to do it when I’m half his age?’”
Claim to fame: When Julien Royer first opened Odette late last year, it was the hottest table in town. The restaurant was booked solid, and getting a table less than 2 months in advance was an achievement that could only be had if you were friends with Royer himself. Royer, who was named our Chef to Watch in 2012, has trained for famous names such as Michelin-starred Michel Bras, and led Jaan (see above) to three consecutive triumphs on the Asia’s 50 Best List under his watch.
#QOTD: “Too many trendy restaurants put a story, a concept, a philosophy, before the product. It annoys me – the story can be superb but there is no action to it. I’d rather put the action first and then let it tell the story. I run a restaurant, not a fashion brand.”
08: Restaurant Labyrinth
Claim to fame: Banker turned chef-owner Han Li Guang might once have put an egg in the microwave and watched it blow up in his face, but his renditions of mod-Sin cuisine like chilli crab ice cream and chendol xiao long bao are both innovative and delicious at the same time. Han, who was our Chef to Watch earlier this year, has worked with chef Mauro Colagreco of two-Michelin-star Mirazur in France and Alvin Leung of three-Michelin-star Bo Innovation in Hong Kong.
#QOTD: “I couldn’t just serve chicken rice or chilli crab pasta straight up. Otherwise, what’s stopping you from going home, switching offthe lights and eating takeaway chicken rice in darkness?”
09: Saint Pierre
Claim to fame: Head on over to our full Saint Pierre review in the G Restaurant Awards 2016, where they bagged an Award of Excellence.
10: Summer Pavillion – Ritz Carlton
Claim to fame: Summer Pavillion has been a recurring name in our G Restaurant Awards – and this year is no exception.
11: The Kitchen at Bacchanalia
Claim to fame: Ivan Brehm, executive head chef of the restaurant, spent four years training under renowned chef-scientist Heston Blumenthal. Named this magazine’s Chef to Watch early last year, Bacchanalia also won Best Restaurant of the Year (Western) in G Restaurant Awards 2014.
#QOTD: “You can impact a guest’s experience massively before he even tries your food.” – Brehm on how little touches like the temperature of the doorknob can make a difference.
12: Les Amis
Claim to fame: Executive chef Sebastien Lepinoy previously of one-Michelin-star Cepage in Hong Kong, who spent half of his career working with Joel Robuchon. Lepinoy’s commitment to executing French classic well also earned the restaurant Best Dinner Experience (Western) at the G Restaurant Awards this year. Which other chef would submit their resume just to earn rights to an exclusive-to-Asia Le Ponclet butter served in less than 20 restaurants worldwide?
#QOTD: “I didn’t think I will stay so long in this career. But having done it for more than 25 years, I cannot imagine doing anything else.”
13: L’Atelier de Robuchon
Claim to fame: Double accolades for Robuchon’s restaurants in our G Restaurant Awards 2016 – full restaurant review here.
14: Shinji by Kanesaka (St. Regis/Raffles)
Claim to fame: Read the full review in the G Restaurant Awards 2016.
15: Waku Ghin
Claim to fame: Tetsuya Wakuda’s outpost is a stalwart in the G Restaurant Award – full review here.
16: Joel Robuchon
Claim to fame: It’s almost a given that the man himself, who holds 25 Michelin stars across all his restaurants, will take home the highly-coveted 3 stars. Also, Robuchon was spotted in town last night by a certain F&B director we know. Not a timely coincidence, we’re sure.
17: Restaurant Andre
Claim to fame: Our hopes are sky high for our very first Chef to Watch, as well as our first guest editor, who has consistently taken home Restaurant of the Year at the G Restaurant Awards since 2010. Chiang. who trained under the well-known Pourcel brothers at Jardin des Sens in Montpellier, France, constantly pushes the envelope in creating new dishes that surprise diners – even his regulars – at every turn.
#QOTD: “For me, it is okay that a guest forgets what he ate the moment he walks out of the door – because they will come back again as long as their agenda is met. Serving a meal is no longer about food: It’s a performance.”