Today, Michelin announced the launch of its first guide to “fine Cantonese food.” The French tire company has been putting out fine dining guides for decades now, but this is the first time Michelin has produced a guide to a specific cuisine, as opposed to a city or region.
The Cantonese food guide covers 291 restaurants in 15 countries across Asia, Europe, and North America that serve the style of cooking from China’s Guangdong Province. Naturally, it includes all four of the high-end Cantonese restaurants with three Michelin stars — Le Palais in Taipei, the Eight in Macau, and Lung King Heen and T’ang Court in Hong Kong. There are 78 total starred restaurants in the guide, along with 62 Bib Gourmand restaurants. The remaining 151 restaurants have a Michelin Plate, a relatively new designation that means that a restaurant has good enough food to include in a guide, but it’s not yet at the Bib Gourmand or star level.
According to the Michelin blog, the new Cantonese food guide will showcase “the expertise of the Michelin inspectors and their ability to appreciate the most varied cuisines with a universal criteria.” That Michelin inspectors favor French and Japanese fine dining above all other styles is a frequent criticism of the guides, and it seems that rather than expand the definition of a Michelin-starred restaurant, Michelin would prefer to assign restaurants that don’t fit into their fine-dining mold a different label entirely.
The Cantonese food guide is also the latest contribution to Michelin’s increased efforts to cover of Asia. In recent years, Michelin has launched its first guides to Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai, Taipei, and Bangkok — though the role these cities played in lobbying for and even commissioning guides can’t be discounted.
There’s no word yet on whether the Cantonese guide will be the first of a series of cuisine guides from Michelin, but it seems to be a step in a new direction for the red books.