The Michelin Guide is expanding its remit once again, this time to Asia.
The little red food bible released its inaugural guide to Vietnam on Tuesday, with four restaurants in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City being awarded one star. The country was boxed out of the more highly coveted two and three stars, however.
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“We’re very proud to finally present the first restaurant selection in Vietnam, with a total of 103 restaurants in the Guide, highlighting four restaurants awarded with one MICHELIN Star,” Gwendal Poullennec, the guide’s international director, said in a statement. “The first selection in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City highlights the differences and variety in what these two cities have to offer.”
Just one of the starred establishments is in Ho Chi Minh City: the contemporary Vietnamese restaurant Anăn Saigon. The Michelin Guide praised the chef Peter Cuong’s tuna tartare; roasted duck, mozzarella, and herb mini pizza; and bone-marrow Wagyu beef pho, among other dishes. The other three one-star restaurants are all in Hanoi: Gia, Hibana by Koki, and Tầm Vị. At Gia, the chef Sam Tran creates a rotating, seasonal contemporary Vietnamese menu, while Tầm Vị is focused on northern Vietnamese dishes like ham with snails and crab soup with Malabar spinach.
Hibana by Koki is the only starred spot not serving Vietnamese food. Instead, the chef Hiroshi Yamaguchi serves up teppanyaki at an intimate 14-seat counter. Ingredients like abalone, spiny lobster, sea urchin, Yaeyama Kyori beef, and Hokkaido hairy crab are flown in twice a week from Japan.
The Michelin Guide has been on a bit of an expansion spree as of late. Last year, it started publishing recommendations in Florida, Vancouver, and Dubai. The inclusion of Vietnam may be a welcome one, given that the company mainly focuses on restaurants in the Western Hemisphere. But those who were looking forward to the new additions may feel a bit slighted that the inspectors deemed just four restaurants in the country worthy of a star. (In total, 103 restaurants were recommended, including 29 Bib Gourmands, which acknowledge quality cooking at a more accessible price point.)
If the Michelin inspectors continue to roam Vietnam in search of the country’s best food, perhaps they’ll decide that more spots are deserving of stars next year.
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