Thursday, June 19, 2014

J's thoughts on NYC's michelin star restaurants

June 19, 2014

Hey ya'll,

So this post is a semi reply to Life in the Lower Mainland's Q / semi rant on the above-subject. The Q was: "Do you suspect shills or just different tastes?"

This is what I think:

Hmm... it's hard to say, as the Michelin Guide isn't more transparent and precise about how these stars are awarded. According to the Michelin Travel guide, "The star symbols judge only what’s on the plate...", but the guide doesn't provide a 'step-by-step' dish review on what exactly the restaurants' dishes are being awarded for (à la Vanbrosia.com :D <- sorry, had to do a bit of advertising here) so it's unclear how all these restaurants (other than Jungsik - OMG, I am so in with this restaurant) got Michelin stars. As I had never tried a Michelin star restaurant before this trip to NY, I presumed that a Michelin star restaurant would have a lot of 3's, but other than Jungsik, I was disappointed.

See? This is why I don't rate restaurants, I rate dishes. Maybe these Michelin inspectors just so happened to try every other dish that I didn't try at these restaurants, and the dishes that they tried that I didn't were truly amazing, that's why they gave the restaurant a star. But then they should note it at the very least in the guide, if not describe 'why' in painstaking detail!

Anyhoos, I think my disappointment is kinda good I guess... I can eat happily in Vancouver knowing that some of our restaurants' dishes beat the pants off of these NY Michelin star restaurants (except Jungsik, Jungsik is undefeatable and will from hereon be the paragon of truly phenomenal dishes for me). FYI, I'll be doing a YVR VS NYC post sometime soon to compare just about everything I ate in NYC to our YVR.

In general though, my thoughts about hype for any restaurant is that it's a numbers game. If a restaurant generates enough buzz, massive numbers of people will want to try it and if there are vast numbers of diners, there's bound to be something that will please some of these diners no matter how mundane that dish is. As an eg. from a mathematical point of view, if Restaurant A generates buzz to draw in 500 diners, and only 50 diners are impressed with anything, that's still 50 diners who will help spread the word about how 'great' Restaurant A is. As long as the other 450 diners didn't hate the dishes, Restaurant A will do just fine, after all, people usually praise something for being outstanding or hate on something awful, but just keep mum about the mundane because well, it was that forgettable).

So to link this thought back to the Michelin star restaurants that I tried, the Restaurant A situation completely applies to my experiences. Of the dishes that I tried, there were one or two dishes that were highlights and the other 80% was just forgettable.

Okies, I think I'm all typed out for now. If you're interested in the YVR VS NYC post, please check back after the weekend (but of course the food posts continue - never, ever stops, maybe pauses from time to time, but never stops).

- J

Labels: michelin star, new york

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