Michelin Guide Debuts with Kuala Lumpur And Penang: 9 Key Takeaways

Michelin Guide Malaysia | Food For Thought

Michelin Guide has just announced its arrival on our shores with the thrilling news that its inaugural official guide for Kuala  Lumpur and Penang will be released in December 2022. This is an excellent development for the local culinary scene and will benefit both outstanding restauranteurs and discerning diners alike. Here are 9 key takeaways from the press conference last week.

As one of the most anticipated culinary events of the year, we take a look at some of the insightful takeaways we learned from Prichapakorn Dangrojana, Managing Director of Michelin Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei; Elisabeth Boucher-Anselin, Michelin Experiences Director of Communications, Brand and Sustainability Development; and a video presence by Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin Guide.

“The upcoming selection will unveil a new page in Asia’s gastronomic prowess, spotlighting the wonders of Malaysian cuisine, and the abundance of homegrown culinary talents. Kuala Lumpur and Penang have their own unique characteristics which benefit a variety of diners locally and abroad. Kuala Lumpur is a fast-moving city flocked with sizeable venues, independent restaurants, and new inspirations for gastronomy. [Meanwhile] Penang is a gastronomic hotbed of small-scale restaurants and street food that embodies Malaysia’s distinctive streetside dining culture.” — Gwendal Poullennec, International Director, Michelin Guide. 

1. The Michelin Guide selection criteria.

Independent Michelin Guide Inspectors review restaurants based on the following: –

  • Quality of ingredients.
  • Mastery of cooking.
  • Harmony of flavours.
  • Personality of chef through cuisine.
  • Consistency over time and entire menu.

Restaurants are advised that it is futile to write to or invite them for reviews as reviews will be done at their own accord based on recommendations by Michelin Guide Inspectors.

2. Distinction between One, Two, Three Michelin Stars.

  • One Michelin Star is high quality cooking and worth a stop. Cooking using high quality ingredients with distinct flavours.
  • Two Michelin Stars is excellent cooking and worth a detour. In addition to the use of high-quality ingredients and having distinct flavours, the personality and talent of chef and team is taken into account.
  • Three Michelin Stars is the highest accolade and worth a journey. Here it’s the expression of superlative cooking of the chefs who are at the peak of their professions, with the use of exemplary ingredients elevated to an art form.

3. Michelin Guide Awards recipients.

In addition to Michelin Stars which are awarded to restaurants, Michelin Guide Awards are bestowed upon chefs and individuals to recognise their achievement in putting their passion into delivering the best of experiences. Recipients are awarded annually and are again independently chosen by Michelin Guide Inspectors.

4. There will be Bib Gourmand in Malaysia.

In addition to the Michelin Star rating system, the Bib Gourmand will be given to stellar street food stalls as in Bangkok and Singapore, which only makes sense as Malaysia is known as one of the street food gastronomical capitals of the world. We can expect Kuala Lumpur and Penang to shine in these parts, although street food is profound throughout Malaysia.

5. Michelin Green Star for Sustainable Gastronomy.

In keeping with times, Michelin has rolled out the Michelin Green Star which will give a nod to restaurants that highlight their own accountability for sustainable gastronomy by having ethical and environmental standards. The criteria for a Michelin Green Star include: –

  • Provenance of ingredients.
  • Use of seasonal produce.
  • Restaurant’s environmental footprint.
  • Food waste systems.
  • General waste disposal and recycling.
  • Resource management.
  • Communication between team and guest about restaurant’s approach.

6. Partners do not influence the awards.

Although several partners made their long-awaited arrival possible, these partners are not investors in Michelin Guide and have no influence over judging criteria or restaurant selection. All restaurants are selected internally by Michelin Guide for review and award recognition is independent of partners’ knowledge or influence.

7. Michelin Guide Inspectors are independent, even internally.

Employees of the Michelin Guide itself have no bearing and influence, where only the Michelin Guide Inspectors themselves have a say which is reviewed upon in a collegiate. Each restaurant is visited a number of times, minimum 3, by different inspectors. You will never have repeat inspectors visit the same eatery in the same year.

8. Michelin Guide Inspectors are in-house trained.

Michelin Guide Inspectors are independent inspectors and food critics with no commercial interest and are employees of the Michelin Guide. The Michelin Guide Inspector panel is made up of a diverse panel made of local and international inspectors consisting of 15 nationalities, who have at least trained for 2 years under senior inspectors to ensure knowledge and approach.

9. Malaysia has finally a reached mature market.

The Michelin Guide has been in Malaysia for a while, working on the ground sussing out restaurants of note and was meant to launch earlier, but did not due to Covid-19. It is only now that they feel Malaysia has reached a more mature market making it the right time to enter.

The Michelin Guide Kuala Lumpur and Penang is slated to be published in December 2022.

For Michelin Guide Malaysia related, see Michelin Guide Malaysia.


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

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