On Monday, August 24, Michelin released its guide to Taiwan. The highly coveted star ratings were granted to and maintained by 30 restaurants in the country, which has managed to keep COVID-19 cases to a minimum throughout the pandemic.
This marks the third edition of Michelin’s Taipei guide, as well as its first-ever guide to restaurants in the city of Taichung. Of the 30 restaurants awarded stars, four are in the new Taichung guide, while 26 are in Taipei.
In Taipei, four restaurants were awarded new ratings, and Cantonese restaurant Le Palais remained the city’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars, the highest possible rating. According to Focus Taiwan, Taipei is now home to six two-star restaurants and 19 one-star restaurants, three of which were newly named this year. In Taichung, the Singaporean restaurant JL Studios, helmed by chef Jimmy Lim Tyan Yaw, debuted at two stars. The three other restaurants in Taichung debuted with one star each.
In response to the global pandemic still unfolding, two major restaurant award-granting organizations — the James Beard Foundation’s yearly awards, as well as the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list — announced they would not be granting awards or adding names to their lists in 2020. But Michelin, the French tire company that selectively and mysteriously awards highly sought-after star ratings, has decided to continue with business more or less as usual.
It’s not entirely clear how Michelin intends to judge a restaurant’s quality during these turbulent times, particularly now that tightened borders and restrictions on dining will inhibit the ability to travel and visit restaurants multiple times, as the guide is known for doing. Nonetheless, Focus Taiwan reports that in a virtual press conference, Michelin’s international director Gwendal Poullennec confirmed that all restaurants awarded Michelin stars in Taiwan were visited more than once, and that the organization has moved to using locally trained inspectors.
In addition to the starred restaurants, Taipei also boasts 54 restaurants with Bib Gourmand awards, granted to “good quality, good value restaurants.” Also in the Taipei guide are 11 street food restaurants housed in the city’s night markets, and awarded a Michelin Plate, which recognizes an establishment serving “good food.”