The 2009 Michelin Guide
to New York City, one of the world’s culinary capitals, has just hit the news circuit
—with a few surprises in tow. Viewed by many as the ultimate arbiter of a restaurant’s worth, the guide is eagerly awaited each year. To win one Michelin star is a tremendous achievement, the mark of an accomplished chef in a professionally run establishment. To win more than one is an honor most chefs only dream of.
But there are those restaurants that reach the three-star mark. This year’s most notable promotion was the acclaimed Masa
, in Time Warner Center—a Japanese restaurant unmatched in both quality and price. While the Omakase-only menu is only available to twenty-six seats each night, and runs at four hundred dollars per head, Masa is almost universally considered worth the entrance fee—with fish flown in from Japan, no shortage of Kobe beef, and Chef Masa himself often behind the bar. While Masa is the first Japanese restaurant to earn three New York stars, its ranking was applauded by food critics across the board.
Other Michelin news? David Chang’s Momofuku Ko
, a wildly experimental twelve-seat New Asian spot, took two stars—a nod to Chang’s cutting-edge cooking (and, perhaps, tacit approval of his impossible reservation policy). Gastropub The Spotted Pig
holds on to its single star, another unconventional pick. Meanwhile, Mario Batali’s Babbo
lost its own, while newcomers Allen & Delancey
earned their very first.
New York Times
critic Frank Bruni points out
that Michelin rankings may be more relevant than ever—as New York increasingly fills with European visitors, flush with Euro, who treat these rankings with even more reverence than Americans. The real winner here? It may be the Michelin Man.