Tucked away in a nondescript alley not far from Taipei’s hostess bar district, Ming Fu isn’t the most likely place to find internationally acclaimed cuisine.
The small seafood restaurant was the surprise name among the 20 eateries recognized in Michelin’s debut guide for the Taiwanese capital on Wednesday March 13. It now sits alongside the restaurants of such lauded names as Joel Robuchon and Andre Chiang.
In its appraisal, the French tiremaker hailed Ming Fu’s “dense and gelatinous” “Buddha jumps over the wall” soup and the signature braised chicken with pickled gourd. To get a spot at one of its only six tables, diners are warned that reservations are vital.
“Taipei is a city that has incredibly rich gastronomic history,” said Michael Ellis, international director in charge of the Michelin Guides. “Taipei has also given birth to a truly dynamic and innovative dining scene.”
Cantonese establishment Le Palais was the only Taipei restaurant to receive three stars. Two others were awarded two stars.
The awards are part of Michelin’s growing effort to broaden its appeal in Asia. In addition to Taipei, it now publishes guides for Japan, Hong Kong and Macau, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Bangkok. The Thai capital failed to claim a single three-star award when its guide was released in December.
One notable omission from the Taipei list was Din Tai Fung, perhaps Taiwan’s most famous culinary export. The dumpling maker -- lauded in a 1993 New York Times article by chef Ken Hom as one of the best restaurants in the world -- failed to win any stars, having to settle instead for a mention in Michelin’s “bib gourmand” category.
Michelin’s restaurant reviewers anonymously award stars based on creativity, quality and service. Three stars are given to restaurants “worth a special journey,” two stars for those “worth a detour,” and one star is for those deemed “worth a stop.”
News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland