Michelin, tempura, and limits
Posted 30 November 2010 - 04:10 PM
The practice of assessing restaurants the way we do, including ranking them, has its origins in early nineteenth century France, from which a specific, traceable history follows. From the very beginning, and for almost two hundred years, critics based evaluations on a restaurant's success in meeting a set of standards derived from an identifiable French-European tradition, and also incorporated non-culinary components in the evaluation - what has long been called "the arts of the table."
Restaurant criticism developed, then, as a form geared to appreciating not just food, but social and aesthetic aspects of the dining experience, and it used a yardstick derived from a narrow (but enormously influential) cultural tradition.
Although it's possible to find approving comments about the gastronomy of other cultures (China in particular) in this critical tradition, it is only relatively recently (I don't know - last thirty years?) that there has been a concerted attempt by western critics systematically to evaluate the dining experience in other cultures.
The awkwardness of carrying a culturally specific set of standards across cultural boundaries creates many problems, and this discussion is a good example. There is no reason that carrying a varied menu should not be considered a de-merit in comparison to preparing only one dish very well - but it is almost impossible for those of us raised in the western tradition to perceive this. Another example is the unresolvable debate about whether Peter Luger or Katz's should get more stars than a comparatively poor but more ambitious formal restaurant.
And so on...
Posted 31 January 2011 - 07:29 PM
Well, there's always the Scottish-Jewish option.
If you find the current love affair with Italian food perplexing, wait till you see the coming love affair with Eastern European Jewish food.
I got that gin in my system
Somebody's gon' be my victim.
Posted 03 July 2011 - 11:52 PM
1. Michelin clearly went out of their way to include representatives of the various non-offensive Japanese cuisines (Tempura, Yakitori, Sushi, Kaiseki, etc.) and push the best of each genre as far up the ranks as they could.
2. Tempura isn't three star food. Even if the ingredients are top quality and they change the oil every 5 seconds it's still much closer to "a bunch of stuff fried in batter" than sushi and sashimi are to "buy fish and cut it up".
3. There seems to be weak correlation between michelin and other sources. For example, 3 michelin stars = 4.1 +/- 0.2 on tabelog, 2 stars =3.9 +/- 0.3
4. Michelin covers a laughably small fraction of the quality category it's targeting. It's too much work to figure out the exact percentage but a guesstimate would be 30% (50% at the 3 star level, 20% at the one star level)