MICHELIN Guide launches in Kuala Lumpur and Penang: What we need to know about MICHELIN stars 

Image credit: Esmonde Yong

Kuala Lumpur – What is uniquely Malaysian is the diverse food culture that has emerged from this melting pot of peoples united in their love of food and a desire to pass down their craft through generations. True Malaysians are foodies by nature; no journey is too “out of the way” for them to find the best (insert your favourite food here) wherever they travel in the world. Malaysia has long been known as a foodie haven, and rumours have circulated this year that the highly regarded MICHELIN Guide will soon make its debut in Malaysia.

The wait is finally over. This December marks the launch of the very first MICHELIN Guide Kuala Lumpur and Penang, two key culinary hubs of Malaysia. Gaining a MICHELIN star doesn’t just add a feather to your cap, it also undeniably comes with an expectation of your services and an increased footfall to your certifiably winning establishment. 

“We are ecstatic to welcome KL and Penang to the Michelin Guide family,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin Guide. “This upcoming selection will unveil a new page in Asia’s gastronomic prowess, spotlighting the wonders of Malaysian cuisine and the abundance of home-grown culinary talents. Our famously anonymous inspectors are already in the field to experience this colourful culinary scene and find the best local gems.” he adds. 

(L) Penang Global Tourism CEO Ooi Chok Yan; Tourism Malaysia director advertising & digital Roslan Abdullah; Penang state exco for Tourism and Creative Economy Yeoh Soon Hin; Michelin Bibendum; Prichapakorn Dangrojana; CF Capital co-founder Chryseis Tan; Michelin experiences director of communications Elisabeth Boucher-Anselin; CF Capital founder SM Faliq SM Nasimuddin; and Michelin Guide Asia and Middle East director Chris Gledhill. – Image credit: Michelin

From the press conference, this is what we know about MICHELIN stars: 

  1. There is no such thing as a MICHELIN-starred chef. The stars are awarded to the restaurants and do not belong to a restaurant forever. Annual visits will take place to review your restaurants. 
  2. If your establishment moves premises to a different space, your establishment has to start earning your stars again.
  3. Reaching out to MICHELIN Guide to introduce your establishments is not advisable. They will not solicit any requests. 
  4. The inspectors are hired full-time and undergo rigorous training and shadowing senior inspectors for two years before reviewing restaurants. 
  5. The MICHELIN Guide restaurant selections are based on the standard international selection criteria. The five key components are: 
  • the quality of the ingredients
  • the mastery of cooking
  • the harmony of flavours
  • the personality of the chef through the cuisine
  • and consistency both over time and across the entire menu

Based on our interview with an ex-MICHELIN inspector, Chris Watson, there is a vast contrast in techniques for a 1-star and a 2-stars establishment. There is less of a gap between 2 stars and 3 stars food-wise than between one and two stars. Between 2-stars to 3 stars – Consistency is vital. It should have similar finesse, more complexity, and impeccable service from when you walk into the restaurant until you leave. Overall, it is an experience to remember. Read the full interview here:

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Michelin Guide with ex-Michelin Inspector Chris Watson

Table Talk with Michelin Experiences Director of Communications Elisabeth Boucher Anselin

(M) Michelin Experiences Director of Communications Elisabeth Boucher Anselin

Set the Tables had the privilege to have an exclusive one-on-one interview with the charming Ms. Elisabeth Boucher Anselin. She has worked for MICHELIN for over a decade and has held several key positions within the company, including Head of Corporate Media Relations. She was previously the Media Relations Counsellor to one of the top five ministers in the French government, among many other achievements.

When did MICHELIN Guide start exploring Malaysia and why now? 

We are always scouting for new destinations; every launch is years in the making. This means that inspection teams regularly hunt for spots around the world. Even if we are not officially present yet, we started the groundwork running years ago. 

The launch was, of course, halted due to Covid-19, and we had to wait a little longer than expected. But once a decision is made, it is final. Then we wanted to have a proper industry recovery for the launch.

We feel that Malaysia is ready, especially Kuala Lumpur and Penang. When I say ready, it means the maturity of the food scene. Now is the right moment to place Malaysia under the spotlight to the international audience. 

Image credit: Tobias Schwar

How does MICHELIN Guide select its local partner? Why did MICHELIN Guide decide to partner with CF Capital for its Malaysia edition? 

The first criteria is we want to work with partners who respect our independence. Independence is really important to us. The MICHELIN Guide is the only guide choosing where we are going to eat, which restaurant we want to highlight, which is consistent across all cities.

Even my opinion has no value when it comes to the restaurant selections. No one interferes with the selections decided by our anonymous inspectors. Our independence is, really, what makes us unique since the launch of our very first guide in 1990. 

MICHELIN Guide has grown to be the authoritative voice in recognising the world’s best culinary spots. What makes MICHELIN Guide still as relevant as ever before?

The stars are awarded to a restaurant, but in a way, the awards belong to the customers. Our customers are the ones who decided to follow our guida and each year to make sure that they still trust us. Our customers deserve up-to-date and relevant information every year. 

When a star is awarded, our customers anticipate a memorable experience during their wedding anniversary and milestone celebrations. And we don’t want to let our customers down.

The MICHELIN Guide has evolved as a result of this ethos. The guide was originally created with the goal of ensuring that you have a pleasant and safe trip on the road.

The inspectors, they are just like children when they’re arriving in the restaurants, it is the same excitement – whether it’s a three star restaurant or street food. 

MICHELIN Guide, after all, is a guide. However, it takes time to innovate in order to do what we do. Finally, being independent and authentic allows us to do things consistently and advance to the next level.

What do you love most about your job? 

Every day, I get to do something that allows me to pursue one of my passions! And I defend my brand in which I have trust in as an employee. But you have a genuine connection to your job. We are a close-knit group with a strong sense of unity. Having a great team makes a big difference. 

MICHELIN Guide will be launching its Penang edition in December 2022. Image credit: Yaopey Yong


The MICHELIN Guide is dedicated to fostering a culture of travel and conceiving unforgettable experiences accessible to all diners on all budgets; it is this promise along with its independent restaurant inspectors and selection criteria that puts the MICHELIN Guide at the forefront of all restaurant guides

Besides the coveted star ratings, the selection will also include the popular Bib Gourmand category, a distinction awarded to establishments that provide value-for-money meals.

The full selection of the MICHELIN Guide Kuala Lumpur and Penang 2023 will be unveiled during a dedicated event in December 2022. Visit the MICHELIN Guide website or download the free application for iOS and Android, to discover The MICHELIN Guide’s worldwide restaurants in the selection.


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