For the first time ever, the prestigious Michelin Guide has released ratings and recommendations for the best of where to dine out in Vancouver.
Considered by many as a hallmark of absolute excellence - and for some chefs and restaurateurs it's a life goal - Michelin stars are determined by esteemed "inspectors" dispatched to a destination and chronicled in the tire company's vaunted guidebooks.
Over the past few months, those anonymous diners have been eating their way around Vancouver to determine the guide's contents.
In a ceremony held at Canada Place on Thursday, Oct. 27, the Michelin Guide revealed which Vancouver restaurants have earned stars or other esteemed endorsements from the publication.
The Michelin restaurant guidebooks have been around for over a century and the starred ratings since 1926. While over the years the public and industry's sentiments towards the value - perceived or actual - of the ratings have gone through several cycles of favour, it's only recently that Michelin has set its eyes on Canada, having previously ventured to Toronto as its first foray into the country.
How does Michelin determine stars or mentions?
The Vancouver restaurant selection follows Michelin’s historical methodology, based on five universal criteria, to ensure each destination’s selection equity: 1) quality products; 2) the harmony of flavours; 3) the mastery of cooking techniques; 4) the personality of the chef in the cuisine; 5) consistency between each visit (each restaurant is inspected several times a year).
There has been much mystery surrounding the Michelin Guide ratings for Vancouver, including which - if any - establishments could net one, two, or even three stars (spoiler alert: only one-star rankings were handed out).
Additionally, speculation has abounded among those in the restaurant industry about just how far outside the City of Vancouver proper the guide's inspectors would travel (the answer: not at all), how many non "fine-dining" places would land on the list (quite a few!), and how the Guide's "green" star for sustainable practices would be reflected here (absolutely not at all).
In addition to stars, Michelin awards the "Bib Gourmand" nod. "Not quite a star, but most definitely not a consolation prize, the Bib Gourmand - named after Bibendum, the friendly Michelin Man and the official company mascot for the Michelin Group - is a just-as-esteemed rating that recognizes friendly establishments that serve good food at moderate prices," explains the publication.
A second sub-category for "Recommended" restaurants features an array of notable local eateries, from upscale to more laid back.
How did Vancouver's restaurants fare?
The eight starred restaurants include popular favourites like AnnaLena and Kissa Tanto; elegant sushi bar Masayoshi; the intimate Barbara; the ultra-posh Chinese fine dining iDen & QuanJuDe Beijing Duck House; relative newcomer and critical darling Published On Main; the always terrific St Lawrence; and veteran Burdock & Co - featuring the only female chef, Andrea Carlson, to earn a star.
Seen as a long-awaited validation for Vancouver's dining scene, Michelin's arrival in Vancouver is a boon for tourism (Destination Vancouver is a key player) and for the city as a whole. It's also a signal, to some extent, about the future of dining and culinary talent in Vancouver. Absent from the top-tiered starred restaurants are a few restaurants/chefs many may have considered the torch-bearers, like David Hawksworth (Nightingale, Hawksworth), Pino Posteraro (Cioppino's), and Hidekazu Tojo (Tojo's), and Alex Chen (Boulevard). While Nightingale, Hawksworth, and Cioppino's did land on the "Recommended" list, Tojo's and Boulevard did not get listed at all.
The Bib Gourmands, a dozen in total, include places like Anh & Chi, Chupito, and Vij's, while the much larger Recommended list represents a broad swath of restaurants like Ask For Luigi, Botanist, and The Acorn alongside newcomers like Bar Susu, Elephant, and Riley's, and gems like Nammos Estiatorio and Arike.
Ultimately, the choices show that the city is spoiled for choice, range, and culinary talent - and the future looks even brighter for the restaurant scene in Vancouver.
Vancouver Michelin Guide restaurant rankings 2022
- Burdock & Co
- iDen & QuanJuDe Beijing Duck House
- Kissa Tanto
- Published on Main
- St Lawrence