Michelin adds more cheapies to 3rd HK-Macau restaurant guide

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Michelin released its third annual guide to Hong Kong and Macau on Thursday, with the culinary bible awarding stars to the cities' most high-end restaurants -- and some of their cheapest noodle shops.

The guide added Chinese restaurant Sun Tung Lok to its highest-three star category, with a trio of others keeping the top award from last year: Robuchon a Galera in Macau along with Hong Kong's Caprice, run by French chief Vincent Thierry, and Cantonese restaurant Lung King Heen.

Sun Tung Lok specialises in shark's fin soup, a hugely popular dish in Hong Kong which has drawn criticism from environmentalists over the trade's threat to some shark species.

"After no less than eight visits in the past year by our inspectors, we decided that with its new chef, Joe Chan, the restaurant was a three star," Jean-Luc Naret, director of Michelin Guides, told a press briefing in Hong Kong Thursday.

Nine restaurants in Hong Kong received Michelin's two-star designation, as did three restaurants in Macau.

Among the 53 one-star restaurants in the guide, 41 offer Chinese cuisine with one of the most affordable being Ho Hung Kee, a noodle restaurant where lunch can be had for as little as 30 Hong Kong dollars (3.90 US dollars).

A total of 309 restaurants and hotels appear in the guide.

Three stars indicate "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey" while two stars mean "excellent cooking, worth a detour". One star promises a "very good restaurant in its category".

Michelin's inaugural Hong Kong-Macau edition in 2008 came under fire over claims it focused on high-end eateries, and cared little about giving readers an authentic Chinese dining experience.

Michelin dismissed the claims, but awarded stars to numerous small restaurants in its second edition, a move that it repeated again this year including eateries that specialise in local specialties such as roast meat, dumplings and congee rice porridge.

"We added more local eateries in this guide," Naret said, adding that "these are the most affordable restaurants in the world".

The previous edition of the Hong Kong-Macau guide has sold 40,000 copies in English and Chinese.

The guide was founded in 1900 as a drivers' companion to restaurants in France.

© 2010 AFP

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