BANGKOK -- Michelin unveiled on Thursday its first guide for Bangkok that lists 98 eateries serving a wide range of cuisines, from the famously progressive Indian restaurant Gaggan to local street-food stalls nestled in the city's backstreets.
Bangkok is the second Southeast Asian city to receive its own Michelin guide after Singapore and the 30th in the world. Chefs all over the world covet the accolade of receiving a star by the organization's respected inspectors, as waiting lists for the highest-rated restaurants can run into years. Bangkok's tourism authority is certainly hoping that a Michelin guide will be another reason for tourists to visit the city and has earmarked $4.1 million to promote the manual and the restaurants it lists.
In all, 17 restaurants received stars given by local and international inspectors. Gaggan, french restaurants Le Normandie and Mezzaluna each received two stars, but none were awarded the highest rating of three.
The guide, which will hit stores end-December, also includes casual eateries that serve everyday meals. Jay Fai, a local Thai restaurant that sells dishes that cost as low as 200 baht ($6.6) each, was awarded a star. It is well-known for crab meat omelet that costs 800 baht each.
In the guide's Bib Gourmand section that lists restaurants of "good quality, good value cooking," there are noodle stalls that sell dishes for 30 baht each, although these are not starred. The Michelin Singapore guide launched in 2016 gave a star to a hawker stall that sells chicken rice from 2 Singapore dollars ($1.40) a plate.
"The selection today showed just how dynamic and exciting the food scene is in Bangkok," said Michael Ellis, the international director of the Michelin Guides. "It's not just the Thai food but other Asian food such as Japanese and Indian food and French and Italian. It covers a lot," he said.
Michelin, which first published its guide outside Europe in 2005, is now aggressively expanding in Asia. In the last two years, guides for Shanghai, Seoul and Singapore were launched and one for Taipei is expected soon. Ellis said the company will announce a guide for another Asian city on Thursday.
Ellis said that online guides were increasingly getting traffic from China, especially as the number of Chinese tourists rise. "When people travel they want to know where they can eat," Ellis said.
Tourism has been a key pillar of the Thai economy in recent years and Chinese travellers form a major portion of inbound tourists. Foreign visitors are expected to reach a record 34 million in 2017, generating revenue of 2.7 trillion baht.
Here are the starred restaurants in the Michelin Guide Bangkok 2018:
Gaggan (Indian, innovative)
Le Normandie (French contemporary)
Mezzaluna (French, innovative)
Chim by Siam Wisdom (Thai)
Elements (French contemporary)
Ginza Sushi Ichi (Japanese)
J'aime by Jean-Michel Lorain (French contemporary)
L'atelier de Joel Robuchon (French contemporary)
Saneh Jaan (Thai)
Savelberg (French contemporary)
Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin (Thai)
Upstairs at Mikkeller (Innovative)
Jay Fai (Thai, street food)