Food + Drink

The Michelin Guide debuts in Malaysia, featuring KL and Penang

Long-awaited arrival


By Marissa Chin

The Michelin Guide debuts in Malaysia, featuring KL and Penang

If there’s something Malaysians are proud of, food is definitely top on the list. From rich spices to bold flavours, there is so much that our country’s multiethnic food culture can offer. There has also been a lot of discussions about the presence of the Michelin Guide in Malaysia but now, the “will they, won’t they?” question has finally been answered.

Today, the Michelin Guide officially announced its arrival in Malaysia, covering the two key culinary hubs of Kuala Lumpur and Penang. The Guide will be releasing its selection of restaurants and hotels in December 2022.

The coveted Michelin Guide recognises the best culinary talents and the latest gastronomical experiences these destinations have to offer, based on the company’s independent inspection and stringent selection criteria. After years of inspection and review (they evaluate the selection list annually), members of the Michelin Guide have found that Malaysia’s culinary scene was not only peaking in maturity and complexity, but also in consistency, and reflected the uniqueness and nuances of our multiethnic culture.

“We are ecstatic to welcome Kuala Lumpur 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.” 

“Kuala Lumpur and Penang have their own unique characteristics which benefit a variety of diners locally and abroad. Kuala Lumpur, the country’s economic and business hub is a fast-moving city flocked with sizable venues, independent restaurants, and new inspirations for gastronomy,” stated Poullennec.


What are the Michelin Guide’s criteria?

The Michelin Guide is known for its infamous anonymous inspectors, who travel all over the country to explore obvious and hidden gems in the culinary scene. They operate on a strict five-criteria methodology in order to ensure the consistency of standards across the world. They are:

  • the quality of the ingredients
  • the mastery of cooking
  • the harmony of flavours
  • the personality of the chef through the cuisine
  • the consistency both over time and across the entire menu


As for who the Michelin Guide inspectors are, this still remains a secret. However, in today’s press conference, Elisabeth Boucher-Anselin, Michelin Experiences Director of Communications, was able to tell us a little bit more about the culinary spies. The inspectors are a diverse multinational team who work full-time for Michelin and come from the culinary industry. They are also required to go through a two-year training program where they are accompanied by senior inspectors to learn and understand culinary techniques, ingredients, as well as the ethics and philosophy of the chefs and how these are reflected in their dishes. 

According to Boucher-Anselin, the Michelin Guide encourages a long-term approach and inspectors have been on-ground in Malaysia for years, scouring the best gastronomic spots. They are also not allowed to evaluate restaurants before their two-year training is up. After consuming some 700 to 800 dishes, they are then deemed ready to conduct inspections on their own. 


What do the Michelin Star ratings mean?

The Michelin Guide conveys its restaurant reviews through an extensive system of distinctions, the most revered of which are its globally renowned Michelin Stars. One Michelin Star is awarded to restaurants for “high-quality cooking that is worth a stop,” two Michelin Stars for “excellent cooking that is worth a detour,” and three Michelin Stars for “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey.”

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.

From left: Ooi Chok Yan, CEO of Penang Global Tourism; Roslan Abdullah, Director Advertising & Digital Tourism Malaysia; YB Yeoh Soon Hin, Penang State Executive Council Member for Tourism and Creative Economy; Michelin Bibendum; Prichapakorn Dangrojana, Managing Director of Michelin Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei; Chryseis Tan, co-founder of CF Capital; Elisabeth Boucher-Anselin, Michelin Experiences Director of Communications; SM Faliq SM Nasimuddin, founder of CF Capital; and Chris Gledhill, Director of Michelin Guide Asia and Middle East.


The full selection of the Michelin Guide Kuala Lumpur and Penang 2023 will be unveiled during a dedicated event in December 2022. The awarded restaurants and hotels will not be notified ahead of time; it will be a surprise for everyone involved.

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.

For more food-related reads, head here.

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