Mon, Jul 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taipei plans dining guide as a reminder to Michelin

ACCOUNTING FOR TASTE:That only two Taiwanese restaurants were among the 20 awarded Michelin stars shows a focus on Western tastes, a tourism official said

By Hsiao Ting-fang and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A copy of the 2018 Michelin Guide for Taipei is seen in Taipei in this photo from March 23.

Photo: Fang Hui-tsung, Taipei Times

The Taipei Office of Commerce has vowed to show the Michelin Guide “something it does not know about Taipei” by creating its own list of favorite Taiwanese restaurants.

Michelin Guides in March released its inaugural restaurant guide to Taipei.

Among the 110 restaurants that were included in the guide, 36 were given “Bib Gourmand” status, one received three stars, two received two stars, and 17 received one star.

However, of the 20 restaurants that were awarded Michelin stars, only two — Golden Formosa (金蓬萊遵古台菜) and Ming Fu (明福台菜海產) — serve Taiwanese cuisine.

In response, the office has reportedly asked city councilors to select six favorite restaurants from a list of Taiwanese restaurants or nominate their own.

The purpose of the list is to showcase Taiwanese flavors that are representative of Taipei and to serve as a reference for next year’s Michelin Guide selection, the office wrote in the message it sent to the city councilors.

The standard for Michelin stars is the same around the world, but judging Eastern cuisine according to Western tastes does not suit how Taipei residents think of Taiwanese cuisine, office director Tsai Tsung-hsiung (蔡宗雄) said.

Different countries have different requirements and preferences when it comes to dining, Shih-Hsin University Department of Tourism associate professor Chen Chr-ji (陳墀吉) said.

If a city wants to integrate into the global community, it has to meet foreign standards, he said, adding that international recognition facilitates overseas marketing.

Although it is difficult to reconcile cultural differences and taste preferences when it comes to promoting a city’s food, food safety, sourcing of ingredients and corresponding laws and regulations are indispensable factors, he said.

In terms of local recommendations, Taipei could create its own set of standards against which restaurants in the city would be evaluated and solicit views from the public to serve as a reference for visitors, he added.

As a place where people from all over Taiwan have come to work, Taipei is a blend of the flavors from different regions, food critic Hu Tien-lan (胡天蘭) said.

Hu said she believes that by recommending its own selection of Taiwanese restaurants, the city could remind restaurant guides that they need to consider local flavors.

Tourism marketing is a good thing, but a selection of the city’s best Taiwanese restaurants would lack rigor if it relied on city councilors, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Tai Hsi-chin (戴錫欽) said.

The office could instead use the Taipei City Government’s civic participation platform to let city residents vote on what they believe is the most memorable Taipei flavor, Tai said.

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