In the sophomore edition of The MICHELIN Guide Guangzhou this year, close to 80 dining establishments were recognised with MICHELIN Stars, Bib Gourmand and MICHELIN Plate distinctions.
In a nod to the melting pot of cultures in the metropolis, the Guide has broadened its coverage beyond Cantonese cuisine to South-east Asian cuisine that includes food from Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. Here are the five South-east Asian restaurants that are listed in The MICHELIN Guide Guangzhou 2019 Selection.
1. FT - Bak Kut Teh (Bib Gourmand)
About: One of Singapore’s best loved hawker dishes has landed in Guangzhou. The robust peppery soup, which is brewed with pork bone, is cooked Teochew-style. Besides bak kut teh, the restaurant also serves interesting zichar-style dishes.
What Our Inspectors Say: You can't miss the long line at the door, but that doesn't stop avid chowhounds from coming here. The signature bak kut teh is simmered for three hours with pork ribs, garlic, white peppercorns and herbs until the meat falls off the bones. The char-grilled skate in sambal, seafood laksa and grilled durian also stand out. Reservations are not accepted. Join the queue on the WeChat app ahead of time; or walk in and expect to wait for up to three hours.
2. A Roi (Bib Gourmand)
About: This cosy family-run eatery serves homely Thai dishes that are whipped up by middle-aged Thai ladies who can be seen helming the woks in the kitchen. Popular dishes include tom yum soup, stir-fried morning glory and yellow curry seafood.
What Our Inspectors Say: Aptly named "delicious" in Thai, this tiny shop serves authentic fare that offers plenty to delight at frugal prices. The Thai owner ensures that all ingredients, which are imported from her home country, are prepared to her exact standards. The must-try tom yum goong is rich, spicy and generously sized. Stir-fried morning glory and yellow curry seafood are also among diners' favourites. The menu is in Thai and Chinese only. The servers speak basic Chinese.
3. Pandan (Bib Gourmand)
About: One of the handful of Indonesian restaurants in Guangzhou, Pandan is where homesick Indonesians go whenever they crave for a taste of home. The restaurant serves classic Indonesian dishes such as nasi kuning (rice cooked with turmeric and coconut milk), sop buntut (oxtail soup), grilled chicken and seafood, and beef rendang.
What Our Inspectors Say: Rest assured the food served here is authentic as the head chef and most of the kitchen team are Indonesian. In fact, all of the spices are also flown in from their home country. The grilled chicken satay delivers morsels of juicy meat with sweet peanut sauce on the side. The tender and succulent beef rendang is braised in a spiced curry laced with coconut milk for extra aroma. The Indonesian handicrafts in the dining room are an added pleasure to behold.
4. Tandoor (Bib Gourmand)
About: Tandoor is one of the stalwart Indian restaurants in Guangzhou. The restaurant in Asia International Hotel is famed for its classic curries and tandoor delights. Popular dishes include beef korma, chicken tikka, palak aloo (creamed spinach and potato) and Kashmiri pulao (rice with dried fruit).
What Our Inspectors Say: The Silk Road theme is carried through on every level at this restaurant, from the dining tables shaped like ox carts to the map on the floor. Each branch of the chain showcases different design details, making the experience more fun. The menu is mostly Northern Indian fare, but there are other dishes such as mildly spicy chicken tikka masala, or lamb vindaloo for those who are craving serious heat in their food. The non-vegetarian tandoori platters are perfect if you're having trouble deciding.
5. Mango Tree (MICHELIN Plate)
About: This Thai restaurant chain, which has outlets in Bangkok, London and Dubai, opened its flagship China outlet in Guangzhou in 2018. The 150-seat restaurant serves dishes from four regions in Thailand — north, northeast, south and central. Signature dishes including tom yum goong (spicy and sour soup with prawns) and mango sticky rice with coconut milk. Mango Tree, which is located in the K11 Art Mall, also has a bar that serves Thai-inspired cocktails such as lemongrass mojito.
What Our Inspectors Say: Opened in 2018, this is the second branch of the international chain in China. It boasts an airy rainforest-themed dining room adorned by murals of plant motifs, wooden details and hundreds of pendant lamps that imitate stars in the sky. The alfresco seating also promises a gorgeous skyline. The Thai chef has 18 years of kitchen experience in China and his signature dishes include tom yum goong, and coconut-scented glutinous rice with mango.