07 Jun, 2023 | Amazing Bite

Now, Vietnam is not only known as a street food paradise but also getting more attention in fine dining thanks to recent Michelin-starred restaurants.

For the first time in history, Michelin Guide Awards has come to Vietnam and started their examination for the best restaurants according to their strict standard. Vietnam used to be known as a street food paradise but not really for a fine dining destination, even though the flavor is undeniably awesome. However, this event is proof that Vietnamese cuisine has been booming with more potential in high-end cuisine, which helps itself to actually gain a prime positioning in the world’s culinary.

On June 6th, 2023,  the list came out with the first 4 Vietnamese Michelin-star restaurants. Who are they?

1. GIA Restaurant 

Address: 61 Van Mieu, dong Da, Hanoi

(Photo: Gia Restaurant)

Inspired by the Vietnamese word “Gia đình”, meaning "family", GIA restaurant was opened in March 2020 by Long Tran (Operation Manager) and head chef Sam Tran - who has also won a star for Michelin Young Chef Award in 2023. After years of studying and working abroad in culinary, they came back home with the passion to elevate Vietnamese local flavor to fine dining. 

Located right opposite the Temple of Literature - Quoc Tu Giam, GIA was built on the foundation of an old house with an age of more than 100 years. During the reconstruction process, Sam and Long tried to develop based on its original architecture, because the inheritance from one generation to another is also a part of Vietnamese cultural values. So is what they did with the food in the GIA restaurant. Sam not only shows her predominant cooking technique through the dishes but also wants to show her appreciation for Vietnamese authentic flavors across the country, including ones that might be forgotten or lesser known to the majority. 

Completely different from the a-la-carte menu, GIA serves the Tasting Menu with a unique taste experience through 12 preset dishes and accompanying drinks. This menu is constantly changed every 3 months, and the dishes on the past menu will hardly appear again in the new season.

2. Anan Saigon

Address: 89 Ton That Dam, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

(Photo: Anan Saigon)

Normally, the fine dining concept makes us think about luxury locations or modern buildings but Peter Cuong Franklin - founder and head chef of Anan Saigon has changed this mindset and turned his restaurant into something very unique and special. After working abroad in Hong Kong, Chicago, and Bangkok, Peter came back to Vietnam and decided to open a Vietnamese fusion restaurant in the old, wet marketplace in District 1. He was said to be a madman because of this unusual idea. He admitted it was really hard in the first 6 months of running Anan Saigon, however, he proved that his effort paid off.

In terms of food, he uses contemporary culinary methods to enhance the flavors of traditional street food recipes. Every meal is a masterclass of harmonious flavors and textures, whether you order the fresh tuna tartare, roasted duck-mozzarella-herb mini pizza, shrimp and pig tacos, or bone marrow Wagyu beef burger.

3. Hibana by Koki

Address: Basement 1, Capella, 11 Le Phung Hieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

(Photo: Koki - Capella Hanoi)

Given the distinctive Teppanyaki (hot table cooking) cuisine at Hibana, Koki Restaurant is the only Japanese-style fine dining restaurant in Vietnam to be granted a prestigious Michelin star. Hibana of Koki is consistently regarded as a haven of fine Japanese Teppanyaki cuisine in Hanoi and wins the hearts of foodies. This esteemed honor attests to the restaurant's everlasting dedication to exquisite culinary arts. Hibana becomes a stand-in for culinary innovation by expertly fusing the tastes of foods from Japan and the rest of the world.

A 14-seat counter in the basement of the Capella Hotel will pamper guests from the moment they arrive till the moment they leave for an extraordinary experience. Teppanyaki dishes prepared by professional chef Hiroshi Yamaguchi are skillfully and precisely executed and have complex flavors. To ensure the premium taste of the food, quality ingredients are flown in twice weekly from Japan, including abalone, spiny lobster, sea urchin, Yaeyama Kyori beef, and Hokkaido hairy crab, giving the cuisine in Hibana by Koki a very luxurious touch yet fresh and delicate taste.

4. Tam Vi

Address: 4B Yen The, Dong Da, Hanoi

(Photo: Tầm Vị)

Different from the 3 winners above, Tam Vi is not about fine dining or even just a touch of it. What makes it special is the sense of familiarity with Vietnamese old-time dishes, which is a part of every Vietnamese childhood. 

According to the founder, her motivation to open Tam Vi is from her mom - who is passionate about Vietnamese home cooking and she wants Tam Vi to be the place where people can find something similar to mommy’s food through the tasty, homemade dishes. Walking into the dining space, a nostalgic combination of Chinese furniture, handwritten signs, an old gramophone, and a telephone give this vintage-styled restaurant a very North Vietnamese ambiance. The way they set up the table also reminds diners a lot about the good old time with aluminum trays (“mâm” in Vietnamese), wooden chopsticks, and old-school dishware. Northern dishes are recommended while dining at Tam Vi even though there are also yummy central and southern options to sample. One of the must-try is cha oc - a steamed periwinkle ball stuffed inside its shell or delicate crab soup with malabar spinach along with a lot of fresh herbs, veggies, pickles, rice vermicelli, dipping sauces made from fish sauce. For dessert, don't hesitate to taste traditional che long nhan - lotus seed wrapped in logan. It is definitely the perfect ending for a true Vietnamese home meal.

Besides 4 Vietnamese Michelin star restaurants, Vietnamese cuisine is also honored to have 70 restaurants to be listed in Michelin Selected and 29 restaurants for Bib Gourmand including plenty of tasty street food shops for Pho, Bun cha, Xoi... This event not only marks a milestone but also a recognition of Vietnamese cuisine. 

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