After 122 years in print and being published in over 35 countries, the Michelin Guide has finally revealed its first Canadian edition.
Across the top eateries in Toronto, 12 restaurants have earned one star, and one restaurant has earned two stars as judged by the coveted Michelin inspectors.
Personally, I’ve had high hopes for the Toronto food scene to be recognized on a global stage, as it’s no stranger to Michelin-qualified talent. Let’s take a look at the accolades.
Toronto’s Michelin-Starred Restaurants
After a summer of mysterious Michelin personnel combing through the Toronto food scene, the following 13 venues have become the first Canadian restaurants to be awarded Michelin stars:
- 2 Stars:
- 1 Star:
And as a reminder, what do the stars mean? Michelin has labelled its ratings as follows:
- One star: High quality cooking, worth a stop
- Two stars: Excellent cooking, worth a detour
- Three stars: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey
According to Michelin, the inspectors do not take into account the restaurant’s decor or the quality of service that is provided by the restaurant. Instead, they judge the quality of the food on five criteria:
- Quality of ingredients
- A chef’s mastery of flavour and cooking techniques
- The chef’s ability to imbue the cuisine with his or her culinary “personality”
- Value for money
- Consistency between visits
In addition to the 13 restaurants that were awarded Michelin stars, 17 more eateries were given Bib Gourmand recognition, which showcases the best-value-for-money dining options that a city has to offer.
My Impressions of Toronto’s Michelin Awards
To me, it’s no surprise that both Alo and Alobar Yorkville earned one star, as Alo has easily ranked among the top three dining experiences I’ve enjoyed in my life, and the best food I’ve had in Canada.
Alo has won the Canada’s Best Restaurant award numerous times, and its head chef, local Scarborough native Chef Patrick Kriss, has been named Canada’s most outstanding chef.
While the remaining Michelin star recipients – which focus heavily on Japanese and contemporary cuisine – all look outstanding as well, I must say I’m a little surprised by a few omissions from the list.
For example, Chef Daniel Boulud of the Four Seasons’s Café Boulud has earned two Michelin stars at his New York restaurant, Daniel. That’s the same restaurant where Chef Kriss had worked prior to opening Alo in 2015.
Toronto was also once home to MasterChef Canada judge Chef Alvin Leung, who took his skills overseas to earn three Michelin Stars before returning to Toronto and opening R&D, a restaurant that brings a fresh Canadian spin on classic Asian dishes.
That said, I must admit I haven’t yet had the pleasure to try many of the names on the Michelin-starred list and judge them for myself.
Prince of Travel writer Amy, however, has had the pleasure of dining at both Frilu and Yukashi in the past, and she shares her thoughts on the venues below.
Frilu is a small establishment in Thornhill run by two chefs who are well-trained in Japanese culinary arts. They use local ingredients to create an Asian-inspired tasting menu that changes with the season.
Having dined here several times now, I can say their tasting menu has something to please everyone.
There are usually 10 to 12 courses, including a mix of delectable seafood, meat and vegetable dishes, so you won’t leave hungry. For some reason, their bread course has always been a favourite of mine.
The presentation is simple and clean. Staff are courteous and the chef always comes out to check on guests at least once during the meal. The best part, the seating was casual, so there’s no pressure to have to dress up here to enjoy a good meal.
Meanwhile, Yukashi is a small, casual Japanese establishment that can accommodate only 20 guests, but for good reason.
Every night they serve their omakase menu where head chef Daisuke Izutsu works quietly yet meticulously behind the bar to create beautifully crafted dishes.
The fish is fresh and paired with an assortment of sweet and salty accompaniments, sometimes designed to resemble leaves, sticks, moss and rocks. Although the food and presentation were great, I left feeling I could have had an extra dish or two.
It’s no surprise that there are mixed feelings about the Michelin list, which has stirred up some hearty discussions across the city. There’s no doubt that the demand for these 13 restaurants will soon skyrocket, and with that, so will the prices.
If you’re looking for a good meal at a moderate price, don’t forget that Michelin has also given out 17 Bib Gourmand awards to various restaurants in the Greater Toronto area for value-conscious foodies to dig into as well.
I’ve always thought that it was a real shame for Canada to be left out of Michelin star discussions, given our vibrant dining scenes across major cities nationwide.
That’s now changed with 14 stars newly scattered across Toronto restaurants – and you can look out for the Michelin Guide to continue expanding their presence in Canada by launching in Vancouver later this fall.