Michelin honors 13 more California restaurants as ‘new discoveries’

Chef Geoff Davis’ Oakland restaurant, Burdell, received one of the midseason Michelin nods on Wednesday. (Photo by Clay Williams for Michelin/Burdell)

The dining world’s prestigious Michelin Guide on Wednesday dropped another one of its occasional midseason lists of “new discoveries” — restaurants that impressed its inspectors.

“Their discoveries are too good to keep secret,” the announcement said.

Of the 13 discoveries, three are in San Francisco, one is in Oakland and one’s in Healdsburg. The other eight are located in Southern California, with six in Los Angeles, one in Santa Barbara and one in La Jolla.

These establishments are listed as “New” on guide.michelin.com. Michelin highlighted “new discoveries” for the first time in the summer of 2021, and has done so every year since.

Will the praise for these restaurants be elevated to Michelin stars in August, when the 2024 star announcements are held in Half Moon Bay? Or become Bib Gourmand honors, the Michelin awards given to restaurants that offer “excellent food at reasonable prices” to diners? It’s a wait-and-see situation for these chefs.

The summer 2023 star announcements solidified California’s reputation as a culinary mecca, reaffirming all six of the state’s three-star restaurants and all 12 two-star restaurants and praising hundreds of others for impressive cuisine, affordable meals or high sustainability standards.

Here are the Bay Area additions, along with dining notes from the Michelin inspectors:

BURDELL, Oakland: “Chef Geoff Davis named this nostalgic, homey Temescal spot after his grandmother, whose cooking informs his own fresh personal take on soul food. The small menu is a blend of staples like collard greens and fried chicken (though these are tweaked with the addition of berbere and pickle brine, respectively), novelties like an appetizer of chicken liver mousse with cornmeal waffle, and more broadly contemporary, Southern-inflected fare like a halibut crudo with buttermilk and grapefruit, or dry-aged duck with cherry “drippings” and dirty rice. Desserts follow a similar style, like strawberry shortcake with strawberry rhubarb jam and sorghum whipped cream. A particularly thoughtful wine list offers a wealth of options for aficionados, and who doesn’t love fried chicken with champagne?”

AZALINA’S, San Francisco: “Chef Azalina Eusope continues to make her mark as an ambassador for Malaysian cuisine in this cleverly designed space that calls to mind a tropical hideaway ensconced in the rough-and-tumble Tenderloin. The menu is a frequently changing seasonal prix fixe with dishes that offer her own interpretation of flavors she grew up with — think California meets Penang. Quality ingredients and creativity are hallmarks, seen in a dish of ‘economy noodles’ with fermented chili paste, topped with barbecued quail and toasted hazelnuts, or steelhead trout baked in banana leaves. Her pastry training is evident in a complex dessert of pandan custard with water chestnut and coconut granita, served with a take on kuih kasturi, a mung bean fritter filled with jackfruit and sweet red bean.”

HED 11, San Francisco: “Perched in a swanky space at the corner of the Kimpton Hotel Enso, this ambitious Thai project from Chef Piriya “Saint” Boonprasan and owner Naruephon “Billie” Wannajaro gives a hint to its concept right in the name: an 11-course menu that celebrates regional Thai flavors with a contemporary style. The price point doesn’t lend itself to dining on a budget, but despite its variety, the meal won’t over-tax your schedule, with most of the courses arriving together as a sort of miniature banquet for the main. Sweet and savory are blended throughout the menu, whether in bites like a coconut pancake with lime and caviar, a take on khanom jeen sao nam with seared scallop paired with chilled rice noodles, tangy pineapple, and garlic, or even a Thai-style cheesecake with crispy fried onions and passionfruit syrup.”

TIYA, San Francisco: “Brothers Sujan and Pujan Sarkar combine their talents as co-chefs at this boutique space at the edge of Cow Hollow. Their cooking deploys seasonal produce like squash blossoms, artichokes and ramps to lend a Californian edge to an intriguing contemporary take on Indian cuisine. Both a la carte and tasting options give equal billing to vegetarian dishes and feature lively textures, whether it’s tender, keema-style jackfruit with crunchy potato, or an eggless take on a bhurji roll, made with paneer and crispy kataifi. The elegant room adds an additional layer of sophistication, down to a well-appointed bar, which offers unique cocktails named in honor of San Francisco neighborhoods.”

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