Michelin is trying something new in Chicago and around the country. The tire guide, famous for handing out stars and Bib Gourmands, is trying a new designation. It’s called “New Discoveries,” an effort, as a spokesperson described it “to help food lovers identify new discoveries prior to the annual announcement of Bib Gourmands and Stars.”
On Wednesday, March 23, New Discoveries Chicago released with a list of 23 local restaurants. A Michelin spokesperson tells Eater Chicago that New Discoveries started in December as a way “to enhance our digital tools.” They’ve experimented with this format even before then, most notably in 2020 in California.
“As the restaurant industry continues to face unprecedented challenges and uncertainties, we hope that these regular revelations and updates to the selection throughout the year will provide opportunities to highlight the profession and invite everyone to discover and support the restaurants around them,” the spokesperson added.
Since the list is new, the restaurants aren’t sure what to make of it. Only two out of 23 acknowledged them via social media. This isn’t necessarily foreshadowing, a spokesperson simply tells Eater that “some featured restaurants could earn Bib Gourmands or Stars.” Chicago’s stars and gourmand selections, should be released on April 5, according to Michelin.
In 2021, 24 Chicago restaurants received Michelin Stars (reserved mostly for fine dining) and 58 earned Bib Gourmands (a more value-centered list). Here are some impressions from Chicago’s New Discovery List:
- Otto Phan is listed under the Hinoki Sushiko blurb. Phan confirms to Eater that he departed the Lincoln Park sushi restaurant shortly after it opened in April 2021. He’s focusing on Kyoten and a mysterious new project in Logan Square.
- Michelin inspectors praised the restaurant that Fat Rice morphed into. Owners went more casual with NoodleBird after Fat Rice closed in June 2020 after numerous allegations of poor employment treatment by co-owners Abe Colon and Adrienne Lo. NoodleBird’s been open since July 2021, but its owners have been selective with talking to the media, save this piece in Fooditor.
- Maybe this is making up for stripping Kikko it’s Michelin Star during the pandemic, but Kumiko, the Japanese bar sibling above Kikko in West Loop, earns a spot in the list.
- The sibling to S.K.Y. in Pilsen, Apolonia, makes the list, but it’s debatable whether to agree with Michelin’s declaration that the restaurant is “flaunting a fantastic location.” McCormick Place Convention Center has mostly been quiet thanks to reduced traffic from canceled conventions.
- Five Southeast Asian restaurants (Komo, Jinsei Motto, Kumiko, NoodleBird, Jinsei Motto) are listed.
- Michelin acknowledged South Asia with the inclusion of the Coach House by Wazwan, Chicago’s only Indian tasting-menu restaurant.
- A vegan restaurant is on the list. Bloom Plant Based Kitchen in Wicker Park also earned chef Rodolfo Cuadros a James Beard Award Nomination.
- The list includes one Black-owned restaurant, Provare, the Creole and Italian mashup in West Town.
- Five out of 23 restaurants have women co-owners (NoodleBird, Kumiko, Esme, Andros Taverna, Rose Mary).