TAIPEI (Bloomberg) - Tucked away in a nondescript alley not far from Taipei's hostess bar district, Ming Fu is not the most likely place to find internationally acclaimed cuisine.
The small seafood restaurant was the surprise name among the 20 eateries recognised in Michelin's debut guide for the Taiwanese capital on Wednesday (March 14). It now sits alongside the restaurants of such lauded names as Joel Robuchon and Andre Chiang.
In its appraisal, the French tyre maker hailed Ming Fu's dense and gelatinous "Buddha jumps over the wall" soup and the signature braised chicken with pickled gourd.
To get a spot at one of its only six tables, diners are warned that reservations are vital.
Cantonese establishment Le Palais was the only Taipei restaurant to receive three stars. Two others were awarded two stars.
The awards are part of Michelin's growing effort to broaden its appeal in Asia. In addition to Taipei, it now publishes guides for Japan, Hong Kong and Macau, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Bangkok.
One notable omission from the Taipei list is Din Tai Fung, perhaps Taiwan's most famous culinary export. The dumpling maker - lauded in a 1993 New York Times article by chef Ken Hom as one of the best restaurants in the world - failed to win any stars, having to settle instead for a mention in Michelin's "bib gourmand" category.
These are the restaurants that made the Taipei list:
Three stars: Le Palais
Two stars: Ryu Gin, The Guest House
One star: Da-Wan, Danny's Steakhouse, Golden Formosa, Ken An Ho, Kitcho, L'atelier de Joel Robuchon, La Cocotte by Fabien Verge, Longtail, Ming Fu, Mume, Shushi Nomura, Shushi Ryu, Tairroir, Three Coins, Tien Hsiang Lo and Ya Ge