Top restaurants reach for the stars

An open kitchen, where chefs demonstrate their skills making dishes such as hand-pulled noodles and dumplings, grabs diners' attention immediately as they walk into Country Kitchen in Beijing's Chaoyang district.

Next to the kitchen is an array of roasted ducks, prized for their nutty sweetness.

The eatery's decor and cuisine clearly impressed inspectors from the Michelin Guide Beijing, who have awarded it one star, a step up from the Michelin Plate it was granted last year.

"The honor is not only recognition of our team, but also evidence of the charm of North China's cuisine," said Chai Xin, head chef at Country Kitchen.

The second edition of the Michelin Guide Beijing, published a week ago in the Chinese capital, features a pair of three-star restaurants, a couple of two-star eateries and 26 one-star establishments.

The two three-star businesses are vegetarian restaurant King's Joy, which was not only promoted from two stars but also won the new Green Star award, and Xin Rong Ji, which claimed a record total of 10 stars for its outlets in Beijing and Shanghai.

Gwendal Poullennec, international director at Michelin Guides, said that despite the challenges posed this year by the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing restaurateurs have shown incredible commitment to overcoming the crisis with their passion and talent.

In September and October, the third edition of the Michelin Guide Guangzhou and the fifth edition of the Michelin Guide Shanghai were published, with additional stars awarded, but none withdrawn.

Cao Difei, honorary ambassador for gastronomic society Disciples Escoffier International's China Delegation and a food columnist based in Beijing, said it is encouraging for the catering industry that all Michelin-starred restaurants on the Chinese mainland retained their ratings this year, except for Da Dong in Gongti East Road, which closed as the building it was located in had to be demolished.