Now with branches all over Asia, this dim sum and dumpling diner is one of the world’s best-known, no-frills starred restaurants. It’s usually a given to find a queue snaking out the door, but it’s such a culinary powerhouse that there’s always competition for its 24 seats. Go for baskets of fluffy barbecue pork buns and steamed spinach dumplings; and return because it’ll cost you little more than US$6.
Eleven years after opening and the buzz around this Jay-Z backed gastropub still has not died down. One of the reasons is its turbo-charged celebrity clientele – Kanye West, Taylor Swift and Mrs Jay-Z, of course, are among them – but the other factor is its one-star British pub fare. Salads at US$16 and grilled cheese sandwiches at US$18 sound simple, but they’re wickedly good.
Sardines don’t pop up on many Michelin-star menus, but they’re a staple at this one-star bolthole a short walk from the busiest train station in the world. It’s third-generation, family-run, and can cost as little as US$8 for a fish-themed menu. At night, it specialises in pricier multi-course kaiseki dinners, so come for a sardine set lunch after 11.30am. Remember to arrive long beforehand or the queue will turn your stomach.
Smoked brisket of beef with mustard mash and beer-pickled onion, followed by bitter orange fool (trifle) with cardamom ice cream, confit zest and oat crumble. Not an English last supper, but a two-course set lunch for US$18 at chef Tom Kerridge’s two Michelin-starred rustic pub on the River Thames. It’s a steal.
Because it can cost as little as US$4, it’s not uncommon to wait for up to an hour for a steaming bowl of bak chor mee, an addictive blend of egg noodles, black vinegar and chilli paste, served up at this hawker stall on Crawford Lane. Add more toppings and the price will rocket to US$8. It’s more than worth it, so get in line.
Some Michelin-starred restaurants are so affordable, your biggest cost will be the time spent waiting for a table. That’s the case at this unpretentious northern Thai eatery in Manhattan, one of the newest additions to the Michelin-star family. Start with shrimp paste pork riblets with fish sauce caramel (US$12), before digging into a bowl of golden curry loaded with a chicken leg and mustard greens (US$21).
Paris, the spiritual home of the Michelin star, makes no bones about not making haute cuisine accessible. Nice, on the other hand, impresses a different crowd, offering up highly-affordable two-course matinees at Keisuke Matsushima’s one-star French-Japanese fusion place. For €23 (US$24), you can dine on the likes of sauteed wild mushrooms with poached egg, followed by roast wood pigeon (below).
8. Tsuta, Tokyo, Japan
A ramen restaurant being awarded a Michelin star in a city overflowing with thousands of noodle joints can only mean one thing: it’s mind-blowing. Picking up its coveted star this summer, Tsuta specialises in US$10 bowls of stone-milled wheat noodles with roast pork and mushrooms drenched in a rich soy broth. The chef’s secret? A dash of Italian white truffle oil.
9. Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, Singapore
Run by Malaysian chef Chan Hon Meng, who hides behind a row of cooked chickens hanging from hooks, this dinky street food stall at the city’s Chinatown Complex is currently the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred eatery. For just US$1.40 it’s possible to plate up with sticky-sweet Cantonese soya sauce chicken and rice – less than half the price of a quarter pounder with cheese at McDonald’s.
Pioneers of the nose-to-tail dining trend that swept the UK more than a decade ago, this restaurant in a former Smithfield smokehouse continues to wow – not only for the butcher-shop creations from top dog Fergus Henderson – but also for its criminally-cheap prices (and in London, that’s saying something). The menu is a daily work-in-progress, hence its loyal clientele, so expect dishes along the lines of grilled ox heart with beetroot, devilled kidneys or fennel with Berkswell cheese (US$18-23).
– TEXT BY MIKE MACEACHERAN
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This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.