Many chefs and restaurants around the world covet Michelin stars and hope to be good enough to receive one someday.
The Michelin star represents exquisite dining quality, and thus restaurants around the world dream of gaining this star status. Even still, if you subscribe to a particular dietary regime, it can be difficult to find dining options that adhere to your preferences. Perhaps no other lifestyle choice faces this so much as vegetarians. In a world full of meat-eaters, it seems at times that those who abstain from eating animal products have been forgotten in the luxury dining realm. For this reason, we've decided to compile a guide to the best Michelin star vegetarian restaurants around the world.
A Bit About Michelin Restaurants
Originally developed in 1900, the Michelin Red Guide is an annual book published by the French tire company, Michelin. Initially, it was only made to show French drivers where local restaurants and mechanics were located. In 1926, the guide decided to bestow a star to restaurants that were only of the highest quality dining. Then, stars two and three came in 1933 when Michelin chose to add a more diverse rating system. Thereby the Michelin star rating system of 0 to 3 stars we see today emerged.
Aside from giving Michelin stars, the Michelin Guide also gives its readers recommendations for restaurants that have potential to gain a star in the near future. Furthermore, the guide is updated once a year with new starred restaurants or previous star holders that have gained more stars. All in all, these stars are the greatest award and have helped shape the destiny of many chefs and restaurants around the world.
Who awards these stars anyways?
French tire company Michelin (producers of the Michelin Guide) awards the Michelin stars to restaurants. Back in 1926 it started sending out anonymous reviewers to try restaurants and give their opinions. Michelin relies solely on these full time Michelin inspectors to operate in 23 different countries to provide the stars. Overall, there are about 120 inspectors worldwide who are very passionate about food, cooking, and everything culinary.
Because of the small amount of inspectors, each one must be on the road three out of four weeks of the month. Meanwhile, they eat lunch and dinner every day, tasting about 240 different restaurants annually. In case you’re wondering, no, they don’t have to pay for this themselves. Of course, Michelin picks up the bill at all these high-end restaurants.
What is the process for awarding the stars?
Notably, this process is a very secret one. Hence, the anonymous Michelin inspectors are always kept secret NO MATTER WHAT. However, there might be a little info we do know about the operation. In general, inspectors go to restaurants every 18 months or so. However, if a one star restaurant is going to gain its second star, it must be visited 4 times. In addition, if a two star restaurant is going to receive a third star, it must be inspected 10 times.
No consumer reviews are taken into account when making their determinations. Each star is based completely on the Michelin inspectors' experiences as a whole. Every time an inspector goes to a restaurant, they must write a detailed memorandum about their time there. Many believe they take the decor, location, and service into account when giving a star, but they don’t. Rebecca Burr, the Michelin guide editor, says “it is all about the food -- absolutely.”
When at the restaurant, inspectors concentrate on the technique, personality, quality, and consistency of the food. Next, inspectors discuss and decide which restaurants will be given stars. They do this by following the Michelin inspectors' five criteria which includes: quality of ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, personality of the chef in their cuisine, value for money, and consistency between visits.
What do the stars denote?
One star denotes a very good restaurant -- a good place to stop on your journey. A good rating in its category, a one star restaurant offers cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard. Two stars signifies excellent cooking that is worth a detour. These spots provide excellent cuisine, as well as skillfully crafted dishes made with outstanding quality. Three stars indicate exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey. From these, expect distinctive dishes precisely executed using superlative ingredients.
What do Michelin star restaurants have in common?
Obviously different restaurants have different menus, tastes, and attributes. Even so, there are particular features that each Michelin starred restaurant contains. Additionally, each also emits a certain level of refinement. First, every Michelin starred restaurant provides great service -- like being seated quickly and served attentively.
Secondly, they all have elegantly plated dishes where you can expect colorful designs, spread sauces, and exact precision with everything. Third, each of these restaurants include high-end techniques, flavors, and infusions into their food. To put it simply, the food is freakin' awesome and tastes amazing at all these restaurants. It has to -- that’s why it got the stars in the first place!
By the same token, the majority tend to be fine dining with a formal style. Albeit, the guide has moved away from traditional belief that it only awarded stars to snobby, French based restaurants. This is definitely a good thing, because if you’ve been around the culinary block, you know that there are restaurants out there which provide just as amazing food in a non-formal setting.
Why should you eat at a Michelin starred restaurant?
Well, if you’re a total foodie who loves experiencing anything to do with food, you should definitely try a Michelin star restaurant. Restaurants of that stature are sure to provide exquisite tasting food that is scrumptious as ever. Identically, the food will always be beautiful so you can snap a few pics of it before chowing down.
Eating at a Michelin restaurant will most likely be one of the best food experiences you will ever receive. After all, these restaurants don’t get these stars for nothing! Ample work, technique, and skill goes into making a star-worthy restaurant. Comparatively, precise examination, inspection, and research ensure they deserve it. Therefore, you can bet that if a restaurant has a Michelin star, it is truly something special.
What about vegetarian or vegan options for Michelin dining?
With millions of restaurants around the globe, only a few thousand are Michelin star restaurants. Let alone, even fewer are Michelin star vegetarian restaurants or starred restaurants that provide vegetarian options. However, we are hoping that is going to change in the nearby future.
In the last few years, vegetarianism and veganism has gained vast popularity, making it a big thing in today's society. There are two main reasons why people decide to throw out the meat and become vegetarian or vegan. These causes include wanting to protect the animals and for various health reasons.
Due to this popularity, the once known meat-oriented Michelin guide is increasing their recommendations for Michelin star vegetarian restaurants. For now, most of those Michelin star vegetarian restaurants are on the lower spectrum with 1 star instead of 3. Nonetheless, it’s a sign that the Michelin Guide is willing to change just as tastes do over time.
The Best Michelin Star Vegetarian Restaurants
To prove our point, we have made a list of some of the best Michelin star vegetarian restaurants out there. These are establishments that every diner would enjoy -- whether they’re vegetarian/vegan or not! Interested? Scroll down to take a look at 6 Michelin star vegetarian restaurants we highly recommend (in no particular order).
1. Fu He Hui
Fu He Hui is an elegant, Michelin star vegetarian restaurant located in Shanghai, China. Opened in 2014, it has quickly become a favorite stop for many -- vegetarians and meat eaters alike! As a matter of fact, Fu He Hui ranked number 19 on Asia’s 50 best restaurants in 2015. Moreover, Fu He Hui received a single Michelin star in the 2018 Michelin Guide
as well. It’s owner, Fang Yuan, runs the Fu group which consists of four family-run restaurants in Shanghai on one street. When creating Fu He Hui, Fang Yuan drew upon his own Buddhist practice for inspiration regarding everything in the restaurant. Filled with 40 seats, it’s a villa spread across three floors with divided, private dining. Antique treasures fill the large space, housing a “museum-worthy” display of Ming and Qing dynasty furniture and art. From the moment you step foot into this establishment, you will feel calm and peaceful.
All about technique and taste, Fu He Hui is considered a zen temple of Chinese haute vegetarian cuisine. Being 100% vegetarian, it’s one of the best Michelin star vegetarian restaurants that has absolutely NO meat on their menu. Not only are the dishes unique and creative, they are downright delicious.
Now when it comes to the style of cooking, Fu He Hui doesn’t like to limit itself. Because they are completely vegetarian and use less ingredients, they think: why cap your imagination and style!? For this reason, they use French, Indian, English and more styles, and are constantly experimenting. In addition, numerous methods such as steaming, stir-frying, and deep frying are used. On top of their styles and methods, they use seasonal ingredients bought locally.
Thus, their menus are constantly changing -- about 40% of the dishes. Despite this, Fu He Hui’s menu always consists of three set menus (no a la carte) with eight courses. Prices are $59.30, $106.12, and $137.33 per person. On these vegetarian Shanghainese menus, you will also find garnishes, edible flowers, and lots of mushrooms to enjoy! Given all these points, it’s clear why it is one of the best Michelin star vegetarian restaurants.
- Termite Mushroom with asparagus lettuce, cabbage, chili.
- Lotus Fungus soup with baby corn, white fungus, black medlar, vegetarian consomme.
- Matsutake with taro, crisp rice and snow pea.
- Tomato Ravioli with smoked mashed potato, egg yolk, pea, onion powder.
- Chocolate Noodle with peanut butter, chili oil, summer fruit.
- Beetroot with cream cheese, yam raspberry, oil.
Who is to thank for all this delicious food? Amazing chef, Tony Lu. Tony said he wanted to switch up from the traditional Shanghai food that wasn’t really healthy. In other words, many of these foods are too sweet and contained tons of soy sauce and sugar. Not here though! He also wanted to make it all vegetarian because of the extensive information today regarding where meat comes from, what happens to the animals, and it's health effects.
Deriving from the ancient Sanskrit word for “bowl”, JAAN is one of the best Michelin star vegetarian restaurants out there. Residing at Swissotel The Stamford Hotel, it sits in Singapore near the famous Singapore Marina Bay. Views in this area will completely astound you as you’re chowing down on your delectable food. Take in the beautiful bay and notorious Marina Bay Sands luxury hotel from the Michelin starred restaurant.
An intimate 40 seater with high end appeal, it definitely has a reputation for grooming excellent culinary talents. Food made with passion, perfect execution, and artistry is what you will find when visiting this restaurant. Granted this info, JAAN received one Michelin star in 2017 for it’s fabulous overall experience. Together with that, they have also been on Singapore’s Best 50 Restaurants for six consecutive years. Pretty impressive, huh?
We should mention that JAAN is not a vegetarian restaurant like others on our Michelin star vegetarian restaurants list. Meat is offered here, but don’t trip! -- the vegetarian tasting menus are just as incredible (or more). Modern French cuisine is their forte and their food is made only with the best quality ingredients. Specifically, the food is treated with extreme care and harvested from the best producers in the world.
Equally important, the dishes are displayed in a fluid curve on a third of the plate with not a single drop of puree out of place. To think of the level of craftsmanship needed to create such an intricately plated dish is simply crazy. Seriously, that staff is the epitome of class, efficiency, talent, and genius.
What about the menu? Per usual, that’s definitely an important part of the restaurant too. Just as the food, the menu is created around total devotion. To express it in another way, these vegetarian masterworks more than hold their own without meat. Additionally, the menus are based on seasonality and change every three to four months. Moreover, prices range from $98 to $268 depending on the set you choose.
- Tortellini with saffron and pumpkin veloute.
- Pertuis Asparagus with morels and champagne sabayon.
- Heirloom Tomato with burrata cheese, japanese tomatoes and basil sorbet.
- Vegetarian Pasta with peppercorn infused soft cow cheese and manuka honey.
- Organic Radish with avocado and couscous.
- Gariguette Strawberry with vanilla parfait, tiny lemon meringues and strawberry spearmint soup.
- Caramelized Pear Tart with ginger ice cream.
Kirk Westaway is the current chef at JAAN and boy, has he brought them far. Born in a small seaside town in England, he grew up with a garden full of vegetables and herbs. Therefore, picking his own produce and cooking with his family was something he started at a young age. This gives explanation to his reputation for using top-line produce as an essential part of his cooking. No wonder it’s one of the best Michelin star vegetarian restaurants today!
Westaway has traveled the world and worked in numerous places as a chef, using his talents in many ways. Skillful, passionate, and artistic technique precisely describes Kirk Westaway's cooking. Being so, he has earned several culinary awards including being named S. Pellegrino’s Young Chef in 2015 for Southeast Asia. Lastly, Kirk works under ownership of the Swissotel The Stamford Hotel who owns the restaurant in it’s building.
Arpege is one of those restaurants you just don’t want to mess with. Situated in Paris, France, it opened in 1986 and has only improved since. Out of all Michelin star vegetarian restaurants in the world, this is the only one to have three Michelin stars. You'd never know they weren’t a vegetarian restaurant at the time of receiving their stars -- with the third coming in 1996.
In 2001, the chef decided to say “au revoir” to meat and risked losing his three stars to become a Michelin star vegetarian restaurant. Nonetheless, the stars are still in place at the restaurant and standing strong as ever. Yes, small portions of meat have snuck their way back onto the menu, but the majority is vegetarian. Decorated in an art deco style, the owner Alain Passard named it Arpege to pay tribute to music, his other love outside of food.
Regardless of what he named it or why he named it that, the place is simply awesome. Critic Andy Hayler even gave extremely high marks; and he’s the only person to have ever eaten at EVERY 3 star Michelin restaurant in the world! Having been voted number 12 on the world’s 50 best restaurants list is another great achievement they’ve made.
Take our word for it -- you don’t just get 3 Michelin stars for having mediocre food. With that being said, the way to describe Arpege's cuisine would be a contemporary French style. Chef Passard is so exact, utilizing inventive means to ensure his dishes stand out from the rest. Garnishes such as flowers fill many of their plates, making a beautiful array of colors everywhere you look.
What’s so different about this restaurant compared to other Michelin star vegetarian restaurants is that they have their own garden. Yep, you read that right -- their OWN GARDEN (actually, gardens plural)! Alain Passard has three plots of biodynamic farm located in Sarthe, Eure, and Manche. Every single morning, gardeners at the farms harvest veggies and fruits that are then brought to the restaurant.
All of the produce eaten and served at the restaurant is as fresh as you can get it. And with veggies famously known to never see the inside of a refrigerator, Arpege provides the ultimate “farm to table” experience. Seriously, this only validates why this is one of the best Michelin star vegetarian restaurants around. Let's not forget to mention the menu too! A la carte: $53-$216, Gardeners lunch: $204, Vegetable tasting menu: $373 and Terre & mer tasting menu: $455.
- Multi-colored vegetable ravioli with consumes spring.
- Tartar vegetable acid with tarragon beetroot from Detroit.
- Vegetable sushi with geranium new black olive of kalamata.
- Guecelard white asparagus with sorrel wide of belleville elderberry flowers.
- Hot-cold egg with maple syrup vinegar of xeres.
- Cabbage stuffed with white rose parmigiana reggiano.
- Big macaroon with rhubarb vintage candied angelica officinale.
- Apple tornado with chips of dragees.
- Strawberries cigaline wood giroult infusion with petals of hibiscus.
Alain Passard both owns Arpege and works as the head chef. He has gained much notoriety for his exemplary work and is known worldwide for his talents. Unlike others in that position, he still cooks at Arpege almost every single day. For a chef of his stature, that is pretty darn incredible! Indeed, he makes all the decisions at the restaurant -- like buying farms for the freshest produce and banning most meat.
NIX is the newest restaurant among all the other Michelin star vegetarian restaurants on our list. Born and bred in New York City, New York, it opened in 2016. They named it after the 19th century Supreme court case that ultimately ruled tomatoes are, in fact, a vegetable. Pretty cool, huh? To tell the truth, it’s actually an ingenious name because NIX is a complete vegetarian and vegan restaurant. Entirely NO MEAT is found on the menu; also making it a true Michelin star vegetarian restaurant.
Michelin awarded the restaurant one star in 2017 but since it’s still new, they could easily receive more stars later. Upscale, trendy, and popular is how NIX diners have described the restaurant, and they are constantly packed with beautiful people. Equally important, NIX is on the cheaper side compared to other Michelin star vegetarian restaurants on our list. Even still, NIX gives hefty sized portions that you won’t find at most restaurants of this caliber.
An American restaurant with Chinese inspired cuisine, NIX features dishes that are shareable, seasonal, and highly flavorful. The chef incorporates many techniques from great kitchens around the world and draws upon several traditions. So delicious, their dishes speak to you, showing you vegetables in an entirely new light. Thus, if you’re someone who doesn’t fancy veggies, this place will surely change your mind.
You’ll find all types of vegetables and fruits at this restaurant with massive spices and flavors to entice your taste buds. Everything is fresh and creative at NIX, which is definitely a pleasure compared to other typical dishes seen elsewhere. Numerous restaurants try and stick with the same techniques and styles, but not NIX. They even use a deep fryer for some items!
Accompanying your delightful plates are house-made sodas and inventive cocktails that will surprise you with their deliciousness too. You will always see new dishes because their recipes and menus change all the time. Open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, prices range from $50 to $70.
- Tandoor bread and raw veggies with dips like hummus, red pepper and walnut, avocado, ginger and mint.
- Cannelloni against the cold with butternut and delicata squash filling, mustard greens, ricotta and mascarpone cheese, piquillo-garlic cream.
- Summer truffles atop a baked avocado, bruleed with miso honey mustard on a bed of daikon and bok choy with a dash of broth.
- Mushroom and delicata squash dumplings with watermelon radish, pressed kohlrabi and secret sauce (mirin, ginger and chili oil).
- Cauliflower tempura with steamed buns and house pickles.
John Fraser is the chef at NIX but also happens to be an owner of the restaurant with James Truman. Both men believe eating vegetarian or vegan should feel like more of a celebration than a sacrifice, a major feat they undeniably achieve that in their cooking and techniques. Fraser himself is ultra talented and has been awarded a line of accolades throughout the years, including being named one of only four young chefs to watch in America by Esquire magazine. He also won Star Chef’s New York Rising Star Award and more.
In the past, Fraser even worked at another restaurant on our list -- Arpege. This resume item attests to his talent, as Arpege is the only Michelin star vegetarian restaurants with 3 stars on our list. On top of that, Fraser has opened numerous restaurants in his time that have all done extremely well. One of those restaurants is named Dovetail, which has been awarded one Michelin star, just like NIX.
Joia is one of the best known vegetarian restaurants in Italy. Nestled in the heart of Milan, it was the first vegetarian restaurant in Europe to ever receive a Michelin star. Over and above that, it is still the ONLY vegetarian restaurant to own a star in Italy. Meaning, there are no other Michelin star vegetarian restaurants in the entire country (Italy) except this one. That right there makes it legendary enough for a visit!
First opening its doors in 1989, the restaurant received their single Michelin star 7 years later in 1996. To this day, Joia remains a temple of haute vegetarian cuisine that people from around the world come to experience. Many have even called it the best meal of their entire lives. (Wow, now that’s saying something!) Basically, they cook with the purest understanding and passion. So if you’re looking for food that speaks to your soul, you must come to Joia.
Eating food at Joia is like going on an Italian experience through nature. Why? Well, nature is their primary source of inspiration here. Drawing from this, they form plates that are very colorful and rich in shapes and contrasts. Additionally, the symbol of Joia is “colors, tastes and textures”, so you know each ingredient is treated with every detail. From these inspirations and symbols, they create dishes that are light, healthy, tasty, and beautiful.
Another amazing fact about Joia is that they have their own garden from which many of their ingredients grow. (Similar to another restaurant on our Michelin star vegetarian restaurants list -- Arpege.) With these ingredients, they make creative, sophisticated recipes that are prepared with the utmost care and attention. Overall, they believe the purpose of food is to enter into relationships with others. Hence, their food is very personal and is designed to speak to you. (And from what we’ve heard, it definitely does just that.)
When it comes to their menus, you won’t find a consistent set of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Like many others on our list, this Michelin star vegetarian restaurant changes their menu seasonally. Options include a la carte and small four course tasting menus, all the way up to a sixteen course tasting menu. Prices range from $12 to $130 depending on which item or menu you choose and lunch is the cheapest offered.
- Risotto with asparagus and many herbs, contrast of carrots and saffron, sarawak pepper sauce and lemon flavored veg butter.
- Egg with truffles served with a delicate gazpacho of corn and cashew nuts, artichokes, beans, pumpkin seeds and sunflower toasted beech wood.
- Poppies of chocolate and hazelnut with mango and mulberry sauces, soft foam of armelline and strawberry ice cream with ginger.
- Catalan cream prepared with good goat ricotta of Chiara Onida, perfumed with green anise seeds, crispy Indian style, and delicately spicy orange ice cream.
Sauro Ricci is currently the head chef at Joia. His family were farmers and imprinted a love of everything nature and veggies into him from a very young age. Due to that, he followed his heart and went to culinary school to chase his dreams. After culinary school, he worked under legendary chefs like Michelino Gioia and Antonio Guida in some of Italy’s greatest restaurants. Although fantastic, he wanted to do more and completed a degree in anthropology with a thesis about the macrobiotic diet.
Then in 2012 Sauro met Pietro Leemann, the owner of one of the greatest Michelin star vegetarian restaurants around, Joia. That’s when he realized they both had a lot in common -- not only in the kitchen, but outside the kitchen. Because of this, Ricci started working for Pietro Leemann and adopted his cooking style of haute cuisine. And not only that, but food that’s good for both the body and spirit -- something they both believe in greatly. Only four years later, he took the reins from Fabrizio Marino and became head chef at Joia in 2016.
6. The Song of India
Established in Singapore, The Song of India first opened in 2006 and received its first, single Michelin star in 2016. To this day, it is still the only Michelin star Indian restaurant in Singapore, obviously making it the best. Events are held at this restaurant often due to their stylish interior and exterior lush green landscaping.
Coupled with their marvelous food, it’s a true experience that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore. Given these points, they have been put on many “best” and “top” lists since their opening. One of those includes being rated on Singapore’s best restaurants at Singapore Tatler. Similarly, they were also rated on Singapore’s Top Restaurants for Wine and Dine.
Food at The Song of India is described as modern, authentic Indian cuisine. Lots of typical and classic Indian dishes are served with a twist of innovation and modern style. If you know anything about Indian food, spices are key. Therefore, The Song of India adds an array of spices to make all their dishes exotic and extremely flavorful. Vegetables are also an essential part in Indian cooking, with vegetarianism being quite popular in India.
We should probably mention that they don’t solely serve vegetarian cuisine here, but their vegetarian menu is quite scrumptious. Beautiful dishes are served with perfectly dotted and smeared sauces. On those plates are a contrast of colors, bright and beautiful, that feature delicacies from across India. Much care and attention is put into those dishes and their food, creating tastes out of this world.
One of their popular courses is called “Journey through India”, which consists of the best dishes from different parts of India. Generally speaking, taking you on a culinary excursion through India with each plate. Menu options include a la carte, a set menu, and a buffet menu. Those menus include prices that range anywhere from $15 to $97 depending on which menu and course you choose.
- Vilayti Seekh: tandoor grilled broccoli, pineapple, zucchini, bell peppers and onions.
- Chilgoza Vegetable Biryani: fine basmati rice with pine-nuts and vegetables cooked in flavourful dum.
- Kuttu with Appam: mixed vegetables in coconut curry with fluffy rice hoppers.
- Cottage Cheese Bhuna Makhni: homemade paneer cubes tossed in butter in tomato makhani sauce.
- Beetroot with Melon Seeds Halwa & Rose Gulkhand Gelato with fresh fruits.
Manjunath Mural is the executive chef at The Song of India. Throughout his growing up his family was filled with doctors, so he was expected to be a doctor. However, he had his eyes set on another profession. Mural began training to become a room service manager in the hospitality industry. That training included time in the kitchen and he simply fell in love with cooking.
Following that, he worked his way up to being chef at The Song of India under the owner, Milind Sovani. As far as his cooking goes, Mural doesn’t play with flavor or authenticity but does add fusion and creative presentations. Due to his remarkable cooking, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star. When The Song of India was given that Michelin star, Mural said it was the proudest moment of his life. A dream of his that finally came true. We say well deserved, Manjunath!
By and large, these are some of the best Michelin star vegetarian restaurants worldwide.
As shown, each of these Michelin star vegetarian restaurants represent exactly what it means to be a Michelin starred restaurant. All of them have great service, fresh ingredients, impressive chefs, creative styles and most of all, phenomenal food that tastes out of this world. Likewise, they present new and inventive ways for everyone (not just vegetarians or vegans) to see and enjoy vegetables. Thus, allowing this previously ignored way of life in the high-end food industry to finally shine the way it truly deserves.
Have you ever been to any of these Michelin star vegetarian restaurants? Which one would you want to go to if you could and which is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below and share with any vegetarian, vegan or non-veggie friends who love delicious meals!
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