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Michelin Confounds New York Again With its Maddening 2016 Bib Gourmands

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These restaurants won't receive Michelin stars next week.

Next week, Michelin's anonymous inspectors will award some of New York's most accomplished and expensive restaurants with the the Red Guide's coveted stars. But today, Michelin has awarded Oiji, Mu Ramen, Untitled, and a slew of other excellent and affordable establishments with something called a Bib Gourmand – a cartoon drawing of the Michelin Man licking his chops. Restaurants receiving this cheap eats award will not receive a star next week, a fact that reminds me of the time I asked my father, while very young, what type of medal an Olympic athlete receives when finishing fourth. "The aluminum foil medal," he deadpanned.

Make no mistake: The Bibs, as much as they deserve credit for putting great neighborhood spots on everyone's radar, can at times feel like a scattershot list of aluminum foil medals. And as much as they're an ode to establishments large and small that cut diners a break, the Bibs can take on the appearance of consolation prizes.

To drive that point home, consider the following: When Pok Pok Ny deservingly "graduated" to the starred list last year, it was removed from the Bibs, depriving that group of one of its strongest members. In fact any restaurant on the starred list won't receive a Bib, no matter how affordable. Like I said — consolation prizes. So while Michelin defines the Bibs as serving "two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less," perhaps the better definition would be "a list of cheap eats venues that happens to be devoid of certain low-cost joints that are good enough to earn stars."

Sure, one can disagree with Michelin's individual starred selections – remember how many years Gordon Ramsay's snoozer of an establishment held two sparklers? – or omissions – was it really necessary to drop Annisa? – but that overall list is, among other things, a reasonably comprehensive group of the city's best high-end establishments. The Bib Gourmand list, by contrast, doesn't quite have its finger on the pulse of New York's more accessible venues. To explain why, and to read the tea leaves on next week's starred selections, here are 10 things you need to know about who was included (or excluded) from this year's Bibs, followed by the full list of "winners."

1. Among the year's more high profile openings to receive a Bib are the Korean-themed Oiji, the Italian-hued Faro, the vegetable-heavy Untitled, the Southeast-Asian Kiin Thai, and the noodle soup emporium Mu Ramen. They won't receive stars next week.

2. Any relevant discussion of cheap eats in New York has to include the burgeoning fine-casual movement, where upscale chefs attempt to do ambitious and creative things for $15-or-less, making those takeout-heavy concepts cheaper than restaurants but pricier than fast food outlets. So the fact that Fuku, Superiority Burger, Shake Shack, or Empellon al Pastor are not included in the Bibs means that list is overlooking not just certain individual restaurants but a larger trend that's reshaping how many Americans are experiencing elevated food for the first time. Not impressive.

3. Lupulo, a Midtown tapas bar by George Mendes, is left off the list. It certainly has the pricing to qualify for a Bib; half a chicken, shrimp turnovers, and a glass of vinho verde will run you $36. And it was well-reviewed. Will it receive a star, like Mendes' sister spot Aldea? It should.

4. The inclusion of Danny Meyer's (very good) Untitled on the Bibs highlights the omission of Meyer's affordable Marta, one of the best-reviewed pizza restaurants of the year. It would be troublesome indeed if Marta makes neither the starred nor the Bib ranks.

5. Hometown, one of the city's finest emporiums of smoked beef, is a new addition to the Bibs, but its inclusion serves an unfortunate reminder that not a single barbecue restaurant, one of our country's signature (and most rigorously-reviewed) cuisines, holds a Michelin star.

6. Here's a monumentally absurd fact: Ed's Lobster Bar has a Bib Gourmand. Red Hook Lobster Pound, considered by many to serve one of the city's top lobster roll (not to mention a fine burger), doesn't.

7. On the poultry front: Hill Country Fried Chicken and Marcus Samuelsson's Street Bird Rotisserie both received Bibs. Root & Bone didn't. Discuss.

8. It's hard to believe that Michelin hasn't yet found an excuse to include Dominique Ansel Kitchen or Bakery, the work of one of the world's most heralded pastry chefs, in its Bibs or starred ranks.

9. Zabb Elee in Jackson Heights was demoted to the Bibs; it won't retain the star it gained in 2015. Somtum Der, which dropped off the Bibs this year, would be a compelling candidate to replace it.

10. Here are a few of the restaurants on last year's Bib list that were dropped for the 2016 edition: Battersby, Dirt Candy, Northern Spy, Perry St. Were they overlooked? Or will they receive stars? We'll find out next week.

Michelin's 2016 Bib Gourmands

ABC Cocina
al Bustan
Aroma Kitchen & Wine Bar
Baci & Abbracci
Baker & Co.
Bar Primi
Basil Brick Oven Pizza
Bread & Tulips
Buttermilk Channel
Casa del Chef Bistro
Cho Dang Gol
Congee Village
DBGB Kitchen & Bar
Dim Sum Go Go
Do or Dine (closed)
Don Antonio by Starita
East Harbor Seafood Palace
Ed's Lobster Bar
El Parador
Enoteca Maria
Frankies 457 Spuntino
Ganso Ramen
General Greene
Good Fork
Gran Eléctrica
Gregory's 26 Corner Taverna
Hahm Ji Bach
Havana Café
Hecho en Dumbo
Hide-Chan Ramen
Hill Country Chicken
HinoMaru Ramen
Hometown Bar-B-Que
Hunan House
Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan
Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
Il Poeta
J.G. Melon
Jin Ramen
John Brown Smokehouse
J. Restaurant Chez Asta
Kesté Pizza & Vino
Kiin Thai
Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen
Land of Plenty
Larb Ubol
Lil' Frankie's
Little Pepper
Lulu & Po
Mapo Tofu
Marlow & Sons
Mile End
Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
Mu Ramen
New Malaysia
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
Paet Rio
Paulie Gee's
Pearl & Ash
Phoenix Garden
Prime Meats
Purple Yam
Runner & Stone
Russ & Daughters Cafe
Salt & Fat
San Matteo
San Rasa
Shalom Japan
Shanghai Café
Speedy Romeo
Streetbird Rotisserie
Sweet Yummy House
Szechuan Gourmet
Thelma on Clinton
Tong Sam Gyup Goo Yi
Tra Di Noi
Turkish Kitchen
Uncle Zhou
Venturo Osteria & Wine Bar
Vinegar Hill House
Wild Edibles
Yunnan Kitchen
Zabb Elee
zero otto nove
Zizi Limona