18 Of The World’s Cheapest Michelin Starred Restaurants
— 20 May 2024

18 Of The World’s Cheapest Michelin Starred Restaurants

— 20 May 2024
Co-Author: Chris Singh  | 
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

Michelin-star restaurants are (understandably) mostly associated with white glove service and set menu degustations, and yet cities like Hanoi, Bangkok, and Mexico City have proven time after time that award-winning culinary experiences needn’t breaketh the budget: anyone seeking the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meals simply has to look.

One of the best ways to get acquainted with a culture while you’re travelling, sometimes even learn about a people/place’s very history, is to track down that destination’s best restaurants. Here, you’ll get an idea of how local tastes have been adapted and shaped, whether that’s as a function of region-specific cuisine or an attempt to pull international cuisines into the mix. The former, however, is almost always superior.

To help you save time, we’ve done the hard yards — a combination of first-hand experience and sifting through the internet for Google reviews — to put together a list of the most inexpensive Michelin dining the world has to offer right now.

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3 Coins — Taipei (Taiwan)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Cantonese
Set Menu Price: AU$50 per person

This traditional Cantonese restaurant in Taipei’s buzzy Zhongzheng District is over 60 years old and presents delicate flavours that lift tradition with a few Taiwanese twists.

Any dish with abalone seems to be the way to go here, with signatures including abalone soup with egg white, steamed abalone with dried and fresh tomatoes, as well as seafood baked in a papaya.

Phenix — Shanghai (China)

Cheapest Michelin Star dining experiences in the world
Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: French, Cantonese
Set Menu Price: AU$80 per person (lunch only offer)

Phenix is one of Shanghai’s most popular Michelin-star restaurants for a good reason.

The harmonious blend between regional French and Cantonese has locked in a Michelin star for over five consecutive years, building up a glowing reputation for the sophisticated dining room, which can be found on the second floor of The Puli Hotel & Spa overlooking Jing’an Park.

Try to head in during lunchtime. When the sun dips, this Michelin star experience is no less expensive than some of the higher-end kitchens around the world, but the three-course set at lunchtime settles at around AU$80 per person.

Jay Fai — Bangkok (Thailand)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Thai
Signature Dish Price: AU$52

When it comes to affordable Michelin-star dining, it’s very hard to beat Bangkok.

Jay Fai is the main reason for this, run by its eponymous ski-google-clad owner who operates on a first-come, first-serve basis every Wednesday through to Saturday.

Just about every foodie who has made the quintessential pilgrimage has added to the ironclad mystique that surrounds Jay Fai, constantly raving about those signature golden-brown crab omelettes. Personally, I’ve always preferred her exceptional stir-fried noodles with mixed seafood and gravy.

Auntie Gaik Lean’s Old School Eatery — George Town (Malaysia)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Peranakan
Signature Dish Price: AU$6

Head on over to Penang Island to get a taste of Auntie Gaik Lean’s Old School Eatery.

It’s one of the only Michelin-approved spots in Malaysia, set across two small shops in a central location and spearheaded by Chef Gaik Lean. The family-owned restaurant refines authentic Peranakan cuisine with a focus on generational Nyonya recipes ranging from pie tee and gulai tumis to nasi ulam to the signature sambal brinjal, which is chopped eggplant with a spicy and savoury sauce.

When appetisers start from around AU$2, you know you’re in a good place.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle — (Singapore)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Singaporean
Signature Dish Price: AU$7

Chef Chua Hock Cheng, who has worked at the eternally busy Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle for more than four decades, studiously delivering the hawker stall’s various signatures which includes Singapore’s original bak chor mee — a superlative dish of noodles with black vinegar, chilli paste, and minced pork. It’s a hawker stall so you can make any reservation but expect to queue at any time of day.

Suan Thip — Nonthaburi (Thailand)

best michelin star restaurants in the world
Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Thai
Signature Dish Price: AU$9

With enough space for 200 seats, Suan Thip isn’t just one of the larger restaurants in the Thai city of Nonthaburi — it’s also the area’s most valuable.

Fashioned as a complex of riverside gardens and ponds, the serene setting is a sophisticated backdrop that screams fine dining. Yet, the prices are shockingly low for rich signatures like stir-fried crispy catfish with curry and betel leaf wraps complemented by pink lotus petals and a Miang Kum sauce.

Yat Lok — Central (Hong Kong)

Yat Lok is one of the best Michelin star restaurants in the world.
Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Cantonese
Signature Dish Price: AU$11

It’s all about the roast goose at Yat Lok restaurant. And while Hong Kong has plenty of these spots scattered around, Yat Lok always seems to take the lion’s share of glowing reviews.

The last time I visited to try the small shop’s signature was a day after being tremendously disappointed with Kam’s Roast Goose (which also boasts a Michelin star).

Out of the two, I’d say Yat Lok seems to be the most consistent both from personal experience and secondary research.

Chugokusai S.Sawada — Osaka (Japan)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Chinese
Signature Dish Price: AU$11

Japan used to have more affordable Michelin-star dining experiences. In the years since, however, a lot of those restaurants have either lost their Michelin star (for whatever reason; though that doesn’t mean you’ll be disappointed) or been “demoted” to Bib Gourmand status.

Osaka had a great deal of them, but now, the most salient is Sawada — a reliably good Chinese restaurant that incorporates plenty of Japanese and French flavours.

I’ve only been once, though it was enough to leave a lasting impact; the signature crispy chicken bursting with flavour. And if that ain’t your bag, try the foie gras burger. You won’t regret it.

Note that you’ll want to go during lunchtime for the set menu. For dinner, this Michelin-starred restaurant is just as expensive as you’d reasonably expect.

Lao Zheng Xing — Shanghai (China)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Cantonese
Signature Dish Price: AU$18

As a brand, Lao Zheng Xing has been bubbling around Shanghai since 1862, considered a pioneer for fine Shanghainese dining.

The current iteration is this unassuming restaurant, which looks rather plain inside, though it serves up some of the area’s finest flavours for cheap.

Locals would generally go straight for the deep-fried river shrimps, which are made daily and are responsible for the restaurant’s consistently solid reputation amongst visitors.

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L’Antic Molí — Ulldecona (Spain)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Chinese
Set Menu Price: AU$185 per person

Retaining its one Michelin star every year since 2017, L’Antic Moli transforms an old flour mill into a highly theatrical, conceptual space hinged on Chef Vicent Guimera’s preference for the Slow Food movement.

With a hyperlocal approach and a circular economy, the kitchen presents an affordable set menu that pushes the budget a little, at just under AU$200 but, by all counts, delivers each and every time.

Borkonyha Winekitchen — Budapest (Hungary)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Hungarian
Set Menu Price: AU$190

It may not look like a Michelin-star restaurant, but there’s no mistaking Borkonyha Winekitchen for anything but top-tier once those dishes are marched out of the kitchen.

The highly detailed, subtle Hungarian influences are built into dishes like water buffalo tartare with cauliflower and monkfish with butternut squash and potato.

The exacting, produce-forward approach has evidently paid dividends for this traditional restaurant, which also leans heavily on wine pairings.

Nectari — Barcelona (Spain)

Nectari is one of the cheapest Michelin star meals in the world
Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Spanish
Set Menu Price: AU$144

Barcelona has a few of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants. And it seems Nectari is still the most popular.

The buzzy restaurant has been around for many years and is considered a local institution, serving up inventive modern Spanish in collaboration with various small-scale producers.

Chef Jordi Esteve’s faith in the flavours of Spain and creative little nuances has essentially crafted an extremely valuable tasting menu which, on any given day, will include dishes like foie gras and eel and a signature seafood bisque with prawn tartare.

La Robe — Montaigu (France)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: French
Set Menu Price: AU$50 (lunch only)

Much like some of the Michelin-star restaurants in Asia that I’ve listed above, you’ll want to head along to this fine French eatery during lunchtime.

As the evening pushes on, La Robe is not more affordable than most of France’s fussy Michelin-starred experiences. If you head along in the afternoon, however, you’re only looking at a very doable €29 for a three-course affair.

It changes all the time, but you can expect dishes like beetroot with mustard ice cream and grilled tuna belly with Mariko sauce and rapeseed oil.

Hostellerie la Montagne — Colombey-les-Deux-Églises (France)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: French
Set Menu Price: AU$151

Here’s another worthwhile Michelin experience in France.

Consistent praise across many years places Hostellerie la Montagne as one of the quintessential dining experiences of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, which is found in the bucolic village of Haute-Marne in a 17th-century stone house framed by immaculate gardens.

Chef Jean-Baptistie Natali channels French fine dining with a strong grasp of value, building produce-forward signatures of langoustine and foie gras and oyster risotto with lime.

North America

Topolobampo — Chicago (USA)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Mexican
Set Menu Price: AU$250

Topolobampo is still considered one of the better Rick Bayless restaurants in America, leaning heavily on inventive modern Mexican with more than a few premium twists.

Each table is loaded with a canon of sauces, and dishes like kampachi sashimi with street corn or Oazacan mole chichilo with dried chillies, nuts, and spices routinely earn the kitchen high praise from both locals and visitors alike.

At US$165 (just under AU$250) for the current set menu, this is pushing my promise to include only experiences that’ll cost you less than $250. However, the price tag is due to how atrocious the exchange rate is right now.

Torishin — New York City (USA)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Japanese
Set Menu Price: AU$166

In a city as relentlessly expensive as New York, it’s great to know there are at least some top-tier dining experiences Aussies can still experience without paying the cost of a night at a luxury hotel.

Since 2015, Tori Shin has been one of the most compelling spots in Hell’s Kitchen, serving up superlative yakitori framed by gold leaf walls and a brilliant design that segments the space into various rooms.

The menu centres around organically raised chickens and other ethical premium produce such as Iberian pork and A5 Wagyu. When you pay just US$108 for 14 courses, you’ll feel like you’ve just found New York’s ultimate foodie hack.

State Bird Provisions — San Francisco (USA)

Cheapest michelin star restaurants in the world
Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Chinese
Signature Dish Price: $35

It’s tough to get into State Food Provisions, which has long been known as one of the most valuable Michelin experiences in the entire country.

Those guinea hen dumplings and crispy qual fingers have fueled many of my dustier nights in San Francisco, especially when they’re taken with some fried black cod tail in tamari butter and that delectable A5 wagyu toast with shaved cabbage and shiitake mushrooms.

Taquería El Califa de León — Mexico City (Mexico)

Michelin Stars: 1
Cuisine: Mexican
Signature Dish Price: $5

An unpretentious hole-in-the-wall eatery located in the San Rafael neighbourhood, as of May 2024, Taquería El Califa de León has joined the vaunted likes of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle and Jay Fai, in the prestigious guide’s inaugural country edition.

The humble 10-foot-by-10-foot stand was established in 1968 and has been slinging elite-level (and by all accounts, deeply satisfying) tacos ever since. The current head chef Arturo Rivera Martínez, on the other hand, is “at least” two decades into his tenure here.

“The secret is the simplicity of our taco,” he told the Associated Press.

“It has only a tortilla, red, or green sauce, and that’s it. That, and the quality of the meat.”

Other options aside from the signature Gaonera Taco — named in honour of Mexcian bullfighter Rodolfo Gaona — include bistec (beef steak), chuleta (pork chop), and costilla (beef rib). “With meat and tortillas of this calibre, the duo of house-made salsas is hardly even necessary,” reads Michelin’s recommendation.

A resounding victory for no-frills dining.

If you’ve enjoyed this round-up of the cheapest Michelin-star restaurants around the world, consider checking out these locally-based dining guides below:

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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