Modern Malaysian restaurant Dewakan, helmed by maverick chef Darren Teoh has been named the country’s first two Michelin-starred restaurant.
“I am incredibly grateful to God and all the people who put this (the Michelin Guide) together and to all the people that have journeyed with us and continued to support us,” said Teoh at the awards ceremony held today.
Four restaurants were also awarded one Michelin star, including three that retained their star from last year – Auntie Gaik Lean’s Old School Eatery and Au Jardin from Penang as well as famed chef Darren Chin’s DC by Darren Chin in Kuala Lumpur.
There was also one new entrant to the Michelin star category in the form of progressive Malaysian eatery Beta KL, helmed by well-loved chef Raymond Tham, which earned its first Michelin star this year.
“I would like to share this award with my team. One person can’t do this job alone. We will work harder after this,” promised Tham.
Teoh and Tham’s Michelin star accolade marks a homecoming of sorts for the former colleagues and good friends who once worked together at KDU University’s hospitality school as lecturers and shared a dream of elevating Malaysian cuisine.
“We always had a dream to showcase Malaysian cuisine in a different manner. That was eight or nine years ago but the fundamental thing is still what we believe in, which is Malaysian ingredients,” said Tham.
The fact that Dewakan – a restaurant championing Malaysian produce and indigenous ingredients – is now the most recognised and awarded restaurant in Malaysia speaks volumes about how far Teoh’s fledgling dream has come.
It is also telling that the Michelin Guide has been quick to recognise both the talent and the vision behind Teoh’s culinary creations and the greater goal he has of championing what’s on home ground.
“We try to form businesses that bring people joy and bring people some sort of experience that they may not get elsewhere,” said Teoh.
The Michelin Guide also doled out Michelin Selected awards to 25 new establishments, bringing the total number of Michelin Selected restaurants in the country to 77.
The 16 newly added Michelin Selected establishments in Kuala Lumpur are: Bōl, Café Café, Entier, Frangipaani, Jwala, Ling Long, Malai, Marini's on 57, Nadodi (relocation), Seed, Shanghai Restaurant, Sushi Masa, Tanglin (Bukit Damansara), Tenmasa, Teochew Lao Er, and Wagyu Kappo Yoshida.
The 9 newly added Michelin Selected establishments in Penang are: 888 Hokkien Mee (Lebuh Presgrave), Air Itam Duck Rice, Ceki, Fook Cheow Cafe, Jit Seng Hong Kong Roasted Duck Rice, Penang Famous Samosa, Richard Rivalee, Sambal, and The Pinn.
Four special awards were also given out at the 2024 Michelin Guide Kuala Lumpur and Penang awards ceremony include – for the first time ever – an Opening of the Year award (presented by UOB Malaysia) which recognises a chef, restaurant manager or host who successfully opened a restaurant in the past 12 months that added to the gastronomic scene. This award went to chef Remash Thangaraj from Jwala, a hot new progressive Indian restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.
“I was supposed to be a cop but ended up a chef,” joked Remash, who was very thankful for the recognition.
The Michelin Guide Service Award meanwhile went to Wan Mohd Zulkifeli from Gai by Darren Chin recognised for his exceptional knowledge, attentiveness and calm demeanour.
Two other awards were the Michelin Guide Sommelier Award, which was bagged by Yap Cze Ying from Hide Restaurant and the Young Chef Award, which went to 32-year-old Johnson Wong who helms acclaimed Penang restaurant Gen.
“This is for my team, I don’t really work that much,” he joked.
The Michelin Guide Kuala Lumpur and Penang was launched in Malaysia last year. This year, a total of 127 restaurants in KL and Penang were awarded Bib Gourmands, Michelin Selected and Michelin stars, including 14 new restaurants awarded Bib Gourmands in an announcement made two weeks ago.