Michelin adds seven restaurants to its California guide — and three of them are in L.A.

Though the release of the 2024 Michelin Guide to restaurants across California is still months away, the world-famous guidebook just teased seven new additions, and three of them are in Los Angeles.

The Michelin Guide awards star ratings, and to earn a “star” from the company is widely considered one of the highest achievements in the service industry. One star signifies “a very good restaurant in its category,” while two stars marks “excellent cuisine, worth a detour,” and a three-star rating translates to “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”

Additions teased ahead of the annual guide’s reveal could mean that these restaurants will earn a star, or could be notable as “new” or in another category such as the value-oriented Bib Gourmand.

“I’m extremely proud of where we’ve come to now,” said Hibi owner Sol Lee, who saw his restaurant’s inclusion in the guide on Tuesday. “When I opened Hibi, Michelin was never even in the scope of my mind-set…. And it just shows hard work and commitment and consistency is really what brings you things like this.”

Hibi opened this summer in a Koreatown strip mall with a focus on Japanese cuisine and as a more casual restaurant. Now, Lee says, “it’s a completely different restaurant” — and Michelin took notice. “Hibi may have started life as a casual concept,” Michelin wrote, “but it’s shifted gears and is firmly planted in the fine dining scene.”

Hibi’s binchotan-grilled maitake mushroom with egg dashi purée and fermented mushroom powder.

(Sol Lee / Hibi)

Hoping not just to sustain but to become a destination, Lee — who also runs Hibi with his brother, Albert Lee — tapped chef Daniel Kim (formerly of Providence, the Restaurant at Meadowood, Le Cirque) in August to lead the kitchen. As chef-partner, Kim has transformed Hibi into a more modern Japanese and Korean restaurant with intricate dishes such as bluefin with winter truffle vinaigrette and puffed rice; Parmesan-laced dry-aged-short-rib gyoza; and binchotan-grilled abalone. While currently a la carte, the restaurant plans to flip to a tasting menu format beginning in early 2024.

“I think what we should do is just take it day by day — let’s have fun with it,” Sol Lee said. “I want to come into work and really enjoy the day instead of constantly chasing something that may not even be possible in a space like ours. I’m already very proud of what we achieved. That being said, obviously if a star comes to us, it would be a blessing.”

Modern Korean restaurant Baroo is also one of the guide’s newest additions and the reincarnation of chef and co-founder Kwang Uh’s earlier, more casual Baroo, which closed in 2018. The new Baroo, located in the Arts District, was recently named an L.A. Times 101 List awardee and one of the most essential restaurants in the region. It’s helmed by Uh and his wife and business partner, Mina Park, and offers a tasting menu format only.

Michelin notes Baroo’s “sleek” interior, its options for both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverage tastings, and dishes such as “nicely seared Hokkaido scallop in a pool of watercress sauce with cubed seaweed jelly and puffed rice.”

At restaurant and wine bar Olivia, in Koreatown, produce features front and center in chef Mario Alberto’s globally inspired menu. Michelin noted that the vegetarian restaurant with ample vegan offerings “charms from its intimate dining room where marble tables are topped with candles and flowers.”

While the pizzas at Olivia have become popular — and were heralded by L.A. Times critic Bill Addison as some of the best new pizza in the city — the guidebook also singles out the Mexican and Korean influences found throughout the menu in dishes such as fried squash blossoms filled with macadamia ricotta and pepita sauce and the fried oyster mushrooms with gochujang.

Potato and kimchee pizza at Olivia in Koreatown.

Potato and kimchee pizza at Olivia in Koreatown.

(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)

Beyond Los Angeles, new additions can be found in San Diego with La Jolla’s Paradisaea, and in San Francisco with Dalida, Kiln and Movida.

The 2023 California guide, announced in July, included 614 restaurants, with 87 of them garnering stars — some of them for the first time, including the first-ever star for Long Beach with a one-star rating for tasting menu restaurant Heritage. More still were awarded the Bib Gourmand designation, including four new picks in the L.A. area: Villa’s Tacos in Highland Park, Cobi’s in Santa Monica, Carnes Asadas Pancho Lopez in Lincoln Heights and Eat Joy Food in Rowland Heights.

For many, simply the designation as a new or notable restaurant is cause for celebration. For Villa’s Tacos founder Victor Villa, his Bib Gourmand served as positive reinforcement for the quality he already felt his team was accomplishing: “It’s awesome to be recognized by one of the most elite food companies in the world,” he told The Times earlier this year.

The reveal date and location for the 2024 Michelin California guide have yet to be announced.

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