San Francisco Restaurant Receives Two Michelin Stars

Photo by Vivien Kim Thorp

San Francisco restaurant Benu was awarded two stars by the prestigious Michelin restaurant guide released yesterday, making it one of only three eateries in the city to receive that distinction.

Benu, which means “phoenix” in Egyptian, was founded in August of 2010 by Korean American Corey Lee. The restaurant features Asian-influenced food and utilizes the sous vide cooking technique, pioneered by Lee and his former mentor Thomas Keller of world-renowned restaurant French Laundry.

“It’s a huge honor, and the whole thing feels a bit surreal,” Lee told, in an email. “It’s an important thing for me because we are participating in a tradition that generations of chefs have participated in … You just do what you feel is best and hope Michelin recognizes that.”

San Francisco is one of three cities in the United States where French tire company Michelin currently publishes its annual guide, along with New York and Chicago. Three stars mean exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey; two stars are for excellent cooking, worth a detour; one star denotes a very good restaurant in its category.

Only two restaurants have three stars in the S.F. Bay Area and both are located in Napa Valley: the aforementioned French Laundry and Meadowood. The guide was first published more than 100 years ago, in 1900.

Keep an eye out for our profile of Corey Lee in the November issue of KoreAm.

Additional reporting by Vivien Kim Thorp.

Photo by Vivien Kim Thorp