overrated? No. Overhyped? Perhaps.
I think in general fine dining is overhyped or at the very least not a very good value – you are paying more and generally getting less food, its just packaged and served very nicely – is that worth the extra 4x-5x premium over a regular restaurant? not sure. Not for me, at least.
First of all I find taste so subjective, that’s why I always take Yelp reviews with a grain of salt, because what someone else finds delicious, I might find revolting. There’s been cases where I found a bowl of $2 instant ramen more delicious than a $40 meal I paid for at some fancy restaurant. Yes, its true.
Secondly, Michelin restaurants are based on reputation as much as anything else, and it’s been widely reported that Michelin inspectors are biased towards certain chefs or certain types of cuisine.
I can speak to my experience as I go back to Korea every year – a country with so many great restaurants – I know some places in Gangnam and Yeoksam where they serve the best Hanwoo beef brisket ever, and a place in Gwanganli, Busan where its the best pork belly I’ve ever tasted. These are hole in the wall establishments that many Michelin inspectors have never been to. They were a little more expensive compared to a typical Korean restaurant on the street – but much cheaper than a typical fine dining restaurant in a Western country. The service was also phenomenal. All these restaurants put the Michelin starred restaurants and expensive fancy restaurants (yes even Korean ones) I’ve been to in US/Canada to shame.
Costs a fraction of the price, not Michelin starred, and the service was also superior.
Go to China, you’ll eat way better food than any fancy high end Chinese restaurant you’ll find in the States. Same for Thailand, or Vietnam, or Taiwan etc.
And oh yeah, NO TIP for any of these places (despite the fantastic service) because its Asia, and tipping is not a thing there, thankfully. (this applies to everything in Asia btw, get your hair cut and massaged by two beautiful women, they give you a contact card and escort you out the door for $20, no tip necessary)
Except for Japan, which contains the most Michelin starred restaurants, it seems that non Western countries generally do not get Michelin inspectors even going there, which is what I mean by saying that Michelin restaurants are inherently biased to certain places. That doesn’t mean those restaurants serve the best cuisine of their kind.
I’m just speaking from my personal experience – yes Michelin restaurants are generally very good, but they are neither the best restaurants I’ve been to, and far from the best value, especially when taking into consideration non Western cuisine. You’re much better off going to a hole in the wall / mom and pop shop in that native country for those cuisines.