The new Hong Kong and Macau Michelin Guide was launched in late January and commentators, as usual, tripped over themselves to detail all the newly starred restaurants and those that received status promotions. Less attention was given to the notable budget-friendly diners awarded the Bib Gourmand. For those unaware, the guide’s Bib Gourmand section – introduced in 1955 and named after the rotund Michelin Man, Bibendum – was specifically created to recognise establishments that serve good food at reasonable prices. In effect, they’re admitting only expensive restaurants qualify for actual Michelin stars. As always, the organisers were savvy enough to split the launch into two events for maximum coverage. The Bib Gourmand selections are always announced first as a sort of tease for the more glamorous unveiling of Michelin-star places held days later. The way I look at it, it’s like how the Oscars give out their science and technical awards a few days earlier in a nondescript hotel ballroom, while saving the A-list celebrities and movie stars for the glitzy red carpet global live broadcast ceremony. Most people are only interested in sought-after categories like best actor, best actress and best picture; the merits of improving a camera lens not so much. Reluctantly, the academy is obliged to acknowledge the excellence of no-name technicians, too. For these behind-the-scenes folks, it’s like, “Way to go, here’s your Oscar! Now enjoy your dinner before going back to work morphing Arnold Schwarzenegger into Timothée Chalamet for the new Terminator .” Why I loathe list articles that tease readers with empty promises Bib Gourmand recipients get about as much token respect as the nerds who develop digital camera technology. Low-end noodle joints will never win the prestige of establishments with white tablecloths, sommeliers and bespoke kitchenware. Bib Gourmand is a way to not seem elitist while giving a patronising pat on the head to restaurants outside classic fine-dining traditions. The category has no specific criteria about service, decor or food presentation, and a caveat suggests consideration can vary from country to country – which is how they justify giving an occasional Michelin star to a Thai hawker stall or a modest dim sum shop in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong’s poorest district. Even though it defies their own rules for what a Michelin star should represent, having an underdog restaurant break through every now and then is great press and a sure way to score international cuisine credibility. But guidebooks that adjudicate food and service like the Michelin only survive by associating themselves with posh, big-name restaurants. Again, it’s not unlike the movie world where commercial interests are tied to the high-value talent above the title on the movie poster. Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio and Scarlett Johansson sell movie tickets, not the guy who won special achievement in “system design, ergonomics, engineering and workflow integration of a head-mounted camera system”. We just need to realise the focus on eight-course degustation menus in five-star hotels is about as banal and distant to most of the public as who wears what on the red carpet walking into the Academy Awards. Especially in the past two years with dinner shutdowns and closed borders, how could Michelin judges even get around to gauge venues objectively? Well, it doesn’t really matter. Such grading is all about creating buzz, and is as random as the winner in an acting category. In contrast, the science and technical Oscars are likely way more quantitative and judicious. You can’t argue about a technological breakthrough. In the same way, a Bib Gourmand restaurant serving real and affordable grub is probably more relatable to the average consumer. Personally, I can’t afford enough HK$2,000 (US$260) tasting menus to know if they are worthy of two or three Michelin stars. But I might go for a Bib Gourmand recommended diner and have enough knowledge of beef hor fun noodles to tell you if a serving is worth HK$59 or HK$119. Like what you read? Follow SCMP Lifestyle on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram . You can also sign up for our eNewsletter here .