Thailand reaches for the stars with new Michelin Guide

BANGKOK, April 24 (Reuters) - Thailand will be the latest

country to have a Michelin Guide, its state tourism agency said

on Monday, taking its place on the culinary world map just days

after authorities announced they would shut down Bangkok's

vibrant street food scene.

The dining publication was introduced by the French Michelin

tyre company in 1900 to encourage people to take road trips. Its

star system began in the 1920s.

The guide to hotels and restaurants, which will be released

in Thai and English, will be the company's sixth in Asia. It has

guides for China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The news comes days after authorities in Bangkok said they

would banish some of its world-famous street food vendors as

part of a clean-up drive by the military government, outraging

foodies and threatening the livelihoods of the city's road-side

cooks.

The guide could end up featuring some of Bangkok's street

food. In 2016, Singapore made history when two modest food

stalls – one serving chicken rice and the other pork noodles –

were among dining venues featured in the Singapore guide.

"Bangkok is one of the world's culinary capitals," Lionel

Dantiacq, president and managing director of Michelin East-Asia

Oceania at Michelin, said in a statement.

As well as its famous street food, the Thai capital is home

to a burgeoning fine dining scene, attracting an increasing

number of world-class chefs.

"The guide will also inspire local restaurants to improve

their quality and raise the bar in terms of gastronomic

excellence," said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism

Authority of Thailand.

This year Gaggan, an innovative Indian restaurant in

Bangkok, nabbed the top spot for the third year running at the

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards sponsored by S. Pellegrino and

Acqua Panna.

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel)