Tokyo has secured more three-star restaurant ratings
than Paris, with Michelin awarding the top rating to 11
restaurants in the Japanese capital, a summary of
Michelin's latest guide showed Tuesday. In the 2010
version of the Michelin guide for Tokyo, the Japanese
capital has also secured 42 two-star restaurant ratings
and 144 one- star ratings. Paris has 10 three-star
restaurants, according to Michelin.
Tokyo is much bigger than Paris, is there any rational
here? It is not a matter of size of a City it is a
matter of quality of the place and gastronomy.
Michelin Guide Director Jean-Luc Naret told a press
conference in Tokyo that the number of stars shows the
high quality of food in the Japanese capital.
The guides currently cover major cities in 23
countries, including Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles,
New York and San Francisco as well as Kyoto and Osaka.
A total of seven restaurants in Kyoto and Osaka
received three-star ratings in October.
International cuisine "Tokyo remains by far the world
capital of gastronomy and also has the most three-star
restaurants," said Michelin guide director Jean-Luc
Naret. Tokyo's sheer size helps explain why it has so
many Michelin stars.
Tokyo is much bigger than Paris and has 160,000
restaurants compared with about 40,000 in Paris.
Two-thirds of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo
serve Japanese cuisine, while the others serve a
variety of foods including French, Spanish, Chinese and
Italian. But the French need not feel their cuisine
has plunged completely into disrepute.
France still has more three-star restaurants than
anywhere else, with 25 compared with Japan's 18. The
next Michelin guide to Paris will be published in March
2010. The latest Michelin guide for Tokyo hit the
stands on Friday priced at 2,415 yen.
Picture (FCCJ Bibendum, Delmas, Naret, Moderator Jlk)
So of course the day before the release of the third
edition for Tokyo, I invited Michelin Guide books
president Jean-Luc Naret at our professional press
luncheon at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
And he gave us as a secret : Michelin is to place local
food inspectors on the ground in each of the 23
countries it covers!
Here is the best news coverage I found on the data base.
“When we come to a new country, we must work with
people who understand how to rate restaurants,”
explained Naret, who used three Europeans and two
Japanese to evaluate Tokyo for 2008. “But it usually
takes five years to move to a staff of entirely local
This time, the team was comprised of only Japanese
inspectors and a French editor-in-chief. The group
selected 11 restaurants in Tokyo for its top three-star
rating, pushing it past Paris by one for the top spot,
an achievement that the company believes makes the
metropolis the world’s gastronomic champ.
In comparison to last year, the 2010 Tokyo edition,
available in English and Japanese from Friday for 2,415
yen, bumped the restaurants Esaki, Sushi Saito and
Yukimura up to three-star status, and dropped one,
Hamadaya, down a notch. Tokyo upped its total count to
261 stars, 34 more than last year, and three times that
of France’s capital. Naret maintains, however, that it
is difficult to easily compare the two cities given
that Tokyo has a much larger population and four times
as many restaurants. It comes down to numbers, he
said. “Tokyo as a city has more restaurants than
Italy, Germany or Spain,” the director said. “So
statistically there should be more stars here.”
The company, whose guide was first published in France
in 1900, explains that the star rankings apply only to
what appears on the customer’s plate and are dictated
by the food’s quality, flavor, value for the money and
consistency across the menu. Three stars represent
“exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey,” two
stars merit “a detour” and one constitutes a “very good
About two-thirds of the selected restaurants in Tokyo
offer Japanese cuisine, such as soba (noodles),
sukiyaki (hot pot), fugu (blowfish), sushi and tempura,
while the remainder are mainly French and Italian. The
area of research was expanded for 2010 to include
izakaya outlets and shops specializing in yakitori
(grilled chicken), kushiage (deep-fried meat and
vegetables) and shojin ryori (vegetarian cooking).
At the start of the Tokyo project, Naret had ventured
to other Asian cities, such as Hong Kong, Bangkok and
Singapore. He found the selection of high-quality
restaurants in Japan’s capital to be overwhelming — an
attribute that was soon shared with the rest of world
following its award of 191 stars to 150 restaurants,
the most of any city. “Tokyo was put on the map as one
of the top gastronomic cities in the world,” he said of
the release of the first book. “And it was quite a
shock for people on the other side of the world because
they did not know what Tokyo was all about.” (TR)