Tokyo retains title as Michelin's world gourmet capital for sixth year

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  • 11

    bicultural

    I predict there will be comments stating one of the following : 1) Japanese food is bland 2) The judges were either Japanese or bribed 3) No one buys the guide book except for Japanese

  • -3

    titaniumdioxide

    Congratulations!!! Best butler and best restaurants in the whole world!

    Meanwhile in Africa.....

  • -6

    papigiulio

    I feel this book is for food snobbists. You can find great quality food and service in many places without even 1 michelin star.

  • -1

    Tokiyo

    @titaniumdioxide

    Meanwhile in Africa.....

    Meanwhile in Africa what? Completely irrelevant.

    @biculturalOn the contrary I don't think the book is geared towards a Japanese audience...

  • 3

    Eve Aphayboun

    @ papigiulioNOV. 29, 2012 - 11:03AM JST

    That's just your opinion. You can find good quality food anywhere, finding great, or exceptional quality can be very difficult. If every Japanese or Italian chef uses the same ingredients to make the same dishes, but why do they not come out the same? It's because of the skill level, and their understanding of food. While you may not be able to tell the difference between a 1 star restaurant and a 3 star restaurant, don't look down on people who can, and who want to increase their taste palette.

    While there are obviously some restaurants that are questionable... I've been to a couple Michelin star restaurants myself before-- they were awarded stars and also a few that I didn't even know had stars. I'd say yes, you can just tell the quality from the moment you take that first bite.

  • -6

    smithinjapan

    bicultural: You list those things because you know them to be true, save for the bland thing. While it's true that some traditional Japanese foods might lack some of the spice that Japan's neighbouring countries have in their traditional dishes, modern Japanese cuisine is as chalk full of condiments, sauces, and spices as pretty much any other place.

    And yes, it's only Japanese who buy the book and 'respect' it, and in turn Japan wins Micheline's top honours each year. Micheline's knows full-well that if Japan gets the most restaurants mentioned in the book, Japanese will buy it and pat each other on the back. As such, I doubt very much the judges were bribed -- sales of the book are enough. What's more, if Japanese are told to go and do something by a book or NHK special, they'll do it, so this helps the restaurants as well.

  • 4

    ukguyjp

    Eve Aphayboun:

    I agree.

    It's true of course, that you can find great food which is much cheaper than in a Michelin-starred restaurant.

    For the price, many restaurants in Japan and elsewhere are excellent. An ordinary lunch teishoku can be fabulous..for that price.

    However, in my experience you can always tell the difference in a Michelin-starred establishment. The ingredients, overall quality and creativity are a cut above.

    Whether it's worth the money is for each individual patron to decide for him or herself.

    I've paid 20,000 yen (per person) for Michelin-recommended food in Japan. It's a hell of a lot of money for me, but what an experience, especially for a special celebration such as a birthday.

    By the way, if you look around, you can find fantastic Tokyo Michelin experiences in the 3,000 to 8,000 yen price range.

  • 2

    AKBfan

    Apart from Robuchon, it is pretty difficult to get a table at any of these places.

  • -5

    Suzu1

    Michelin is going all out to sell more tires in Japan by appealing to Japan's unlimited desire to see itself as the gastronomical center of the world. Who says flattery doesn't work?

  • 2

    wipeout

    Michelin is going all out to sell more tires in Japan by appealing to Japan's unlimited desire to see itself as the gastronomical center of the world.

    Maybe the food here really is that good. It's a wealthy country with an excellent food culture (as do many Asian countries), a large population, and a huge metropolis that can support more restaurants per capita than cities in Europe or the US. A lot of those restaurants are actually very small: for modest expense you can eat in places that have a chef and a helper across the counter from you in the kitchen, and maybe a dozen diners. Many don't even have a waiter. On that small scale, and with the Japanese focus on detail and doing things again and again until it's "right" - combined with a ready supply of people prepared to work in not-too-wonderful catering jobs for lousy pay and horrendous hours - and it shouldn't be very surprising that you can get such high-quality food here.

  • 3

    Open Minded

    Congrats Tokyo. I am proud to live here!

    Of course the Michelin has its weaknesses, however it recognizes the chefs who are adding creativity to gastronomy. This book must be looked at like as a gastronomy compendium, like you have in art. This is not just about food.

    These chefs participate in the evolution of a cultural thing. You enjoy a plate like you watch a masterpiece in a museum. And what make it even more attractive is that it is a totally short-live and destructive experience: when eaten it is not possible to share it again for evaluation.

    There are people interested in painting, others in cars performance and some in gastronomy. But for whatever reasons the Michelin is always more criticized than any car ranking book. Why?

  • 2

    Open Minded

    For the ones hesitating to try a Michelin-starred restaurant.

    Definitely diners and weekend menus are overpriced. But take once a day off and try at lunch time. Around 50% discount, which makes them quite cheap for the experience. Your loved one will love you even more after that!

  • 3

    alliswellinjapan

    Got to admire the French for their commitment to putting recognition and praisal of true art before their own national pride. This is not just about tires promotion and believe Japan should be simply and humbly thankful.

  • 0

    Open Minded

    alliswellinjapan: your comment is very true. And believe me, the Michelin stars book is such an institution in France that it is now totally disconnected from the same brand tire. Actually people in France mostly refer to the "Red Book" instead of the "Michelin Book". Obviously this has nothing to do with China :-)

  • 1

    wipeout

    I strongly disagree with you......Japanese food is bland. It always amazes me how people harp on about japanese food, it kind of reminds me of the fairytale about the emperors's new clothes.

    Yes it must be bewildering that so many people like it, against your protestations. They're just faking it.

  • 1

    TrentonGaijin

    Never ate at any of the restaurants listed (or any other "gourmet" place), but I can name a list twice as long of places in & around Tokyo where I'd like to have another meal (or 100s of meals).

  • -1

    JeffLee

    "Got to admire the French for their commitment to putting recognition and praisal of true art before their own national pride."

    It's not really the French. I read that half the reviewers are Japanese. And all Japanese, from early childhood, are indoctrinated into believing that Japanese cuisine is the world's best, and nothing else comes close. Also that negative reviews are absent in Japan's media. That's the main factor that Tokyo and Japan are rated so also highly.

    Also that Kanto's population is about five times greater than, say, Paris, so the comparison isn't statistically fair.

  • -1

    wipeout

    It's not really the French. I read that half the reviewers are Japanese. And all Japanese, from early childhood, are indoctrinated into believing that Japanese cuisine is the world's best, and nothing else comes close. Also that negative reviews are absent in Japan's media. That's the main factor that Tokyo and Japan are rated so also highly.

    Michelin keeps the identity of its inspectors secret, so beyond knowing their nationality, you don't have any idea who they are. That also means you don't know anything about them. Rejecting their assessments just because some of them are Japanese is an argument based on prejudice.

    Whatever you think of the guide, you can't speak with authority on a comparison between how selections are made in France and how they are made in Japan. It's decided by Michelin, and is effectively a private matter. Yet you talk as if you actually know that there is a mismatch, and that lower standards are applied to the Japanese.

  • -1

    JeffLee

    That also means you don't know anything about them.

    I read a Q&A a couple of years by a Michelin official who said half the reviewers were Japanese. So you're wrong (again)-- I do know SOMETHING about them. I also know, being a fluent reader of Japanese, that critical reviews in Japanese publishing are nearly non-existent. I threw away my Japanese restaurant guides early on, after realizing their information was worthless. No, it's not "prejudice" (sigh)-- it's understanding the culture here and the practices of the publishing industry.

    It's decided by Michelin, and is effectively a private matter.

    Really? Then why are their findings published and distributed worldwide to hundreds of thousands of readers? Doesn't sound very "private" to me.

    You can't speak with authority on a comparison between how selections are made in France and how they are made in Japan.

    Ah, you're ignorant on statistics as well? A sampling taken from a place with 40 million people will tend to yield superior results than a sampling from a place with 10 million. Do I really need to explain this?!?

  • 0

    wipeout

    I read a Q&A a couple of years by a Michelin official who said half the reviewers were Japanese. So you're wrong (again)-- I do know SOMETHING about them.

    Yes, the one thing you do know is exactly what makes it clear you based your argument on a prejudice.

    Really? Then why are their findings published and distributed worldwide to hundreds of thousands of readers? Doesn't sound very "private" to me.

    No? The decision-making is private, the people making the decisions are unidentified, but the results are public. It's a common enough idea, not exactly unique to Michelin.

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