Japan, France in tie atop Michelin

Bloomberg

Michelin named four new three-star restaurants in Tokyo on Wednesday, taking the total for Japan to 26, the same number as France, the home of the dining guide.

The Tokyo guide also includes the neighboring cities of Yokohama and Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, for the first time. The area is home to 14 restaurants with three stars, 54 with two and 198 with one. Last month, Michelin gave three stars to 12 establishments in western Japan.

“Japan has a wonderful legacy of chefs from one generation to the other,” Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin guides, said in Tokyo. “There’s an incredible reservoir of talent. The large number of two-stars shows there are more chefs who will get to the top.”

The winners are Araki, a sushi restaurant that goes straight to three stars; and Hamadaya, 7chome Kyoboshi and Usukifugu Yamadaya, all promoted from two.

Hamadaya serves Japanese food, 7chome Kyoboshi specializes in tempura and Usukifugu Yamadaya is known for fugu, a fish that is poisonous in the wrong hands.

L’Osier loses its three stars because the French establishment is about to close for redevelopment.

Naret said that while Japan has considerably more restaurants than France, it’s no surprise that so many stars are given. Tokyo has 14 three-star establishments compared with 10 in Paris. A total of 16 venues joined the ranks of those with two stars.

“There are a lot of good restaurants and a lot of bad ones,” Naret said. “You don’t always eat well in Tokyo, but there is a high proportion of very good restaurants.”

In Yokohama, two restaurants — Chiso Kimura and Masagosaryo — were awarded two stars and another 14 got a single star. In Kamakura, 10 venues obtained a star.

Three stars mean exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey; two stars are for excellent cooking, worth a detour; one star denotes a very good restaurant.

Tokyo’s two- and three-star venues

Michelin’s three-star restaurants in Tokyo: Araki (sushi); Esaki (Japanese contemporary); Hamadaya (Japanese); Ishikawa (Japanese); Joel Robuchon (French contemporary); Kanda (Japanese); Koju (Japanese); Quintessence (French contemporary); 7chome Kyoboshi (tempura); Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten (sushi); Sushi Mizutani (sushi); Sushi Saito (sushi); Usukifugu Yamadaya (fugu); and Yukimura (Japanese).

The restaurants in Tokyo newly awarded with two stars are Chugoku Hanten Fureika (Chinese); Fukuju (Japanese); Harutaka (sushi); Kikuchi (Japanese); Makimura (Japanese); Nadaman Honten Sazanka-so (Japanese); Pierre Gagnaire (French contemporary); Ren (Japanese); Sasada (Japanese); Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi (sushi); Sushi Kazui (sushi); Tateru Yoshino Shiba (French); Toyoda (Japanese) and Waketokuyama (Japanese).

The Michelin Guide Tokyo, Yokohama, Kamakura 2011 goes on sale in Japan on Saturday and in France (for the English version) at the beginning of February.