Tokyo kept its crown as the Michelin guide’s gourmet capital with the most starred restaurants for an eight straight year, in the first guide released since UNESCO listed “washoku” (traditional Japanese cuisine) as an “intangible cultural heritage.”
Among the establishments that gained three-star ratings in the 2015 Michelin guide to Tokyo, which went on sale Friday, was one that specializes in fugu, the poisonous blowfish, and a traditional eatery whose chef at first thought his win was a joke.
The guide, which used to include the neighboring city of Yokohama and the coastal Shonan area, was limited to Tokyo this year to allow a wider listing of Japanese food in the Bib Gourmand section, which emphasizes cheaper restaurants, Michelin said.
For the first time, the guide lists several eateries serving “chanko nabe,” a rich stew that helps sumo wrestlers pack on weight, as well as several specializing in cuisine featuring loach, a type of fish.
As many as 267 restaurants gained stars, 19 of them for the first time. The coveted three-star rating, the Michelin guide’s top honor, went to 12 restaurants, down one from last year.
Newly promoted to three stars from two was Makimura, a traditional restaurant whose owner, Akio Makimura, told reporters he still could not believe he had won.
“When I got the phone call this morning informing me of the promotion I thought it was a joke,” said Makimura.
Other restaurants that won the three-star rating included Usukifugu Yamadaya, which serves up fugu, which can be fatal if improperly prepared. Another winner was Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten, which was the site of a leaders’ dinner when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Japan in April.
The first Michelin restaurant guide, aimed at drivers in the early days of motoring, was published by the tire company in 1900, with the star rating system introduced in the 1920s. Tokyo was the first Asian city to have a guide devoted to it.
The 12 top-rated Tokyo restaurants according to the 2015 Michelin guide:
3. Joel Robuchon
9. Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten
10. Usukifugu Yamadaya