Michelin dishes out new stars in 2018 Tokyo guide

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

The latest edition of the Michelin guide for Tokyo is due out on Friday with 82 new restaurants, including five new two-star establishments and 23 entities garnering single stars, Michelin said on Tuesday.

All of the 12 three-star restaurants in Tokyo have retained their prestigious status, including the world-famous sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten, Azabu Yukimura (Kyoto cuisine) and Joel Robuchon (French fine dining).

Among the new restaurants awarded two stars are Chinese restaurant Sazenka, Hommage (French cuisine), and Den, which Michelin says “offers innovative cuisine.”

The Michelin Guide Tokyo 2018 lists 12 restaurants at three stars, 56 at two stars and 166 at one star. The book also highlights 278 establishments in its “Bib Gourmand” section, which the editor says offer “quality food at affordable prices” of around ¥5,000 or less. This year 59 new entries were added to that list.

According to Michelin’s definition, one-star restaurants offer high quality cooking worth a stop during travel; two-star eateries offer excellent cooking worth a detour; and three-star spots provide exceptional cuisine worth a special journey.

In terms of the sheer number of stars awarded (234), Tokyo is the top city among culinary destinations in 30 countries covered by Michelin, followed by Paris.

A spokesperson for Michelin Guide Tokyo, however, pointed out that a simple tally of stars may not tell the whole story, since populations vary in each city. For example, Tokyo is home to about 13.7 million compared with Paris’ 2.34 million.

Even so, Tokyo stands out. Robbie Swinnerton, a food columnist for The Japan Times, said the latest edition has confirmed that “Tokyo is the world center of gastronomy.”

“In general, Michelin has it right. Tokyo is the No. 1 city in the world for dining out,” he said.

Swinnerton pointed out that three restaurants moved up from one star to two.

“They all deserve it, especially Florilege, which is a French restaurant in Jingumae,” he said.

Swinnerton also praised Den for its great food as well as its “very open, welcoming hospitality.”

“The Michelin guide reflects the great ability and skills found in Tokyo … the rich variety of our selection is testament to the gastronomic strength of Tokyo,” Michelin guide international director Michael Ellis said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ellis said that even two ramen restaurants received one-star ratings: Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta and Nakiryu.

The Tokyo edition was first published in November 2007 to become the first Michelin guide outside Europe and the United States.