Last month, Tokyo's restaurants received their stars. For the first time, the famed Michelin Guide, the most respected and feared guidebook in Europe, published a volume outside the Western world. Noted for its make-or-break effects on European hotels and restaurants, the publication was greeted in Tokyo with a mixture of excited confusion, idle curiosity and skepticism.

Tokyo, it turns out, is a center of haute cuisine. More stars were given to the city than any other in the world. The fanfare is in one sense well deserved: Tokyo does have great food. Yet, since publication, Japanese bloggers have been busy offering counter-criticisms and alternative assessments as complex as the city itself. The carefully rated choices and the Tokyo dining experience do not completely coincide.

Tokyoites are passionate about food, as a few minutes channel surfing or perusing bookstore shelves will reveal. It is no surprise, then, that lovers of traditional Japanese washoku would be skeptical of Western reviewers' criteria and selections. Just the same, the entire first printing sold out 48 hours after it went on sale late last month. If nothing else, Tokyo certainly seems to be the guidebook-buying capitol of the world.