Japan Cuisine Beats France as Michelin Adds Three to Top Tier

2012 Michelin Guide
The 2012 Michelin guide for Tokyo. Source: Michelin via Bloomberg

Three more restaurants in the Tokyo region won their third Michelin star today, taking the total for Japan to 32 after 15 were named in the west of the country last month. That compares to 25 in France in 2011.

Sushi Yoshitake in Tokyo joins the selection with three stars; Ryugin in Tokyo is promoted from two; and Koan in Shonan (Fujisawa) joins the selection with three. Thirteen more gain two stars, for a total of 57. They include a Korean venue, Moranbong, the first in the world to gain that status.

Another 54 establishments win a first star, raising the number in the Tokyo region to 219, Michelin said today in an e-mailed release. The guide is expanded this year to include the areas of Yokosuka, Hayama, Zushi, Fujisawa, Chigasaki, Hiratsuka, Oiso, Odawara and Yugawara for the first time.

The guide for France is published in February, at the end of the cycle of volumes, and it won’t be until then that comparisons may be made for the same year. In 2011, 25 French restaurants held three stars, 76 had two and 470 held one.

The same criteria are used for awarding stars whatever the country or city: product quality, preparation and flavors; the chef’s personality as revealed through his or her cuisine; value for money and consistency over time and across the entire menu, Michelin said. The criteria are adapted to each type of cuisine.

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

Michelin & Cie. is the world’s second-biggest tiremaker, after Bridgestone Corp. It produced its first guide in August 1900, distributed free of charge (until 1920) and intended for chauffeurs. The guide contained practical information, including street maps and tips on using and repairing tires.

“The Michelin Guide Tokyo Yokohama Shonan 2012” is available in Japanese and English and goes on sale in Japan on Dec. 2.

Three-Star Restaurants:
Azabu Yukimura
Joël Robuchon
7chome Kyoboshi
Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten
Sushi Mizutani
Sushi Saito
Sushi Yoshitake
Usukifugu Yamadaya

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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