Japan: Michelin Guide Hits Tokyo

On November 22, the much-talked-about Michelin Guide Tokyo went on sale. With a combination of French connections and something of gastronomical interest, you can never go wrong in Japan. Sure enough, for days leading up to and after its release, the Japanese media flocked to cover the event and the Guide itself, the most recognized restaurant and hotel guide book published by French tire manufacturer Michelin. Of course, the Guide was a popular topic among Japanese bloggers last week.

Michelin Guide Tokyo Poster
Photo by Flickr user pict_u_re CC-BY-NC-SA

Blogger gen comments:

I have only thumbed through a friend's copy of the recently released (and now sold out) Michelin Guide Tokyo. I have only been to a handful of the restaurants in the guide (maybe 5-7 of the 1 stars.) It is staggering to think that while Paris and New York City have roughly 20,000 restaurants, the greater Tokyo area has over 160,000 restaurants.

There's a longer discussion about what really deserves stars and why it took a non-Japanese company to create the most-recognizable guide to food in Tokyo, and how many of the best restaurants are invite-only and thus are not reviewed, but that's for another day.

The full list of Michelin Guide Tokyo restaurants are on the Michelin website (name only- buy the guidebook for the reviews once they reprint it.)

On the other hand, the guide has also stirred up some controversy, with critics voicing concerns about evaluating traditional Japanese cuisine based on Western taste and standards. As ko-ji points out, the guide only covers certain parts of Tokyo and its evaluation criteria were never made clear.


Seems like a lot of people have been writing about this,
but as far as I can tell from reading the guidebook, only 9 wards out of 23 are covered.
In addition, there is nothing from Taito and Nakano, areas where there are many old and well-established restaurants.
This makes me want to know what kind of evaluation criteria the foreigners have.

Photo by Flickr user eprouveze CC-BY-NC-SA

Some bloggers were quite sarcastic about the whole event. This blogger comments:



What is this fuss all about?
To be honest, I think people are swayed too much by this.

I don't think the French can evaluate Japanese cuisine.
Well, I guess they can set criteria for [the quality of] French restaurants in Tokyo.

Many bloggers seem to be turned off by the “snobbishness” of the Guide and express their disappointment about how Japanese food culture is represented. saturday_interlude echoes these voices:


Even if it is not a ryotei [fancy Japanese restaurant] or a luxurious French restaurant,
you can still enjoy a three-star experience at a little back-alley restaurant, one that offers delicious dishes and okami's [female restaurant owner] warm smile.

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