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Tokyo Tops Michelin Food Rankings for 2nd Year

Posted November. 20, 2008 08:20,   


Michelin has crowned Tokyo the world’s culinary capital for the second straight year.

The French bible of gastronomy unveiled its restaurant guide for Tokyo Tuesday.

Nine restaurants in Tokyo each received Michelin’s highest rating of three stars. Paris also had nine with the top score while New York had only three.

Michelin’s Tokyo guide awarded 227 stars to Tokyo, leading many to ask how the Japanese capital could beat Paris as the world’s top culinary destination for two straight years.

The answer lies in the sushi eateries Sukiyabashi Jiro and Sushi Mizutani, both of which received three stars.

The two restaurants also have something else in common: they are small restaurants located in a building’s basement. Sukiyabashi Jiro has 23 seats and Sushi Mizutani 14.

Unlike typical Japanese restaurants, the chefs do not treat customers with excessive kindness. Certain diners who are not regulars at the two establishments have even complained of neglect when going there.

Nevertheless, Michelin awarded three stars to the small sushi restaurants since the two chefs running the restaurants have tried to perfect their dishes.

Sukiyabashi Jiro’s elderly top chef Jiro Ono, 83, makes the sushi himself whenever his restaurant is open. Though working as a sushi chef for 75 years, he has always exercised for 30 minutes before serving diners who make reservations.

Since age 40, Ono has worn gloves even in summer when he goes out. He began wearing gloves after deciding that even a small wound on the hands could worry customers, and to prevent calluses from forming.

He is also strict with his dishes, even accusing himself when a small grain of boiled rice fell on the back of his hand while making sushi.

Ono is far stricter when it comes to hygiene.

In his book “Greatest Sushi,” renowned Japanese food critic Yamamoto Masuhiro wrote that Japan’s public health officials who visited Ono’s restaurant tried to take off their shoes to enter his kitchen.

Though Ono’s restaurant serves sushi, it never gives off a fishy smell.

Hachiro Mizutani of Sushi Mizutani, who trained at Sukiyabashi Jiro, is also strict with sushi and hygiene. Mizutani strengthened his basic skills in making sushi under Ono.

He even dedicated himself to cleaning the toilet for the first four years.