Tokyo burnishes luster as most-starred Michelin city

Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:35pm EST
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Tokyo on Wednesday held onto its crown as the global center of gourmet dining, when the Michelin guide awarded it more stars than any other city for the fourth year in a row.

Tokyo restaurants also gained more top awards than last year with 14 given the coveted three-star rating, which Michelin defines as "exceptional cuisine, worth a journey." Twelve serve Japanese cuisine and two serve French.

In the newest edition of the Michelin restaurant guide for Japan's capital, launched on Wednesday, sushi restaurant "Araki" leapt to the top of the awards in its first listing.

Three restaurants were promoted from two to three stars, among them Usukifugu Yamadaya, whose specialty is fugu -- puffer fish that can be lethal if improperly prepared.

Among 240 starred Tokyo restaurants, 52 received two stars and 174 received one star. By contrast, Paris -- where ten restaurants received three-star ratings, second to Tokyo -- had only 64 starred restaurants.

The award is especially respected in Japan, one of the world's most food-obsessed nations, where diners are willing to wait in long lines and pay high prices.

"Restaurants here really focus on what they can do well, they really specialize. It takes time and it takes precision as well," Jean-Luc Naret, global director of the Michelin guides, told Reuters, noting the wide range of Japanese food.

Included this year were references to Japanese beef cuisine and even more down-to-earth food such as tonkatsu, fried pork cutlets Japanese-style.   Continued...

<p>Mount Fuji is seen to the southwest of Tokyo December 20, 2009. REUTERS/Toru Hanai</p>