West Japan challenges Tokyo's tasty Michelin crown

Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:48am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Western Japan challenged Tokyo on Tuesday for its status as the global center of gourmet dining, with the Michelin guide awarding area restaurants more of the coveted three-star ratings than those given to establishments in the capital.

A total of 15 restaurants in the Kansai area, which centers on Japan's second-largest city of Osaka and the ancient capital of Kyoto, were awarded top three-star ratings, three more than last year and one more than Tokyo was given.

Tokyo last year received more Michelin stars than any other city in the world for the fourth year in a row.

Of the restaurants named in the newest edition of the guide to the Kansai region, a popular tourist area known as the heartland of Japanese traditional culture, 12 serve Japanese cuisine and two fusion. The last serves "contemporary French."

New to the guidebook this year were the cities of Kobe and Nara, accounting for three of the three-star establishments. Michelin defines three-star ratings as "exceptional cuisine, worth a journey."

Wa Yamamura, a Japanese restaurant in Nara, leapt to the top of the awards in its first listing.

The restaurants Fujiya 1935 and Koryu in Osaka, whose inhabitants have long been jokingly known in food-obsessed Japan as "those who court financial ruin by extravagance in food," were promoted to three stars from two.

Among the 300 establishments given stars, 61 -- including two traditional inns -- received two stars, while 224 got one.   Continued...