December 3, 2013 / 11:40 AM / 5 years ago

Tokyo keeps crown as Michelin's most gourmet capital for seventh year

TOKYO (Reuters) - A basement sushi restaurant whose octogenarian chef features in a documentary and an eatery serving potentially poisonous blowfish gained three-star ratings in the Michelin guide to Tokyo launched on Tuesday, Michelin said.

Guests look at tuna sushi made from a 222 kg (489 lbs) bluefin tuna at a sushi restaurant outside Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo January 5, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

The city held onto its crown as the Michelin guide’s gourmet capital, with the most starred restaurants for the seventh straight year, a status likely to lure still more of the Asian tourists who say Japan’s tasty treats are a key attraction.

Tokyo also gained the distinction for the most restaurants with the coveted three-star rating, the guidebook’s top honor, although the number dipped to 13 from 14 last year.

But 21 restaurants gained stars for the first time and the total climbed to 281 from 242 in 2012, ranging from restaurants featuring broiled eel to Korean grilled meat and European fine-dining establishments.

“Tokyo proves how dynamic is Japanese gastronomy today,” said Michael Ellis, international director of the Michelin guides, in a statement.

Among the restaurants gaining the three-star accolade was “Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten,” a 10-seat counter basement restaurant in the upscale Ginza area, whose master chef, 86-year-old Jiro Ono, has been in sushi since his teens and was featured in the 2011 documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”.

Another winner was “Usukifugu Yamadaya,” which serves fugu, blowfish which can be fatal if improperly prepared.

Tokyo has seen tourist numbers rise sharply this year and is basking in having been named host the 2020 Summer Olympics. It was the favorite tourist destination of 52 percent of 4,000 Asian respondents to a survey released on Tuesday by the Development Bank of Japan.

Among those who had visited Japan more than once, 58 percent gave Japanese food as the reason they chose it.

The first Michelin restaurant guide, aimed at drivers in the early days of motoring, was published by the tyre company in 1900. The star-rating system was introduced in the 1920s.

Following is a list of the 13 top-rated Tokyo restaurants, and one in the nearby Shonan coastal area, according to the Michelin guide.

1. Azabu Yukimura

2. Esaki

3. Ginza Koju

4. Ishikawa

5. Joel Robuchon

6. Kanda

7. Koan (in Shonan)

8. Quintessance

9. Ryugin

10. Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten

11. Sushi Mizutani

12. Sushi Saito

13. Sushi Yoshitake

14. Usukifugu Yamadaya

Reporting by Elaine Lies, editing by Ron Popeski

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