Move over, Paris. Tokyo snatched the coveted title as the city with the most three-star restaurants in the 2010 edition of Michelin's Tokyo guide, overtaking Paris as the "world capital of gastronomy," Michelin guide director Jean-Luc Naret announced in a news conference.
With 11 three-star, 42 two-star and 144 one-star restaurants, Tokyo now holds triple the number of awards that Paris has. Paris has 10 3-star restaurants.
One star denotes a "very good restaurant in its category," two stars means "excellent cooking and worth a detour," and three stars means "exceptional cuisine and worth a special journey." Multiply that by 261 stars, shared between 197 restaurants, and you get a culinary explosion.
Naret also noted that Tokyo is the world's largest metropolis-- with 160,000 restaurants, it has four times as many restaurants as Paris.
According to Michelin, about 67 percent of the cuisine represented in the guide is Japanese, with the remaining third made up of French, Chinese, Fusion, Italian, Spanish and Steakhouse. The guide branched out in the range of Japanese food it covers, introducing "izakaya" bars (which serve food comparable to tapas), "kushiage" (deep-fried kabob) and "yakitori" (grilled chicken). It also included the major culinary styles of sukiyaki, sushi, tempura, teppanyaki and unagi.
Esaki, Sushi Saito and Yukimura were promoted from two-star to three-star category, while 42 restaurants joined the Michelin crowd with one-star.
The Michelin Guide, the most well-known food rating system in the world, debuted its Tokyo guide in 2007. Initially, it wasn't well-received by many Japanese chefs, given that it was judged by foreign food critics.
"Imagine if I went to Paris and started pronouncing upon the food served in French restaurants," Toshiya Kadowaki, chef and owner of Azabu Kadowaki, told Waitrose Food Illustrated. "The French either wouldn't take me seriously or they wouldn't be very happy. Well I don't think Michelin should do the same here in Japan. Who are they to judge my food and decide if I am worthy of one, two or three stars -- or no stars at all?"
This time around, the food inspectors were all Japanese, the AFP reported.