Sunday, 30th November 2014
In General Japan News,
New Michelin guide confirms Tokyo as culinary capital of the world
Tokyo has held onto its status as the world's gourmet culinary hotspot, with the Japanese capital boasting more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in the world.
One of the most eagerly awaited events on the culinary calendar, the publication of the 2015 Michelin guide to Tokyo brought good news for dozens of establishments the length and breadth of the metropolis.
In all, 267 have been awarded stars, 19 of them for the first time. Perhaps more significantly, 12 restaurants have been awarded three Michelin stars, a higher number than in any other city on the planet.
Coming soon after UNESCO declared Japan's washoku cuisine an "intangible cultural heritage", thereby offering it special protection, the publication of the guide adds further weight to the country's claim to be the culinary capital of the world.
Alongside native dishes, the high quality of the international cuisine on offer in Tokyo has also been highlighted through this latest round of awards.
A number of foreign chefs now plying their trade in Japan were decorated for their work, among them Heinz Beck, whose Italian restaurant La Pergola has been winning rave reviews, both for its contemporary take on classic dishes and for the quality of its wine cellar.
Notably, it's not just fine food many of the best eateries in Tokyo offer visitors from overseas. Some of them also provide a unique insight into the rich history of this fascinating history, allowing tourists and locals alike to learn while they dine.
For instance, several of the newest entries into the Michelin listings are best known for serving chanko nabe, a dish for which the emphasis used to be placed on quantity rather than quality.
Indeed, the protein-rich stew is traditionally consumed in huge quantities by sumo wrestlers keen to pile on the pounds ahead of a bout. These days, however, a number of top-end restaurants rather than simply rough-and-ready establishments of the Ryogoku district of Tokyo, serve the dish, though, some traditions remain, such as the policy of serving the most senior member of the dining party first.
At the same time, blowfish is also well and truly back on the fine dining menu, the latest Michelin guide suggests.
Usukifugu Yamadaya, an establishment renowned for serving up the poisonous blowfish, gained its third Michelin star in this latest round of awards, though, as Reuters reports, its owner dismissed the news as a joke when he was first informed.
This comes as the Wall Street Journal reports that Japan's 'fermented food' culture is steadily making a comeback right across the country.
A number of restaurants, in particular those based in and around the Shibuya district of Tokyo, are now serving dishes based on naturally fermented ingredients such as miso, soy sauce and soybean paste.