Michelin stars recognise Tokyo as restaurant capital of the world

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 19th November 2008

Tokyo has solidified its reputation as a gastronomic capital, after again receiving more Michelin stars than any other city.

The Michelin guide to Tokyo was released overnight, with the Japanese capital increasing their number of coveted stars to 227 spread across 173 restaurants – an increase of 36 stars and 23 restaurants on last year.

The Michelin guide awards restaurants of high quality with either one, two or three stars, with three meaning the restaurant has “exceptional cuisine” and is “worth the journey”. Tokyo has now moved into equal first with Paris for three-star restaurants – both cities have nine.

restaurant meal

“Tokyo is, and remains, the most starred city in the world,” Michelin director Jean-Luc Naret told reporters. “Japanese cuisine is dynamic, diverse, rich and interesting. It’s worth the travel.”

With nine three-star, 36 two-star and 128 one-star restaurants, Tokyo amassed over double the number awarded to Parisian restaurants.

The majority, about two-thirds, of the lauded restaurants in Tokyo served Japanese cuisine, with around a quarter serving French. Given the high number of stars of Parisian restaurants it is little wonder that there is a trend in the restaurant world toward an Asian interpretation on French cuisine.

Popular British chef Gordon Ramsay, whose Maze restaurant will be coming to Melbourne in 2010, added to his haul with Gordon Ramsay at The Conrad Tokyo receiving one star. His group of restaurants now have an enviable nine stars, which remains below only acclaimed French chefs Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse.

Mr Naret warned, however, that stars can come and go just as easily. “Stars are not engraved in marble,” he advised. “What counts for us is what a chef offers on the plate all year long.”

The pressure of which can be daunting and extremely stressful.

The intense commitment and dedication takes its toll and has this month seen Olivier Roellinger become the third French chef in charge of a three star restaurant to renounce his stars.  “Physically, I can no longer continue cooking,” he told the New York Times overnight. “My legs no longer hold me.” Mr Roellinger will continue cooking but without the pressure of three stars so that he can take his cuisine to a wider audience.

The most notable chef to have renounced his stars was Joel Robuchon, who decided to give them up back in 1996 before returning to take the position of the ‘most-starred’ chef in the world. “There’s too much stress, I want to live,” he said at the time.