That sudden gust of air you felt around November 17th was the result of the entire nation of France collectively gasping for air. On that day the press broke the news that Tokyo had topped Paris in the number of the coveted 3-star restaurants. Should we care? Will this have bigger results?
Granted Tokyo just barely edged out Paris in the top category. With 11 three-star restaurants to Paris’ 10 it’s not a wide margin of victory… but the total numbers – 11 three-star, 42 two-star and 144 one-star restaurants is three times the total number of awards that Paris has. Paris has 10 3-star restaurants., 42 two-star and 144 one-star restaurants.
If I were more cynical I might point out that at 160,000 restaurants in the city, Tokyo has 4 times the total number of restaurants than Paris. I also might point out that when the guide was launched in Tokyo in 2007 a vast majority of chefs and other culinary figures in the country were offended at the notion of French folks reviewing their food. Skip ahead to the 2010 guide and all the reviewers are Japanese and suddenly everyone’s happy… and the guide finally shakes off it’s image of overly touting French restaurants and takes a solid step onto the modern world stage.
But I like to think of this as a solid win for the Japanese. Their attention to detail and obsession with food is apparent from your first meal in the country… their fast food chains have style and refinement not found in most American “sit down” restaurants. Our time in Japan was astounding. I could live the rest of my life in the country exploring it’s food, cities, and country side and still not fully appreciate all it has to offer. My meal of live Abalone and Tuna jaw will stay with me the rest of my life…
Congratulations to the restaurants of Japan for finally getting the recognition they deserve on the world stage. Japanese cuisine is so much more than sushi and Benihana and it’s about time the world stood up and took note.