If you want to sample the finest food in the world then you need to get on a plane to Tokyo – officially the world’s gastronomic capital for 2010.
In late 2009, the meticulous inspectors of fine food from Michelin visited the Japanese capital and gave it an awesome 261 stars, bumping the guide’s home city of Paris into second place for the first time ever. Tokyo restaurants now hold the most number of Michelin stars – 261 in 197 of the cities eateries – and the city also boasts 11 with the prestigious three Michelin star rating.
The Michelin inspectors praised three main elements of Japanese cuisine, the quality of the food, the enthusiasm of Japanese diners to try new things and the vast choice of cuisine available. The Japanese do love to eat out and the Japanese dining experience is all about fresh food, stunning presentation and fantastic hospitality. Food is available everywhere and even most bars provide tasty nibbles or snacks of some kind and not just peanuts and crisps. Tokyo has thousands of cafes and restaurants, many of which are on the high floors of tall buildings with excellent views as well as delicious food.
Some of Tokyo's three-star restaurants may seem unremarkable but have been praised for the skills of the chef and the freshness of ingredients such as Sushi Mizutani, tucked away in the basement of an office building in the Ginza business district but offering sushi sliced and rolled in front of you and sashimi fresh from the world famous Tsukiji fish market a few streets away. According to Michelin, this unassuming counter is officially the world's best sushi.
As well as sushi are a range of contemporary Japanese restaurants proving that it is not the country’s only signature dish such as Esaki that serves mackerel marinated in the uniquely Japanese flavour of Miso. The praise is no surprise as Japan has become world renowned for the quality of its ingredients like Wagyu beef from the town of Kobe where the cows are treated like royalty to produce meat of mouth-watering tenderness and flavour.
Attention to detail is at the heart of Japanese cuisine, from sourcing and using the finest ingredients to stunning presentation that celebrates the art of food both with the careful use of colour and dramatic tableware. Japanese diners are treated to a visual feast before they have put anything into their mouth so it’s no wonder that eating out is such a popular pastime.
"Tokyo remains by far the world capital of gastronomy and also has the most three-star restaurants," said Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin food guide.
The European version of the guide came out in February, cementing Tokyo’s place at the top of the world culinary map, though France still has the edge as a country, just.