Monday, November 05, 2007

And Now Tokyo

After America, the folks at Michelin have turned eastwards. Tokyo chefs are eagerly watching the countdown to the November 22 launch of Michelin's Tokyo guide. Note: Pics of kaiseki in this post by squaylor and gnuf

Kaisaki feast in TokyoThe Financial Times recent ran a great article on gastronomic Tokyo, but the online version requires subscription. Some excerpts:

...A new attitude and a convergence of trends are propelling the city to the fore of the global gourmet circuit. While ¥150,000 meals and ¥900,000 wines are still readily available in today's sophisticated Tokyo, what inevitably surprises - and delights - visitors is the growing diversity, and quality, of culinary experience available on any budget.

Whether it is a Michelin three-star chef's exquisite creation in an imposing chateau, or a humble but perfectly chargrilled chicken skewers for ¥600; or a delicate kaiseki feast - traditional haute cuisine - served by kimonoed waitresses in an ancient wooden house, the offering can beguile even seasoned gourmets.

Kaisaki feast in TokyoOn a per capita basis, Tokyo (population 9 million) boasts one of the highest concentrations of eateries of any major city - just under 200,000, or one restaurant for every 45 people. "The Japanese are insatiably curious, and love food...tracking the fads and restaurant rankings is a national pastime", says Mary Corbett, a cross-cultural consultant in Tokyo.

"Gagnaire, Ramsey, Ducasse...nearly all the big names seem to have come to Tokyo", says Jean-Luc Naret, director of Michelin Guides. Joel Robuchon and Dominique Corby were among the handful of prominent foriegn chefs in Tokyo in the early 1990s. Now there are nearly 50 internationally recognized foreign chefs operating in Japan - about 15 of whom have held Michelin's top three-star rating. These include Ducasse, Pierre Gagnaire, Marc Haeberlin, Robuchon, Gordon Ramsey, Michel Troisgros and Voisin.

Michelin says about 60% of it's guide will be Japanese and other cuisines will make up the remainder, a third of which will be French.

Curiously, in Zagat's Tokyo guide, only a third of the listed restaurants serve Japanese food. Top of this year's rankings was l'Osier, a French restaurant.

Update: The Tokyo Michelin Guides have been announced. Read this post.


Aparna Ganguly said...

East ward ho!

foodette said...

I am eagerly awaiting the release of the Los Angeles Michelin - only about 10 days to go! Yay!

Anonymous said...

@aparna: Yes, a beginning! However, we sorely need a good rating system in India too.

@foodette: :-)