Michelin awards Tokyo more stars, cementing Japan's culinary reign

Japan has held on to its standing as the culinary capital of the world with the latest Michelin guide adding 22 new restaurants from the Tokyo area to the exclusive starred club.

For the sixth edition of the Michelin Tokyo guide, inspectors awarded 6 new restaurants with two stars, while 16 restaurants received their first star.

Restaurants were located in Tokyo, Shonan or Yokohama.

Fifteen restaurants from the region maintained their three stripes.

In total, 286 restaurants in the Tokyo region boast Michelin star-standing.

By comparison, Paris has 10 restaurants that have been garlanded with all three stars, and 77 starred restaurants overall.

This year’s selection of restaurants in Japan represents a wide variety of cooking styles and cuisines, says Michelin, including sushi, soba, tempura, yakitori, steakhouse, Chinese, and French contemporary.

Restaurants awarded three stars are defined as dining destinations that offer “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”

A two-star standing denotes excellent cooking, worth a detour, and a single star means that the eatery is a “very good restaurant in its category.”

Meanwhile, the fact that the gastronomic gulf between Japan and France has widened considerably in just a few years since the Japanese version of Michelin came into existence has raised a few eyebrows among the world’s food pundits, with some criticizing the inspectors in Japan for being overly generous with their ratings.

The fact that some starred eateries are sushi restaurants has also drawn criticism from observers who charge that serving raw fish lacks cookery and labor and shouldn’t be judged on the same level.

The Michelin Guide Tokyo Yokohama Shonan 2013 goes on sale in Japan December 1.