‘Elitist’ restaurant goes off Michelin guide

The world’s best sushi restaurant has been removed from the Michelin guide.

‘Elitist’ restaurant goes off Michelin guide

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Joanna Whitehead  

The world’s best sushi restaurant has been removed from the Michelin guide. Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo was withdrawn from the esteemed list because the restaurant no longer accepts reservations from the general public.

Guests wishing to dine at the exclusive restaurant can now only do so if they are regulars, have “special connections” or with the aid of a luxury hotel concierge — and must part with at least 40,000 yen (£285) for the chef’s selection.

The establishment received three Michelin stars every year since the culinary guide’s first Tokyo edition in 2007 and was the subject of a 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Upon unveiling its latest Tokyo edition, a spokesperson for the Michelin guide said: “We recognise Sukiyabashi Jiro does not accept reservations from the general public, which makes it out of our scope.”

While reports indicate that the restaurant has been “stripped” of its Michelin stars, the spokesperson added: “It was not true to say the restaurant lost stars but it is not subject to coverage in our guide. Michelin’s policy is to introduce restaurants where everybody can go to eat.”

The restaurant opened in 1965 and boasts one of the world’s oldest chefs, Jiro Ono, who is 94-years-old and established the successful sushi spot. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest sushi chefs alive. Jiro is noted for developing new methods in contemporary sushi preparation, such as massaging octopus for much longer than usual to enhance flavour and texture and boiling prawns before serving, as opposed to the customary morning boil.

Often known as Sushi Jiro, the 10-seat restaurant hosted the former US president Barack Obama and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in 2014. Obama reportedly said the sushi he ate at Jiro was “the best I’ve ever had”.

Jiro’s son, Kazuyoshi Ono, caused controversy in 2011 after stating that women make inferior sushi chefs because their menstrual cycle affects their sense of taste and creates an “imbalance”, a claim widely contested by female sushi chefs.

Michelin’s 2020 guide fortifies Tokyo’s position as the world’s culinary capital, boasting 226 starred restaurants, more than any other city.

The Japanese capital is home to 11 restaurants with three-star ratings, three of which have held the accolade for 13 years in a row. 

In a statement, Paul Perriniaux, CEO of Nihon Michelin Tire, said: “Taking full advantage of its position as a centre for high-quality food, and highly skilled domestic and international chefs who prepare it, Tokyo is likely to continue to lead the world as a city of gastronomy.”

— The Independent

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