Land of the Rising Status

What city in the world has the best food? Paris? New York? Nay, say Michelin reviewers, who in their new guide to Tokyo awarded the city’s restaurants more stars than those of New York and Paris put together.

Eight of Tokyo’s swankiest joints garnered the coveted three-star rating, Michelin’s highest, as compared with three three-star eateries in New York. Paris can still claim the most three-star restaurants, with 10 local establishments able to make that boast. However, with the two-star treatment handed to 25 Tokyo restaurants, and 117 more places receiving one star, Tokyo tops out at an astonishing 191 stars, with Paris only awarded 98 stars and New York with a sad-in-comparison total of 49.

Tokyo’s restaurants are so good, in fact, that each establishment featured in the guide earned at least one star, a Michelin first.

So what’s so fab about Tokyo’s cuisine? As the London Times puts it succinctly:

Although Tokyo’s gourmet triumph is sure to send ripples through the culinary world, residents of the city are unlikely to be surprised. Fine eating is something of a national obsession and the preparation of the perfect dish is seen as a natural extension of the national spirit of ‘monozukuri’ – the ‘making of things’.

The quality of ingredients also plays a vital role: Tokyo is home to the world’s biggest fish market, and the prefectures that border it produce some of the finest meats, fruit and vegetables in the world.

It doesn’t hurt that the Japanese are, by our standards, pretty much obsessed with food:

Dozens of magazines and about half of all prime-time television in Japan is in some way related to food and eating. Many shows exist simply to keep viewers updated on the staggering number of new restaurants opening in Tokyo every week.

I think I can relate.

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