Michelin Stars

Japanese Cuisine

The esteemed Michelin Star is the highest accolade a restaurant can receive. The stars are awarded to only the finest restaurants around the world, with one to three stars being awarded for outstanding quality. One star is awarded to "a very good restaurant in its category", two for "excellent cooking, worth a detour" and three, the highest number, for "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey". The three star award is very rare, of the millions of restaurants around the globe only 81 have received the three star rating.

Earlier this year Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester had the honour of being awarded three stars, giving England its fourth restaurant to receive such an award. The Dorchester joins Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and, Michel Roux’s The Waterside Inn both in Bray and the self-titled Gordon Ramsey, in Chelsea, in the highest bracket.

In recognition of this we decided to take a look at the some of the world’s most delectable dining establishments.

The city with the most three-starred restaurants is the Japanese capital, Tokyo. The man in charge of the Michelin Guide, Jean-Luc Naret said that "Tokyo remains by far the world capital of gastronomy and also has the most three-star restaurants." Some of these restaurants include:

Hamadaya - which offers the traditional Japanese Kaiseki multi course dinner. The restaurant is comprised of 11 private dining rooms, diners are required to remove their shoes upon entrance and seating comes in the form of traditional horigotatsu where the seats are actually sunk into the floor.

Koju is another one of Japan’s elite restaurants, it is a very small restaurant with just 12 tables, and seating is in full view of the chefs working. Here you can sample Japanese delicacies such as sea urchin and grilled eel.

However in Japan there has been some controversy as chefs are apprehensive of having their food judged by gaijin who, in their eyes, know not enough of the food they judge. One chef, Toshiya Kadowaki, actually rejected the chance to be featured in the 2009 Tokyo Michelin Guide saying “Who are they to judge my food and decide whether we are worthy of one, two or three stars? Or no stars at all?”

The nation that was usurped by Japan is the home of haute cuisine, or at least the appellation. France currently has ten three-star restaurants. Alain Passard the proprietor of L’Arpege, one of the three-star establishments, spoke of the competition from Japan: “There is a real message there for everyone: we must work even harder to keep pace with Tokyo, they have a level of subtlety that we do not possess”. One of France’s most revered, and feared, food critics François Simon was not surprised by Japan’s dominance. He said: “I have always thought that Tokyo was the world's gastronomic capital. In Paris people are too self-satisfied, they think they have the perfect formula and forget the fundamentals, even the croissants are better (in Japan) than in France most of the time”.

However don’t let all this talk discourage you - France is still at the pinnacle of fine dining. Some of the best restaurants found in France include:

Meurice is a restaurant located in Paris that has lavish decor and is noted for its immense attention to detail. It is known for serving deliciously fresh and sumptuously cooked seafood, including wild salmon available only during a few weeks every year. You can also sample perfectly cooked pigeon and a range of deliciously decadent desserts.

Also in Paris is Guy Savoy, another fantastic restaurant with impeccable French service and standards. Dishes of note include the deep fried mushroom kebab, artichoke soup with black truffle and parmesan, and bresse chicken with strips of fennel.

The two restaurants that garner the most attention from critics, press and diners alike are The Fat Duck in England and Spain’s El Bulli. Both of these restaurants offer a very different and experimental dining experience. Both restaurants offer a taster menu where you are served a selection of small dishes including the likes of red cabbage gazpacho with Pommery grain mustard ice cream, salmon poached in liquorice and the theatrical mock turtle soup- all at The Fat Duck. At El Bulli you can taste treats such as sea cucumber stuffed with calyx caviar, tomato gelatine soup and veal broth.

There are many more restaurants around the world to have gained the three star award, to learn more about Michelin and their ratings visit the Michelin website.