UMAMI MART MATSURI FESTIVAL
I finally gave in and bought the Tokyo Michelin Guide. Luckily, I was able to come across the English version with no problem.

Tokyo was awarded a total of 191 stars earning the crown, by far, for best place to eat in the world according to Michelin (compared to the second: Paris with 65 stars, and third: New York with 54 stars). The majority of featured restaurants are Japanese and not surprisingly, French. I have always been intrigued by the apparent love affair between Japan and France - especially in cuisine. The Tokyo version of the Michelin Guide seems to be a very tight tie in the knot making this love affair into a marriage. In fact, I expect more French people visiting Tokyo from this guide alone and perhaps vice-versa.

After reviewing the entire book, I discovered that I had been to only one of these restaurants (the reason being most restaurants in the book will set you back $150 to $400 for dinner, at least), Ukai-tei in Ginza (on work tab, of course). It was, as expected, fabulous and perfect. My lone crab leg meat entree was eaten with a knife and fork like a steak. And then we were escorted to a separate room for dessert. Perfectly dressed servers showing off insane jewel like pastries and cakes atop sparking gold platter carts. So yeah, it was great, but for that price, wouldn't you expect it?

That is my skepticism with the Michelin Guide, although pampering yourself with perfection is sometimes wonderful, it's just "wonderful." You expect that you are going to have the best and that expectation is fulfilled. So given that Tokyo is a city swarming with loaded folks who want perfection every night, I am not surprised that the Michelin Guide people awarded 191 stars. Tokyo deserves all 191.

But for a real relevation - try going to a tiny restaurant hidden in the side streets of less glitzy-glam areas where a husband-wife team gleams pride serving you their best sashimi of the day. Or a small bar where a young 30 year old is meticulously fusing all types of food, crushing ice by hand and following his dream. After all, that's why Umami Mart exists right?!
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1 comment

  • 191 stars- that’s unbelievable. that’s really unprecedented for the guide to be so generous. i mean, it’s funny that you would totally put your faith in a guide written by the french, over the legitimacy of a restaurant on the other side of the world.

    brings up many issues: are taste buds localized, or international? are french tastebuds superior to those of the rest of the world? why give so much power in deciding what we eat to the French?

    all very bizarre, if you think about it. but so cleverly dictated, and manipulated, in this globalized consumer-frenzied world.

    but here’s the funny thing- as much as the French-Japanese love affair is exacerbated by this, there are still old school, Japanese cuisine loyalists who refuse to let “outsiders” decide what’s good for them, and rejected the Michelin stars.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/business/worldbusiness/24guide.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    what would Kuni do???

    kayoko on

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