World’s best sushi restaurant stripped of its three Michelin stars
Guide will not rate Tokyo’s Sukiyabashi Jiro as it is no longer open to the public
A man passes an advertisement board of Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. The restaurant was stripped of its Michelin because it no longer opens to the general public. Photograph: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP via Getty Images
Michelin director Jean-Luc Naret with chef Jiro Ono of Sukiyabashi Jiro during a presentation of the Michelin Guide Tokyo in 2008. Photograph: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP via Getty Images
The world’s best sushi restaurant has been stripped of its three Michelin stars. But the decision, announced in Tokyo on Tuesday, has nothing to do with the quality of its tuna belly or the consistency of its vinegared rice. It’s because it is no longer open to the general public.
“We recognise Sukiyabashi Jiro does not accept reservations from the general public, which makes it out of our scope,” a Michelin Guide spokeswoman said as it unveiled its latest Tokyo edition.
She 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 exclusive restaurant, where Barack Obama dined with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, in 2014, had received three Michelin stars every year since Michelin published its first Tokyo guide in 2007, and was the subject of the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
Its owner, Jiro Ono, is still serving sushi into his 90s with the help of his eldest son, Yoshikazu. His younger son runs a branch of the restaurant that is open to the public and has retained its two stars.
The fabled main restaurant, often known simply as Sushi Jiro, opened in the upmarket Ginza district in 1965 and has an acclaimed guest list that includes the French chef Joël Robuchon, actor Hugh Jackman and singer Katy Perry.
Demand means it has never been easy to make a reservation, but now diners willing to part with at least 40,000 yen (€333) for the chef’s selection must be regulars, have special connections or book through the concierge of a luxury hotel.
Jiro’s website said it was “currently experiencing difficulties in accepting reservations” and apologised for “any inconvenience to our valued customers”.
It added: “Unfortunately, as our restaurant can only seat up to 10 guests at a time, this situation is likely to continue.”
Obama said the sushi he ate with Abe was “the best I’ve ever had” and was particularly fond of the chu-toro, a fatty, expensive, cut of tuna. But his appetite was reportedly no match for the 20-piece menu selected by the chef, with reports at the time claiming that he stopped eating with half the course yet to come.
Michelin’s 2020 guide reinforces Tokyo’s status as arguably the world’s culinary capital, with 226 starred restaurants, more than any other city. Eleven restaurants have been awarded three-star ratings, three of them for the 13th year in a row, it said on its website. – Guardian Service