Japan has bested France for the number of restaurants that received the coveted three-star billing from the esteemed publication, according to the upcoming 2012 edition centered on the country’s western locales. The guide will be released on Friday in both English and Japanese. With the new guide, Japan breaks away from the neck-and-neck contention it held with France last year. The country now boasts 29 establishments with three-star status, four more than France, according to a statement by the French publication on Tuesday.
The three-star rating was bestowed unto a total of 15 eateries in Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and newly added Nara– one more than in 2011. Some 59 restaurants were rewarded with two stars and 222 made it into the pages of the little red book with one star. Three new restaurants were added to the three-star lineup this year: Wayamura, a Japanese restaurant, in Nara and two restaurants in Osaka that were upgraded from two stars – Koryu and Fujiya1935. The Michelin star system has shone brightly on Japan since it first ventured into the country in 2008. While New York City stewed with just three of the highest-ranked restaurants at the time, Tokyo galloped into the Michelin family of guides with eight. It was a little shy of the 10 in Paris and now easily outshines the nine in New York.
The latest of the greatest in Japan’s west includes a new category for Korean restaurants, of which there is one in the book. Overall, Japanese cuisine, which encompasses the breadth of soba, yakitori, traditional Japanese, sushi and yakiniku, among others, is still king, making up about 90% of the restaurant selection. Kyoto-based dining venues dominated the rankings. About half of the top-ranked and two-star restaurants reside in the ancient city. The new guide also puts the gastronomic cities of western Japan back on top of the capital, which had 14 triple star restaurants last year. The 2012 Tokyo guide, including outlying cities Yokohama and Kamakura, will go on sale Dec. 12.