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Michelin 3 stars

Just google Michelin Tokyo and got the list of 3 stars, as follow :
Hamadaya, Classic Japanese
Joel Robuchon, French
Kanda, Japanese
Koju, Japanese
L'Osier, French
Quintessence, French
Sushi Mizutani, Sushi
Sukiyabashi Jiro, Sushi


Agree that Tokyo is the top culinary capital in the world. Glad the French finally agreed as well.

I have tried Sukiyabashi Jiro, and agreed it is absoultely one of the best restaurant in the world and my personal favorite sushi place.

I have not tried the rest on the list (even though I did try Robuchon in Macau). Would appreciate if anyone who has tried any share the experience with us.

Would also appreciate if anyone who has the list of 2 stars and 1 star to share the list on Chowhound too.

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  1. Hi FourSeasons, how do you make reservation at Jiro ? Did you call in Japanese ?

    I cannot find any information regarding Kanda and Koju on the internet. I would really appreciate if anyone can have any info on them. Do you need to know someone in order to make reservation ? Thanks !

    9 Replies
    1. re: skylineR33

      OK, the Asahi Shimbun has the complete list: http://www.asahi.com/komimi/TKY200711...

      Here are a few of the two-star restaurants:
      Michel Troisgros
      Sant Pau
      Pierre Gagnaire
      L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
      Le Mange-Tout

      I was surprised by Mange-Tout - it's a tiny neighborhood restaurant with food that's good but not very exciting. Certainly not the level of Pierre Gagnaire or Joel Robuchon, in my opinion.

      1. re: Robb S

        How did the 'Iron Chefs' restaurant do?

        1. re: Charles Yu

          There is none except Morimoto, oh well... or am I missing something ?

          1. re: lost squirrel

            I had a very enjoyable meal at Iron Chef French's restaurant ' La Rochelle ' about a year ago. Food was tasty, view was great, service was attentive. With these, I was surprised to see them not getting even a single star! Wow!! If this a reflection of Tokyo's overall eateries food standard. What a place for us Chowhounds!! Actually, its borderline scary!!

          2. re: Robb S

            I was not blown away by L'Atelier. I did the course and it was all very good, but there wasn't a single dish that I was really, really excited about. My friend did order a lamb dish though that I was wishing I chose instead of the risotto. I'm looking forward to trying out some of the others mentioned on the list.

          3. re: skylineR33

            Hi skylineR33: The hotel concierge helped me with the reservation at Jiro. The one I tried is at Roppongi Hill, tel: 03-5413-6626. I understand it is managed by the founder's son. Very small restaurant, i think just 10-15 seats. Only 2 sushi chefs, I believe one of them is the founder's son and the other one speaks fluent English
            There is another Jiro at the Takashimaya department store in Nihonbashi, which I have never tried before. I think that is the original branch managed by the father.

            1. re: FourSeasons

              I think I will do the same. May I ask how long advance do you call to make reservation ? I will only be in Tokyo for a week or so. Thanks.

              1. re: skylineR33

                My last trip was on early October and I booked the dinner on the same evening without any problem. I wonder if the reservation may get difficult now with so much publicity from Michelin Guide.

          4. Wow - that is a lot for a small country- Los Angeles got onl three I believe...

            5 Replies
            1. re: miffy

              Tokyo is not really small, it has close to 13 million residents compared to just 4 million for Los Angeles.

              1. re: miffy

                Los Angeles doesn't have any restaurant with 3-Michelin stars in their 2008 guide. Only 3 restaurants gained 2 stars: Melisse, Spago & Urasawa.

                San Francisco 2008 Michelin Guide lists only one 3-Michelin restaurant: Thomas Keller's French Laundry, which makes it the top-ranked restaurant in California according to the Michelin folks.

                1. re: klyeoh

                  4 L.A. Restaurants have 2 stars. You missed Providence.

                  1. re: foodiemahoodie

                    Sorry, I was referring to my Michelin Los Angeles 2008 Guide which listed Providence as having only 1 star. Did they gain a 2nd star in the new Michelin LA 2009 guide?

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      Hi klyeoh,

                      Hai. Providence gained a 2nd Star this year.

              2. Question: By nationality and catagory, which of the 2 or 3 stars offers the Tastiest and 'Best value for money' food?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Charles Yu

                  I'd say China Blue is a definite two-star winner -- not too sure about the others and find the list depressingly full of French/Japanese. There are a lot of great, great restaurants beyond those two categories.

                2. After reading the above and the 'complete list' and evaluating it against previous threads and postings I have made a couple of interesting discoveries.
                  1) None of the '2007 World's best 50 restaurants' listed by Restaurant Magazine featured a Tokyo based restaurant. Guess they have to look closer at Japan and make some major changes next year.
                  2) The 2007 ranking of Zagat's Top 10 Tokyo Restaurants feature only 3 restaurants having one star. The rest have no stars at all!!
                  Interesting!! Guess I'll rely on the Japan board for info for the up-coming trip to Japan.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Hi CharlesYu: on top of these 2 lists, dininginfrance.com recently released its latest annual 10 best French restaurants outside of France. None of the three French restaurants in Tokyo awarded with Michelin 3 stars is in its top 10 list. Apparently, the only French restaurant in Japan that is listed is Michel Bras in Toya Hokkaido.


                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      I am not able to comment on Caprice or Louis XV as I have not tried them before. I was not that impressed with Per Se; maybe it was due to my very high expectation. I went there thinking it would be so great as acclaimed by the media. I walked out thinking it was good but certainly not on my favorite list, and certainly would not be going back there paying US$300 per head. French Laundry and Chateau Robuchon Tokyo were in their top 10 list last year but did not make it this year.
                      Clearly this type of "best" list always invite controversy. I personally thought the Restaurant magazine's list is an even much bigger joke.

                    2. re: Charles Yu

                      Hello Charles Yu, on your point 2), the gap seems to stem from the Zagat methodology: in the end it is a popular vote by the public, not necessarily by critique with trained tongue (but that does not mean Michelin is the absolute guide). The food ratings by Zagat are a lot of times influenced by all other variables such as decor, atmosphere, or if they had a good time or not, rather than the pure food quality itself. I would go with whatever you feel trustworthy after trying a couple of things, be it Michelin or Gault Millau or Pudlo (in Paris) or Amakara-techo (in Japan) or Tom Sietsema (for Washington Post).

                    3. I'm Tokyo-bound on Saturday and have reservations at 5 of 8 (Hamadaya, Joel Robuchon, Kanda, L'Osier, and Mizutani) and one of the 2 stars (Kikunoi). Speaking of the 2 star selections, I believe Twenty-One has temporarily closed on the heels of a well-publicized beef scandal:

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: BaronDestructo

                        Just be aware that Hamadaya, Kanda and Kikunoi are kaiseki meals, and Robuchon and L'Osier are French, so you don't get much varieties over your dining schedule. Also note the three kaiseki restaurants focus on seasonal stuffs, so you may get the same seasonal food but with different interpretations.

                        1. re: FourSeasons

                          the new 2009 michelin guide for tokyo is out.. ishikawa is the newly added 3 star restaurant

                        2. re: BaronDestructo

                          Twenty-One has reopened under a new name, Le Pergolese, which is the name of Chef Gaborieau's restaurant in Paris.

                          1. re: BaronDestructo

                            How was your experience?
                            Love to hear it..

                          2. I think three stars for Hamadaya is a joke, if the stars are awarded on the basis of the food alone. The service is incredible, the ambiente perfect, but the food is just not that great. It is good kaiseki, but I have had much better in quite a few places. They even made basic mistakes, like serving overdone unagi etc. Very disappointing. And this assessment is not based on going once - I have been a number of times, not out of choice but with work, and every time it was just OK, pretty good. I am convinced that they have awarded the stars for the overall experience, not just the food.

                            Koju I found deserves its stars, although I have spoken to some people who are pretty versed in the Tokyo food scene and they were not overly impressed. My experience has been uniformely positive though.

                            Robuchon is fine, but again, I am not sure if I would give the place three stars. Possibly, but it is perceptively inferior to L'Osier, and I doubt it would have been awarded three stars in France.

                            Mizutani is incredible. I have not been to Jiro (and give the attitude to foreigners, have no interest in going).

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: Asomaniac

                              I have read on 2 other blogs that gave poor reviews of Hamadaya as well, but yet it scores quite well at Tabelog though with very small sample size. Koju seems to get mixed review too; but I enjoyed it as much as you do. Everyone seems to love Mizutani. Have you tried Quintessence yet and how does it compare to L'Osier?

                              Robuchon and Jiro...perhaps rewarded due to their name recognition. Both are legendary names.

                              But in your personal opinion and experience, which are the restaurants that deserves 3 stars but yet were left behind in the lower (1 or 2) category or none at all?

                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                I think the obvious one is Aronia de Takazawa. Maybe not 3 stars, but none at all is absurd. They have either turned the stars down, as some Japanese restaurants have done, or the inspectors did not even visit (given that there are almost 200,000 restaurants in Tokyo and the Michelin inspectors visit a maximum of 1,500). I can't imagine that they ate there and were unwilling to award even one star.

                                I also think it is scandalous that K.u.K., the Austrian restaurant, did not get a star.

                                I think on a good day Ryugin deserves a third star. I would have said it definitely does in the past (it is not only innovative, but comparable dishes such as sashimi, unagi etc I had at Ryugin and Koju were better at Ryugin), but I had one not that great expereince there recently. The quality sometimes is variable - it is always very high, but occasionally it is 2 star standard and occasionally 3 star standard. But if Hamadaya has three stars...

                                1. re: Asomaniac

                                  How about your other favorite ASO, Ristorante maintained its two stars while Argento has been promoted to two stars this time. Do you think they deserve 3 stars?

                                  1. re: FourSeasons

                                    I think that Aso deserves three stars more than Robuchon does, so if Robuchon gets three, so should Aso. I have had better meals at 3 star restaurants in various countries than I have had at Aso, but, again, considering Robuchon...

                                    I am a little torn on whether Argento Aso, Ristorante Aso's sister restaurant, should have gotten the second star. In comparison to some other two star restaurants, probably yes. In comparison to Ristorante, maybe not. The food at Argento is in many ways quite similar, right down to the amazing smoked swordfish cream you get instead of buter with your bread. But Ristorante has some significantly more elaborate dishes than Argento does. Argento Aso is like Ristorante Aso light, and it seems a bit odd that they are rated the same. Perhaps that is another indicator that Ristorante should have received a third star - Argento is no worse than most other 2 star restaurants, but definitely does not quite reach the heights of Ristorante.

                                  2. re: Asomaniac

                                    I haven't been to Ryugin since May, and have only dined there once, but I wouldn't have given it 3 stars based on my experience. Definitely 2 stars, but not 3. The food was probably 3-star or close to it, but the service was still quite "young", and although the servers were very personable and helpful, tiny slips can make a big difference (dripping wine on the table after pouring, etc. There were a couple of other things I noticed at the time, but I can't remember them now.). Not that I'm a Michelin inspector, but if even I noticed these things, I'm sure they would, as well, and stars are not solely based on food.

                                    1. re: prasantrin

                                      But the stars are supposed to be solely based on what is on the plate; while I'm sure service and atmosphere have as much an effect on the dining experience (and likely how the inspectors will perceive the food), the official word from Michelin is that stars are awarded for food (and they also have the other little ratings for comfort level and whatnot).

                                      1. re: tjr

                                        Yes, you're right. Sorry, I confused Michelin with something else.

                                        1. re: prasantrin

                                          I know what you are saying, before Michelin-starred restaurants in France were held to a very high standard on of formal service and decor, they were expected to spends big cash on flowers and silverware, etc. I don't know if things have changed for the French edition, but they sure have for their guides in the rest of the world. I've only been to Ryugin twice and the manager took care of me both times. I was impressed by the casual spirit of hospatality that he brought to the job.

                                      2. re: prasantrin

                                        I think you were probably quite unlucky - I have eaten at Ryugin quite a few times, and as long as Mr Arimasa, the manager, takes care of you, the service will be impeccable. Some of the waiters do seem a bit green though. In any event, the Michelin guide claims that the stars are simply awarded for the food, so the quality of the service should be neither here nor there in terms of the number of Michelin stars. Having said that, in reality I do believe the Michelin guide at least sometimes gives awards for the overall experience. How else can one explain three stars for Hamadaya??!

                                        1. re: Asomaniac

                                          I may have given the wrong impression--I don't feel unlucky about my dinner at Ryugin at all. I quite enjoyed the food and the service. However, I did notice those tiny little slips which, at least to me, would make the difference between a two and three star experience. Nothing egregious happened, though, and I know many people who would even have noticed those little slips.

                                          I'm still planning on going back...eventually!

                                  3. re: Asomaniac

                                    Nagayama-san of Dai San Harumi also commented on Hamadaya's 3 stars being a joke, so you may get along just fine with the guy whenever you end up meeting him...

                                  4. Hey everyone, just wanted to bring to your attention a new review I did on Hamadaya in Tokyo. A magnificent experience, with 3-stars well deserved.

                                    Here's the link if you're interested (pictures and video included): http://www.hungrydru.com/2008/12/25/g...

                                    Located in the bustling old-town Tokyo region of Akasaka, Hamadaya is certainly a hidden sanctuary tucked away in an obscure side street. Earnestly awaiting your arrival, you are greeted by 2 kneeling waitresses–one of whom we later learn is Mari, one of the owner’s daughters. With smiling faces and a warm “iraishaimase,” it’s from this point onwards that you know you are in for royal treatment. I mean, when was the last time you were greeted by 2 kneeling women?

                                    What I particularly enjoyed about the experience apart from the food is that unlike most other 3-Michelin-Star establishments, the Hamadaya experience was surprisingly laid back. Perhaps it’s the fact that parties are seated in individual private rooms, so you feel less of a need to be on your best behavior. Or maybe it’s because you’re sitting on the floor in your socks. But it’s probably the warm, wooden, traditional homey interior of the place (there was even an old-school Sony television in the waiting room, as if part of someone’s living room…and listen out for the creeky floors in the video at the end of this post). Whatever it was, it was a pleasure and a refreshing change from the “fine-dining” mold.

                                    Two lunch menus are offered, one at 15,000JPY per person and another at 23,000JPY per person. Below outlines the 15,000JPY lunch menu, though it must be noted that according to Mari, the menu changes every two weeks.

                                    As our amuse, we were treated to vegetables dressed with sesame paste, mashed broad beans, deep fried prawn, and grilled squid. All of which were geometrically beautiful. I especially enjoyed the vegetables in sesame paste–small bites yet packed with serious nutty and fragrant punch reminiscent of “gado-gado,” an Indonesian take on salad.

                                    Next, was the clear soup dish: a dumpling of adductor in a round clam, bamboo shoot, carrot, beancurd skin, and daikon raddish–an amazing balance of flavors and textures from the crisp sweetness of the bamboo shoot to the tender, warm, savoriness of the dumpling. All topped off with the refreshing scent of orange peel permeating the dish.

                                    Sashimi of otoro, flat fish, and striped jack was next. As expected, the trio was beautifully presented, choice of fish thoughtfully selected, and quality nothing short of spectacular. The flat fish, typically a refreshing and clean choice of sashimi, certainly carried those characteristics but unlike any I’ve tried before, had a subtle sweetness. I was compelled to douse extra soy sauce on it just to bring out the sweetness. The striped jack had a more firm texture which kept things interesting. The otoro…well, it’s hard to go wrong when this probably came from Tsujiki market at 5am the very same morning.

                                    The fourth dish was steamed rice topped with 3 slices of wagyu. No bottled terriyaki sauce, just a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, soy sauce, and quality cuts of meat. All beautifully presented, and served in just the right amount to make you want more (which is the perfect portion size, of course).

                                    The grilled plate was a grilled yellowtail dressed with Japanese pepper and picked herring roe. Personally, my least favorite dish since I felt the grilling may have dried the fish out a little, but a wonderful combination of flavors and textures–especially the herring roe, which is gelatenous and covered in a sticky film.

                                    Next was a simmered plate of daikon radish covered in deep fried tofu skin, a duck meatball, and greens. Again, quality ingredients with minimal human-intervention allowing the freshness and raw flavors of the ingredients to shine. The duck meatball was so delicate and soft, I could eat those all day.

                                    As the last course, we had rice cooked with bamboo shoots, omelette with crab, and dark brown miso soup with pickles. Simply fantastic.

                                    For dessert, the freshest Japanese fruit you can imagine, simply yet beautifully presented. Paired with a red bean mochi, which while very sweet, was extremely fragrant.

                                    Eight rooms, eight chefs. They might not be the “celebrity chefs” who so many of us, myself included, put up on a pedastel, but they are most definitely unsung heros delivering gastronomic pleasure to everyone who walks in the doors at Hamadaya.

                                    Thank you Mari and the Hamadaya staff who made this one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in a very long time. And Merry Christmas to one and all!

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: druz99

                                      Love to hear more...
                                      Anyone have more suggestion?

                                      I plan to go to one of the 3 starred Kaiseki /Sushi and one of the 3 starred Franch as well.

                                      1. re: CPMK

                                        I have tried Koju (modern kaiseki), Sushi Mizutani and Quintessence (French). All of them are excellent. I have not tried L'Osier, but based on the reviews by other bloggers who specialized on Michelin restaurants, this place seemed to be the best French in Tokyo and as good as any 3 starred French in France itself.

                                        1. re: FourSeasons

                                          Thank you Four Seasons..

                                          Today I just called L'Osier.. it's fully booked until Early March when I flew back already.. Arggg

                                          ( T_T )

                                          1. re: CPMK

                                            then it is even more impossible to book quintessense.. fourseasons , would be interesting to know ur experience at quintessense.. i did not enjoy the desserts...

                                            1. re: Lucil

                                              I actually did not have such a hard time booking Quintessense as I made the reservation 2 months in advanced. I enjoyed the lunch thoroughly but sad to say unable to provide too much details as I did not take any note during the lunch. The Maitre D' was actually a turn off in the beginning with his attitude problem which seem so rare in my experience in Japan. But once we were seated, the service was good. The chef has huge emphasis on Japanese ingredients for his unique French-style cooking; I can only remember the starter goat milk with olive oil and nuts, the fish (buri) that is cooked in low temperature (I hope my memory is correct on this one), and the pork from Kyushu that if I understood correctly, was roasted in the oven for 5 min, then 5 minutes out of the oven for 3 hours continuously. I can't remember the desserts but did recall I enjoy everything there. But what I really found a unique experience is that I started not liking most of the dishes in the beginning (since I am not a fan of goat milk and buri), but then after a few bites, started to appreciate the unique natural flavor of the combination that the chef prepared. It is almost like tasting wine, it gets better and better till the end of the dish. That is a rare experience for me since I tend to instantly like or dislike a dish from the first bite.

                                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                                i agree that the fish was very good, maybe the best fish dish i ever had in my life... also i had the duck instead of the roast pork, it was done in the exact same manner.. i think the restaurant adjusts the sauces and condiments of their mains from time to time.. coz tabelog pictures seems to have different vegetables and sauces from wad i had...

                                                1. re: Lucil

                                                  Hi Lucil:

                                                  You may want to know that the chef of L'Osier, Bruno Menard, will be in Singapore from Feb 18-22 as one of the guest chefs at Raffles Grill in Raffles Hotel.

                                    2. Tried to call Quin for almost a month already ( -"- )
                                      When it is during their "booking time", the number keeps bury all the time.
                                      When it off their "booking time", it's an answering machine keeps telling me to call during "booking time"

                                      When I tried to call another number, the reception can just ( very nicely ) told me to keep calling the booking number..


                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: CPMK

                                        I asked the hotel concierge to book 2 months in advanced on my behalf without any problem. But yes, I do read many complains about their reservation system. I would have thought that the bad recession would have made the booking much easier now...

                                        1. re: CPMK

                                          cpmk.. u have to call at exactly 930am tokyo time.. try and call 5-10 mins earlier and keep redialing that number.. that was how i got thru. if not juz keep redialing that number until someone picks up. and u can only pick a date 2 months later from ur phone call reservation. i would rather suggest u to book losier for lunch, maybe call them at a date closer to ur trip.. maybe someone had juz cancelled the reservation..