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Fine Dining in Japan

The city with the most Michelin stars in the world is not Paris but Tokyo, and in 2019 Japan overtook France with regards to the number of restaurants granted the ultimate 3 star Michelin accolade. For those who have spent some time eating in Japan this is no mystery: the standard of food in restaurants at all levels, from neighborhood izakaya bars to the finest kaiseki dining, is remarkably high. There are several reasons for this. Japan is blessed with ingredients of an exceptional standard, which can be seen at a glance at bustling Tsukiji market in Tokyo, which sells 700 different species of fish and employs 14,000 people. Info

The adjacent vegetable market is less well-known but equally impressive, and the quality of the fruit in Japan is simply dazzling. The highly marbled wagyu (literally “Japanese beef”), such as that from Kobe, has spawned imitators all over the world.

Ingredient quality in Japan is not just a climatic accident. There is a deeply rooted food culture that can be seen in behaviour of food shoppers. A great many people take an interest in food, insist on high quality and enough of them are prepared to pay for the very best produce. The prices at top restaurants in Kyoto and Tokyo are very high indeed, reflecting demand for the ultimate in food. Many top chefs have understood this for years. “Chef of the 20th century” Joel Robuchon modeled his highly successful Atelier Robuchon restaurants on the bar counter seating layout favored in Japan, with his top restaurant in Tokyo itself having three Michelin stars.

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