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Tokyo new culinary capital

Paris was unseated by Tokyo as the world's culinary capital.

That's according to Michelin Guides, the French bible of gastronomy, which announced a Tokyo edition Monday - its first outside Europe and the United States.

Michelin's Tokyo guide awarded 191 stars to 150 restaurants in the Japanese capital, the most number of stars awarded in any city. Previously, Paris had the most stars, at 65.

Eight restaurants in Tokyo, including two sushi eateries, received Michelin's highest three-star rating. But Paris can still claim to have the most top-rated restaurants, with 10.

Michelin also crowned 82-year-old Jiro Ono of Sukiyabashi Jiro sushi restaurant in central Tokyo the world's oldest three-star chef.

"Tokyo is a shining star in the world of cuisine," Michelin Guides Director Jean-Luc Naret said at a press conference in the capital, after announcing the picks to gasps from hundreds of Japanese reporters gathered there. He declared Tokyo "the world leader in gourmet dining."

"We found the city's restaurants to be excellent, featuring the best ingredients, culinary talents and a tradition passed on from generation to generation and refined by today's chefs," Naret said.

A team of three undercover European and two Japanese inspectors spent a year and a half visiting 1,500 of Tokyo's estimated 160,000 restaurants to decide on the ratings, according to Michelin. The famed guidebook series rates restaurants on excellence in cooking, service, decor and upkeep.

There were so many top restaurants that all entries in Michelin's Tokyo edition have at least one star, a first for any city, Naret said. Five of the eight awarded top honors served Japanese cuisine, while three were French restaurants.

In another first, two restaurants received top ratings despite getting rapped for their service, which the guidebook rates separately.

Sushi establishments Sukiyabashi Jiro and Sushi Mizutani were awarded three stars even though their "Category of Comfort" rating was just 1 out of a scale of 5. Even top sushi chefs here tend to serve their fare in small, starkly decorated eateries with minimal table service.

"It's true that Sukiyabashi Jiro has very small tables and its decor is low-key," said Taku Suzuki, spokesman for Michelin in Japan. "But that doesn't mean its cuisine is anything less than first rate," Suzuki said.

Sukiyabashi Jiro could not be reached for immediate reaction.

The entries in the Michelin Guide Tokyo, which goes on sale Thursday in English and Japanese, were expected to ease local skepticism that the French can be the best judge of Japan's culinary traditions.

"The French do not understand anything about sushi and are so far behind in handling fresh fish. So how can they judge us?" Yoshikazu Ono had told The Associated Press in March when the Tokyo guide was announced. Ono is a chef at Sukiyabashi Jiro chef and son of Jiro Ono.

The first Michelin guide was published in 1900 as a handbook for French motorists. It is published by the Clermont-Ferrand-based tire company of the same name.

Michelin Guides, which cover 23 countries, have been expanding their reach to more cities and launched Los Angeles and Las Vegas editions last week. Tokyo will spearhead Michelin's push into Asia and a guide to a second Asian city will be announced next year, according to Naret.

That's according to Michelin Guides, the French bible of gastronomy, which announced a Tokyo edition Monday - its first outside Europe and the United States.

Michelin's Tokyo guide awarded 191 stars to 150 restaurants in the Japanese capital, the most number of stars awarded in any city. Previously, Paris had the most stars, at 65.

Eight restaurants in Tokyo, including two sushi eateries, received Michelin's highest three-star rating. But Paris can still claim to have the most top-rated restaurants, with 10.

Michelin also crowned 82-year-old Jiro Ono of Sukiyabashi Jiro sushi restaurant in central Tokyo the world's oldest three-star chef.

"Tokyo is a shining star in the world of cuisine," Michelin Guides Director Jean-Luc Naret said at a press conference in the capital, after announcing the picks to gasps from hundreds of Japanese reporters gathered there. He declared Tokyo "the world leader in gourmet dining."

"We found the city's restaurants to be excellent, featuring the best ingredients, culinary talents and a tradition passed on from generation to generation and refined by today's chefs," Naret said.

A team of three undercover European and two Japanese inspectors spent a year and a half visiting 1,500 of Tokyo's estimated 160,000 restaurants to decide on the ratings, according to Michelin. The famed guidebook series rates restaurants on excellence in cooking, service, decor and upkeep.

There were so many top restaurants that all entries in Michelin's Tokyo edition have at least one star, a first for any city, Naret said. Five of the eight awarded top honors served Japanese cuisine, while three were French restaurants.

In another first, two restaurants received top ratings despite getting rapped for their service, which the guidebook rates separately.

Sushi establishments Sukiyabashi Jiro and Sushi Mizutani were awarded three stars even though their "Category of Comfort" rating was just 1 out of a scale of 5. Even top sushi chefs here tend to serve their fare in small, starkly decorated eateries with minimal table service.

"It's true that Sukiyabashi Jiro has very small tables and its decor is low-key," said Taku Suzuki, spokesman for Michelin in Japan. "But that doesn't mean its cuisine is anything less than first rate," Suzuki said.

Sukiyabashi Jiro could not be reached for immediate reaction.

The entries in the Michelin Guide Tokyo, which goes on sale Thursday in English and Japanese, were expected to ease local skepticism that the French can be the best judge of Japan's culinary traditions.

"The French do not understand anything about sushi and are so far behind in handling fresh fish. So how can they judge us?" Yoshikazu Ono had told The Associated Press in March when the Tokyo guide was announced. Ono is a chef at Sukiyabashi Jiro chef and son of Jiro Ono.

The first Michelin guide was published in 1900 as a handbook for French motorists. It is published by the Clermont-Ferrand-based tire company of the same name.

Michelin Guides, which cover 23 countries, have been expanding their reach to more cities and launched Los Angeles and Las Vegas editions last week. Tokyo will spearhead Michelin's push into Asia and a guide to a second Asian city will be announced next year, according to Naret.

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