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Tokyo New Center of Culinary World
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From Yoree Koh, Wall Street Journal: Tokyo is once again the brightest star in the culinary universe, according to the 2011 Michelin guide.

Japan’s capital was awarded more stars than any other city by the tire company’s newly released restaurant guide, which includes outlying cities Yokohama and Kamakura for the first time. The 2011 volume goes on sale Nov. 27. Tokyo increased its envious roster of three-starred restaurants to 14 – that’s three more than last year. 

It was enough for Tokyo to edge out  Japan’s gastronome-centered cities to the west  - Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto - as the reigning restaurant city by the French publication for the fourth consecutive year. The western part of Japan enjoyed the culinary crown for a brief period when Michelin heaped three-star ratings onto a dozen restaurants in late October.

But Tokyo didn’t need the newly added Yokohama and Kamakura to reclaim its title, unlike the Kansai area guide. No restaurants in the two cities on the outskirts of Tokyo received three stars. Two restaurants in Yokohama mustered two stars and 24 restaurants from the two areas total received one star.

The four newcomers into the three-star circle, like the ones already in the honored pack, mostly specialize in Japanese-styled cuisine: sushi, traditional Japanese, tempura and blowfish, known as “fugu” in Japanese.

Perhaps in a tip to trying economic times in Japan, this year’s guide includes a new feature — a “bang for your buck” type image of a pile of coins, indicating the restaurant offers a menu under 5,000 yen ($60).

But let’s not make this into a domestic kitchen competition. Japan would be proud to know that the number of Michelin’s highest-rated restaurants in the Tokyo and Kansai areas combined – 26 – officially ties the country with France as the crème de la crème of where to eat. 

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