If you own a Japanese restaurant and are trying to obtain a Michelin star, you may be interested in knowing what kinds of Japanese cuisine have been awarded a star or Bib Gourmand. The Michelin Guide includes more than 20 categories of representative Japanese cuisine, including sushi, tempura, kaiseki, and ramen.
In this article, we explain each category from the Michelin Guide (Here is another recommended article about the Michelin Guide and Japanese restaurants.)
1. Countries Where Restaurants Have a Michelin Star or Bib Gourmand in Japanese Cuisine Categories
As of September 2022, the Michelin Guide includes 6,567 restaurants in total: 137 three-starred restaurants, 480 two-starred restaurants, 2,657 one-starred restaurants, and 3,293 restaurants with a Bib Gourmand.
We picked categories from Japanese cuisine and listed below the numbers of the restaurants with a star or Bib Gourmand in each country and region at the time of September 2022.
*A few years ago, a new evaluation system called Green Star was introduced, but many of the restaurants with a Green Star also have a Michelin star or Bib Gourmand. So, the list focuses on the numbers of the four categories above (three stars, two stars, one star, and Bib Gourmand).
Among the 6,567 restaurants with a star or Bib Gourmand, 760 places, which account for 11.6% of the total, are categorized as Japanese cuisine.
Most of these 760 places are located in Japan (587 restaurants, 77.2% of the total), followed by the United States (64, 8.4%), South Korea (15, 2.0%), and France (13, 1.7%).
The average spend per customer varies. There are places where you pay only 1,000 JPY (7 USD), while some high-end restaurants cost more than 600 USD for a meal. The Japanese restaurants in the Michelin Guide have a very wide range of prices.
2. What Japanese Cuisine Categories Are in the Michelin Guide?
Then, how are the 760 restaurants categorized in the Michelin Guide? It is difficult to decide what exactly should be included as Japanese cuisine, but the list below shows the categories we put together.
*Most of the restaurants are listed with only one category, but some have more than one (e.g., Japanese, Sushi). Thus, the total number is shown as 814.
Among the 814 restaurants, the category “Japanese Restaurant” has the largest number and accounts for 44.3% with 361 places. This category indicates what we deem as authentic Japanese cuisine, such as kaiseki cuisine. The second largest number is 122 of “Sushi,” 15.0% of the total, followed by “Ramen” with 47 places, 5.8%.
Some categories are not familiar to even those who are involved in the Japanese food business, so the rest of the article explains each category in detail.
3. Japanese Cuisine Categories I
First, we explain about the categories in which restaurants have got a star or Bib Gourmand both in Japan and overseas.
Izakaya is widely known as a Japanese-style pub and there are 39 places in Japan and 3 in the United States (Izakaya Rintaro, Okane, Tsubaki).
What we usually consider as traditional Japanese cuisine, including kaiseki cuisine. In this category, 361 restaurants are shown in the Michelin Guide: 235 in Japan, 62 in the United States, 13 in France, 8 in Spain, 7 in Germany, and so on.
〇 Japanese Contemporary
Based on Japanese cuisine, these creative dishes feature chefs’ unique ideas. All the 12 restaurants are outside Japan, with 3 in Switzerland, 2 in Dubai, 2 in Germany, and 5 in other countries.
In the last decade, ramen came to be widely known as a popular Japanese food. Among the 47 ramen restaurants, 35 are in Japan, 8 in the United States, 2 in Hong Kong, and 2 in South Korea.
Since the spend per customer is low, most of the restaurants have a Bib Gourmand. Only 3 places in Japan have got one Michelin star: Sobahouse Konjiki Hototogisu, Sosakumenkobo Nakiryu, and Chukasoba Ginza Hachigou.
This noodle dish made from the grain of buckwheat represents Japanese cuisine, along with ramen and udon. Among the 43 restaurants in this category, 39 are in Japan, 3 in South Korea (Minami, Mimi Myeonga, Subaru), and 1 in the United States (Soba-Ya).
Needless to say, one of the most popular Japanese meals. Among the 122 restaurants in this category, 60 are in Japan, 35 in the United States, 6 in Singapore, and 21 in other countries.
There are 3 places that have got three stars: Sushi Yoshitake in Tokyo, Sushi Shikon in Hong Kong, and Masa in New York.
Another iconic meal in Japanese cuisine. Among the 28 restaurants in this category, 26 are in Japan, 1 in Taiwan (Mudan), and 1 in the United States (Tempura Matsui).
Knead dough made of wheat flour and cut it long, and you will get udon, another representative dish in Japan. Among the 19 restaurants in this category, 16 are in Japan, 2 in South Korea (Hyun Udon and Kyodaiya), and 1 in the United States (Hanon).
Yakitori started as a street food sold at a stall and became one of the popular dishes in Japanese cuisine. Among the 29 restaurants in this category, 27 are in Japan, 1 in South Korea (Yakitori Mook), and 1 in Hong Kong (Yardbird).
4. Japanese Cuisine Categories II
This section introduces the categories in which only restaurants in Japan have got a star or Bib Gourmand. The fact that these categories only exist in Japan can suggest there is no demand for this food at overseas Japanese restaurants or it is difficult to acquire ingredients or Japanese chefs skilled in serving the dish.
On the other hand, once you establish a menu in this category, you can differentiate your restaurant from other places.
〇 Anago / Saltwater Eel
Only one restaurant is listed in this category: Kitahama Anagoya in Osaka. Anago is popular as a topping for Edo-style sushi, but customers can enjoy this fish in a multi-course meal at this restaurant.
〇 Beef Specialities
The Guide shows 3 restaurants that specialize in beef dishes in Japan: JO, Oniku Karyu, Nikunotakumi Miyoshi.
This is a hot pot dish served as a regular meal at sumo-beya, a stable for sumo wrestlers. 2 restaurants in Tokyo are selected in this category: Chanko Kawasaki, Chanko Masuiyama.
〇 Chicken Specialities
Toritsune Shizendo and SEction D’or in Japan are selected in this category for restaurants specializing in chicken dishes.
〇 Crab Specialities
Ginza Kitafuku in Tokyo is selected in this category. You can enjoy crab in a variety of dishes, such as shabu-shabu and sashimi.
Developed uniquely under the influence of diverse curry dishes from India and Thailand, Japanese curry is recognized as Japanese cuisine. 18 restaurants in Japan are shown in the Guide.
〇 Fugu / Pufferfish
Fugu features a great flavor in a hot pot dish or sashimi, and 4 restaurants in Japan can be found in the Guide. The fish is well-known for its toxin, but it is becoming popular since “mikaki-fugu,” which has its toxic parts like organs removed, is being exported to the United States and Asia.
Kushiage is a popular Japanese dish, in which meat and vegetables are breaded and deep-fried on a skewer. There are 7 restaurants in Japan listed in the Guide.
Obanzai is a variety of dishes that have been served at a common household in Kyoto for a long time. People have loved these dishes, which are cooked in a simple manner with readily available, seasonal ingredients. Oryori Menami and Pontocho Masuda are selected in this category.
Oden is a hot pot dish made in seasoned broth of bonito flakes and dried kelp (kombu). In this broth, you stew a variety of ingredients, such as fried fishcake, different kinds of fishcake like hanpen and grilled chikuwa, fish balls, konnyaku (yam cake), daikon, potatoes, fried tofu or tofu dumplings, been tendon, and boiled eggs. All the 11 restaurants in the Guide are located in Japan.
〇 Okinawa Cuisine
The local dishes in Okinawa (formerly known as Ryukyu) traditionally feature flavors of salt, miso, bonito flakes and dried kelp and is close to Japanese cuisine. Yet, it is also characterized by the influence of the food culture in neighboring countries, such as Taiwan and China. The only restaurant selected in this category is Ryukyu Chinese Dining Tama in Tokyo.
With this Japanese street food, you add ingredients of your choice, such as chicken eggs, cabbage, meat, seafood, and noodles, to the batter made of flour and water. Grill and eat it with sauce, mayonnaise, aonori (seaweed flakes) and other condiments. 8 restaurants in Japan are selected in the category.
Fist-sized rice balls that have ingredients, such as pickled plum, seasoned bonito flakes, tuna, or salmon roe. Many of you may have seen them at a convenience store in Japan. Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku is the only restaurant selected in this category.
These dishes are cooked in the manner that follows Buddhist teachings by avoiding killing animals and using plant-based ingredients, including vegetables and legumes. Daigo in Tokyo (two-starred) and Shigetsu in Kyoto (Bib Gourmand) are in this category.
Beef, leeks, Chinese cabbage, tofu, shirataki (yam noodles), and other ingredients are grilled and stewed in soy sauce and sugar. Usually, you eat them with raw eggs as dipping sauce. Ishibashi and Imafuku in Tokyo are selected in this category.
Vegetables, meat, and seafood are cooked on an iron griddle for this popular traditional Japanese cuisine. Tanpopo and Oribe in Osaka are in this category in the Guide.
Sliced pork loin or tenderloin are coated with flour, eggs, and panko before deep-fried in oil. This category has 17 restaurants in Japan.
〇 Unagi/ Freshwater Eel
Unagi is well-known in a dish called “kabayaki”: the fish is dipped in a thick sauce made of soy sauce, sugar, and sake and grilled. The 12 restaurants in Japan are categorized as the places specializing in unagi.
Among them, Ishibashi and Nodaiwa Azabu Iikura Honten in Tokyo have got one Michelin star.
Western cuisine that evolved in its own way in Japan in the late nineteenth century is called Yoshoku. All the 14 restaurants in this category are located in Japan.
Now, we introduced the categories of Japanese cuisine in the Michelin Guide. This categorization is just one of the criteria, but we hope they provide you with a useful reference to know what dishes are popular in Japan and other countries.
If you would like to find a chef who can cook dishes of certain categories, do not hesitate to contact us Washoku Agent!
5. What If I Have a Problem in Hiring?
“I do not know what my restaurant should feature to attract Japanese chefs.”
“I have an idea of the chefs I am looking for, but I do not know how to find them.”
“We tried to recruit on our own before without success, so we want to find a truly skillful chef this time.”
“Since no staff member speak Japanese, we want to entrust the whole task of hiring Japanese chefs to someone else.”
If you have a problem in recruiting Japanese chefs, feel free to contact us Washoku Agent!