Acclaimed Tokyo sushi restaurant stripped of its three Michelin stars

Sukiyabashi Jiro, often referred to as the world’s best sushi restaurant, has been dropped by the latest Michelin Guide, after claims it no longer takes public reservations.

Former US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan talk with sushi master Jiro Ono, owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro sushi restaurant. (Wiki Commons)

The 10-seater restaurant, famed for its 40,000 yen (£285) chef’s selection menu, has been cast out of the Michelin Guide, not due to the quality of its food, but by the nature of its reservation system.

To dine at the restaurant, which is owned by Jiro Ono, who is in his 90s, and his eldest son Yoshikazu, guests must either be a regular, have special connections, or book through a concierge of a top hotel.

A statement on the restaurant’s website said it was “currently experiencing difficulties in accepting reservations”.

The statement continued: “Our restaurant can only seat up to 10 guests at a time, so this situation is likely to continue. Please note that we will not be able to accept telephone reservations until further notice.

“In some cases, guests from overseas have been unable to arrive on the date and time of their reservation.For this reason, we can only accept reservations through the concierge of the overseas guests’ hotel.

“We at Sukiyabashi Jiro wish it were possible to accommodate all guests at our restaurant, but this is unfortunately not possible given the reality of our situation. We apologise for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.”

Famous faces who have dined at the restaurant include French chef Joël Robuchon, actor Hugh Jackman, singer Katy Perry and former US president Barack Obama, who said the sushi he ate there with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was the best he’d ever had.

Sukiyabashi Jiro has retained its three stars every year since the Tokyo edition of the guide was unveiled in 2007. Another branch of the restaurant, run by Jiro’s youngest son, has retained its two stars.

A statement from the Michelin Guide, given to the Guardian, read: “We recognise Sukiyabashi Jiro does not accept reservations from the general public, which makes it out of our scope.

“It was not true to say the restaurant lost stars but it is not subject to coverage in our guide. Michelin’s policy is to introduce restaurants where everybody can go to eat.”

The Tokyo Michelin Guide 2020 contains a total of 464 restaurants and hotels. The Japanese capital has retained its title as the world’s most starred city, with a total of 226 restaurants receiving the accolade in the latest addition, including 19 new one star restaurants, three new two stars, and one new three star eatery.

At the unveiling of London’s Michelin Guide last month, nine-seater Japanese restaurant The Araki in Mayfair also lost all three stars and did not appear in the guide. 

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