All About Japan

Michelin 2016: Kyoto, Nara, Kobe & Osaka

| Restaurants , Michelin

2016 marks the seventh year of Michelin rankings for the Kansai area, and this year the Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka 2016 and Michelin Guide Hyogo 2016 split the region into two separate volumes. A further guide, Michelin Guide Nara 2016, will not be published in book form, but is available online through Club Michelin.

1. Kyoto

All three new guides were released simultaneously on October 23, 2015. As one would expect, Kyoto takes up a lot of pages—you could say that the Michelin Guide attests to the city’s proud position in the world based on the strength of its fine dining.

Kyoto’s three-star restaurants haven't changed since the previous edition. As for changes in one- and two-star status, five restaurants have moved up to two stars, while four restaurants have acquired their first star.

Personally, however, I have two points that concern me. One of these (about which I have had doubts since a few years back) is whether or not the guide has been thorough in its research of restaurants in Kyoto Prefecture, covering the entirety of the prefecture and not just Kyoto City. For example, Ristorante Nakamoto, which is located in the city of Kizugawa, is an accomplished restaurant, and it seems very odd that it has not gained a star.

Other restaurants serving high-quality food are dotted throughout the southern part of the prefecture, including the areas around both Kizugawa and Joyo City. If southern Kyoto Prefecture has yet to be included in the areas surveyed by the guide, then I sincerely hope next year’s edition will expand its scope of research to include the Kizugawa area as well.

My other point of concern regards new restaurants that opened sometime between last year and this year. Recently opened high-end restaurants such as Yosuke Yamaji, Takezaki and Obase would almost certainly be worthy of one star or more had they been open in time for the Michelin inspector’s visit. I look forward to seeing them in next year's edition.

2. Osaka

In Osaka, the list of three-star restaurants remains unchanged from the last edition of the guide, but there has been a lot of movement among the two-star entries. First of all, three restaurants have been promoted to two-star status, while seven have gained their very first star.

In terms of how I would rate them based on what was served my my plate, I find it truly odd that Agnel d’or and Ñ (Éni), two restaurants that are not listed in this year’s guide, have not received stars. I hope the inspectors will revisit at dinner time to see for themselves the quality of the food served at these establishments.

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