December is almost here, and with it the commotion that always surrounds the unveiling of the Michelin Guide. Published annually since 2008, the gourmet bible's Tokyo edition has rightfully ranked our dear city as the food capital of the world every year from 2009 onwards, so it's hardly news that Tokyo still stands high above the competition in 2017.
Unveiled on November 29, the latest version of Michelin Tokyo lists 12 three-star restaurants – two more than the 10 found in Paris – 54 two-star joints (up from 51 last year) and 161 one-star places (153 in 2016), giving Tokyo a total of 227 starred restaurants. That's far more than double the number of closest challengers Kyoto (96) and Paris (92).
However, the gap between Paris and Tokyo at the very top is closing at an alarming rate: Tokyo again dropped one three-star, and the heady heights of 17 back in 2012 are looking more and more like an anomaly. The unlucky loser was Aoyama's Esaki, which for some reason fell to two stars – while the likes of Sukiyabashi Jiro and Kanda maintained top marks despite predictions to the contrary.
Although the three-star list appears to be turning into a victim of conservatism and comfort, Michelin Tokyo 2017 is admittedly packed with interesting details in the less flashy categories. For one, Sugamo's Tsuta was joined by Minami-Otsuka shop Nakiryu in the hallowed hall of Michelin-starred ramen, with the innovative tantanmen specialist blindsiding most of the capital's eager slurpers (including yours truly) by picking up a star ahead of hotly tipped ramen-ya like Kagari, Shinagawa and Soranoiro.
And in more good news for budget diners, the popular Bib Gourmand section has again been updated, now listing a tightly curated 315 (down from 343 in 2016) restaurants serving excellent-value grub for under ¥5,000 per head. Notable new entrants include Takadanobaba's tonkatsu champion Narikura, plus a fearsome foursome from our top 100 restaurants list: the superb Dhaba India in Kyobashi, Kagurazaka's Estación, oden specialist Kamata and Peruvian eatery Bépocah.
Going back to the fancier fare, three restaurants were newly promoted to the two-star category: Shirokanedai tempura spot Ginya, new sushi opener Amamoto in Higashi-Azabu and, happily, Aoyama's amazing Masuda, an ever-present on our list of Tokyo's best sushi and a restaurant we've been in love with long before the Michelin inspectors came knocking.
Finally, in addition to the aforementioned Nakiryu, 17 new eateries across town can now add a single star to their doors – among these are Shinya Otsuchihashi's ambitious Craftale, Shinbashi's Nordic-French artists Sublime and Jiro apprentice Harutaka in Ginza.
The printed guide – set to go on sale December 2 – will once again only be available in Japanese, but fear not: all of this year's listings can be accessed online in both English and Japanese at http://gm.gnavi.co.jp/home/.
Here's the complete list of restaurants that have been awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2017:
Japanese Azabu Yukimura
Modern French Joël Robuchon
Modern French Quintessence
Modern Japanese Ryugin
Sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten
Sushi Sushi Saito
Sushi Sushi Yoshitake
Fugu Usukifugu Yamadaya