'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' Restaurant Loses Michelin Stars for Being Too Exclusive
Sukiyabashi Jiro was dropped from this year's Michelin guide for not accepting reservations from the general public.
On the website for Sukiyabashi Jiro, the acclaimed Tokyo sushi restaurant, there is a lengthy disclaimer written in both Japanese and English. "We are currently experiencing difficulties in accepting reservations and apologize for any inconvenience to our valued customers," it says. "Unfortunately, as our restaurant can only seat up to 10 guests at a time, this situation is likely continued. Please note that we will not be able to accept telephone reservations until further notice."
It also says that, due to "guests from overseas" who no-showed for their reservations, it will only accept reservations through a hotel concierge—but even then, the concierge is apparently going to have to get in touch using semaphore flags, carrier pigeons, or, like, politely worded letters.
The difficulty of getting a reservation at the famed restaurant is why it was just dropped from the most recent Michelin Guide. According to The Guardian, Michelin just isn't down with that kind of exclusivity. "We recognise Sukiyabashi Jiro does not accept reservations from the general public, which makes it out of our scope,” a spokesperson said.
"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.”
Sukiyabashi Jiro has earned three stars every year since 2007, when Michelin's first Tokyo guide was published. Although its sushi has seemingly always received accolades, its popularity skyrocketed four years later when its chef and owner, Jiro Ono, was featured in the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
In 2014, then-President Barack Obama joined Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Sukiyabashi Jiro and, after the meal, he said that it was the best sushi he'd ever eaten. If you're not an international head of state or staying in a hotel where the concierge has sent the right sort of pigeon toward the Ginza district, the restaurant's 20-piece omakase tasting menu will cost 40,000 yen, or about $365.
Although losing three Michelin stars might be devastating for other chefs—Marc Veyrat filed a lawsuit after being docked one star—it's hard to imagine Jiro losing any of his R.E.M.-heavy sleep over it.
"Not sure [the owners] are bothered, though presume some tourists might be," Allan Jenkins, the editor of Observer Food Monthly, told the BBC. "Truth is, since the film and Obama he is the most famous Japanese sushi chef alive and he will be fine. He is ancient and only has to fill 10 spots anyway."
And, come on, there's no way those 10 spots aren't already filled until forever anyway, right?