Michelin stars: NY leads diversity, but Tokyo's top dog

The new International Director of Michelin Guides, Michael Ellis, with the 2013 New York edition. Photo / AFP
The new International Director of Michelin Guides, Michael Ellis, with the 2013 New York edition. Photo / AFP

With 66 of its restaurants winning stars in Michelin's 2013 guide, New York has been confirmed as one of the best places in the world to dine - and the unrivalled master of diversity.

Seven restaurants won the guide's highest three-star rating, unchanged from last year, earning the description of "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey".

Another seven got two stars, or "excellent cuisine, worth a detour", including for the first time the newly-opened, 18-seat Atera - run by chef Mathew Lightner, in Manhattan's trendy TriBeCa neighbourhood.

Fifty-two restaurants, meanwhile, got one star, up from 46 last year and including nine new entries. The Big Apple's overall count this year is up five from last year, with representatives of all the city's five boroughs.

"New York's culinary terrain remains extremely dynamic. The rhythm of openings and closings is like nowhere else in the world," said Michael Ellis, the international director of the prestigious annual guides issued by the French tyre company.

Investment in restaurants, he added, far exceeds levels in Europe.

And while New York again failed to top Tokyo's 200 Michelin-starred restaurants, the city that never sleeps came out well ahead on diversity.

Sixty-one different cuisines are represented, from Persian to South African, Peruvian to Greek, Austrian, Turkish, fusion, gastropub and all the old standards like Italian and Japanese.

Among notable trends, Ellis said, is a leaning toward local products and Nordic cuisine, as well as continued Japanese influence. Ambitious chefs, meanwhile, are concentrating on the food, rather than decor, with "a relaxed atmosphere" common, even in the starred restaurants.

"The young generation of chefs wants to express itself through the dishes, but not necessarily with a big investment in the decor," he said.

Three French restaurants earned the top rank: Daniel, with chef Daniel Boulud; Jean-Georges, with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin. Masa Takayama's Masa, Thomas Keller's Per Se, Eleven Madison Park featuring Daniel Humm and Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare made up the rest of the three-star list.

Along with Atera in the two-star category were Japanese restaurants Soto and Momofuku Ko, the Italian Marea, as well as contemporary European and American restaurants Gordon Ramsay at the London, Corton and Gilt.

In all, 896 restaurants got a mention in the guide, up from 805 last year, including some 126 highlighted as Bib Gourmand, which signifies good value along with good eating. Menus in this category offer two dishes and a glass of wine for a maximum of US$40 (NZ$48.55), excluding tax and service.

The 2013 edition also lists dozens of restaurants where one can eat for less than US$25, something that might come useful to New Yorkers despairing of the city's high prices.


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