The world's best sushi restaurant seats just 10 people and is famously housed in a Tokyo metro station.

But despite its cult following, the exclusive restaurant has lost its listing in the Michelin Guide, not because the quality of the food has dropped, but because it is no longer open to the general public.

Sukiyabashi Jiro, run by Jiro Ono, the renowned nonagenarian chef, has been recognised with three Michelin stars each year since the culinary guide launched a Tokyo edition in 2007.

But this year's Tokyo edition of the Michelin Guide declined to include it within its pages, saying it is "out of their scope" because of its decision to only offer reservations to VIPs and return customers. "We recognise Sukiyabashi Jiro does not accept reservations from the public, which makes it out of our scope," said a spokesman for the Guide after the decision was announced on Tuesday.


She added that "it was not true to say the restaurant lost stars but it is not subject to coverage in our guide".

With former diners including Barack Obama, Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister and a host of Hollywood celebrities, booking a table has never been easy. But now prospective diners must be regular customers, be part of an elite network or book through the concierge of a luxury hotel - as well as stomach the 40,000 yen price tag for the chef's selection menu.

Sukiyabashi Jiro said it was "currently experiencing difficulties in accepting reservations" and apologised for "any inconvenience to our valued customers" in a statement on its website. It added: "Unfortunately, as our restaurant can only seat up to 10 guests at a time, this situation is likely to continue." The restaurant opened in 1965 but has gathered a cult following in recent years, particularly since the release of a 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which follows the life of its star chef and owner.

The documentary followed Ono, who is considered something of a national treasure in Japan, as he performs his meticulous sushi preparation ritual.

The rice is crafted to fit the diner's mouth, with Ono examining customer's hands and faces to work out what size is appropriate for them. Diners are asked not to wear strong perfume or take photographs of the food.

Ono has also faced criticism for his previous comments about women - particularly his suggestion that women make inferior sushi chefs because their menstrual cycles affect their sense of taste.

Despite being in his 90s, he continues to serve sushi with the help of Yoshikazu, his eldest son.

A second branch run by Ono's younger son remains open to the public and has retained its two stars.