Sukiyabashi Jiro, sushi restaurant that served Obama, is dropped by Michelin

Shinzo Abe and Barack Obama in a sushi restaurantImage copyright
White House/Pete Souza

Image caption

Obama was served sushi at the restaurant in 2014

A world-renowned sushi restaurant where Barack Obama dined has been dropped from the Michelin gourmet guide.

Sukiyabashi Jiro, focus of the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, has earned three Michelin stars every year since 2007.

But the Tokyo restaurant has been dropped from the 2020 guide because it no longer accepts public reservations.

To get a table you need to be a regular, have special connections, or go through a top hotel.

It is run by sushi maestro, Jiro Ono, who is in his 90s, and his eldest son, Yoshikazu.

The restaurant can only take 10 guests at a time, with prices starting at around 40,000 yen (£285) for the chef’s selection.

It made headlines in 2014 when the then-US president and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dined there, with Mr Obama reportedly saying it was the best sushi he had ever tasted.

Image copyright

Image caption

Jiro Ono, left, and his son, Yoshikazu

“We recognise Sukiyabashi Jiro does not accept reservations from the general public, which makes it out of our scope,” a spokeswoman from the Japanese branch of Michelin told the AFP news agency.

“Michelin’s policy is to introduce restaurants where everybody can go to eat,” she said.

Allan Jenkins, editor of Observer Food Monthly, said the move would probably not faze the owners.

“Not sure they are bothered, though presume some tourists might be,” he 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.”

Andy Hayler, a restaurant critic for Elite Traveler magazine, pointed out that despite “fascination” within the press over the restaurant, it is only rated 66th best in Tokyo for sushi by the main local guide Tabelog.

“From 2008, when Michelin started covering Tokyo, it did not cover places like Mibu or Kyoaji, which are famous but are essentially private members clubs,” he added.

The dropping of Sukiyabashi Jiro comes after The Araki, a sushi restaurant in London’s Mayfair, was stripped of all three of its Michelin stars this year after its chef went back to Tokyo.

In 2017, French chef Sebastien Bras asked to be stripped of his three stars as it put him under “huge pressure”.


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