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The World’s Best? April 23, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Food and Drink.
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Just came across the 2008 The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (sponsored by everybody’s favorite fizzy water, San Pellegrino)

I love lists like this. Especially when they are as flawed as this one.

4 restaurants in the top 50 outside of Europe and the USA?

Since the list’s inception in 2002, only 2 restaurants in Japan have been on this list. Sukiyabashi Jiro, and the New York Grill….. The New York Grill???? (up at the top of the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku) OK, the NY Grill isn’t that shabby, but as far as Tokyo restaurants go, there must be dozens which are better.

OK, so the voting mechanism is flawed, it wouldn’t be too difficult to imagine that European and North American foodies tend to concentrate most of their time between these two continents….

But still….. I’m sure most of the restaurants on this list are great, but unfortunately I’ve only been to a small handful, mostly the ones in London.

And, to be honest, I really can’t see how places like Nobu London, Hakkasan and St John deserve regular spots in the Top 50. Unless the others on the list are equally average.

I mean, the food at St John (#16 this year) is great, I’ve always enjoyed my meals there, but would it cross my mind when considering a venue for my last supper? No.

And the other two…. Neither would get into Shin’s Top 50 restaurants in London, let alone the world.

Nobu London (#30), where the markup on their sake (compared to Japanese _retail_ price) is above and beyond 500%. Where the (mostly Eastern European, when I went last) waiters were really rather clueless. And most distressing of all, on each and every occasion, at least some part of the food was grossly sub-par for the price. Not being one to make a scene, I didn’t object to the piece of sashimi which would have offended customers at a cheap Izakaya chain here in Tokyo. Or their apparent use of industrial soy sauce on another occasion.

Hakkasan, what can I say. Cocktails? Perfect for the UK binge drinking culture perhaps. You’d need to be smashed to think that these cocktails were anything a real bartender would admit to mixing. Food? OK, but definitely not worth the price. You could have much better Chinese food in a dozen restaurants in London.

If you thought the Michelin Guide to Japan was bad…….

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Torture victim’s records “lost” at Guantánamo April 21, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in crime, law, Overseas.
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From The Guardian….

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/21/guantanamo.humanrights

Ah, how very convenient.

Mind you, at least they have the infrastructure to record audio/video evidence.

Which is much more than suspects in the Japanese criminal system are afforded.

The Japanese police must have much to hide. How safe are convictions in a system which does not force the prosecution to share evidence with the defence? Not much better in the civil courts either…

The GM crops issue April 21, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, Environment, Food and Drink.
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Reading the IHT today, couldn’t help but notice that the headline replaces what I thought was the usual GM tag for the more high tech, less sinister sounding?, “biotech” “In lean times, biotech crops are less taboo, IHT

Anyway….

What if the surge in prices isn’t just about hedge funds pumping up the commodity markets and the criminal non-cellulosic bioethanol drive, but also partly due to the fact that GM crops are directly contributing to this trend due to lower yields, as a University of Kansas study has found (Independent).

If any academic institutions were able to be bought out by the agribusiness lobby, surely this one would be an easy target being situated right in the middle of the US grain belt…..