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The World’s Best? April 23, 2008

Posted by fukumimi in Food and Drink.

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…….


1. Darren. - April 25, 2008

One thing to add for Hakkasan, it’s like eating in the middle of a club dance floor. The place is far too loud and the bar crowd spills into the restaurant area. Add to this the fact that the waiters make no effort to hear what you are saying and you have somewhere that is well worth avoiding. How it got a michelin star is anyones guess.

2. Ken - May 10, 2008

Can’t find the two Japan restaurants on the list. Have they been removed?

3. fukumimi - May 20, 2008


You need to look in the lists for previous years. I think it may be 2002 and 2003?

4. silvio - May 25, 2008

What would be your top-10 (to make it easier) list of restaurants in London ?
And what do you think about the mini sushi-bar in the Harrods food hall ?

5. vishesh - May 25, 2008

lol,i haven’t been to even one on the list πŸ™‚

6. Ken - July 9, 2008

I haven’t been to any either…but I’m surprised – nay, astounded, to not see anything from New Orleans on that list. From my brief time there, I think little compares to Brennan’s, The Red Fish Grill, Cuvee or the Commander’s Palace. An amazing place for food.

7. perlogik - June 24, 2009

Perhaps you have to sell the Italian fizzy water to get in the rankings to begin with?

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