Kazu Sushi Grill Sake features omakase, robata grill, sushi, and donburi specialties

The list of three-starred Kyoto establishments now contains no fewer than eight restaurants as of the 2020 Kyoto Michelin Guide. The new recruits include Gion Sasaki, whose name is a reference to Kyoto’s historic district, which is famous as a traditional stomping ground for geishas. The eatery, which is almost impossible to get a table at, seats diners in front of the open kitchen and provides them with white-glove service.

The other restaurant to be celebrated this year, Maeda, is also located in the neighborhood of Gion. Focusing on kaiseki, the most refined version of Japanese cuisine, the restaurant prepares tapas-sized plates using seasonal ingredients.

(Related: The Peak Expert: Kaiseki)

Kyoto’s listing also comprises 21 two-star restaurants and a ryokan, as well as 77 establishments and a ryokan bearing one star.

While Kyoto constitutes a compulsory gastronomical stop when travelling through Japan, Tokyo remains the No. 2 city in the world in terms of total starred restaurants: 13 with 3 stars, 52 with 2 stars and 165 with one. By comparison, the 2019 list of French restaurants listed nine in Paris and 17 elsewhere in the country. Tokyo’s 2020 edition, however, has yet to be released, traditionally released in November.

(Related: Three Michelin-starred chef Julien Royer goes foraging in Shimonoseki, Japan)

Meanwhile, Osaka retains its third spot on the 2020 podium with no new three- or two-star restaurants. The bustling port city, however, does contain 10 new one-star establishments, for a total of 79 in all categories.

(Photo: Kazu Sushi Grill Sake)