Ja­panese Miche­lin-star sushi house de­fends for­eigner rules

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

A top notch Miche­lin-starred sushi restau­rant in Tokyo on Mon­day de­fended its spe­cial reser­va­tion rules for for­eign­ers af­ter a re­port in Ja­pan it had re­fused to ac­cept a book­ing from a Chi­nese cus­tomer.

Sushi Mizu­tani, which has two of the cov­eted Miche­lin stars, told AFP it has an “across-the-board pol­icy” of not ac­cept­ing bookings by non-Ja­panese cus­tomers — un­less they are made through a ho­tel concierge or a credit card com­pany.

“(Non-Ja­panese) cus­tomers may not show up for their reser­va­tions,” a mem­ber of staff at the restau­rant said, adding em­ploy­ees do not have the for­eign lan­guage pro­fi­ciency to ex­plain ments to pa­trons.

“We pre­pare fish for the num­ber of ex­pected cus­tomers and have to turn down other re­quests for book­ing some­times. We sim­ply can­not af­ford it if peo­ple don’t show up.

“We don’t think it is any­thing dis­crim­i­na­tory,” he said.

The con­fir­ma­tion came af­ter a re­port that the restau­rant, lo­cated in Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza dis­trict, had re­fused to take a reser­va­tion for Chi­nese jour­nal­ist Mo Bangfu.

Mo, a res­i­dent of Ja­pan for 30 years who is flu­ent in Ja­panese, in­tended to host three guests at the high-end restau­rant, where prices start at 20,000 yen (NT$5,137;

re­quire- US$168) per per­son, the Nikkan Gendai tabloid re­ported.

The mag­a­zine said that as soon as his sec­re­tary — a Ja­panese woman — told the restau­rant Mo’s name and con­tact num­ber, the per­son tak­ing the book­ing sud­denly changed his at­ti­tude and said “some ar­range­ments were nec­es­sary” — in­di­cat­ing the reser­va­tion was not ac­cept­able.

“We have an in­creas­ing num­ber of cases in which peo­ple are aban­don­ing their reser­va­tions,” a restau­rant worker told AFP, adding Ja­panese-speak­ing cus­tomers are called for re­con­fir­ma­tion a few days be­fore their reser­va­tion.

The num­ber of for­eign tourists com­ing to Ja­pan has rock­eted in re­cent years as the value of the yen has fallen and as ten­sions have eased be­tween Bei­jing and Tokyo.

Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe has said he wants to at­tract 20 mil­lion for­eign vis­i­tors a year by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics.

De­spite decades of ex­po­sure to non-Ja­panese tourists, many fa­cil­i­ties, even in cos­mopoli­tan Tokyo, have dif­fi­cul­ties deal­ing with peo­ple who they as­sume can­not speak the lan­guage.

Tokyo has a huge se­lec­tion of top-class eater­ies, and reg­u­larly tops the global list for Miche­lin­starred restau­rants.

No one from the Miche­lin Guide was avail­able for com­ment.

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