Hilton Tokyo’s French restaurant - Twenty One - awarded Two Michelin Stars

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Friday, 30 November 2007

The Hilton Tokyo has emerged from an extensive three-year refurbishment of guestrooms, suites and public areas to be recognized as one of Tokyo’s best hotels recommended in the first Michelin Guide for Tokyo.

“Hilton was the first foreign-managed hotel in Japan and has always enjoyed a loyal following thanks to a reputation for service excellence,” said the hotel's General Manager, Christian R. Baudat, “but the upgrade has introduced a genuine sense of comfort, literally transforming the hotel’s image. We are delighted to have this recognized by Michelin and to be included in their first benchmark of the best hotels in Tokyo.”

Michelin’s rigorous evaluation system rates hotels according to ‘order of comfort’, placing Hilton Tokyo in the category with the second highest number of ‘pavilions’. Hilton Tokyo achieved a notable four pavilion symbol, recognising it as one of the finest hotels in the city. The Guide applauds the hotel’s newly renovated ‘spacious’ lobby and lounge area which are noted as ‘always lively.’ Renovated rooms on the top floor are described as ‘perfect for both business and pleasure’ while ‘the suites and guest rooms offer upscale comfort and all the functions necessary to accommodate the needs of a business clientele.’ Elegant traditional shoji screens in all rooms are recommended as an ‘outstanding feature’ which ‘bring a Japanese sensibility.’

Hilton Tokyo’s acclaimed French restaurant, Twenty One, was singled out for a particular Michelin honor: it was one of only two classic French restaurants located in a hotel in Tokyo to be awarded Two Michelin Stars, indicating ‘exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey’ Only 25 restaurants of the 1,500 total reviewed by inspectors received two stars. According to Michelin, a restaurant that receives one or more stars is ‘not only one of the best in its country but also one of the best in the world.’

“We don’t do fussy designer food or try to be complicated,” said Twenty One’s consultant Chef Stéphane Gaborieau, who creates the restaurant’s menus and oversees every detail from training to presentation. Gaborieau communicates daily with Twenty One’s Restaurant Chef, Sébastien Lefort, from his famous restaurant ‘Le Pergolèse’ in Paris. “In Tokyo we focus on fine French cuisine taking inspiration from the freshest local organic and seasonal ingredients. Food must taste as wonderful as it looks. It must be authentic. There must be absolute respect for the food and guest.”

Gaborieau has an impeccable culinary history: he won his first Michelin star in 1995 and in 2004 was awarded the ultimate culinary honor in France: the ‘MOF’ – Meilleurs Ouvrier de France. Conferred by the French government in recognition of excellence amongst craftsmen, the medal is one of the most notoriously difficult accolades to achieve.

Special mention is made in the Guide of Chef Gaborieau’s renowned insistence on personally checking the provenance of natural ingredients - right down to checking the quality and condition of Maesawa beef literally in the field in Iwate prefecture and his rigorous inspection of organic vegetable and herbs farms.

Twenty One also garnered four Michelin ‘spoon/fork’ symbols, the Guide’s restaurant classification indicating order of comfort (on a scale of one to five). Aspects such as the character of the building, décor, the setting, welcome and services are all taken into account. The Guide made note of the ‘interesting wine list’ featuring ‘wines from all over the world.’ Michelin recommended the restaurant’s ‘elegant design’ and ‘lively contemporary atmosphere.’  A firm favourite with Tokyo’s French community, Twenty One features an open kitchen offering the vicarious pleasure of observing the almost orchestra-like precision and passion of the French-trained team at work.

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