Michelin Star Dining In Kyoto

Michelin Star Dining in Kyoto is an amazing experience. Kyoto has 95 restaurants and 134 stars total. The problem is, even if you have the money to spend on a $1000 meal for two, you probably can’t get a reservation to the 3 star Michelin restaurants.

No Foreigner Reservations

Unless you know a local in the city and can speak fluent Japanese, you will have ZERO chance of getting a reservation at the top Japanese restaurants.   None of the restaurants speak English and some of these restaurants don’t even have email. Remember, these restaurants specialize in making the best Japanese food, not marketing their restaurant around the world.

Limited Seating = Credit Card Deposit Required

Most of the top restaurants have very limited seating (<15). This makes reservations a must. That is one of the reasons why these restaurants don’t allow foreigner reservations. It would be near impossible to make a booking and put your credit deposit down with the language barrier. Plus, demand far outweighs these restaurants capacity so it’s pointless for them to risk people not showing up to a reservation.

Food Is Purchased Fresh On A Daily Basis

The chef buys the food based on the number of customers for the day. Nothing is frozen or saved so it is important to make sure they purchase the right amount of food for the demand of the day.

No Menu

Many of these restaurants don’t have a menu or a la carte offerings. They have varying set meal prices, which varies based on the “quality of the ingredients”. Places like Hyotei and Kichesen had 3-4 different ranges, each varying by 50-100 USD.

The Waitlists Are Extremely Long

As most top restaurants around the world, 3 Michelin Star Dining in Kyoto have month long waitlists. One must book months in advance to get a spot.

The Ritz Carlton Experience

After reading the above, those are the reason why it’s beneficial to stay at a reputable hotel such as the Ritz Carlton in Kyoto. Moreover, if you only have limited time in Kyoto, having the hotel help you is your best chance at getting all the reservations you need on the days you want.

To book the hotel, Team GTE used 280,000 Marriott Rewards points  to redeem 5 nights at the Ritz Carlton, Kyoto. Here are 5 reasons why staying at the Ritz Carlton was 100% worth all the points spent, especially for Michelin Star Dining in Kyoto.

Ritz Carlton Concierge Took Care Of All The Bookings

Team GTE emailed the hotel 2 months prior to arriving and after a couple of quick emails, set up reservations at two 3- Michelin Star Restaurants in Hyotei and Kichisen. Each restaurant had different prefix price levels in which the concierge clarified. The full per person price was also was clearly disclosed.

Ability To Customize Reservation

Not wanting to look like a disrespectful Gaijin taking constant food pictures in an intimate setting, we requested for private room dining so that we could take pictures in privacy. At most restaurants, the private rooms are reserved for larger parties or VIP, but being a guest of the Ritz Carlton brings enough credibility for the hotel to make such requests free of charge.

Last Minute Requests

Wanting to try Fugu (Japanese Pufferfish), the Ritz Carlton concierge was able to make a last minute reservation to 1 Michelin Star Restaurant Ten-you at the chef’s table.   Moreover, they were able to request a special order to the chef to prepare Fugu for us.

Organized Itinerary / Directions / Information

Upon arrival at the Hotel, We were presented with our full itinerary for the week, along with a color map printout of instructions of how to get to each of the restaurants along with our reservation information. It was actually important to have the reservation sheet as we used it to show the restaurant our name and which hotel made the reservation, as they couldn’t speak any English. Some restaurants literally won’t let you step inside the restaurant without verifying your reservation.

It’s A Great Hotel!

Food aside, the Ritz Carlton is a great hotel in a great location in town. It’s a nice getaway spot with top notch amenities and is relatively new (open in 2014). Their ability to get you into the Japanese restaurants of your dreams is a huge value add and almost can help justify the high per night cost of the hotel($600+).

Until Next Time,

Team GTE