Michelin magic for less in Japan Restaurant Week

Michelin magic for less in Japan Restaurant Week

Snag a top-notch meal for a song during Japan's fantastic foodie fiesta
Japan Restaurant Week
Penny-pinchers rejoice -- Japan Restaurant Week is upon us.

When is a week not a week? Why, when it’s the 17 days of this summer’s Japan Restaurant Week (JRW), of course; it runs from August 17-September 2.

The twice-yearly event is based on the notion of expanding the customer base for the near-250 participating restaurants across the country.

Of those, the vast majority -- over 160 -- is in or near Tokyo, although there are a handful as far north as Sapporo and as far west as Fukuoka.

Regardless of location, all restaurants have to toe the JRW party line and lay on cut-price menus to attract new diners.

Lunch sets start at ¥1,575 (US$20), which is barely more than one would pay in a decent Tokyo diner on any given day anyway.

Dinner ups the ante a little, with prices ranging from ¥4,200 per person to ¥7,350, depending on the restaurant.

In the stars

If the top end sounds a little pricey, then perhaps the list of participants in the American-Express-promoted campaign will sway the odd fence-sitter.

Among the many Michelin-starred restaurants and chefs pitching in are Cerise by Gordon Ramsay at the Conrad Tokyo and French specialist Le Benkei in Nara Prefecture.

At risk of putting anyone off, though, we do feel obliged to share the “Manners Required” guide the JRW recommends. If only for the time-warp feeling that comes from “fine dining” in days long past.

“Cancellations without notice are strictly forbidden,” it tells us. “The restaurant has prepared a scrumptious meal for you.” Ah, that’s why we’re going, then.

“Go to the bathroom, make phone calls ... before you start dining,” it continues.

Then there’s our very favorite, the classic, “eat everything you're served ...”

And perhaps, if you’re very good, you’ll be allowed to stay up past 8 p.m. and have hot milk too.

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