The Araki, one of only three three-Michelin-starred restaurants until today, is no longer in the Michelin guide to the U.K. and Ireland. After today’s announcement, where a record number of new stars were awarded, the £310-a-head sushi counter restaurant has gone from having three stars to having none in 12 months. While sensational, there appears to be at least some rationale: the restaurant’s founder, the sushi master, Mitsuhiro Araki, left the restaurant and returned to Japan this year.
Eater has contacted Michelin for further comment on the reasons behind the complete omission in this year’s guide. The company did not immediately respond to the request.
Last week, the bookmaker Ladbroke’s priced The Araki at 6-5 to lose a star. It was widely expected to be demoted — to two stars — given the departure of Araki, and for the new chef, Marty Lau, to earn a reputation for the restaurant in his own right.
Michelin is clear, however, that it awards stars to restaurants only based on the quality of the food they serve, nothing else, even if it is not uncommon for a venue of the highest ranking to receive a demotion in the event of a significant chef change.
Per Michelin’s own online myth-busting explainer:
The MICHELIN Guide awards stars to restaurants based on the quality of the food they serve, and not to individuals. Aptly too, as world-class meals are often the collective efforts of an entire team, and not one man (or woman) alone.
Three other London restaurants lost stars: Benares, the Indian restaurant on Berkeley Square in Mayfair, which sacked the disgraced chef Atul Kochhar in 2018, is no longer in the guide.
Nor is the high-end Soho dim sum restaurant, Yauatcha, formerly run by celebrated and peripatetic restaurateur Alan Yau. The fourth and final demotion from the guide is Galvin at Windows, Chris and Jeff Galvin’s French restaurant on the 28th-floor of the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, overlooking Hyde Park.