A Korean restaurant in Japan has received two stars in the 2012 Tokyo edition of the Michelin Guide, becoming the first Korean restaurant to win such an honor.
The restaurant, called Moranbong, is located in the Shibuya district of Tokyo and opened in 2009. With three rooms and just 20 seats, it only takes reservations and serves full-course meals costing between W160,000 to W240,000 per person (US$1=W1,127).
The restaurant specializes in royal Korean cuisine, but there are no Koreans among the staff. Jon Pyong-ryol (53), president of Moranbong, said, "I felt that it would be more effective to get Japanese people to study Korean cuisine and talk about it while serving the food to promote it among Japanese."
Each room has a monitor and a simple kitchen so that staff and chefs can explain the origins of Korean cuisine, its contents and preparation process to customers if they wish.
Evaluators of the Michelin Guide visit a particular restaurant five to six times as customers over a yearlong period and award a maximum three stars. Jon said, "I had no idea Michelin Guide was evaluating my restaurant."
In this year's edition of the guide's coverage of Tokyo, two other Korean restaurants -- Senohana (32 seats) in Minato district and Matsunomi (32 seats) in Shinjuku -- received one star each.