More tension has been a-stirrin’ in the kitchens of Japan’s fine dining establishments between store owners and Chinese patrons. In the latest sashimi-centered mishap, a Michelin-starred sushi restaurant has come under fire after refusing to accept a booking from a Chinese customer. More importantly, a Chinese journalist. Dun, dun, dun…
On April 8, Journalist Mo Bangfu had his Japanese secretary book a reservation for four at Sushi Mizutani, which won a two-star ranking in the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2015. The secretary was told that seats were available and all was fine, until it was revealed later in the conversation that the party would in fact consist of guests from China.
The person taking the booking said that the restaurant wouldn’t accept reservations from foreigners. Mo, a 30-year resident of Japan and fluent Japanese speaker, called himself and was also turned away.
The 10-seater sushi house, located in the glam Ginza district of Tokyo, explained in an AFP report that it has an “across-the-board policy” of not accepting reservations from foreigners due to an increasing number of cases in which the out-of-town patrons have canceled their bookings.
“We prepare fish for the number of expected customers and have to turn down other requests for booking sometimes. We simply cannot afford it if people don’t show up,” a staff member at the restaurant told AFP.
“We don’t think it is anything discriminatory,” he said.
The high-end restaurant, where an average meal runs around 20,000 yen, told the tabloid Nikkan Gendai that it would only take bookings from foreigners through a hotel concierge or a service provided by a credit card company, a policy that Mo told the tabloid was “disappointing”.
This isn’t the first time a Chinese patron has been a cause of controversy at a high-class Japanese sushi restaurant. Last year, a Chinese student who tried to order “cooked sushi” at Sukiyabashi Jiro, the most famous sushi restaurant in the world, prompted a collective sigh from netizens across Japan as well as her own homeland.