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Class A, B, C,... Gourmets


Hiroyuki
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This thread is for informational purposes only. You can of course make a reply if you want to.

The recent thread on fish restaurants has got me thinking about class A, B, C, ... gourmets.

In Japan, people like to talk about "class A gourmet restaurants", "class B gourmet food", and so on.

There are no clear definitions of class A, B, or C gourmet.

I would say that a gourment A restaurant is a restaurant where you expect to pay around 5,000 yen or higher, gourmet B restaurant around 2,000 yen or less, and gourmet C restaurant... I don't know :biggrin: A class C gourmet food may be some kind of instant noodles, some strange food that someone somewhere likes, etc., etc.

Class n gourmet is n kyuu gourment (n級グルメ) in Japanese.

It may go a long way if you know these phrases. :biggrin:

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I'd go first for the C's....the odd and abstract around the edge of things.

Then it'd be a tough call. Of primary concern, is it my money or someone else's?

If it's my money, I might go for the Class B, and look for the rising stars, the people who do one or two things really well with what they can get.

A class A can either be euphoric, or else disappointing in the extreme. Not that they don't deliver, but that they leave you wondering if you missed something. Put another way, I've found it easier to forgive a flaw in a $100 meal, whereas at a $500 sitting I expect things to be perfect.

Edited by Peter Green (log)
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Nice topic. I really find this interesting. Personally, to me, class C is something like a ramen shop/booth, curry rice shop, kaiten sushi shop or some other sort of quick, tasty place to eat. Class B is anything up to about Y2000 or so, as you say. Since I don't dine Class C much anymore, due to a lack of time when I'm in Japan for work, it's there on my list but not something I focus on.

I'm not sure where Izakaya fall into. Most probably Class B, but I've run up some pretty expensive bills there. My focus for my next leisure trip is Class B and Class A places.

This thread is for informational purposes only.  You can of course make a reply if you want to.

The recent thread on fish restaurants has got me thinking about class A, B, C, ... gourmets.

In Japan, people like to talk about "class A gourmet restaurants", "class B gourmet food", and so on.

There are no clear definitions of class A, B, or C gourmet.

I would say that a gourment A restaurant is a restaurant where you expect to pay around 5,000 yen or higher, gourmet B restaurant around 2,000 yen or less, and gourmet C restaurant...  I don't know :biggrin:  A class C gourmet food may be some kind of instant noodles, some strange food that someone somewhere likes, etc., etc.

Class n gourmet is n kyuu gourment (n級グルメ) in Japanese.

It may go a long way if you know these phrases. :biggrin:

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I got the impression that "B-kyuu gourmet" is kind of like "B-movie"; you never really refer to "A-movies", only B-movies. I did a Google search on "級グルメ" (kyuu-gurume), and all but one hit were for "B-kyuu gourmet" (there was one hit for "C-kyuu gourmet"). The very first B-Kyuu gourmet site (via Google) had a review of McDonald's, so I'm having trouble imagining how cheap a place would have to be to qualify as "C-kyuu"!

Personally I can't remember the last time I had a dinner in Tokyo that was under Y2000. Even Indian food ends up being at least Y2500 or Y3000 with a couple of beers. Perhaps the price categories need to be adjusted by location....

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I did a Google search on "級グルメ" (kyuu-gurume), and all but one hit were for "B-kyuu gourmet" (there was one hit for "C-kyuu gourmet"). The very first B-Kyuu gourmet site (via Google) had a review of McDonald's, so I'm having trouble imagining how cheap a place would have to be to qualify as "C-kyuu"!

Are you sure? When I googled 級グルメ, I got 1,870,000 hits, and when I googled A級グルメ, I got 27,800 hits, B級グルメ, 1,480,000, C級グルメ 84,000, D級グルメ 18,100, E級グルメ 15,700, and F級グルメ 34,100.

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It's easy to have a nice dinner under Y2000. Try tonkatsu, curry rice, okonomiyaki or ramen fried rice combination. These aren't fancy but if you pick the right place, it's quite a nice meal.

I got the impression that "B-kyuu gourmet" is kind of like "B-movie"; you never really refer to "A-movies", only B-movies.  I did a Google search on "級グルメ" (kyuu-gurume), and all but one hit were for "B-kyuu gourmet" (there was one hit for "C-kyuu gourmet"). The very first B-Kyuu gourmet site (via Google) had a review of McDonald's, so I'm having trouble imagining how cheap a place would have to be to qualify as "C-kyuu"!

Personally I can't remember the last time I had a dinner in Tokyo that was under Y2000. Even Indian food ends up being at least Y2500 or Y3000 with a couple of beers.  Perhaps the price categories need to be adjusted by location....

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If it's my money, I might go for the Class B, and look for the rising stars, the people who do one or two things really well with what they can get.

Wise choice.

I'm not sure where Izakaya fall into. Most probably Class B, but I've run up some pretty expensive bills there. My focus for my next leisure trip is Class B and Class A places.

Most izakaya fall into class B, in my opinion. The atmosphere and decor is another important factor for deciding which class a restaurant falls into.

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Yes, I think we're saying roughly the same thing here. The great majority of usages are for "B-kyu" in your search. And if you just search on "kyu-gurume", the first several pages of results show an overwhelming majority of usages for "b-kyu" (i.e. I didn't notice a single one for "a-kyu").

I don't know how it's used in conversation though - I don't watch TV in Japan. Perhaps people also refer to "A-Kyu gurume"?

I did a Google search on "級グルメ" (kyuu-gurume), and all but one hit were for "B-kyuu gourmet" (there was one hit for "C-kyuu gourmet"). The very first B-Kyuu gourmet site (via Google) had a review of McDonald's, so I'm having trouble imagining how cheap a place would have to be to qualify as "C-kyuu"!

Are you sure? When I googled 級グルメ, I got 1,870,000 hits, and when I googled A級グルメ, I got 27,800 hits, B級グルメ, 1,480,000, C級グルメ 84,000, D級グルメ 18,100, E級グルメ 15,700, and F級グルメ 34,100.

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Yes, I think we're saying roughly the same thing here.  The great majority of usages are for "B-kyu" in your search.  And if you just search on "kyu-gurume", the first several pages of results show an overwhelming majority of usages for "b-kyu" (i.e. I didn't notice a single one for "a-kyu").

I don't know how it's used in conversation though - I don't watch TV in Japan.  Perhaps people also refer to "A-Kyu gurume"?

I did a Google search on "級グルメ" (kyuu-gurume), and all but one hit were for "B-kyuu gourmet" (there was one hit for "C-kyuu gourmet"). The very first B-Kyuu gourmet site (via Google) had a review of McDonald's, so I'm having trouble imagining how cheap a place would have to be to qualify as "C-kyuu"!

Are you sure? When I googled 級グルメ, I got 1,870,000 hits, and when I googled A級グルメ, I got 27,800 hits, B級グルメ, 1,480,000, C級グルメ 84,000, D級グルメ 18,100, E級グルメ 15,700, and F級グルメ 34,100.

OK, when you google "A級グルメ" (enclose A級グルメ in double quotations), you will get 29,900 hits and easily find a number of sites referring to class A gourmet.

Edited by Hiroyuki (log)
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I too am curious as to how these words are usually used. Since I watch less than an hour of Japanese tv a week I don't hear them much. I have never heard my friends refer to restaurants like this and though I regulary read cooking/restaurant magazines (in Japanese) I can't recall seeing these words.

Is it pretty much just used for ranking purposes?

Are the prices given for without drinks?

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I too am curious as to how these words are usually used. Since I watch less than an hour of Japanese tv a week I don't hear them much. I have never heard my friends refer to restaurants like this and though I regulary read cooking/restaurant magazines (in Japanese) I can't recall seeing these words.

Is it pretty much just used for ranking purposes?

Are the prices given for without drinks?

Hm... It's kind of hard to explain...

These phrases sound rather slangy and comical, and used to describe restaurants, one's preferences in food, etc. funnily, comically, and sometimes masochistically.

It's rare that a restaurant owner describes his/her restaurant is in the A-kyuu class and that you ask a chef if his/her restaurant is a B-kyuu class one.

Then again, they can be used in magazines and TV programs.

Ask your husband! He may come up with a better explanation! :biggrin:

Prices that I mentioned previously are merely rough guides. If you order alcoholic drinks at an A-kyuu restaurant, the bill can easily amount to 8,000 to 10,000 yen per person, right? :biggrin:

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I love eating at all levels, and in Japan, one can eat extremely well at any price range, even in train stations. Personally, my favorite places are at the highest and lowest ends of the spectrum, rarely in the middle. A 30,000 yen kaiseki meal is a completely different eating experience from a 1,000 bowl of handmade soba, and it's a tossup for me which is the most joyous meal.

In general, I think each diner's frame of reference is very important when evaluating value. At all levels but especially at the high end, experience counts for a lot.

I'll post in another thread in more detail about our latest experiences, but let's take our recent 3-day Osaka visit as an example of eating well at several price points. For us at least, Kitcho honten was worth almost every yen of the 60,000 per person price tag. Ippoh tempura at 25,000 pp was excellent but pricey for the quality and not very special in the context of our other tempura experiences. RON was worth 20,000 pp for lunch, mainly as it was our first time really seeing masterful cooking of wagyu and understanding the differences in the various grades of Kobe beef. I'd never had Kobe beef that I would have mistaken for foie gras before. However, you just can't beat the price-quality value at places like Kigi (extremely yummy okonomiyaki and some of the best yakisoba I've ever had, all for less than 1,000pp) or Hokkyokusei, the creators of the rice omelet. The sheer variety of cheap foods like takoyaki, udon, and okonomiyaki are breathtaking and merit weeks of serious gourmet study.

In Tokyo, we went to fancy places like Kyubei, Sukiyabashi Jiro Ginza, Rakutei, Waketokuyama, etc., but the unagi shirayaki at Obana might have outshone all else. (To be fair, the modern unagi at Ryugin was spectacular as well...)

It's easy to eat well at expensive, famous restaurants, but I love the feeling of eating well in cheap small places. It's that triumphant feeling of having come across a good bargain, plus the miracle of watching an artisan transform a humble food into a thing of beauty. In Japan, you frequently encounter astonishing craft, quality, and skill at the cheap end (I won't try to figure out what kyuu this is).

But even in the elite places, it's rare to get anything as dizzingly good as the hamo-matsutake wanmori at Kitcho (we had at least 4 other hamo clear soups this trip, and none came even close). Add in the experience of eating off of Taisho-era custom Baccarat in a sumptuous banquet hall for two plus the genuine hospitality of the chef's elegant wife, and the evening goes down as one of my lifetime top 10 meals. As the VISA ad would say, "Priceless."

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Kitcho honten ... 60,000 per person price tag.

Ippoh tempura at 25,000 pp

RON was worth 20,000 pp for lunch

Kyubei,

Sukiyabashi Jiro Ginza,

Rakutei,

Waketokuyama,

etc.,

Obana

Ryugin

As the VISA ad would say, "Priceless."

Are you a millionnaire?? :shock::shock::shock:

I'll post in another thread in more detail about our latest experiences,

Do tell us the details!!

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From all the Japanese video games I have played I must ask: where is Class S, which is always the highest class? Maybe it is secret and you need to beat the game to access it.

I googled "S級グルメ" ("class S gourmet"), and got 104 hits. One blogger uses the letter S to mean fish (sakana in Japanese), and another uses it to mean seafood. I found only one site that seems to use the letter to mean special.

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I can't imagine how long it would take to give all the details, but I'll try when I have time. I came back with almost 2,000 photos...

Maybe S-class is for those restaurants who require almost a secret handshake to get in and many repeat visits before you get the really good stuff? It was incredibly difficult to reserve Kitcho honten and Jiro in Ginza given that we did not know any regulars. I understand that some of the top restaurants are very reluctant to allow foreigners in.

Kyubei was easy to reserve through the hotel concierge but difficult to do so as a private person. We quickly realized that there is quite a hierarchy inside the restaurant itself. I went three times, and from what I could see, the best chefs and ingredients were in the basement of the annex. The only reason we managed to get there is that by sheer coincidence we went the first time with some old family acquaintances of the chef-owner. The chef invited us back and seated us at the best counter. On our first visit, the sushi was excellent but not earth-shattering. The earth started shaking after the second visit.

Frankly, I think Daiwa zushi at Tsukiji is a tremendous value for the money, although of course their overall technique does not reach the level of artistry at Kyubei or Jiro. (At Kyubei, the tare on the steamed abalone has been refreshed every day for 71 years!) I tend to rate restaurants based on quality alone (Jiro, Kyubei, Daiwa), then on value for the money (in which case the order gets reversed: Daiwa, Kyubei, Jiro).

Edited by Culinista (log)
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