Variety is spice of life for NY's Michelin eateries

With 57 restaurants winning stars in this year's Michelin guide, New York comes in only at fifth place in world rankings, but is the hands-down number one for culinary diversity.

The 2011 New York guide, which precedes all the other city surveys due this year, sees the Big Apple with 10 two-star restaurants, up four from last year, and an unchanged five with the maximum of three stars.

Three French eateries keep their places in the highest ratings: Jean Georges, Daniel, and Le Bernardin, as do the Japanese Masa, and California chef Thomas Keller's Per Se.

The top tables in the world remain in Tokyo, which boasts 11 three-star restaurants, followed by Paris with 10 and Kyoto with six. New York takes fourth place.

But New York is definitely on the up, with appetite growing for two-star restaurants, defined as "excellent cooking and worth a detour," as opposed to "exceptional cuisine and worth the journey" for the three stars.

Last year the number rose from four to six and this year there are 10.

They include Japanese Soto in Greenwich Village, the Italian Marea near Central Park, as well as Brooklyn Fare, where chef Cesar Ramirez used to work with chef David Bouley.

The amazing Japanese restaurant Kajitsu in the East Village of Manhattan added a second star to the one that came in 2009 for its "shojun" vegetarian dishes, prepared in the tradition of ancient Buddhist monasteries.

In all, 57 restaurants got one or more stars, which is 10 more than last year.

Tokyo was far ahead with 197 star-worthy restaurants, while Kyoto had 85, Osaka 65 and Paris 64. Below New York came London with 48 and Hong Kong with 42.

But New York can boast of having the greatest top-level variety. Fifteen different types of restaurants won stars, from Austrian to Spanish, from Italian to Persian, from Japanese to steakhouses, and English-style gastropubs.

London is the next most diverse, with nine genres represented, headed by Indian, Pakistani and Thai restaurants. By contrast, Japan's capital - which has a total of 150,000 restaurants - has only seven types winning stars.

Paris, which has a total of only 15,000 restaurants, is the most patriotic. Out of the 64 restaurants winning stars, only two are really non-French: the Spanish Fogon and Japanese Aida, each of which have one star.

Michelin has added to its famous guide in recent years with the Bib Gourmand mark - not a star for excellence, but among the "inspectors' favorites for good value."

Twenty one new eateries won Bib Gourmands in this year's New York guide.

The edition also lists restaurants offering 25-dollars or less menus. There are 127, up from 109 last year.

Other US cities covered by Michelin are San Francisco, while Chicago will see its first guide in November.

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