When you think of Michelin star food, images of fancy white tablecloths, elaborate tasting courses, and hefty prices likely come to mind. What you probably wouldn't expect is that one of these prestigious culinary honors would be given to a man selling ramen out of his used car dealership.
Stock Photo by Peter Pham//Foodbeast
That just happened to Katsumi Yoshida, whose Hot Air ramen concept, run out of his auto shop, just received a Michelin star in the most recent edition of the Tottori, Japan guide. Yoshida's ramen typically sells for about 800 yen, or $7.10 US Dollars, placing it in the "Bib Gourmand" category of restaurants delivering top-notch quality and service for under 5000 yen ($44.39 US).
According to Spoon & Tamago, Yoshida started serving bowls of his ramen in 2012, but had been developing the recipe to his additive-free broth for much longer. Some of the ingredients he uses include chicken bones, sardines, and salt, and he's got the precision of ingredients down, almost like an engineer.
Yoshida converted a meeting space in his dealership into a place to sell his ramen, and news of it quickly spread by word-of-mouth. As Hot Air's reputation spread, a Michelin judge eventually came to the auto dealer to scope it out. After tasting the food, he was apparently impressed enough to recommend it for the Michelin Guide.
The addition of Hot Air to the growing global list of Michelin restaurants makes it one of the cheapest in that category in the world. Only Hong Kong's Tim Ho Wan and Singapore's Hong Kong Soya Sauce Rice and Noodle (from street vendor Chan Hon Meng) offer less expensive Michelin-quality food, while South Korea's Hamo sells their dishes for about the same price as Yoshida.
If you're in Tottori and want to try the ramen for yourself, keep an eye on Yoshida's Twitter, as he regularly updates the restaurant's hours and days open there.