Sushi restaurant Araki ranked UK's best as London dominates Harden's guide

The Araki, a sushi restaurant in Mayfair with three Michelin stars, topped the Harden's Best UK Restaurants guide. PHOTO: GOOGLE MAPS

LONDON (GUARDIAN) - Manchester has emerged as the United Kingdom's fastest improving city for fine dining, but a £385 (S$700)-a-head London sushi restaurant is the country's best, a respected food guide has found.

The Araki, a sushi restaurant in Mayfair with three Michelin stars, beat Casamia in Bristol and the Ledbury in London to top spot in the Harden's Best UK Restaurants guide, which polls thousands of diners.

The exclusive Japanese restaurant, which opened in 2014 after the chef Mitsuhiro Araki relocated from Tokyo to London, has a six-month waiting list and seats just nine people, holding two dinner sittings per evening.

London eateries dominate the 2018 Hardens guide of more than 1,400 restaurants, but Manchester was the fastest improving city, with 66 restaurants achieving a listing, although none made the top 100.

Edinburgh remains unrivalled outside London, according to the guide, with 13 restaurants among the top scorers, including Restaurant Martin Wishart in ninth place, which serves French cooking using Scottish produce.

Bath and Bristol reinforced the West Country's culinary reputation with numerous listings. Casamia was rated the second best restaurant in the UK, with its multi-course seasonal tasting menu. Diners are asked to allow up to three-and-a-half hours to complete the meal.

Wales achieved five rankings, including Gareth Ward at Ynyshir near Snowdonia national park in 15th place, which mixes Welsh produce with Japanese cooking techniques.

The 27th annual list was based on a survey of 8,500 diners who contributed 50,000 reviews of their restaurant experiences.

The guide's editor and co-founder, Peter Harden, said: "Manchester is one of the fastest-growing cities and on the back of that is coming the services you expect to see in a thriving city.

"On the other hand it doesn't have the champions to make the top 100. Famously, Manchester has not had a Michelin star since 1977 at the French restaurant at the Midland Hotel. It still lacks the type of restaurant you really have to tick off your list," he added.

Harden said the Araki's success was down to its "fabulous level of attention and ingredient quality".

"We often find that smaller restaurants do better because the chef can really focus on your meal and your experience," he added.

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