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The restaurant scene in Japan has entered a new era, with diners
seeking unique experiences and cuisine that cannot be found elsewhere.
At the forefront of this trend are restaurateurs linked closely to
the sources of their ingredients, turning the natural blessings of
their surroundings into innovative, delectable fare.
Each year, the members of our expert panel recommend 10 establishments,
with the aim of introducing readers to authentic cuisine prepared with
great care and imagination.
The Japan Times Destination Restaurant of the Year 2021 is
Cuisine régionale L’évo.

About “Destination Restaurants”

Regional dining redefined at newly opened gastronomic auberge in the Toyama mountains

Cuisine régionale L’évo
The Destination Restaurant of the year 2021

If you are among those who believe that anticipation is half the enjoyment, then you will love the journey to L’évo. Chef Eiji Taniguchi’s remarkable new restaurant lies high in the mountains, a two-hour-plus drive from the city of Toyama through forests, past lakes and up narrow winding roads.



Why regional restaurants topped Destination list

At Pocket Concierge, we provide access to top restaurants in Japan from exclusive reservations, foodie favorites, to undiscovered gems. Users have access to curated selections, and the pre-payment process allows for an optimal dining experience. With Pocket Concierge, you can be sure to find your next favorite spot and feel like an insider in the world of dining.
Discover, book, and pay all in one place.

Left: Kei Tokado, Right: Yoshiki Tsuji

Destination Restaurants 2021 is a list of the best restaurants in Japan, published by The Japan Times in April 2021. To commemorate the announcement, a special talk session on the charm of Japanese food culture was held at The Japan Times' headquarters in December. The speakers were Yoshiki Tsuji, principal of the Tsuji Culinary Institute and a member of the Destination Restaurants selection committee, and Kei Tokado, representative director of Pocket Concierge, one of American Express’ dining businesses and a sponsor of the Destination Restaurants list. The facilitator was the chair of The Japan Times, Minako Suematsu.

Left: Kei Tokado, Right: Yoshiki Tsuji

Over the years, the Japanese have cultivated distinctive and rich food cultures suited to their particular local climates. They have also actively incorporated dishes from overseas and developed them into original dishes through the use of local ingredients and cooking methods. And yet, when it came to evaluating Japan’s foods and restaurants, there was always a tendency for foreign criteria to be applied. The new list was born from a desire to demonstrate to the world how the Japanese evaluate and appraise their own food.


  • Yoshiki Tsuji

    Tsuji Group representative. Chair of 学校法人辻料理学館 and school headmaster of Tsuji Culinary Institute. Director of the All Japan Food Association. Selection committee member for Destination Restaurants.

  • Kei Tokado

    CEO of Pocket Concierge, which was founded in 2011 and joined the American Express Group in January 2019. Pocket Concierge is a restaurant reservation service for carefully selected restaurants, offering services such as vacant seat notifications for hard-to-book restaurants and waiting lists for restaurants that are usually open only to regular customers.

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