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.
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.
Surrounded by thick forest, Chimikepp Hotel lies deep in the mountains of eastern Hokkaido overlooking the unspoiled waters of Lake Chimikeppu.
Hidden away in the residential backstreets of Akita, Nihonryori Takamura sets itself well apart from the brash dining and drinking establishments in the center of the city.
Tonoya-Yo, chef Yotaro Sasaki’s atmospheric inn and restaurant in the rural heartland of Iwate Prefecture, is unlike any other in Japan.
When chef Kazuhiro Inoue and his wife, Mariko, decided that they’d had enough of running a restaurant in metropolitan Tokyo, they decamped to rural Niigata.
When it comes to depth of flavor and intense regional focus, there are few dining destinations that can rival Kataori.
Thanks to its proximity to the Sea of Japan coast, Kanazawa is famous for its fresh seafood.
When Takayuki Hagiwara opened his new restaurant right across the road from where his father made his name as a chef, he was determined to stick with tradition.
Perched on the waterfront of the Shimabara Peninsula, looking out across the placid waters of the Ariake Sea toward the coast of the Kyushu mainland, Pesceco boasts a view that is little short of idyllic.
Dinner at Restaurant État d’esprit opens not in chef Yasuhiro Tomari’s sleek, discreetly lit dining room but rather in guests’ private villas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.