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Robbie Swinnerton
Robbie Swinnerton has been living, eating and writing about food in Tokyo for over 30 years. His column, Tokyo Food File, has run in The Japan Times since 1998.
For Robbie Swinnerton's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
In 2017, chef Shinsaku Suzuki moved to the Yatsugatake region of Yamanashi Prefecture with his wife, Emi Ishida, after locating the perfect premises: a splendid 170-year-old traditional Japanese house.
LIFE / Food & Drink / Destination Restaurants
Apr 6, 2024
Ai to Ibukuro: Terroir of Yamanashi's uplands
With a name that translates to “Love and Stomach,” this rural restaurant not far from Tokyo delivers with flying colors on both counts.
Chef Harutomo Hagi's self-named restaurant in Iwaki was selected as the 2023 Japan Times Destination Restaurant of the Year.
LIFE / Food & Drink / Destination Restaurants
Mar 10, 2024
Hagi: French restaurant leads Fukushima revival
The Japan Times’ 2023 Restaurant of the Year is a sterling example of Fukushima’s slow and steady post-disaster revival.
Motenashi Kuroki's smart new premises boast an eye-catching window display, aptly enough featuring a colorful display of ramen bowls.
LIFE / Food & Drink / TOKYO FOOD FILE
Feb 18, 2024
Motenashi Kuroki finally has a place worthy of its premium ramen
Naohito Kuroki has finally found a worthy location for his ever-popular, self-named ramen shop.
Chef Natsuki Suzuki opened Naz in the fall of 2020 on the rural fringe of the resort town of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture.
LIFE / Food & Drink / Destination Restaurants
Feb 11, 2024
Naz: Bounty from landlocked Nagano's rivers and pastures
Dining at Naz is like sitting down at a bespoke dinner club for a meal catered exclusively for you. And what a meal it is.
Beet carpaccio served with fresh cream and caviar, the signature dish of three-Michelin-star chef Mauro Colagreco, features at Cycle, his much-anticipated new restaurant in Otemachi.
LIFE / Food & Drink / TOKYO FOOD FILE
Dec 9, 2023
Tokyo dining finally kicked the pandemic blues in 2023
The further we got into 2023, the more it really started to feel like COVID-19 had finally dissipated like a malodorous mist.
Chef Masato Nishihara chose Nara as the site for his restaurant, Tsukumo, for its antiquity, its proximity to nature and its ancient connections with overseas cultures.
LIFE / Food & Drink / Destination Restaurants
Dec 3, 2023
Tsukumo: Japanese cuisine inspired by Nara's ancient roots
Like the treasures housed inside Nara's Shosoin repository, it may be years before chef Masato Nishihara reprises some of his exquisite dishes at Tsukumo.
Chef Stuart Brioza (left) of San Francisco’s State Bird Provisions explores the vineyard at Domaine Takahiko in Yoichi, together with his partner, Nicole Krasinski, and their son, Jasper.
LIFE / Food & Drink
Oct 22, 2023
A California chef's quest across Hokkaido for umami
Acclaimed chef Stuart Brioza has been to Hokkaido many times — but never with a focus like this on the island’s stunning natural bounty.
At Auberge Tokito, in the far western suburbs of Tokyo, executive chef-producer Yoshinori Ishii draws not only on his background in kaiseki (Japan’s multicourse traditional cuisine) but also his skills as a potter and artist.
LIFE / TOKYO FOOD FILE
Sep 3, 2023
Auberge Tokito raises the bar for this year’s new Tokyo openings
The crown for the most outstanding new opening so far this year goes to Auberge Tokito in Tokyo’s far western suburbs.
Gond, which opened in May near Ochanomizu Station, is run by the same group behind the long-running Dhaba India restaurant that closed in April.
LIFE / Food & Drink / TOKYO FOOD FILE
Aug 20, 2023
At Gond, a legendary Indian street food lineage endures
You can tell straight away that Gond has a personality to match its extensive and eclectic menu of dishes from around the subcontinent.
Mexican chef Marco Garcia has developed an innovative cuisine by fusing his love of Japanese classics, especially sushi, with the staple foods and flavors of his homeland.
LIFE / Food & Drink / TOKYO FOOD FILE
Jul 17, 2023
At Ebisu’s Tacos Bar, seafood tortillas with sushi inspiration
Chef Marco Garcia’s focus at Tacos Bar is entirely on seafood — and what excellent fish it is.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
Jul 2, 2023
At the World's 50 Best Restaurant awards, Central's win is a win for the world
The ultimate victory by Central represents a welcome change of flavor for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
Jun 25, 2023
Tokyo hosts Asia’s first ‘Nobel Prize in gastronomy’ award
For the first time, the Basque Culinary Center brought its annual summit to Japan.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / Destination Restaurants
Jun 11, 2023
Villa del Nido: Local produce, Italian technique, volcanic backdrop
Tucked away among the smallholdings of a rural community in Unzen City, it seems an unlikely setting for Villa del Nido’s sophisticated, Italian-accented, farm-to-table cuisine.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
Apr 14, 2023
Noma Kyoto’s eclectic beverage lineup leaves no stone unturned
As with the food menu, the beverage program at Noma Kyoto is the fruit of long, deep and, by all accounts, highly enjoyable consideration by Noma’s head sommelier, Ava Mees List.
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Apr 13, 2023
Noma Kyoto: The focus — and future? — of the culinary world
Noma is one of the best restaurants in the world and earlier this year it moved its entire staff to Kyoto to create a pop-up that is currently the hottest ticket in the country. Our food critic joins the podcast to talk more about this culinary experience, which ends in May.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
Apr 12, 2023
At Noma Kyoto, chef Rene Redzepi plants ‘seeds’ for the future
The world's best chef is experimenting with the next phase of fine dining at his Kyoto pop-up.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / TOKYO FOOD FILE
Apr 2, 2023
Shizen: Firewood, ferments and finesse in backstreet Shibuya
Chef Yu Kunisue's dual passions of wood-fired cooking and fermented exploration come to delightful fruition.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / Destination Restaurants
Mar 12, 2023
Dewaya: Sansai cuisine worthy of a pilgrimage
Chef Haruki Sato prizes the freshest ingredients, even if that means digging them up in the dead of winter.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink
Feb 23, 2023
L'Effervescence chef Shinobu Namae: The making of an 'icon'
The man who runs Tokyo's chic L'Effervescence restaurant reflects on his career from washing dishes to Michelin-star meals.
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / Destination Restaurants
Feb 5, 2023
Yoichi Sagra: Feasting in Hokkaido wine country
Despite its occasionally inhospitable climate, Hokkaido is home to superb wines — as well as cuisine more than worthy of those vintages.

Longform

Yayoi Kusama’s “Pumpkin,” once the victim of high waves that dragged it into the sea, sits at the end of a pier on the south side of Naoshima.
Why is the most exciting art in Japan so hard to get to?