It’s never a good idea to start a new year by looking over your shoulder. But there’s no harm in saluting the trends that have emerged over the past 12 months, especially if they represent a significant slippage in the gourmet zeitgeist. After all, yesterday’s dabblings by the food fashionistas become the TV hype of today — and, before you know it, they’ve insinuated themselves onto the mainstream menus of tomorrow.

If 2001 witnessed the rise and rise of premium pizza (wood-fired in handmade Neapolitan-style ovens, naturally), then 2002 looks like it will be the year of exotic sushi. Not just those inside-out norimaki rolls of the Californian persuasion — there’s been no shortage of variations on that particular theme for some years now. No, we’re talking state-of-the-art, no-holds-barred nigiri-zushi. At the designer sushi-ya of this brave new-wave millennium, the only restrictions on neta (toppings) are the limits of the itamae chefs’ fevered imaginations.

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