As 2013 draws to a well-replete coda, there's just enough time to stop, pause and ponder the culinary highlights of the past 12 months. Tokyo has never been better for eating out, and this year has brought a further glut of excellent restaurants at every point on the budget spectrum. Here are a few, both old and new, that hit the gastronomic sweet spot for me. Expect to see full reviews for many in this column over the coming months.
When it comes to washoku — and where else to start, given UNESCO's recent recognition of Japan's traditional cuisine — one of the standout meals for me was at Kojyu (Carioca building 4F 5-4-8, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo; 03-6215-9544; www.kojyu.jp). Chef Toru Okuda's superb kaiseki cuisine is as good as it gets. But since moving his flagship restaurant into new premises in the ritziest heart of Ginza, it now has the sleek, highly polished setting worthy of its three Michelin stars.
Not that Okuda is resting on his laurels in any way: In September, he opened a new eponymous restaurant in Paris. At the helm is his trusty lieutenant, Shun Miyahara, the talented young chef who up to now has been in charge at the Kojyu "second restaurant," Ginza Okuda. Our loss is a gain not just for Paris but for all those keen to spread the word worldwide about washoku in its highest manifestation.