Tradition looks quite different in Tokyo than, say, Kyoto. Concealed and evolving under constant layers of reinvention, it must be sought out. Where to start? Just head to Kohaku in Kagurazaka, Tokyo's atmospheric nightlife district.

The outer wall of dark, tightly packed bamboo, the recessed doorway, the concealed lighting; all are modern but unmistakably Japanese. Ditto the spacious, open-plan main dining area, with its high ceiling and tables set comfortably apart. And the impeccable contemporary kaiseki cuisine of Kohaku's talented young chef, Koji Koizumi.

In the seven years since opening, Koizumi has developed his own take on the kaiseki tradition of leisurely, multicourse meals. He has also forged an identity that is distinct from his longtime mentor, Hideki Ishikawa, whose eponymous restaurant was at this address before moving to its current location around the corner.