What an eventful 12 months it's been for Zaiyu Hasegawa and his team at Den. This time last year he had just closed his hugely in-demand restaurant — at the busiest season — and relocated across the city. At the time it seemed like a leap into the unknown, a step sideways rather than ahead. Now it's starting to look like a stroke of genius.

After nine years at his iconic Jinbocho address, Hasegawa was ready for change. He had moved into the premises as an unknown 29-year-old, soon turning Den into an under-the-radar insiders' secret — and from there into one of Tokyo's must-visit addresses for visitors from home and abroad.

But he was beginning to feel the physical limitations of the discreet entrance and narrow corridors, the intimate nine-seat counter and private rooms hidden away upstairs. The new Den, on the northern edge of Jingumae, could hardly be more different.