What a year. And what a relief to reach the end of it. But before we consign 2020 outright to the reject bin of history, it’s worth looking back for a moment. In hindsight, there were plenty of culinary highlights that helped bring notes of optimism and positivity to these difficult months.

For better or worse, this has been the year of the neo-yokochō. The idea of creating cheerful, bustling floors of closely clustered restaurants and bars — no matter how well-designed and carefully curated — now flies in the face of social-distancing wisdom. Nonetheless, the concept has struck a popular chord, from last year’s Chaos Kitchen to the triple-decker delights of Shibuya’s redeveloped Miyashita Park.

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