Sometimes it feels like Japan’s food trends turn on a dime.

For several years, bubble tea chains reigned supreme, with lines stretching around the block, until they were already passe. Korean-style cheese dogs had their moment. Earlier this year, it seemed that pulled pork would finally get its due. The pandemic, of course, threw all predictions into chaos, leading to a surge in takeout options, even from some of the capital’s most exclusive restaurants. In many kitchens, rice cookers and bread makers were harnessed to push the bounds of home cooking.

Even as we think back on 2020, eyes (and stomachs) are already turning toward what culinary delights 2021 might have to offer. Five of The Japan Times’ food-minded critics share the dining trends they’d like to see the country embrace (spoiler alert: seating en plein air is a must).