Change is in the air — you can smell it.

Whether it's hamburger joints offering all-you-can-drink glasses of wine, kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi spots luring female customers with daytime cakes and coffee, or izakaya (dining bars) operating 24/7 for customers working the night shift, the nation's restaurant industry is undoubtedly in flux.

As an already packed market swells with new players and as the population shrinks, eateries are increasingly mounting sorties from their traditional strongholds in search of a larger piece of the pie.