Let’s tuck in to five recent takeaways from Tokyo’s evolving food scene (and a little further afield).

  • Starting with the low and slow. Craig White was ahead of the curve in 2011 when he opened his restaurant devoted to authentic American barbecue in Tokyo’s up-market Azabu Juban neighborhood. That dream ended in flames two years later, but he successfully pivoted to wholesaling his smoked meats to shops and restaurants, and apparently is going to give restaurating another try in the future.
  • New on the Tokyo barbecue scene is Freeman Shokudo, opened recently by Brooklyn native Jeremy Freeman and his wife, Maiko. Naturally you can get tasty spare ribs here, done right and served on a plastic tray, but the star of the show, writes Robbie Swinnerton, is pit-smoked pastrami.
  • Speaking of good things that take time, Sano Miso is a paradise for lovers of Japan’s famous soy-based ferment. At the Ginza branch, you can sample 45 different varieties, on display in large tubs. Next door is Shoku-Ishino, which is dedicated to set meals of yakuzen cuisine, a traditional approach to cooking that incorporates elements of kanpō, the ancient Chinese system of herbal medicine.
Composite of (clockwise from top left) Xie Wang Fu, Freeman Shokudo, The Restaurant and Sano Miso
Composite of (clockwise from top left) Xie Wang Fu, Freeman Shokudo, The Restaurant and Sano Miso
  • Moving on up to the high end, Xie Wang Fu is the first overseas offshoot of Shanghai’s best-known specialist crab restaurant, Cheng Long Hang, famed for being able to serve the seasonal delicacy of freshwater Chinese mitten crabs year-round. Not surprisingly, a dinner feast here will set you back on time (3-4 hours) and money (omakase courses start at ¥25,000), but there’s always the much more affordable lunch.
  • And if you’ve got time for a day trip out of Tokyo, there is The Restaurant, located in the newly reborn Shiroiya Hotel in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture. It’s the result of an all-star collaboration of architectural design (Sou Fujimoto) and innovative cuisine. Hiroyasu Kawate, chef of top Tokyo restaurant Florilege, helped oversee the initial menu so you know it’s going to be impressive as the surroundings. Bon appetit!