July 28, 2023

Awards that tell the world about Japan’s regional restaurants

Destination Restaurant 2023


The Japan Times’ chairperson and president, Minako Suematsu, and the judges congratulate the 10 award-winning chefs.

The Destination Restaurants 2023 award ceremony, hosted by The Japan Times, was held on June 21 at The Tender House, a restaurant in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. The criteria for selecting restaurants are that they must be located in areas other than Tokyo’s 23 wards and large “ordinance-designated cities,” and that they help spark regional invigoration through cuisine.

In 2023, the third year of the annual Destination Restaurants list, 10 restaurants ranging in location from Aomori Prefecture in the north to Okinawa Prefecture in the south were selected, and the chef of each of the establishments attended the award ceremony. This year, the innovative restaurant Hagi in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture — which overcame the Tohoku earthquake disaster and nuclear accident and has been working with farmers to contribute to the region’s recovery — was singled out as being especially worthy of the title Destination Restaurant of the Year 2023.

The ceremony began with a toast by Natalia Fernanda Salazar Balterrama, Bolivia’s charge d’affaires in Japan. Next on the program was a speech by Rieko Nakayama, director of the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), emphasizing the special significance of these awards, which focus on Japan’s regional cities, in light of the growing interest in Japanese cuisine among visitors from overseas.

Guests at the venue were served a 10-course meal featuring one dish by each of the award-winning chefs. The event concluded on a lively note with a discussion among award judges Yoshiki Tsuji (headmaster of the Tsuji Culinary Institute), Naoyuki Honda (president and CEO of Leverage Consulting Inc.) and Takefumi Hamada (CEO of Access All Areas Inc.), along with the prizewinning chefs.

Natalia Fernanda Salazar Balterrama, charge d’affaires of Bolivia (left) / Rieko Nakayama, director of JNTO

Harutomo Hagi, the owner-chef of Hagi restaurant in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture

Polpo affogato, by Casa del Cibo
(Aomori Pref.)

Horse meat tartare produced in Yamagata Shirataka, by Restaurant Pas Mal
(Yamagata Pref.)

Morning harvested green peas with Kamenoo rice, used for sake, by Hagi
(Fukushima Pref.)

Yashiomasu trout en croute, by Otowa Restaurant
(Tochigi Pref.)

Freshwater Rikusaku Shingen ebi fritter, by Terroir Ai to Ibukuro
(Yamanashi Pref.)

Aged Shinshu salmon, by Restaurant Naz
(Nagano Pref.)

Salted Sado Nanban shrimp dried overnight nigiri sushi, by Tokiwazushi
(Niigata Pref.)

Bear meat platinum sake soup, by Oryouri Fujii
(Toyama Pref.)

Hydrangea flower-shaped arrangement of summer vegetables, by Tsukumo
(Nara Pref.)

Black tarte, by 6 Six
(Okinawa Pref.)


ジャパンタイムズ主催「Destination Restaurants 2023」の授賞式が6月21日、東京都港区の『ザ・テンダーハウス』で行われた。選出基準は「東京23区と政令都市を除く」場所にあり、食を通じて地域活性化の起爆剤となる店であること。3回目を迎える今年も全10店が選ばれ、各店のシェフが授賞式に参加した。特にその名にふさわしい1店「The Destination Restaurant of the year 2023」として、東日本大震災と原発事故を乗り越え、農家と共に復興に取り組んできた福島県いわき市のイノベーティブ・レストラン『HAGI』が選出された。



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