June 28, 2024

Honoring local cuisine that draws foreign tourists



The Destination Restaurants 2024 award ceremony, hosted by The Japan Times, was held on May 28 to honor restaurants that lie outside major cities and help spark regional invigoration. In this fourth year of Destination Restaurants, 10 establishments were honored at the ceremony at Hills House Sky Room Cafe & Bar in Tokyo’s Azabudai Hills. Each year, one restaurant is singled out as the year’s representative dining establishment. Destination Restaurant of the Year 2024 is Elezo Esprit, which is creating a new culture of meat-based cuisine in the town of Toyokorocho in Hokkaido’s Nakagawa district. The town’s mayor, Takeshi Anda, also attended the celebration.

The ceremony began with a speech by Minako Suematsu, chairperson and president of The Japan Times. Next, Rieko Nakayama, director of the Japan National Tourism Organization, gave a talk focusing on the increasing importance of regional restaurants in the postpandemic effort to redistribute inbound tourism from big cities to smaller places. After that, a toast was given by Natalia Salazar Balderrama, Bolivia’s charge d’affaires in Japan.

Also attending were four chefs from areas affected by the Noto Peninsula earthquake on Jan. 1. As their representative, Toshiya Ikehata, owner-chef of l’Atelier de Noto in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture — a Destination Restaurant in 2022 — was presented with a donation from The Japan Times.

Guests were served a six-course meal made by six of the award-winning chefs. After the award ceremony, the event concluded successfully with a discussion among award judges Yoshiki Tsuji, Naoyuki Honda and Takefumi Hamada.

Chef Shota Sasaki of Elezo Esprit, the Destination Restaurant of the Year 2024

Natalia Salazar Balderrama, Bolivia’s charge d’affaires, makes a toast.

Japan National Tourism Organization Director Rieko Nakayama gives a talk.

Crostini with young sweetfish
by Ca’enne

Wild Okinawan plants
by Mauvaise herbe

Steamed wild boar with five fillings by Kappou Shintaku

Grilled asparagus with egg yolk vinegar sauce, accompanied
by Kurobe goat cheese
by Ebitei-Bekkan

Matsuzaka beef grilled with Sichuan pepper, topped with soy sauce aged five years
by Shibousai Kitagawa

Exotic blood terrine
by Elezo Esprit


ジャパンタイムズが主催する「Destination Restaurants 2024」の授賞式が5月28日、東京都港区で行われた。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。4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。今年は、特にその名にふさわしい1店「The Destination Restaurant of the year 2024」に、北海道中川郡豊頃町で食肉文化を新しい形で表現する『エレゾ エスプリ』が選ばれた。

今回は今年元日に起こった令和6年能登半島地震で被災した地域の4人のシェフも式典に参加。彼らを代表して、「Destination Restaurants 2022」に選ばれた石川県輪島市『ラトリエ ドゥ ノト』オーナーシェフ、池端隼也にジャパンタイムズからの寄付金が贈呈された。各国大使など、来賓が駆けつけた会場では、今回の受賞者のうち6人のシェフによる6品のコース料理が振る舞われたほか、授賞式後には、アワードの審査員3人によるトークショーも行われ、盛会に終わった。

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