As a country that values attention to detail, Japan has made a name for itself in the world of gourmet restaurants. Talented chefs have brought Japanese hospitality and fresh ingredients together to create some of the best dining experiences in Asia and in the world.
Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants was created in 2013 to celebrate the excellent eateries around the region and provide traveling gourmets with local insights. GoConnect found all the restaurants in the top 50 located in Japan, so check them out on your next night out. Just be sure to book ahead!
Chef Ken Sakamoto and Cenci have created a harmonious mix of Japanese and Italian styles. Placing heavy emphasis on fresh seasonal vegetables and herbs, Cenci lets the ingredients speak for themselves. Try the 10-course tasting menu that rotates regularly for the full experience.
Chef Natsuko Shoji began her career at another restaurant on this list, Florilège. She was recognized as Asia’s Best Pastry Chef in 2020 and voted Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2022. Été is a bijou restaurant that focuses on Japanese ingredients and specializes in beautiful cakes. With only six seats available, you may want to save this visit for a special occasion.
La Maison de la Nature Goh, Fukuoka
La Maison de la Nature Goh is the only restaurant on this list from Fukuoka, but the high demand for its signature omakase, or chef’s choice style of menu, brings even foreigners to the region. The French-taught Chef Fukuyama opened his restaurant in 2002 and has been a hit ever since.
Found at the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo, the spotless, minimalist interior of this restaurant screams luxury. Chef Daniel Calvert takes inspiration from the Champagne district and recreates classic dishes such as lightly smoked mackerel and créme brûleé.
Many of the cuisines featured on this list are European-inspired, but Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa’s food stays true to his Japanese roots while allowing him to express his own style. Narisawa is dedicated to coexisting with nature, so many of his dishes are inspired by forests: they are aesthetically and carefully concocted through environmentally conscious means.
Villa Aida, Wakayama
Chef Kanji Kobayashi comes from a farming background, so the fresh and pickled produce serves as a starting point for his restaurant found in rural Wakayama Prefecture. Villa Aida’s rustic Italian-inspired dishes are perhaps the freshest farm-to-table experience you can have in Japan.
Chef Yusuke Namai was originally a rock guitarist, so you would not expect his award-winning restaurant’s theme to be grey. However, he lets his food’s flavors do the talking through his spin on modern French cuisine with inspiration from music and anime.
Sazenka is located in Minami-Azabu and is run by Chef Tomoya Kawada. The style of the restaurant is classic Chinese cooking that pays respect to both Japanese and Chinese cultures. While many of the restaurants here have earned one or two Michelin stars, Sazenka is the only restaurant here to have earned the full three.
La Cime, Osaka
Head south to Osaka for island-inspired French cuisine by Chef Yusuke Takada. La Cime means “peak” in French. This is a perfect name for the restaurant whose chef won the only peer-voted accolade in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, the Inedit Damm Chefs’ Choice Award.
If you want to watch a master at work, Florilège is a must-visit. As Hiroyasu Kawate and his staff prepare their French tasting course, you can begin to understand why so many of his proteges have gone on to create successful restaurants of their own, such as the previously mentioned Chef Natsuko Shoji from Été.
Last but definitely not least is Den, found in Shibuya. The #1 ranked restaurant of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants is led by Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa. His charismatic and creative approach to cooking and hospitality is what helps him earn this top spot. You can expect a casual atmosphere as you may be introduced to the chef’s pet chihuahua. You can also experience a friendly menu of items such as fried chicken, elevated to the upper levels of culinary excellence.