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What's cooking in Japan's food scene

Trends to watch, from female sushi chefs to 'destination restaurants'

Sustainability, local sourcing and plant-based foods are themes that are increasingly informing Japan's restaurant culture. (Nikkei montage/Source photos by Virtu, Maz Tokyo and Florilege)

TOKYO -- In food-obsessed Japan, new restaurant trends are constantly emerging. While fads like the bubble-tea boom of 2019 fizzled out almost as quickly as they appeared, enduring trends such as Korean fried chicken and karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken) continue to thrive. Last year witnessed the rise of onigiri (rice balls) specialty shops, low-alcohol tipples and high-end ramen. It was also marked by restaurant price hikes due to rising fuel and food costs, along with reservation wars driven by a surge in inbound tourism -- trends that show no signs of fading.

Will Korean desserts be the next big thing in 2024? Maybe. However, instead of naming fashionable ingredients in their predictions, industry professionals point to broader cultural shifts reflecting optimism regarding diversity and efforts toward sustainable gastronomy.

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