Here are a few images from our fieldwork in Japanese restaurants around the world ranging from modest izakaya and sushiya to fine dining restaurants. Only a small selection of our fieldwork sites are shown. For more in-depth and systematic discussions of our research, see the publications section of the website.
(photo by James Farrer Sept. 19, 2020) Den Tokyo was named #11 on the World's 50 Best list for 2019. Chef's Hasegawa Zaiyu's ideal is to make fine dining a happy and casual experience. One of the star dishes is a simple salad that packs huge flavor.
Angel Share NYC
(photo by James Farrer Aug. 20, 2109)The Angel Share bar is credited with pioneering the "Japanese bar" concept in New York City and also the the speakeasy bar trend. Customers enter the bar through a nondescript door in the popular izakaya Village Yokocho. Both establishments are owned by the Yoshida family who operate several restaurants in New York's East Village
Imayoshi Sushi Tokyo
(Photo by James Farrer, July 5, 2017) The research group visited the third-generation family sushi restaurant Imayoshi in Omotesando, and learned about the sushi business from Chef Imai. Imai sees the business future of Japanese gastronomy as outside Japan. He also teaches courses in making sushi for aspiring chefs, both professional and amateur.
Benkyodo San Francisco
(photo by James Farrer Oct. 18, 2019) Benkyodo is the last family owned sweet shop in San Francisco's historic Japantown. Opened by Suyeichi Okamura in 1906, the shop is run by his grandsons Ricky and Bobby now. Everyday, a group of aging regulars meet at the counter for an American breakfast, but the shop's specialty is Japanese mochi.
Bowl'd, Columbo Sri Lanka
(photo by Shayani Jayasinghe, July 2019) Bowl’d offers customers in Sri Lanka a healthier option of fast food in the form of the globalized poke bowl. It is the brainchild of Mr. Rahaal Balasuriya and his business partner, Anithra Rathnayake who are both food enthusiasts. The fusion offerings include poke nachos.
Ben's Tune Up Asheville NC
(Photo by James Farrer April 22, 2019) Meg and Patrick showing off their rice fermentation at Ben's Tune Up American Sake Brewery. In addition to flavored sake (Pineapple Jalapeno!), Ben's Tune Up is also a rowdy bar with live music nearly every night and Japanese inspired bar food.
Ippudo Ramen New York East Village
(photo by James Farrer Sept. 8, 2019) Ippudo ramen is the hero of the latest Japanese corporate charge. When it opened in 2008, customers lined up for an hour a taste of the pork broth ramen.
Sushi Samba London
(Photo by Chuanfei Wang, August 28, 2017) Sushi Samba offers an artistic and high-end rendition of fusion Brazilian and Japanese cuisine. Not only the taste but also the presentation of food and the way of experiencing its food are a mixture of Latin American and Japanese culture transcending the traditional categories of Japanese cuisine.
(Photo by James Farrer, April 2, 2016) The Japanese chef "Bulizo" and his Chinese assistant chef dress in kabuki style to perform a welcoming ceremony for diners at the theatrical Anthologia restaurant in Shanghai. Each dish is served with an elaborate video presentation and animated performances by the chefs, including the chef's own ikebana. The owner Mr. Hirano created the concept and produced the videos himself. He is a partner in three other Shanghai restaurants.
(photo by Lisa Hu Nov. 5, 2017) “Cheka” in Swahili language means smiling and laughing. This is the central concept of this restaurant which was opened by a former Japanese aid worker in February 2015. Although most customers are foreigners, he aims to offer employment to local Kenyans, including a massage service featuring blind masseurs.
(Photo by Lenka Vyletalova, August 31, 2017) With more than 130 shops in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, Eurasia, which opened only in 2001, has become the most accessible chain of sushi-bars to people in this East-European region. Besides Japanese food, most restaurants offer also karaoke salons, a strategy to attract mainly a young generation of customers.
(Photo by James Farrer, June 3, 2017) Globalized Japanese cuisine is not only happening abroad. Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa proffers innovative "satoyama" fusion cuisine in Tokyo based on locally sourced organic ingredients. In 2017 it is ranked the #2 restaurant in Asia on the list of the "World's Fifty Best Restaurants." Japanese wines are a speciality of the restaurant. Narisawa is also active in promoting innovative Japanese cuisine abroad, including a presentation at Sao Paolo's Japan House.
Little Tokyo New York City
(Photo by James Farrer April 14, 2019) James Farrer interviews Bon Yagi and daughter Sakura Yagi. Bon Yagi was the primary founder of the thriving Little Tokyo neighborhood situated on the Upper East Side in New York City. In the background is the shrine long used in the local matsuri.
Sushi für Hamburg
(photo by James Farrer, Aug. 27, 2016) While Hamburg's Japanese community has been shrinking, Japanese gastronomy has been booming. Migrants from other Asian countries largely have filled this commercial niche. Sushi für Hamburg was opened by a network of friends and family from Afghanistan. There is also one partner from Nepal, who learned sushi making in Korean owned restaurants in the city. Roll sushi is the main product they serve, and delivery is an important part of the business.
Haku Hong Kong
(Photo by James Farrer May 10, 2019) Executive Chef Antonio Balbi presents a wagyu steak to a customer at the innovative kaiseki restaurant Haku in Kowloon. Balbi adds extras such as three-year-aged jamon iberico to his classic Japanese dishes giving them a taste of Spain and his native Argentina.
Nightmarket Chiang Mai
(Photo by James Farrer, July 24, 2017) With several thousand long-term Japanese residents, the bustling city of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand has over one hundred Japanese eateries. Sushi has also become part of the local urban food mix. Most are sit-down restaurants that appeal to middle-class customers and tourists. But, you also can find very inexpensive sushi at street stalls like this one in the weekly Sunday night market.
Junji São Paulo
(Photo by Mônica Carvalho, December 12, 2016) Entrance of restaurant Junji at Iguatemi Shopping in São Paulo, run by chef Jun Sakamoto. Iguatemi is a prime location, and most of its clientele is composed of high-income shoppers and office workers in the area.
Ky Y Hanoi
(photo by James Farrer Feb. 8, 2018) Ky Y is one of the oldest restaurants on the Trieu Viet Vuong Japanese Restaurant Street in Hanoi. It serves as a home away from home for Japanese expatriates, and a taste of Japan for Hanoi's rising middle class.
Izakaya Mita Chicago
(Photo by David Wank Sept. 2016) Mita is one of the earliest restaurants to introduce the izakaya trend to the Midwestern United States.
(Photo by James Farrer, Sept. 1 2017) Nagaya is a Michelin-starred restaurant that serves exquisite fusion cuisine prepared by Chef Nagaya who trained with Nobu in Milan. It is one of the stars of Düsseldorf's famed central city Japan town.
Izakaya Bar 36 Shanghai
(photo by James Farrer, March 24, 2017) Hundreds of anime-inspired figurines adorn the shelves of this Taiwanese owned izakaya. The owners purchase these souvenirs on their frequent trips to Japan. The yukata-clad waitresses are university students from outside Shanghai who work part-time in the restaurant.
(photo by James Farrer Feb. 4, 2018) Hana is a small izakaya-style eatery in the Little Tokyo area of Makati Manila. Operated by a Japanese-Filipino family it serves a mix of traditional home-style cuisine with a few fusion items.
(Photo by Lenka Vyletalova on October 12 2017) Restaurant Ikigai, located in a 5 star hotel in central Kiev has as its mission "to introduce to Kyiv citizens and other guests the exceptional dishes of Japanese high-end cuisine." The menu respects seasonality and includes original kaiseki items, performative teppanyaki grill, and fresh seafood.
(photo by James Farrer Oct. 27, 2017) Fusion cuisine is also fused. Poke bowls, originally a Japanese Hawaiian cuisine, are marketed alongside California-style rolls and temaki on the menu of the Brazilian Japanese Temakinho chain in Italy. This one featured avocado, mango, tuna, mozuku seaweed, and edamame, topped with sesame and flying fish roe.
Nabe Sushi Chattanooga TN
(photo by James Farrer) A trained sushi chef, Mr Watanabe came to the USA in the 1980s. He opened Nabe Sushi in Chattanooga 25 years ago, serving authentic sushi to Japanese expatriates in the area. At the Japanese companies localized their staff, Watanabe localized his cuisine, adding items to the menu that appealed to local tastes, including deep-fried maki sushi. The yakitori is covered in a sweet teriyaki sauce reminiscent of Southern barbecue. However, fresh sashimi is still on the menu.
Kobe Hibachi Oak Island NC
(Photo by James Farrer, Aug. 7, 2013) The Kobe Hibachi Grill and Sushi is an example of the many family-style Japanese restaurants in small towns up and down the East coast of the USA owned and operated by migrants from Fujian Province in China. Many began their careers in New York City where they become connected to the networks of rural restaurateurs.
Izakaya Hashi Berlin
(Photo by James Farrer, June 24, 2017) Diners enjoy the summer warmth at Hashi Izakaya and Japanese Kitchen in the fashionable Mitte District in Berlin. One of the first izakaya in Germany, it was opened by Ethan Xu, a Chinese-German who after being exposed to Japanese cuisine during his studies in Canada took up Japanese cuisine. His parents run a Chinese restaurant in the city. German patrons universally prefer the patio on summer days.
Menya Musashi Kiev
(Photo by Lenka Vyletalova, Sept. 26, 2017) Menya Musashi Kiev is a franchise of a Tokyo-based original ramen shop that strives to introduce an authentic ramen culture to customers in urban areas ranging from Honolulu through Singapore and now Kiev. Five restaurants have opened in Ukraine in past two years, under the supervision of the brand-chef Artem Sivocub, who goes regularly for training to Japan.
Eat Tokyo London
(Photo by Chuanfei Wang, August 10, 2017) Eat Tokyo is a Japanese chain with six restaurants in London and three in Germany. All outlets offer a wide variety of Japanese food in the form of teishoku. They advertise an authentic Japanese flavor to local European customers. The chain is owned by a Japanese entrepreneur-chef but the outlets are managed by employees from various cultural backgrounds, mainly Chinese, but also Southeast Asians.
(photo by James Farrer, April 5, 2016) The Taiwanese-owned Shintori introduced the open kitchen design to Shanghai in a cavernous space that was a former theater. The striking design attracted many Shanghai-based expatriates and took Japanese restaurant design into the 21st century in Shanghai.
(photo by James Farrer Aug. 10, 2017) Currywurst in a Japanese restaurant? Actually this is one of the specialties of the house by Japanese chef Ryuichiro Kuwana. He took over the tiny eating space in Benrath from a Yugoslavian snack bar, and the regular customers asked him to keep this favorite on the menu. Kuwano's principle is to please the customers in the neighborhood, and he continues to do so with filling and inexpensive items such as karaage, sushi rolls and pork cutlets.
Kenka New York City
(Photo by James Farrer April 2, 2017) The Kenka izakaya, created by Yuji Umeki, is one of the more colorful venues in the “Little Tokyo” that has formed between St. Mark’s Place and 10th Street in New York’s East Village.
Dontak Food Truck Düsseldorf
(Photo by James Farrer Aug. 28, 2017) Dontak is a Japanese food truck manned daily by Evamaria Yoshida a young German woman who married a Japanese student. Lacking capital for a fixed restaurant, the started with a truck. From their various regular stations around the city, the Evamaria serves tasty and economically priced hot lunches to nearby office workers. A restaurant may soon be coming.
Ou Kura Shanghai
(photo by james Farrer April 8, 2017) Shanghai's Ou Kura serves kaiseki cuisine and imported fish from Japan in elegant surroundings (and at elegant prices). Whereas, in the 2000s Japanese expatriates would have been the targets of fine dining Japanese restaurants, the customers now are the growing population of wealthy Chinese. The owner Senno is involved in many Japanese gastronomic venues, including a Japanese fish market in Hong Kong.
(photo by James Farrer Aug. 21, 2017) Yasuda-san, the founder of Maruyasu came to Germany in the 1960s as a coal miner, marrying another Japanese who arrived as a nurse. In the 1980s they founded Maruyasu, the first independent sushiya in the city. Although they struggled to introduce sushi to Germans at first, they now have eight shops. Their three sons manage the business, but the couple still work every day in the main shop in the Shadow Arcades.
Dondon Sushi Copenhagen
(photo by James Farrer June 5, 2013) The global sushi boom reached Denmark in the 2000s, attracting migrant entrepreneurs from many national and ethnic backgrounds. Sushi delivery became a profit center for many restaurants.
Kanki Teppanyaki Raleigh NC
(photo by James Farrer Aug. 20, 2011) Inspired by the Benihana concept, throughout the Southeast United States teppanyaki grills with performative chefs remain the most popular genre of Japanese restaurant. In the 1980s many chefs were from Japan, but now many hail from Mexico.
He Feng Izakaya Tianjin
(Photo by Chuanfei Wang March, 16 2017) An Izakaya called He Feng (和风) in Tianjin, China. The owner chef from Tianjin strives to create genuine Japanese cuisine and ambience. The Japanese popular drama “Midnight Diner” (深夜食堂) is playing on the television. With its portrayal of warm social relations inside a small diner, this drama has had a wide influence on the image of Japanese gastronomy in China.
(Photo by James Farrer Aug. 20, 2017) A sign in front of Kushi-tei, one the first izakaya style restaurants in Germany, explains the izakaya style of dining to guests: "(1) cheers! (2) sharing and eating (3) speaking and laughing (4) sometimes crying." German customers have begun to grasp the concept of sharing dishes (often described as "Japanese tapas") but have not quite gotten in the habit of treating an izakaya as a space to drink, speak loudly and mingle with strangers.
La Maison du Sake Paris
(photo by James Farrer February 22, 2017) The Maison du Sake is a project partially funded by Japanese regional governments to promote sake and other Japanese regional projects to high end producers in the major global food cities, including Paris. The shop also has a restaurant featuring dishes that pair well with sake.
(photo by James Farrer Aug. 18, 2017) Chef Umezaki at Adjito developed his eclectic fusion cuisine working out of a food truck all over Germany. This udon carbonara, based on a Japanese recipe, proved popular with European guests. Other fusion dishes include a "gyoza burger" and a tantanmen made with Vietnamese pho. Still, sushi rolls are the mainstay, as in most German Japanese restaurants.
Okane San Francisco
(Photo by Marika Zulch Aug.20, 2017) Opened by Kash Feng the Chinese American owner of the upscale Omakase restaurant next door, Okane aims to cash in on the global izakaya fashion for small shared plates.
Japanese Buffet Paris
(Photo by James Farrer Feb. 22, 2017) All-you-can eat Japanese cuisine buffets like this one are a popular lunch option in Paris. Most are owned by Chinese migrants from Zhejiang Province. Japanese chefs credit these inexpensive with expanding the popularity of Japanese cuisine, but worry that they are distorting the public's understandings of authentic Japanese tastes.
Cha An New York
(Photo by James Farrer April 6, 2017) Cha An brings Japanese dessert culture to New York City. The appearance of shops specializing in Japanese sweets is part of the diversification of Japanese gastronomy we see around the world.
SakaMai Izakaya New York
(photo by James Farrer April 7, 2017) Sakamai not only serves innovative cuisine by chef Takanori Akiyama, but also capitalizes on the bespoken cocktail culture that has evolved in the circuits of mixologists between Tokyo and New York City.
(Photo by James Farrer March 25 2017) The Taiwanese owned Kampai Classic is the only Japanese restaurant in Shanghai to receive a Michelin star. It specializes aged Australian beef, expensive pure rice sakes, and a rice dish steamed in a casserole.
(photo by James Farrer Aug. 17, 2016) Chef Toshiharu Minami combines Japanese and western elements in the fine dining restaurant Zipang, in Hamburg. Though a wealthy city, Hamburg is a difficult environment for such restaurants, because many customers come in expecting European style Japanese favorites such as sushi rolls. Surrounded by mainstream Japanese eateries in Hamburg, Minami looks to restaurants in Paris and London for inspirations.
Eat Tokyo Düsseldorf
(Photo by James Farrer Aug. 15, 2017) Eat Tokyo in Düsseldorf is managed by the son of the Japanese owner of chain in London. The group also publishes a guide to "authentic Japanese restaurants," an example of the culinary politics of authenticity led by commercial actors. Although the owner and head chef in Germany are Japanese, most of the staff in Düsseldorf shops also are migrants from China.
Ramen Shop Shanghai
(photo by James Farrer April 7, 2016) Shanghainese owner Wan opened up the Ramen Shop with the goal of creating an original Shanghai style of Japanese ramen that would also appeal to international travelers in the hip Former French Concession neighborhood. The hipster appeal of the shop is enhanced by the head chef Yuki, a former rocker from Japan.