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A Casual Visit for the Sophisticated Ginza Gourmet

Ayako Takahashi

GINZA SIX EDITORS Vol.45

When I was a child, Ginza was a place you got spruced up to go to, a destination for more formal occasions. As an adult, I understand Ginza is full of refined restaurants and proprietors ranging from the brand new to the long-established. But what I think is truly stylish is that you can stroll about Ginza as an everyday destination. With stand-alone establishments along the street, you may tend to hesitate to visit without having something in mind to get or a reservation in advance. GINZA SIX resolves this dilemma. You can drop in on the spur of the moment, as a casual outing. And that puts you in position to make new discoveries. I eat at around 700 restaurants each year. Here, I’ll introduce three that are currently in the spotlight.

I head first to framboise, the popular Paris-based galette and crepe specialty store. The Ginza location has drawn attention as the first framboise restaurant overseas. A galette is a crepe made with buckwheat flour; the dinner crepes include bacon and cheese, eggs, salmon, vegetables, and more. I’m excited to step into the stylish and spacious interior, redolent of Paris.

Everything looks delicious. I decide first to have the Angeaile (1,580 yen; all prices listed before tax). The galette is stuffed with spinach and tuna dressed with goat cheese and cream, all of which are topped with generous amounts of dribbled honey. The dough is certainly unique! It’s based on an original blend of 100% Japanese buckwheat flour, one I’ve never encountered anywhere else. The edges are crisp and aromatic. The center is moist and juicy.

What I’m bringing up to my mouth here is the Dosa (1,780 yen), a galette made with chickpeas and rice batter. It’s Indian food, so, of course, there’s curry, too. It’s something chef Hidenori Nihei came up with, in partnership with a Sri Lankan chef, while training at the head restaurant in Paris.

I order the Murgh (1,780 yen), replete with butter chicken curry, an absolute favorite of mine. It’s a perfect companion to the springy slightly sweet dough!

I can’t skip the sweets, of course. I go with the most popular item on the menu, the Framboise (1,380 yen). It’s generously garnished with fresh sweet-and-sour raspberries, honey mascarpone cheese, and light, fluffy cream. The secret to the exquisite taste is the dough. Normally baked at 100–120°C, here, it’s baked at 180°C for the Framboise. Baking at the high temperature helps retain moisture, so it’s moist and springy. The texture is unique.

Starting at 3:00 p.m., the restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat menu with 18 varieties of galettes and crepes (for 90 minutes on weekdays and 60 minutes on weekends and holidays). The sizes are on the small side, but it’s clearly a bargain if you want to try different things. In passing, the record, I’m told, is 11 galettes.

My second restaurant today is TAKAZAWA 180 ICHI HACHI MARU, a deli that feature various croquettes, including an original baked, not fried, croquette, as well as norimaki (vinegared rice wrapped in seaweed) and hamburgers. Part of the appeal of these offerings, I’m glad to admit, is visual. Beyond that, the ingredients are natural, carefully selected, and of the highest quality—and, most importantly, everything’s delicious!

Your order goes into a box like this. When you get home, open the box, and see what’s inside. It’ll certainly make your mouth water. I brought these to someone as a gift, much to that person’s delight.

This is the Apple Pie (200 yen with tax). It’s an interesting idea, reinventing apple pie as a croquette. The sweetness of the apples and the salt of the croquette join forces to create habit-forming deliciousness. I always order one when it’s available.

Today, I buy the Norimaki Set (1,402 yen with tax). It offers five varieties of inside-out rolls with the rice on the outside and seaweed inside. The rice is Shinnosuke rice from Niigata, which has steadily grown in popularity. The beautiful, large-grained rice doesn’t harden when chilled and has a sweet flavor and firm texture.

Enjoyable to the eye and delightful to the palate—the sensibility reflected in the menu is the contribution of chef Yoshiaki Takazawa of the Akasaka-based restaurant TAKAZAWA. He’s drawn attention from gastronomists around the world for his inspired and genre-transcending ideas. Deli food made by a professional chef are a must-buy, which you can confidently introduce to anyone.

Lastly, this is Shunjukusei Ginza Grill, the pinnacle of restaurants in Japan that specialize in aged meats. It opened as the culmination of Shunjukusei’s long involvement with aged meats.

Two options are offered for dinner courses. Today, I choose the 12,000 yen course. This is what was brought out as an amuse-bouche. What do you think it is?

The answer is it’s a microhamburger you assemble yourself. The soy sauce aspic with the faint aroma of dashi soup stock goes perfectly with the aged beef. The transparent sheet is, amazingly, a Skeleton Potato Chip. I’m astounded from the start.

The Fermented Aged Beef with Tartar Shallot Sauce is one of the restaurant’s specialties. The hand-cut beef has a totally different texture! The restaurant’s original Meat Film is liquefied beef dried to concentrate flavors. Mmmmmm—delicious!

The main dish arrives, Charcoal Grilled Fermented Aged Beef. Today’s course has two varieties: 30-day-aged Gunma Sangenton pork loin and 40-day-aged Gunma Akagi Beef sirloin. “Nutty aroma” is a perfect descriptor. I’m entranced.

Take a look! It’s proof lovely food is to be found in our world. First, to enjoy the flavor of the meat, try eating it without adding anything. It’s unbelievably tender.

Fermented aged meat is produced by an original method that makes it possible to offer delicious aged meat without exorbitant expense. It’s completely safe. Aging transforms the meat and confers the ultimate in fine flavor. But aging is the work of professionals, a technique feasible only for restaurants that have spent years exploring the art of aging meat and approach the process with all due seriousness. The result is truly world-class meat.

editors_takahashi

Ayako Takahashi

Food journalist(writer). The discerning palate she kept largely to herself during her career working in the press for the foreign and domestic fashion industry eventually became, after connecting with some remarkable individuals, the focus of her life. Drawing on food data and personal networks cultivated during those days, she spends her days seeking out restaurants that delight. Hers is a constitution that finds only wonderful food tolerable. Currently contributing to "Tokyo calendar" "dressing" now.
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2018.06.22 improves