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GINZA SIX EDITORS

ファッション、ジュエリー&ウォッチ、ライフスタイル、ビューティ、フード…
各ジャンルに精通する個性豊かなエディターたちが、GINZA SIXをぶらぶらと
歩いて見つけた楽しみ方を綴ります。

Everyday Pleasures: Food Opens a Door to Happiness

仲山 今日子 フリージャーナリスト

GINZA SIX EDITORS

“What—you’re going to eat that?”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this. From when I got my start at a TV station as an announcer 20 years ago to now, having switched in that time to writing, mainly about food, my relationship with food has been a long one. Even now, as an adult, I find myself unable to restrain my curiosity about food, a trait that goes back to childhood. I’ll put just about anything in my mouth. That inevitably makes some people stop and stare. One of my more recent feats was eating abalone feed at a fish farm in Sanriku. There’s also the time I met someone as I wandered around a village in Tanzania, who invited me back to his hut and served me homemade banana liquor. Even then curiosity trumped trepidations about getting sick to my stomach. Opportunities like this are one-time things—pass on them once, they’ll likely never happen again. And what if the drink had been delicious beyond compare? It would have been the biggest lost opportunity of my life.

When a baby is born, the first senses to develop are smell and taste. Looking at the world through this primordial prism… well, however one would word it, I’m essentially a mix of curiosity and gluttony.

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are,” said Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. But how would he respond, this titan of gastronomic history, if I told him all the random stuff I’ve consumed? I shudder to think.

So, in full acceptance of myself, as the gourmand that I am, I go to GINZA SIX, a place where all the keywords in Ginza style and sophistication congregate and commingle. I’m visiting some new shops and restaurants on the second belowground floor.

The theme of my visit today is everyday luxury.

I’ve traveled to some 50 countries. Each time, it’s been the markets and supermarkets that have been most accommodating of my maniacal curiosity about food. With intense concentration I take in the view from end to end. No matter how much time I have, it’s never enough. First up today is Bio c’ Bon (B2F). This is a store I visited every time I traveled to Paris to buy food and souvenirs. Bio c’ Bon opened a location in Japan in 2016 and now features 26 locations around the country. Plus, now you can buy online, no matter where you are in Japan. Great news!

The store at GINZA SIX features a lineup of products that a voice from above informs me are absolutely perfect for your lifestyle. It’s great having an extensive selection of organic fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs and dairy products in the middle of the Ginza area, in particular. It used to be that organic food stores stocked mostly imported dry goods, but here I see some 800 items produced in Japan, many certified organic. I’m impressed at the range of organic food available in Japan these days.

Plus…what’s this…splendid white asparagus! melons! The food and produce, it overwhelms me. Akikawa Farm chicken, from chickens raised on plant-based feed and given plenty of space to roam, is packed with fleshy meat that’s not at all watery; the meat is a solid reddish color, and the fat is creamy. Admiringly I address the chicken: You look so divinely delicious! I don’t buy things because they’re organic, necessarily, but because they look so tasty—the sights and sounds dazzle the senses! Much of the fare available here, the fruits and vegetables in particular, is available only for a limited time. If you’re interested, don’t let it go—that’s the ironclad rule.

And then the seasonings. Virtually everything is free of chemical additives, even the additional seasonings like Yuuki Mabo no Moto (270 yen; all prices include tax). You don’t even have to flip the package over to check the ingredients; simply fill up your shopping basket in perfect peace of mind. Spreads usually have lots of additives, reason enough to maintain a circumspect distance, but this Plant-Based Organic Spread (638 yen) is made from ingredients like organic rapeseed oil, almond butter, and lemon juice. All of the emulsifiers, things like sunflower lecithin, are plant-based. They really make every effort—it’s enough to make me want to turn vegan, as so many celebrities have these days—but perhaps casually, maybe once a week.

They also offer dried fruits sold in bulk from machines that look like capsule toy vending machines, only they’re meant for adults. The products offered include Inca berries, two types of dates, sprouted nuts, and more. Everything I’ve never seen before tickles my fancy. No matter what you’re interested in, you can buy it in small one-serving portions of 20 grams—ideal for a healthy one-time snack in the spirit of experiment. The almond chocolate, free of brightening agents, has a grownup flavor, with an aroma of roasted almonds and chocolate that isn’t cloyingly sweet.

The store also features products otherwise hard to find in Japan. For example, coffee from Papua New Guinea (1,620 yen) the store offers is imported hand-picked, and uses hand-selected peaberries (one to a fruit peaberry beans are fruitier than usual two to a fruit flat berry beans). I’ve been to Papua New Guinea to research chocolate, and the forest there is a truly unexplored country. So many thanks to the buyer, whom I’ve never met, but who like me is perhaps a robust gourmand.

Next up is Jiyugaoka Kageyamarou (B2F), where you sit at a counter on the other side of white noren curtains with a black shark fin silhouette. Chef Kenichi Kageyama, who previously worked as a chef at Tsukushiro, the renowned shark fin restaurant, opened this restaurant, which specializes in shark fin noodles, to provide diners the opportunity to casually experience this luxury ingredient, which is the chef’s signature dish. The casual luxury lets you be yourself while enjoying a high quality repast. I imagine demand for this format can only grow.

Here you can also enjoy alcohol by the casual glass. I order the Tenshin and Dessert Set for an additional 748 yen, along with a glass of sparkling wine (968 yen), and finish the meal with shark fin ramen. It’s the perfect food to top off a mini-drinking session.

And here it is, the shark fin ramen—the biggest of three sizes—with a whopping 100 grams of shark fin. It covers the entire bowl! The slice of shark fin, spreading all the way to the rim of the bowl, is exceptionally Instagrammable. The sauce in the upper part with the shark fin is a brightly colored, richly boiled ankake, light on soy sauce and oyster sauce. Ten kilograms of chicken wings go into every ten liters of the soup, I’m told, so you could say it’s like drinking chicken wings. The flavor is authentic, exquisitely so. Concealed in the depths of the bowl is a refreshing yuzu-tinged chicken broth. It’s a two-layer comfort dish ideal for casual enjoyment. The curly, semi-thick noodles from Asakusa Kaikaro feature a tasty wheat flavor and mingle with the soup to marvelous effect.

Stir the soup a little—a refreshing, aromatic yuzu flavor follows in the wake of the flavors of tender shark fin and springy noodles, surrounded by rich collagen. A rapturous remedy for the soul.

OK, hold on. This ramen uses 100 grams of blue shark, which normally runs around 10,000 yen at a shark fin restaurant. So is this below cost? How about an extra-large bowl like mine for the very, very reasonable price of 3,608 yen?

“We have long-time relationships with wholesalers,” says Tatsuya Ito, the restaurant manager, when I ask. “And we use the pectoral fin, not the tail fin.” On actually trying the dish, my impression is that pectoral fin is a bit thinner, but easier to break up and chew, which actually works better with the noodles. I get a good collagen charge. Still beaming, I eat the accompanying dessert, a creamy annin tofu jelly. Ito-san tells me they also offer six other types of this dessert for takeout as well, and all of them only here at GINZA SIX—honey-tongued ideas whispered by the devil himself!

What’s more, the dessert is made by another Ito, Masaaki Ito, who was once the fourth-generation chef at Maxim’s de Paris in Ginza. The first chef at Maxim’s de Paris was Pierre Troisgros of Troisgros, a restaurant in France that held a three-star rating for more than 50 years. And this is how I learn that my annin tofu is created by a successor to this distinguished culinary lineage!

No matter how full I am, I have no intention of passing up on this opportunity. I make an emergency call to my stomach—there’s always room for dessert!

Compared to the dessert accompanying the meal, the annin tofu (available only at GINZA SIX) is colorful, fruity, with a rich creamy base, making it decidedly French. I listen as Ito-san, who’s here every day, tells me about the purple jelly underlayer of the exotic Lychee (842 yen). To achieve such vibrant color, pigments are extracted from purple cabbage by the same chlorophyll method used to extract green coloring from plants like spinach. The Kiwi Fruit & Mascarpone (842 yen) combines kiwi fruit with mascarpone mousse and tomato marinated in sugar and mint. Underlying its appealing presentation lie the techniques and ideas of a French master chef.

Perhaps Ito-san just supervised the process? No. “I make them right here every morning. I want people to experience the freshness.” Ito-san recommends in particular the Strawberry (842 yen), made from fresh strawberries, not a puree, which gives it extra freshness. At some point, he says, he wants to develop a new menu of nouvelle cuisine chinoise, French-Chinese fusion cuisine. I don’t think I’m alone in looking forward to this.

My last stop is Signifiant Signifié + plus. Signifiant Signifié, a well-known bakery based in Setagaya Ward’s Taishido neighborhood, sells wonderful bread made by Katsuei Shiga, a personal favorite. Fermented for a lengthy period and having high water content, the outside is crispy and the inside moist. Looking at the beautiful cuts with shiny air bubbles, I break out into a smile.

So what’s the “plus”? Good question. It’s the delightful opportunity to buy not just bread at the GINZA SIX location, but wine, too, sold by the ounce! Here we get to experience the happy pairing of bread and wine.

Shiga-san’s bread, kneaded with tons of nuts, dried fruits, and spices, is the perfect bread to snack on while drinking, not to mention the baguettes with their wheaty fermented aroma.

And as further accompaniment, the showcase is stocked with Italian chocolates, which rotate with the season.

I heard when I was small that the French ate chocolate in a baguette as a snack. What panache! I was envious. I want to go back in time and tell my younger self, “You as an adult will be able to treat yourself to Pain au Vin (half-loaf for 2,160 yen), which features plenty of red wine kneaded into the dough, between slices of which you place Raspberry and 66% Dark Chocolate (1,080 yen) and enjoy it all with a glass of red wine.”

Along with sweetbreads like Gugelhupf and panettone, there’s the popular Pain de Mie (1,296 yen), which you can buy in a gift box (275 yen). It makes a perfect little gift.

Two glasses’ worth. Enjoy it all yourself, or buy a red and a white and enjoy alongside a friend. And, of course, you can buy it by the bottle.

Not dazzling like a bright resplendent diamond, but rather like a string of pearls, a calm and quiet contentment that goes on and on. The selection of shops I find at GINZA SIX go perfectly with everyday moments like this. It quiets, and quite tastefully satisfies, my all-consuming voracious curiosity.

No matter what storms may rage in the world, this moment, this now, goes on. It’s why I want to care for this very moment and honor it as I live my life. On sunny days, on rainy days, quiet moments with delicious things at my side. I am made from what I eat. To eat things made with care is to care for oneself. I’m sure Jean Anthelme would agree.

Text: Kyoko Nakayama Photos: Kanako Noguchi Edit: Yuka Okada(81)

editors_nakayama

仲山 今日子

テレビ山梨・テレビ神奈川アナウンサーなどを経て、現在は世界の美食について、シンガポール・イタリアなど海外と日本の新聞・雑誌などに英語・日本語で執筆中。パリを拠点とするThe World Restaurant Awards審査員も務める。趣味は海外秘境旅行で、キリマンジャロ登頂など、食+αの冒険を追求すること。ワインエキスパートや日本酒唎酒師の資格も取得し、ワインや日本酒はもちろん、パンやチーズ、チョコレート、コーヒーなど各種発酵系を愛好する。最新のおいしいものは、IG: @kyokonakayamatvにて。

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2021.07.09 UP