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Barhopping at GINZA SIX

マッキー牧元

Ginza Six Editors Vol.23(Food)

Barhopping here would be something—that’s what occurred to me the first time I visited GINZA SIX.

So, I quickly drew up a plan and invited fellow food-and-drink lovers Ryosuke, Eriko, and Shiori. Ginza barhopping without strolling the Ginza streets… sounds like fun, they said, and agreed to join in. Some confusion, however, ensued in front of GINZA SIX.

“OK, everyone. We’re doing this today on a budget of 10,000 yen for each of us. You are giving me 10,000 yen, and I’ll keep track of everything.” How in the world can you barhop on a budget like that in Ginza? At GINZA SIX, of course.

I take them to the second belowground floor, to a stand-and-drink bar in one corner of Imadeya, a liquor store, where you can try several varieties of sake and wine, all starting at 400 or 500 yen a glass (all prices given are before tax).

“Let’s go with an aperitif.” You choose based on what the store manager happens to say. His remarks turn out to be really intriguing. They’re clear, easy to understand, and make you want to try what he’s talking about. Based on the recommendations, I go with the Yamagata Masamune Junmai Ginjo (ginjo sake with no added alcohol) by tobin kakoi (naturally filtered in a large glass flask). Ryosuke has the Hiroki Junmai Daiginjo (daiginjo sake with no added alcohol), while Eriko has a glass of sauvignon from Tamba Wine. Shiori opts for a sparkling wine called Fermier no Shuwa-Shuwa.

The Yamagata Masamune has a distinct but mellow flavor. The Hiroki offers up subdued ginjo aromas. The Tamba Wine matches well with Japanese food. The gentle flavor of the Fermier no Shuwa-Shuwa seeps into one’s body. Things begin to get lively as we take turns drinking. Ultimately, I give the signal to head to the next place.

Next up is the Enoteca wine shop. Here you can try a rosé, touted as the Ginza Rosé, starting at 500 yen a glass. Sips of a dry refreshing rosé with a distinct nose of peach or lychee whet the appetite, and that, naturally, turns the page to the next chapter. We head to the Ginza Grand Premium Food Hall on the sixth floor.

Here you can plan a feast based on favorite dishes from several different restaurants, all located here elbow to elbow. I choose the terrace seating with a view down Chuo-dori avenue. Eating while gazing over the Ginza streetscape confers a sense of luxury and prominence, a sense of commanding the renowned district of Ginza.

For appetizers, from a bar produced by Chikara Yamada, I choose the Ceviche Classic (1,700 yen), Sea Urchin and Dashi Flan (800 yen), and Maguro Torotaku Avocado Espuma (500 yen).

From the sushi place, I order the Kyotofu Shichimi-Yakumi (600 yen).

From a Chinese restaurant, I go with Steamed Chicken and Peking Duck Bang Bang Chicken (950 yen) and Sichuan Mabo Hiyayakko (680 yen).

For drinks, I find that I want something for each occasion, and so I order white wine, sake, and barley shochu—perfection indeed.

The dishes come one after the other. Wow! All of this is indisputably fabulous! With the ceviche, mingling the seafood with the marinade placed under (nicknamed “milk of the tiger”) produces the robust acidic and spicy flavors, making one’s mouth water. With the flan, refined umami flavors and the intertwined sweetness of sea urchin and egg get the feast off to a propitious start. The proper and companionable beverage here is a white wine.

The Maguro Torotaku assumes a form I’ve never seen before. The richness of avocado, the fatty aroma of the tuna, and the texture of the takuwan (pickled daikon radish) all visit one’s palate. Remarkably enjoyable. For this and the kyotofu, which brings out a subtle sharpness in the marinade, the drink has to be sake.

The Bang Bang Chicken actually features Peking duck, creating unexpected textures. The Mabo Hiyayakko is an intriguing cold version of mabo dofu. It’s cold, so not greasy. Plus, the spiciness and sansho pepper aromas really stand out and stimulate the palate while stirring the nostrils and stomach. All of this is wonderful. And the barley shochu is perfect.

Just these six dishes have created quite the stir among our circle. Next up are several warm dishes. I go with the Black Vinegar and Balsamic Black Sesame Sweet-and-Sour Pork (1,480 yen), Lightly Broiled Kobujime Japanese Black Loin (1,800 yen), Deep-Fried Puffer Fish (1,800 yen), and Dashimaki Omelet and Ham Sandwich & Sausage Cocotte Plate (1,800 yen).

At this point, I order red wine, pairing it with the Sweet-and-Sour Pork and Japanese Black Loin. The red wine accentuates the pork, which itself adds a fruity balsamic aroma to the richness of black vinegar. The Japanese beef has a sweet, fatty aroma, which helps it go perfectly with white wine, too. We leave the sandwiches for later and drink the barley shochu with the sausages served alongside. It’s undeniably great fun to try the food brought out to you while looking for affinities with various drinks.

With the Deep-Fried Puffer Fish, we bite into an aromatic and crisp coating to part the flavorful flesh. But there’s a problem: only three pieces are provided. The situation calls for an impromptu rock-paper-scissors tournament to decide order and precedence. The individual placing fourth draws the short straw and misses out on the puffer fish. As an offset, that person gets first choice from the sushi plate I order to finish things off.

Our competition adds to the fun of ordering and experiencing all these different dishes. OK, now we’re to our final dishes. There’s the dashimaki omelet and ham sandwich—the rolled egg steeped in dashi stock with rich umami flavors is a bewitching sensation—plus the 12-piece sushi plate. I’ve also ordered shark fin noodles. We end our feast sharing this in the best of good spirits. The snow fungus on the shark fin noodles confers beauty benefits, so perhaps it’s best to leave this for the ladies in the group.

After all this food and drink, we find our tasting tour of Ginza Grand has left us full and a little tipsy—and with change left over from our per-head budget of 10,000 yen. This could well be habit-forming. But—wait—we’re not done! There’s still dessert.

We skip back down to the second belowground floor and head to PHILIPPE CONTICINI. The plan is to add a crowning glory to our outing with an original parfait freshly made at the counter-style sweets bar. I choose the Verinne Parfait (2,000 yen), composed of 18 ingredients, including rhubarb, strawberries, pistachio cream, and chocolate.

The many aromas, sour flavors, sweet tastes, and textures merge in exquisite harmony. But that’s not all. There is drama, as with a musical composition, from prelude to climax to coda. I’m intoxicated by visions embodied in and inspired by this parfait, which begin to mingle with the night’s GINZA SIX barhop, all of which began with a simple aperitif. My three companions fall silent and enthralled as we eat and enjoy a few moments of this evening.

All right, then; next time I’ll organize an afternoon barhop for the weekend.

Text:Macky Makimoto Photos:Takashi Kaizuka Edit:Yuka Okada

editors_makimoto

マッキー牧元

1955年東京生まれ。株式会社味の手帖 取締役編集顧問、タベアルキスト。立ち食いそばから割烹、フレンチからエスニック、スィーツから居酒屋まで、年間600回外食をし、料理評論、紀行、雑誌寄稿、ラジオ・テレビ出演と多彩に活躍。『味の手帖』『料理王国』『食楽』他、連載多数。鍋奉行協会会長。著書に「東京 食のお作法」(文芸春秋)、「出世酒場」(集英社)ほか。
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いまでや銀座

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銀座大食堂

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2018.01.26 UP