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Morning to Night! A Day’s Full Trio of Meals (and More) at GINZA SIX

小石原 はるか

Ginza Six Editors Vol.34

My first thought the first time I visited GINZA SIX was: I could spend the whole day here and leave wanting more! Now, here I am, with plans to do just that.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all at GINZA SIX—I’ll call it the GINZA SIX Deep Dive Culinary Experience.

I’m the type of person who definitely has to have breakfast to get going, so I head first to House of Dior Ginza. This distinctive space, divided over five floors, eloquently conveys the art de vivre lifestyle trumpeted by Dior. The fourth floor, Café Dior by Pierre Hermé, features a collaboration with Pierre Hermé, otherwise known as the Picasso of Pastry. It’s one of the few places at GINZA SIX to offer a breakfast menu. Featuring a refined color scheme of gray Dior tones, the place is accented with inviting pastel chairs. I’m spellbound even before breakfast arrives.

The Petit Déjeuner Set (2,400 yen; all prices before tax), available from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., includes baked bostock steeped in almond syrup and orange flower water for a pleasing fresh aroma, fluffy, richly flavored pain perdu (French toast) made with brioche pastry, and yogurt with a homemade compote of cranberries, pears, and dry fruit—it’s both beautiful and delicious. (Set items subject to change.)

The wonderful plate and cutlery are, of course, by Dior. The café is the second anywhere and the first in Japan, a unique spot for fulfilling a dream of breakfast at Dior. The dishware used in the café is available for purchase on the same floor.

For my drink, I choose the soy milk–based Les Framboises et Rose (1,200 yen). The colors are straight from Pierre Hermé’s palette, and they easily win my highest marks. The combination of raspberries and rose has brilliant flavors reminiscent of the renowned Pierre Hermé’s Ispahan.

The walls are adorned with a portrait of Mssr. Dior and design drawings—a wonderful space that’s easy on the eyes and something to inspire you to get dressed up, even if you’re only coming for breakfast. The artistic Dessert à L’Assiette (dessert arranged on a plate) is served throughout the rest of the day alongside drinks and spirits.

I really should take in the atmosphere here with dignity and restraint, but my appetite gets the best of me, and—I’m sorry!—I open my mouth wide. By his or her very nature, a food writer stands helpless against such baser impulses.

After finishing a leisurely breakfast, before you know it, it’s lunchtime. I head to Noriben Yamanobori on the food floor, the second belowground floor, which has never not had a line since it opened. The Yamanobori (“mountain climbing”) name derives from its ambitions to produce the pinnacle of noriben, bento box lunches with nori (seaweed) on rice long enjoyed by ordinary people everywhere. It’s a wonderful name that expresses the establishment’s aspirations.

What’s fun, too, is that you can see them making the bento while you wait in line. Look, they’re brushing soy sauce onto the seaweed! The name doesn’t deceive. The nori is first-pick, soft seaweed from Ariake Sea. Beyond that, they select a variety with green laver attached called aomaze, which is then liberally coated with special homemade soy sauce diluted with dashi stock.

The noriben comes in three varieties. While you’re watching the staff fill the boxes with food items, it’s only natural to want to eat them all. So which one will I have today?

I take the fresh-made bento I just scooped up and climb to the pinnacle of GINZA SIX itself, the rooftop GINZA SIX Garden. An assemblage of zones of trees, water feature, a lawn, and a strolling plaza, each with a different atmosphere, offers a place to make you forget you’re in the middle of Ginza. You’ll find multiple varieties of cherry blossom trees here, including Kawazu cherry. They come into bloom at different times. Each time you visit, especially in spring, you’ll enjoy a different aspect of the garden’s beauty.

My gluttony getting the better of me, I decide not to decide and wind up with all three types. There’s the Sea, a splendid slice of salmon that looks ready to burst from the box, with deep-fried nori-battered chikuwa (an absolute favorite!); the delightful Mountain, tender teriyaki chicken rubbed with shiokoji, a Japanese condiment, and seasoned boiled egg; and the Field, packed full of the Earth’s bounty, including shiso-topping lotus root cake, maitake mushroom tempura, and stir-fried tofu (1,080 yen each). This variation in food items upends my ideas of the tried-and-true noriben lunch.

A noriben lunch I can eat through my saucer-wide mouth under the bluest of skies is something special indeed. Enjoying the soy sauce–soaked nori and rice and the warm hand-prepared food items, I finish off my lunch with a sense of great satisfaction. Now I’m ready to enjoy wandering GINZA SIX until dinnertime. I browse books and magazines at Ginza Tsutaya Books on the sixth floor; search for spring fashions on the fashion floor (careful not to go overboard!); then patrol every nook and cranny of the beauty floor, the first belowground floor, looking for new colors and limited-edition items. You can stop in at a hair salon or cosmetics brand treatment booth for some maintenance and upkeep, should you so choose. I should have made a reservation!

It’s around sundown now, and I’m famished. I’ve taken a growing interest in the possibilities of spice combinations, and I’m coming to love curry more and more, so much so that I’ve taken the occasional Indian cooking class. So, today, I’m headed to Tamarind on the sixth floor, a restaurant unique in allowing diners to enjoy both rich northern Indian fare and crisp, light, and spicy South Indian cuisine.

In the kitchen, I happen to see the chef preparing a flatbread, thin as a handkerchief, called rumali roti. The dough is shaped by tossing it into the air and spread by hand.

The restaurant’s most recommended appetizer is panipuri (600 yen). This is a standard snack food at food stalls. The crisply fried batter balls are filled with potatoes and onions and the liquid below is poured in, allowing the whole thing to be eaten in one wide bite. It may take practice to eat skillfully, but the pairing of coriander and mint flavors is instant refreshment for the palate. Now, I’m ready for curry!

This is Crab Butter Masala (1,600 yen; four pieces). “We don’t eat crab much in India,” the chef tells me, “but I thought the flavor of butter masala, which goes well with prawns, would be perfect for crab.” So crab claws with a rich northern Indian sauce… and he’s right, it does go perfectly.

My main course is the Tamarind Meal (2,200 yen), composed of South Indian fare. Joining the soupy team of chicken, mutton, and prawn curries, sambal (a light curry of beans and vegetables), and rasam (a tart and spicy soup) is the carb team of puri (deep-fried bread), papadum (a thin, crisp gram bean flour cracker), vada (Indian doughnuts) and more. The meal is garnished with a colorful assortment of pickles.

With an Indian meal like this, you can try various combinations of curry and carbs and refresh the palate in the entr’acte, as it were, with rasam or pickles. If you like, you can combine various items to create layers of flavors—also delicious. With so much on a single plate, you might have trouble deciding what to combine with what, but you’re perfectly free just to have fun combining anything with anything.

Text:Haruka Koishihara Photos:Kayoko Ueda Edit:Yuka Okada

editors_koishihara

小石原 はるか

フードライター。1972年生まれ。雑誌を中心に食の記事を執筆。また、雑誌「東京カレンダー」コントリビューティングエディターでもある。近著に『自分史上最多ごはん』(マガジンハウス)。
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2018.03.19 UP