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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。

A Highly Sake-Oriented Tour of GINZA SIX

外川 ゆい

GINZA SIX EDITORS VOL.36

Food journalism is without question my calling. I know this to be true from the bottom of my heart. And while I encounter a wide range of wonderful food and adult beverages in my work, I’m especially fond of sake. So, at GINZA SIX, I naturally make a beeline to Imadeya Ginza, a liquor store located toward the back of the second belowground floor. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been here since it first opened. Something I treasure about GINZA SIX is that I can buy the sake I love along with the perfect snacks and finger food to go with that sake. I’ll introduce some of this wonderful fare to you today while mixing in my tips for enjoying sake and other beverages.

I head first to Ginza Heisuiken, next door to Imadeya. The flagship store, located in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter in Okayama Prefecture, occupies a converted storehouse built in the Taisho period on the brewery grounds by the third-generation proprietor of the Morita Shuzo brewery. A select food shop, the store features carefully selected flavors from around the country, along with the store’s own products. All items are personally sampled by store manager Shoichiro Morita. The standard of quality here makes choosing hard. I want to say—Give me everything on the shelf!—but resist the impulse and decide instead to go foraging for items that would go especially well with sake.

Given the nature of my job, unless I have a deadline to meet, I’m out eating with other people just about every night. And when I get back home and want to drink just a bit more sake, these remarkable selections are just the thing. Shuho Akahira (sold by the gram) is a Morita Shuzo original consisting of dried cod or mullet roe pickled in pure rice sake lees. It’s wonderful simply sliced and eaten as is, but I also recommend grating it liberally over pasta. The Hoshigaki Butter Sandwich (443 yen; all prices listed with tax), a Heisuiken original, is multiple layers of dried persimmons bound in rich butter. The Kasumikani no Himono (972 yen) can be dipped in warmed sake, creating a wonderful crab-infused sake drink.

I pick up and carefully inspect the Chirimen Dressing (821 yen) from Obanzai Kimura, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Hiroshima. The jar is filled with freshly cooked and sun-dried baby sardines of the highest quality from Hashirijima; they appear almost to swim. It’s a versatile dressing made with aged garlic soy sauce and olive oil.

I see the Chiya beef name and instinctively pick up the Okayama Wagyudon (648 yen)—I’d heard this brand of exceptional beef is rarely available outside its home prefecture. The Ajibutadon (588 yen) next to it is from Okayama Prefecture, too. For those feeling self-indulgent, these are decadently ideal dishes to top off a night of drinking.

I’ve had a book titled Heisuiken no Umaimono Cho on my bookshelf for almost 10 years. I’ve found that reading about and learning more about delicious things makes them still more delicious. I consult this book all the time before and after eating out or when looking for that next thing to buy. It’s a book I recommend for those who, in the face of such plenty, might feel somewhat at a loss.

Sensing hunger stirring and thinking I’d like a drink as well, I head up the elevator to the sixth floor and to Ginza Sanada Six, a restaurant that focuses on food from the Shinshu region. I slip through the large noren curtain at the entrance and see, off to the side, a splendid millstone and soba-making area. Altogether, the counter and tables seat around 100 people. The warm greetings immediately set to rest any anxieties about venturing in alone.

I sit down and instantly order a drink. Not only known for its food, the restaurant offers 13 varieties of sake from the Shinshu region. Nagano Prefecture is known for its many sake breweries, and many of the chief brewers there happen to be women. I do review the menu, but with such a knowledgeable staff at hand, I usually ask for recommendations. I’ve always had a sense of perfect confidence that I’ll be presented with something ideal for me at the moment, and doing so often leads to new discoveries.

The recommendations I get on this occasion are for Sakunohana Yamahai Honjozo, which sounds like it’d also be great warmed, and Wawawa Tokubetsu Junmai Hitogokochi, a fresh, unpasteurized kasumi kizake. I start with the Wawawa. It’s great, too, that the sake is served in three sizes: a small glass (90 cc), a medium glass (150 cc), or the traditional ni go size (360 cc). Choose the size that’s right for your mood or situation at that time, then enjoy!

I start with the Shinshu Fresh Vegetable Plate with Miso (1,728 yen). The vegetables from Soraya in Ueda City, a supplier committed to completely pesticide-free cultivation, are tastefully arranged and garnished with two types of miso: buckwheat miso to the right and daikan miso to the left. There’s an ideal and natural affinity between food ingredients and sake from the same region.

The next dish is Grilled Miso-Marinated Shinshu Pork (1,836 yen). Rice-fed pork is marinated for six hours in Shinshu miso. The serving is ample, but it’s lip-smacking good, and I eat it all. Whenever I have meat, I prefer to drink sake warmed or at room temperature: The sake combines and melts with the fat from the meat in a blissful coalescence of textures and flavors.

To top it all off, I choose the limited-quantity 100% Inaka Soba (1,296 yen). The restaurant mills the buckwheat in-house on a millstone and makes the soba by hand, an approach that creates a deeply wholesome flavor. The dipping sauce incorporates bonito stock, whose crispness is less severe than the Tokyo style. The aroma is striking. I contemplate the perfection of sake paired with soba and realize I’m getting a touch tipsy. So, despite the desire for a glass of Nakanorisan Tokubetsu Junmai, shipped directly from the brewery and a rare find in Tokyo, I exercise a commendable restraint and head to my next stop.

The next stop is St.Cousair wine&grocery on the second belowground floor, a secret spot where you can both sample wine and shop for wine to bring back home.

I go first to the tasting counter in the back. It’s my first time trying St. Cousair wine, so I accept the offer of the staff member and decide to sample all six types of proprietary wines available that day. A refined bouquet that recalls Muscat lifts up from the white wine, which happens to be made from Niagara grapes. ZION offers subtle nuances similar to sake and would pair well with a wide variety of dishes. The Iizuna Town region also produces apples, and the cider is superb. I quickly take to the red wine, too. You can order the wine you taste here and more at the bar near the entrance, so take your time and enjoy and/or buy a bottle. Being able to taste the wine and figure out what you like is a welcome setup indeed. In passing, a limited bottling of St. Cousair Chardonnay neo-2000 (58,320 yen) commemorating the first anniversary of GINZA SIX is available: a whole 12 bottles!

St. Cousair, which currently operates 56 stores nationwide (as of April 2018), started with a vacation guest house managed by a husband and wife team. A winery, jam plant, restaurant, and chapel were subsequently built on a small hill in Iizuna Town, Nagano Prefecture. I continue to drink, listening to the story of the store and reassured by the friendly smile of store manager Haruka Morita.

Along with wine, the store is well stocked with food that make ideal companions for adult beverages. The store’s original brand, KUZE FUKU & Co., is based on a Japanese Gourmet Store concept, and the store carries some 2,000 items created jointly with proud producers throughout the country. One of the many jam products would make a great gift, I think. The Choshi-oki Sardines in Dried Tomato and Oil Marinade and Simmered Choshi-oki Sardines with Pickled Plum, which occupy one corner of a shelf, would be valuable to have in stock as a side dish or tippling snack fare. I’m happy to see they’re both very reasonably priced, around 400 yen.

I end my day with dessert. There’s colorful gelato available in an area next to the store entrance. After some dithering, I choose the Sparkling Gelato Cider (540 yen) with strawberry gelato, embodying a freshness perfect for the coming season.

Here, I conclude my adult beverage–themed tour of GINZA SIX. Ginza is renowned for drawing food lovers from around Japan and throughout the world, and it’s an aspect I experience vividly. There’s no end to the joy of living in Tokyo or of encountering in this city remarkable food and flavors from all over Japan. There’s never enough time for the plenty of gourmet food and fine adult beverages to be encountered at GINZA SIX.

Text:Yui Togawa Photos:Kazuhiro Fukumoto Edit:Yuka Okada

editors_togawa

外川 ゆい

フードジャーナリスト。1980年生まれ。グルメ誌やライフスタイル誌を中心に、レストラン、ホテル、お酒など、食にまつわる記事を幅広く執筆する。なかでも日本酒をこよなく愛し、蔵元とお酒を交わす時間がなによりの至福。相手への敬意を込め、常日頃から和装。
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2018.04.17 UP