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Growing in Beauty and Eating What Your Heart Desires: An Adult Woman’s Afternoon in Ginza

浅妻 千映子

GINZA SIX EDITORS Vol.43

For me, Ginza is more an afternoon district than a nighttime district. I often go on my own or with my mother. I always have lunch when I’m there. Very few districts, I think, offer as many fun lunch bargains as Ginza, and this is especially true for GINZA SIX. Today I’m planning to check out some restaurants that have begun offering new lunchtime formats.

When I visit a retail complex like this, I tend to drift, not wander. I’m drawn to the cosmetics floor—I love cosmetics. GINZA SIX has brands I’ve loved since high school. I never attempt to resist the magnetic draw.

I go first to the belowground cosmetics floor, a vast and spacious area that targets adult sensibilities. In the soft and lovely light encountered only on cosmetics floors, I arrive first at Clarins, as if pulled there. I love this brand!

Right away, I sit down at the counter. I look here and there at the products. The conversation, I notice, is lively. I’ve used the brand for the past 30 years. I admit, a little sheepishly, that I can even talk about the history of the products.
The brand arrived in Japan from France 32 years ago. Clarins’ products, I’m told, all contain skin care ingredients, even the foundation and lipstick.

Of the products I look at, this appealing lip oil catches my attention.

The remarkably popular Lip Comfort Oil (3,200 yen; all prices listed before tax) comes in mint and berry and other scents, each with a different color. I have the staff person put some on immediately. At the cosmetics counter, it’s great fun to have the staff find the lip color that’s right for you, based on things like the clothes you happen to be wearing that day.

Clarins offers an especially large selection of body care items.
Of these, I’ve long been a fan of Anti-Eau body oil (7,400 yen). Each day, when I step out of the bath, I give myself a simple leg massage. After trying various oils, I’ve always come back to this. It leaves my legs feeling light the next day.
Giving yourself a massage after eating out and coming back home is, of course, a bother. But there’s a big difference between giving yourself one and not. I know this from my experience with this oil, and it’s why I stick with it.

Now I begin seriously considering what to buy. After deliberating for a while, I buy body oil and blush. I save the rest to look forward to next time. Incidentally, Clarins has a day spa here as well. I’ll have to treat myself one day.

After shopping, it’s lunchtime. Now, on to the 6th floor!

I’d heard JASMINE washinkansai had started a by-order all-you-can-eat dim sum service for lunch only (3,500 yen for 90 minutes, including tax). My interest was piqued. JASMINE, whose head restaurant is in the Hiroo district, is an establishment I’ve always liked. Unassuming chef Yusuke Yamaguchi, who’s worked in China as well, is the real deal. His nature helps explain why he began offering dim sum in this style: Because it’s fun to have dim sum here without having to worry about cost. Casual as it may be, chef Yamaguchi’s cooking never cuts corners. My sense of anticipation mounts. At GINZA SIX, the restaurant is also renowned for the washinkansai cuisine that incorporates Japanese tastes, as reflected in the restaurant name and in the food itself. I look forward to that, too.

When I visit, it’s clear the system is extremely conscientious. The dim sum is created by two people, Chinese and Japanese. You can order dishes like steamed dumplings in quantities as few as one. Moreover, the sizes are small, about two-thirds normal size. The dough, of course, is hand-made. You order by filling out an order sheet. Some 45 varieties are available.

This is classic Hong Kong dim sum. From the upper-right: Steamed jade shrimp dumplings with Chinese chives; Cantonese-style steamed shrimp dumplings; oven-baked roasted pork pie; and Cantonese-style dumplings topped with flying fish roe. The crisp pie dough is hand-made.

This unique washinkansai dim sum incorporates Japanese ingredients and flavors, which is where the restaurant gets its name. From the upper-right: shichimi-flavored teriyaki chicken dumplings; squid balls flavored with cilantro, yuzu citrus fruit, and pepper; Sichuan sukiyaki spring rolls; and shark fin dumplings flavored with green perilla.

In addition, there’s continental dim sum: Shanghai dumplings, fried dumplings with thick wrappings overflowing with savory meat juices, boiled dumplings with fermented Chinese cabbage, and steamed buns with minced pork filling.

The à-la-carte menu includes fluffy and creamy cheese crab omelette, Shanghai meatballs with sweet-and-sour pork made with aged black vinegar, JASMINE mapo dofu, and shelled shrimp with a special chili sauce. The Peking duck is served with an apple-flavored sweet bean sauce.

An extensive selection of rice and noodle dishes are offered, too, including chicken okowa wrapped and steamed in lotus leaf, dandan noodles with special sesame and miso sauce, and roasted pork fried rice.

This is the seasonable sherbet (cherry), deep-fried sesame balls with red bean paste, tapioca matcha coconut milk, and my favorite sweet dish, JASMINE egg tart.

I try various dishes. I’m surprised all are mildly flavored. The meal starts with appetizers and soup, after which you’re free to eat whatever you want. It’s something that will delight both you and anyone you come with. Children are welcome, too. Next time I have lunch with my mother, I think, this will be the place! A course menu with all-you-can-drink beverages is also available for 5,000 yen (including tax).

If it’s just you, I also recommend visiting Bistro AUX AMIS during off-peak hours and having the à-la-carte lunch from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., a new idea for the bistro.
AUX AMIS is known for its wine. The enormous selection of wine here includes not only grands vins and other high-end options, but delicious wines ready to drink now, as befits the casual bistro atmosphere. This restaurant offers both bistro fare and bistro atmosphere, just as you’d imagine it.
With food like this, I find myself wishing ardently sometimes for the option of having exactly what I want in a single large portion or trying two different dishes. Very few restaurants offer an à-la-carte menu in the afternoon, one of the things that make this bistro a treasure.

This is pâté de campagne (1,300 yen), the classic French dish. On certain days, I feel this one dish plus wine could make for an entire lunch.

This is the roast leg of French lamb (2,200 yen). One leg is slow-roasted per day, then cut into round slices. Only a limited number are served daily.
The juicy roasted lamb is covered with a sauce made from its drippings, and the potatoes are cooked in chicken stock with herbs. The generous helpings win high marks from me.

There are 15 varieties of wine by the glass, including red, white, and sparkling. The wine list offers wine by the bottle for more than 200 different wines.
Today, I choose a wine from a Bourgogne producer that’s recently been transferred to the younger generation. The wine is an overflowing of youth, but the nose is suffused with other potentialities, too.

I find myself outside Bistro AUX AMIS, full and content.
After eating, I walk around and examine the signboards of other restaurants at GINZA SIX. As with JASMINE’s all-you-can-eat lunch and AUX AMIS’ à-la-carte lunch, other places may have launched new and interesting services or cuisine to satisfy your cravings. Just as with the introduction of new cosmetics, restaurant menus change with the season in explorations of various new ideas. Wandering about GINZA SIX, I hope to see the various new forms generated by this evolution.

Text:Chieko Asazuma Photos:Kanako Noguchi Edit:Yuka Okada

editors_asazuma

浅妻 千映子

フードジャーナリスト、料理研究家。『dancyu』『FIGARO』『Pen』等の雑誌で執筆。著書多数あり。「東京最高のレストラン」(ぴあ)の採点者でもある。『ほめられレシピ』(主婦と生活社)等レシピ本も出し、アカデミー デュ ヴァンでクッキングクラスも持つ。日本ソムリエ協会認定ワインエキスパート。
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クラランス

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JASMINE 和心漢菜

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ビストロ オザミ

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2018.06.08 UP