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Discovering the Joys of Japan’s Leading Gourmet Cuisine

小松 宏子

GINZA SIX EDITORS Vol.70

Located in the middle of Ginza, GINZA SIX is still a place where one encounters wonderful food cultures and ingredients from all around Japan. Of the unique array of restaurants and bars here, I’ve visited three that convey some of the special joys associated with Japanese culture.

THE GRAND GINZA on the 13th floor, the top of the complex, is GINZA SIX’s largest restaurant by floor area. Divided into a lounge, restaurant, banquet room, and tea room, the space is designed to meet the varying needs of its customers. Here I’ll introduce THE GRAND47, a restaurant that offers seasonal ingredients sourced from Japan’s 47 prefectures, prepared with French culinary techniques. As I recall, the theme when I visited this past December was “Hokuriku, a Treasure Trove of Food.” The elegant course-based meals incorporate a dash of traditional flavors from Hokuriku, including arrangements of sushi made with salted turnips (kabura-zushi) and salted squid mixed with squid ink (ika no kurotsukuri). The courses can be paired with glasses of Kokuryu sake, the pride of Fukui. It was an ideal setting for savoring moments of refinement, as if on a short vacation.

I recall the appetizer was Hokuriku Traditional Oshizushi Inspiration with Snow Crab, Winter Amberjack, and Vegetable Cubes. Inspired by the local kabura-zushi, felicitous winter catch from the Sea of Japan transmuted into a French delicacy. The multicolored cuisine arranged in the middle of the dish reminded me of a jewel box; one hardly knew where to start. The pairing with Kokuryu amplified the delightful flavors.

The main fish course was Kurotsukuri-Marinated Cod Poêlé and Soft Roe Meunière with Creamed Large Scallion and White Wine Sauce. Kurotsukuri, a local dish of Toyama, is made by adding squid ink to fermented squid. The cod is coated with this sauce and marinated to create a richer, more savory flavor. As one might expect, the sauce made with sweet large scallions was a meltingly sweet delight. The passion and skills of Chef Hayato Saito, who served his apprenticeship in France and continued his training at the Kobe Kitano Hotel, were on full display. “I love it when customers take an interest in the region after eating here,” he remarked. “Next year, I hope to visit more of the produce areas myself.”

From the three desserts on offer, I chose the Chocolate Mille-Feuille with Hokuriku Sake Lees and Yuzu Fruit, an outstanding combination of cloudlike chocolate mousse with lees that melt on one’s tongue, and highly aromatic yuzu fruit. This lunch course was reasonably priced at 3,800 yen (all prices listed before tax). As I filled up on dessert to finish the culinary tour of the Hokuriku region, I began casting about for another destination.

After dinner, a visitor would certainly want to visit Mixology Salon, a chic bar also located on the thirteenth floor. Mixology is an emerging trend at bars in recent years, wherein new cocktails are created, as if by alchemy, by combining various spirits with herbs, spices, fruit, and other ingredients. The theme of this particular bar is tea. Mixology Salon makes an assortment of cocktails using every conceivable variety of tea, including roasted green tea (hojicha), matcha, Chinese tea, and black tea. The owner-bartender is the globally renowned Shuzo Nagumo. The chief bartender is the charming Yukino Sato.

Shown here is the Jasmine Teatail No. 1 (1,600 yen), a popular jasmine tea-based cocktail with a crisp, noble aroma and flavor. An amber-colored mixture of jasmine tea with Grey Goose vodka, elderflower liqueur and Calvados is poured into the large wineglass, generating an exotic aroma. The result is a seductive cocktail ideal (naturally) before or after meals, and even in the early afternoon.

Another of the salon’s cocktails is Matcha Godfather (1,600 yen), a cocktail with hot green tea. Hakushu aged 12 years old, amaretto, and Okinawan brown sugar are assembled in a tea bowl and whisked with a bamboo tea whisk—I found myself captivated by the physical gestures that create the drink, making a surprisingly perfect substitution for espresso after the meal. It would also be tasteful to have a narrative of three to five glasses of cocktails composed at choice of the bartender.

Lastly, I went to Syunsai Miyama, an establishment that prides itself on carefully prepared dishes made with its special dashi soup stock and seasonal ingredients. You might find it convenient to remember, while shopping, the eat-in counter next to the sales space for bento and single-dish items. Their most popular offering is the meal with rice seasoned and cooked with various ingredients (takikomigohan gozen; 1,250 yen). The rice is cooked six or seven times a day in an earthenware pot made by Ippento Nakagawa, the leading figure in Shigaraki ceramics. This means the rice is freshly cooked, which helps make it extraordinarily delicious. The combination also nicely balances the teriyaki chicken with small servings of seasonal vegetables, another delight. Often ordered for takeout is the double-decker bento with ample vegetables (2,000 yen), including lotus root kinpira and simmered spinach and yuba (tofu skin). You’ll probably want to make reservations in advance for large orders.

Text:Hiroko Komatsu Photos:Akiko Fukuchi Edit:Yuka Okada

editors_komatsu

小松 宏子

フードジャーナリスト。祖母が料理研究家の家庭に生まれる。広告代理店勤務を経て、フードジャーナリストとして活動。各国の料理から食材や器まで、“食”まわりの記事を執筆。料理書の編集や執筆も多く手がけ、『茶懐石に学ぶ日日の料理』(後藤加寿子著・文化出版局)では仏グルマン料理本大賞「特別文化遺産賞」、第2回辻静雄食文化賞受賞。
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2019.01.11 UP