Taste of Tokyo
Lea Landwehr, Graphic Designer
September 11, 2012
Filed under Arts & Culture
It’s a widely held belief that the act of eating is the main attraction of a restaurant. While this is still true in the case of Ginza of Tokyo, watching the chef work is a close second. This is because Ginza has hibachi-style dining tables with the stovetops built into them. While he cooks right in front of you, your chef performs tricks with the food that impress young and old alike. Bursts of applause can be heard throughout the restaurant all during your dining experience.
Now if sitting with strangers (yes, you will be sharing a table with other customers unless you bring about nine friends with you) and clapping for a man who’s playing with your food doesn’t suit you, there are private tables available in the tearooms. Actually they’re more like private rooms because each is walled off and has a curtain to cover the door. But be warned: It is considered good manners to remove one’s shoes before entering. If you are a first-timer, however, the hibachi table is strongly recommended for that “dinner and a show” feel.
With all this fanfare about seating and presentation, one wonders if the food can match all the anticipation they’ve been building. Happily, it can. While I’m not a fan of raw fish or seaweed, friends have assured me Ginza serves some of the best in the city. What I did order was the hibachi scallops, which like every entree, comes with several sides. The mushroom soup is followed b
y a ginger salad, then a small shrimp appetizer, and finally your meat is accompanied by a bowl of rice and a mix of sprouts and zucchini.
The ginger salad dressing in particular is exquisite, so much so that people at the table were asking if they sold it in a take-home version, which they do. There were also side sauces for the meat or vegetables: a spicy mustard-like sauce and another ginger sauce, but not the same that graced the salad. This ginger sauce was also a highlight and could be described as nothing but savory. Many of the entrees are also cooked in a particular sauce (kogane, garlic or teriyaki) and given the choice, you should taste as many as possible. Each kind offers a new delight. At Ginza, it is clearly all about the sauces.
You’ll be tempted to gorge yourself on this fine cuisine, but the many courses sneak up on you and make leftovers a near certainty. Another reason not to overeat is that they have marvelous green tea and tempura ice cream for dessert. This is something I’ve been unable to find at any ice cream shop and the green tea ice cream is hard to find even at the grocery store, so now is a good time to indulge in this tasty and refreshing treat.