Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on March 2013
With the reopening of Kabuki-za, Ginza also offers a wide array of dining options—and though the area’s name comes from the silver-coin mint, dinner doesn’t have to cost a piece of precious metal.
A few blocks from the Kabuki-za is this top destination for kaiseki cuisine by third-generation chef Takashi Tamura. The main room has several tables at midday filled with ladies who lunch—and who know how to find a bargain. With Tsukiji Market nearby, seafood is a highlight. Fish is ground into a paste and simmered gently for the soup course, the sashimi is the seasonal specialty, and dessert includes freshly whisked mattcha with a traditional Japanese confectionary.
2-12-11 Tsukiji. Tel: 03-3541-2591. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm & 5-10pm, Sat-Sun & hols 11:30am-10pm. www.tsukiji-tamura.com
The soba here is handmade daily and served up with a slightly sweet tsuyu broth as a fitting partner to the rustic buckwheat noodles. Be sure to get the gobo tempura, thin slices of burdock root battered and deep-fried. You might also become addicted to the yakimiso, sweet miso grilled on a paddle. To explore the flavor of buckwheat, try the sobagaki—a dense cake made of the boiled seeds.
1F Futaba Bldg, 8-18-6 Ginza. Tel: 03-5565-0055. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm & 6-8:45pm, Sat 11:30am-3pm, closed Sun, hols and third Sat. http://narutomi-soba.net
Part of the ritual of the kabuki includes a long intermission for a short meal. Those in the know pick up a bento ahead of time. Here are a few places to keep in mind.
- Ginza Mitsukoshi has the biggest selection of bento in Ginza. Sukiyaki, yakitori, tonkatsu, and colorful bento from venerable Kyoto restaurants are just some of what is to be discovered. 4-6-16 Ginza.
- Benmatsu is directly across the street from the Kabukiza, and has been putting together its bento for 140 years. Traditional boxes filled with a variety of vegetables and seafood with rice are on offer. 5-14-1 Ginza. www.benmatsu.co.jp
- Hinode specializes in oshi-zushi. Try the saba-zushi (vinegared mackerel) and the maki-zushi (sushi rolls). 5-13-19 Ginza.
The skilled chefs at one of Ginza’s most famous sushi purveyors can adjust the size of the shari (rice) or wasabi to your liking. Lunch is reasonable and a few staff speak enough English to educate diners on the seafood. The multi-floored building fills up so frequently that an annex across the street helps accommodate hungry diners.
8-7-6 Ginza. Tel: 03-3571-6523. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-1:30pm & 5-9:45pm, closed Sun & hols. www.kyubey.jp/index_e.html
Kappo ryori is an intimate experience where diners watch the chef prepare dishes from the counter. It allows for an opportunity to ask questions about ingredients. Many kappo restaurants are only open in the evenings, but Ginza Toyoda is an exception—and the lunch is economical. The talented, yet humble, chef Okamoto is knowledgeable about Japanese cuisine, and his restaurant pairs an excellent wine list with the dishes.
2F La Viarre Ginza, 7-5-4 Ginza. Tel: 03-5568-5822. Mon-Fri 11:30am-1:30pm & 5:30-8:30pm, Sat noon-2pm & 5:30-8:30pm, closed Sun & hols. www.tokyo-calendar.tv/dining/11428.html
Ukai-tei in Ginza is an opulent space crammed with artworks, and private rooms that are perfect for special occasions. The specialty is teppanyaki, or food grilled on an iron plate—here meaning seafood, marbled wagyu beef, and fresh vegetables cooked until just right by your own private chef. Dessert is wheeled to you on a dessert cart to break down your resistance.
5-15-8 Ginza. Tel: 03-3544-5252. Open daily noon-9pm. www.ukai.co.jp/ginza/en/index.htm
Ginza Bairin was the first tonkatsu restaurant to open in Ginza in 1927. The restaurant feels like it hasn’t changed much since then, which is part of its charm. The katsudon is a popular one-bowl lunch. Tonkatsu is put over a bowl of hot rice and topped with a savory half-cooked egg mixture. Sit at the counter to watch the cutlets being fried up and to hear the ton-ton of the knife chopping the cabbage.
7-8-1 Ginza. Tel: 03-3571-0350. Open daily 11:30am-9:45pm. www.ginzabairin.com