Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on February 2008

Photos Courtesy of Pixy Inc

Photos Courtesy of Pixy Inc

Ginza restaurants are notoriously expensive and, on Friday nights, notoriously crowded. So it was with just the slightest bit of worry that we, not having made reservations, piled into a Ginza-Itchome elevator full of office workers on a Friday night and made our way up to Pin. Many of the other passengers stayed on to go to higher floors, and arriving at the restaurant, we were relieved to find that there were several free tables. Once we were seated, our waiter explained that we had just beaten the Friday night rush, which starts a bit after 8pm.

After being shown to a secluded table at the back of the L-shaped space, we were immediately taken by the romantic atmosphere of the interior: the lighting was low, and curtains and frosted glass sectioned the restaurant into semi-private dining areas.

The cocktail menu was more or less standard fare, and our drinks—a gin and tonic (¥630) and a Kir royal (¥1,000)—were served with a delightful amuse bouche: sweet potato custard garnished with a tiny spring of peppermint and set in a spoon with its handle bent to allow the whole thing to balance on the table.

Pin’s menu boasts a wide range of seafood and meat dishes. We were tempted to simply order the course meal (¥3,000), which includes soup, veg, seafood and meat dishes. But our interests were piqued by some of the á la carte options, and we decided to fashion our own meal. We started with fig pintxos (¥600), succulent figs topped with a cube of gorgonzola cheese and a tiny rolled basil leaf, everything held in place with a toothpick. These heavenly starters made us eager to explore the rest of the menu. Still undecided about main courses, we ordered vegetable sticks (¥800)—organic cucumber, carrots, baby corn and asparagus served with a basil, olive oil and anchovy dipping sauce and a dip made with four varieties of sharp cheese.

Photos Courtesy of Pixy Inc

Photos Courtesy of Pixy Inc

From the seafood section of the menu we ordered the deep-fried spring rolls, stuffed with eel, cheese and rice (¥700). We had a hard time deciding between the Norwegian salmon marinated in citrus fruit (¥800) or the tuna in port wine sauce (¥900), but opted for the latter, which was very lightly pan-seared in port and served on a bed of grilled artichoke hearts. Next came the house specialty of jamon iberico, a premium cured ham from the south of Spain (¥1,660). This was served with stewed cherry tomatoes and washed down with a glass of the house red Terrale Sangiovese (¥600), a fruity, slightly spicy Sicilian wine well suited to the meat dishes on the menu.

Though fully satisfied with our meal, we couldn’t pass up sharing the mascarpone cheesecake topped with white sesame seeds (¥550). Then, as we prepared to leave, we discovered another relative rarity in Ginza: a surprisingly inexpensive check.