Friday, December 18, 2009

Brasserie Yoshi, Ginza

Ginza is a hard neighborhood for the casual diner or eager bar hopper who's not on an expense account. It's easy to wander into a place (well, easy if you're not scared to see what's behind Door Number 3) and find that they have a solid seating charge plus healthy drink and service fees. Still, it's fun once in a while.

Yoshi is on one of the top floors of the oddly retro-but-glitzy building right across from Almond (or sort of across from the Kojun building with Yonemura, or just around the corner from Rocky Top, depending on your frame of reference). The sign on the door says it:s been there for a while, and the generally shabby state of the hallway and said door back up that statement. Inside, it's a place that's keeping up appearances despite having seen better days - the bench seats are bare wood, as are the tables, and the ceiling shows some exposed ductwork, but the two bartender / waiters are still sporting formal suits, set hair and perfect manners.

The focus is certainly on the drinks, despite the 'brasserie' title. Should you want to eat, they'll tell you what's on offer that day. For us, there were plates of deep-fried ginkgo nuts as a starter (fresh and springy), tongue stew (large chunks of tongue stewed very soft but retaining their texture, in a thick demiglace with swirls of cream, quite good), crab gratin (individually-sized ramekins of crab mousse with cheese bubbling on top, OK) and two other choices. It may be a little more involved earlier in the night - the kitchen, in a semi-concealed area at the end of the bar, had an awful lot of well-used pots and pans for a place that only serves 4 dishes.

The overall experience was fun, and the bill was high as expected. Consider this review, then, to be not so much a recommendation for or against Yoshi, but more an exhortation to get out there and see the world. Just make sure to do it in good company and enjoy yourself.

Still, Ginza is a harsh mistress.

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