Friday, April 2, 2010

Uzuki, Ginza (うづき)

I sure do complain a lot, don't I? Well, at least I eat a lot, so there's usually something to talk about. The thing that reminded me that I complain too much is that I was going to complain about people who say they have 'culinary adventures'. Going to a restaurant and paying money to have someone cook food and serve you is not an adventure, and the 'adventure quotient' decreases as you pay more (even for fugu). But I still like doing it! So here's another non-adventurous post.

The one thing that could maybe be described as adventurous is going into random places that have a minimum of signage. If you're a sensitive soul, you could be intimidated by sliding open an opaque door, not knowing what you'll find, especially when you could find a surly master or be rejected for some other mysterious reason. In this case I slid open the door to find a really lovely modern kappou...and a surly master who looked like "What the hell do you want?" and a waitress who looked like "Oh shit, please don't speak English to me." The waitress turned out to be pretty nice. The master stayed surly. If his food is always this good, he can get away with the attitude (and the pricing).

No pictures, I'm afraid. I wasn't really planning to go out, so I didn't take my camera. What I've put in here is shamelessly lifted from their web site. I really think I might go back here though, so I could make good on it.

You should know up front that this is not a cheap place. There are no prices on the food menu, and it turns out that the charge is Y1500. However the picture at left, (minus the glass) is more or less the size and beauty of appetizer that you get for that charge (and this is in the southwest of Ginza, just at the north end of the hardcore hostess district, so the charge isn't crazy). You should also know that the nihonshu selection, while it exists, is so overpriced that you really have to pause for thought. They charge 10% more than prices I've paid at other places...for half-size glasses. Judging by the four businessmen sitting next to me who were very excited to be ceremoniously served glasses of Shizuku, I think it's a more-money-than-sense, company-pays-the-tab kinda place. (See again what neighborhood I said it's in. And that reminds me that the waitress asked if I needed a receipt to expense it, so...

Even the toshi was very good. Let me see if I can remember the four things - from left, there was one of those tiny covered bowls like in the picture, with yuba, shiso flowers and a mystery spice. Then an open dish of udo and nanohana with sumiso (spring vegetables, only a few variations. I'm already kinda bored with them!). Then a square of fish jelly like in the picture (bottom right), a small pile of kinpira gobo, and a segment of squid stuff with jellied tentacles (cooked). These were all good.

I was scared of the pricing, so I didn't go nuts - just one glass of the house-brand junmaiginjo, made for them in Yamagata, which was mediocre. After that two dishes - first a golden cod saikyoyaki. As soon as I saw this, served in a big, rough, square, high-sided plate, I thought "Oooh." And as soon as I tasted it, I thought "This place is OK with me, regardless of the price." I kept thinking that throughout the dish, even picking the bones clean. Instead of pickled ginger, it was served with a mystery item that was fabulous - turned out to be not at all a daikon slice with honey as I thought; in fact it was a Peruvian root vegetable called yacon, poached in sweetened white wine and ending up with a sort of fresh-daikon, softened-apple texture and delicious taste. The master had no idea, and the waitress was very proud of herself for choosing and making this (so maybe it's not so fair to call her a waitress).

The other thing was vegetable gratin - I know, weird, but healthy. It was actually terrific! I don't know what was seasonal about all the mushrooms, but there was asparagus and nanohana, and the cream sauce was delicious and nicely browned on top. Seriously, I wish I had pictures of this stuff.

All things considered, the bill didn't come out badly, so I think you can go without being afraid. It's beautiful and stylish enough to be suitable for pretty much anyone, and if this was any indication, it's going to be really tasty. I'd like to go back for a more complete visit before really recommending it (I know, I know, the horror! A repeat visit!), but I'll take your word for it if you go and like it as much as I did.

The waitress apologized for the grumpy master, so that worked out fine too.


  1. Oooh this place sounds great. But, how would you compare the food here and Okonn?

  2. Very different style - this place is set up to extract money from businessmen, and happens to have very good food (based on my limited sample) with a lot of style, quality dishes, etc. Okonn is more casual food, at lower prices, and still tastes great due to focus on ingredients, etc.

    Actually, maybe it's not 'very' different unless you're picky about the differences between izakaya, kappou, kaiseki, kyoudo, etc. I'm sure a lot of people would say both places were 'Japanese food', and they both had grilled fish...