Friday, June 11, 2010

Ginza de Wine, Ginza (銀座でワイン)

Bring Your Own wine is a great concept, and one of the main things I miss about my years in Australia (really!). In Oz, it was usually $0-5 to bring a bottle in, which is nothing compared to the 100% markup restaurants usually impose (a problem unless you're drinking 2-buck-Chuck). In case you didn't know, you can actually bring wine into many restaurants in Japan too, just try asking. Usually they'll charge you Y2k, which is still an OK deal if you plan to drink a decent bottle (and please don't give me any of that crap about how it's impolite to the restaurant and you should pay their markup - they wouldn't have the policy if they minded you using it).

On the other hand, you could skip that huge paragraph (too late?) and just go to Ginza de Wine, conveniently located in Ginza. Part of a group of about 8 shops that includes mainly low-end-classy izakayas (lots of wood, but low prices and plenty of comfort food like hamkatsu) under the 'Honoji' moniker, and Shin Maru's Jiyugaoka Grill, this is their sole entity of the 'wine and Spanish' genus. I'm talking too much, and I bet you've guessed how it works - you get up and walk around the 'wine shop' area of the restaurant to pick your own bottles (which are priced at 'restaurant', not 'retail', if you were wondering), then the staff opens them for you, and away you go. Good selection, mainly between a sensible Y3k and Y6k, and everything we drank was pleasant. Don't ask how much we drank. Please.

Feel free to ask what we ate, however. This was a group of 4, led by my colleague Hey! who has appeared in an entry before, albeit silently and without application of nickname. Well, everyone has to get it sometime.  Starting top left and going across - octopus with sweet peppery, herby sauce. I wanted to eat octopus with potatoes and paprika, but they didn't have it. 'Water eggplant caprese' - it's now the season for this type of eggplant, which is indeed more moist and less oddly-textured, hence quite nice to eat raw or lightly pickled. Tortilla, can't go past a good tortilla, nor past a Spanish restaurant without having some. Mushrooms. Another caprese? I'm actually unsure, but I sorta remember the melted cheese being nice. Beef cheek, good. Squid cooked in ink, unusually fishy ink, thus not so great. Shrimp patties with tartar sauce. Mac 'n' cheez. Overall, the food was pleasant with some standouts (the first two items, for me). As is customary in Spanish restaurants in Tokyo, the quantities are a bit small for the prices.

Oops, forgot to collage this one. For a paella in Japan, it was really good. The pictured size is the three-people version, which was flavorful and abundantly shellfishular - not at all givens at other Spanish places. It could have used a bit of crust on the bottom, and I imagine some smoky goodness resulting from cooking on a traditional fire of dried vines wouldn't go amiss, but the pleasures of waddling to the train or walking home to your own bed afterwards make up for the little touches that you miss by not being in the Spanish countryside.

The world can never have too many places like this.

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