La Vialle Ginza Bldg 2F
7-5-4 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Dining date: 11/10/12
I made it a point to try a few kaiseki meals while in Japan – Ginza Toyoda would be my third experience of the trip. The restaurant came to my attention via the Tokyo Michelin Guide (2 stars) and the fact that it has an English version of its website…often a good indication that some English was spoken.
The restaurant is located on the second floor of the La Vialle Building on a small, narrow street in Ginza, It was walking distance from my apartment, making it an ideal spot for a lunch meal. Speaking of lunch, three set menus were available at ¥5,000, ¥7,000 and ¥10,000. I went right in the middle.
Like Ginza Okuda (where I dined the previous week), Ginza Toyoda serves a pretty traditional, ever-changing kaiseki meal following a careful progression of dishes.
sea eel, sea urchin, greens, dashi jelly
The first dish featured a tender, meaty piece of eel with a smooth and cold piece of uni. Slightly bitter greens contrasted the sweet seafood, while a cool dashi jelly added some tasty depth.
meatball, mochi, onion, dashi
The texture of the meatball was interesting…kind of silky (fatty?) and soft in texture, but I liked the flavor. I think it was pork. I liked the sweetness of the onion to go along with it, but didn’t care for the chewy mochi.
red snapper, chutoro, mackerel sashimi
A beautiful sashimi plate came next. The fish tasted as good as it looked, with the fatty chutoro being my favorite. The red snapper was dipped in ponzu, while the tuna and mackerel came with soy sauce.
baked cod with mayonnaise
A meaty, dense cod was next – I thought it was cooked pretty well leaving pretty moist flesh. The baked on mayonnaise provided just a little more moisture and flavor.
While I was still working on the cod course, a random slice of cured fish roe found its way onto my plate. No complaints here with its sort of gelatinous texture and delicate salty, fishy flavor.
daikon, scallops, greens, dashi
A tender chunk daikon and slices of scallops sat in a warm dashi broth. I thought one of the scallop pieces was overcooked (the other one was fine), and I’m not sure all of the flavors came together as hoped.
red snapper rice bowl; red miso
Next, a large pot of rice with red snapper was brought to the counter. After being displayed, the contents were mixed and scooped into individual (ended up being three) servings. I thought this was pretty tasty, with tender chunks of the snapper perfuming the rice and thinly sliced scallions providing a little sweetness. A hearty, earthy red miso was a traditional accompaniment.
Lastly, dessert was in the form of this in-season grape jelly. I really liked the texture – soft but yet almost chewy – and the grape was pretty tasty too.
I liked this kaiseki lunch moreso than the one at Ginza Okuda, especially considering it was half the price. However, similar to that meal, I wasn’t overly impressed here. We had some good dishes but nothing particularly memorable…and some just seemed overly simple (maybe I just didn’t understand them). While not quite as traditional, RyuGin remained a clear-cut favorite for kaiseki dining.
Some of the main streets in Ginza are closed to vehicular traffic on the weekend, making it an ideal place for an after-lunch stroll.