Posts Tagged ‘Ginza lunch’

Ginza lunch: Pizza and pasta at Vomero

April 27, 2012

I have a new favorite Italian restaurant in Ginza. It’s Vomero.

It opened just last week (April 18), but I’ve already been there twice. My first visit was for a late lunch around 3 p.m. on the first Saturday Vomero was in business. They had a 1,260 yen deal that day that included a plate of antipasti plus one choice from a variety of pizzas and pastas.

While enoying the atmosphere of the place (the nighttime photo at the top of this entry will give you an idea), I savored the antipasti bite by tiny bite: the potato salad, the tomatoes and mozzarella, the slice of mortadella ham, the green salad, the bread, the sliver of quiche, and the slice of chicken loaf whose Italian name (which I immediately forgot) sounded a lot fancier than “chicken loaf.”

It’s a good thing I took my time eating it, because I had a very long wait for my pizza – nearly 30 minutes. Since everything else about Vomero was perfect, I’m willing to attribute the delay their still having been in the “shakedown cruise” phase of operations. They had opened only three days earlier and will presumably improve.

That was the only negative aspect of my Vomero experience, and it does not reflect the otherwise high quality of service I received overall. The waitstaff on my two visits were young, cheerful and attentive. I drink a lot more water than most people, especially during meals, but they saw to it that my glass was never empty. They kept me well-supplied with oshibori towelettes too, including one to wipe off my fingers before touching the bill at the end of my meal. And they were very apologetic that my pizza was taking so long.

But when the pizza arrived…

… it was a thing of beauty. It was covered with big chunks of zucchini, red pepper, yellow pepper, yellow carrot and onion, interspersed with snowy patches of mozzarella. The puffy edges of the crust were lightly and attractively stippled with tiny charred bits, and the interior of the crust was light and chewy. The center of the pizza was awash in juices from the vegetables, so I had to eat the beginning of each slice with a fork. (Pace, Jon Stewart.) It was delicious. And it was much bigger than a pizza for one person normally is in Tokyo. Definitely value for money.

I was so pleased that I went back for a second visit on Monday. I arrived at 2:38, not realizing that their last lunch order on weekdays was 2:30. They were kind enough to let me in anyway, which I mention as another example of their good service – but I wouldn’t advise putting them to the test on this.

Their weekday lunch deal was only 1,000 yen. Reflecting the difference in price, the antipasti plate was a bit smaller, but tea or coffee was also included. This time I went for a pasta dish – chicken ragu with white asparagus – on the theory that it could be prepared quickly.

It came to my table fairly swiftly, and while it wasn’t as startlingly large as the pizza, it was still a good-sized serving for the price. It was slightly larger than the photo above may make it look; those were some very thick chunks of asparagus. The pasta was firm but fully cooked (al dente) and the flavors were about what one might expect from the visible ingredients – not as exciting as the pizza, but pleasant enough.

There are many more pizzas and pastas to choose from. I will definitely go back.

Vomero info
Address: 3-12-8 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Phone/Fax: (03) 6278-8984
Website: http://vomero-ginza.com/
N.B.: At least until the autumn of 2012, Vomero will be closed on Sundays.

Ginza lunch: Furutoshi

September 26, 2011

In every section Tokyo, you can usually find at least one building that is under construction or renovation. I’ve had my eye on the under-construction Solaria Hotel in Ginza for some time now, and last week it finally opened. More to the point, its restaurant opened.

The restaurant, Furutoshi, is on the second floor, and the rough-hewn wood in the stairwell leading up from its street-level entrance still smelled freshly cut when I stopped in on Sunday. A stone plaque on the landing revealed that the restaurant is not entirely new: It has just moved to Ginza after a decade of business in the upscale Tokyo neighborhood of Azabu.

The décor is very airy and relaxing. Furutoshi has floor-to-ceiling windows along the entirety of two walls, looking out onto some Ginza side streets. It’s decorated with a variety of art, including two textile collages hanging in glass frames against one of the windows.

Lunch begins with an “appetizer buffet,” a few selections from which you can see in the photo above. I had to go back for seconds on the carpaccio, and I was very impressed by the ordinary-looking but highly flavorful broccoli florets, whose dark tips tasted as if they had been well sautéed in spicy oil even while the stems remained matchstick-crisp. There was also a tureen of a creamy and mild gray-flannel mushroom soup.

There were two options for the main course at the time of my Sunday visit: duck with orange sauce or wagyu beef cheek in a faintly sweet red wine sauce. As you can see from the photo, I chose the beef, which came in a generous portion nearly the size of my fist. My place had been set with a butter knife, but the beef was cooked to such softness that even that dull blade almost fell through it.

This was an expensive lunch. On weekends, lunch at Furutoshi is 2,500 yen, which I confess is a lot more than I normally pay for a midday meal. A member of the staff told me that on weekdays the price is reduced to 1,800 yen, but the main dish on those days is pasta.

By the time I finished my main course, though, I felt I had gotten my money’s worth. And then came dessert.

Or perhaps I should say, then came desserts. When the waiter brought me a platter of five items, I thought I was supposed to pick one, and I was astonished when he left them all for me. Each was nice in its own way, but the grapefruit at upper left in this photo was especially memorable since it taught me the surprising lesson that fresh rosemary goes wonderfully well with that particular fruit.

Furutoshi info
Address: 2nd floor, 4-9-2 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Phone: (03) 5565-0577
Website: http://www.solaria-hotels.jp/ginza/restaurant/

A note on the Solaria Hotel: The Ginza location is the second hotel to be opened under this brand name. The first is in Fukuoka, and a third Solaria Hotel will be opened in Kagoshima in 2012. While the brand may be new, it is actually part of the well-established Nishitestsu Hotel Group.