Lively, diverse, and sophisticated yet casual, Tokyo’s recently opened Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant gives diners a taste of the original in our very own Grand Central: JR Shinagawa Station.
New England clam chowder (¥630) arrived warm and rich with hot pieces of clam and potato, the old-fashioned oyster crackers a salty and familiar addition. On this day, 11 types of raw oysters (¥189-¥483 each) were offered, half from the US side of the Pacific and half from Japan’s bordering seas, although sadly there were none from the Atlantic. Served on a bed of ice, the pristine whites from Hokkaido (¥378) were firm and pleasantly briny, while our favorites from Miyagi Prefecture (¥273) were larger, deeper-cupped oysters that were so plump they barely fit in our mouths.
The recommended Po’ Boy lunch (¥1,260 includes clam chowder and coffee) featured a French bread sandwich filled with juicy fried oysters, shredded lettuce and mayonnaise. Although the Po’ Boy is lunch enough for some, we ventured further and ordered the classic Oysters Rockefeller (¥1,365). When half a dozen Hiroshima oysters arrived covered with a hardened, broiled soufflé, we were sorely disappointed at the lack of the famously rich sauce. We left the shells unattended to, and unfortunately so did the busy servers who left us while we faced the cooling platter.
The buzz of the restaurant succeeded in cheering us up again and we scanned the impressive wine list—heavy on the whites with more than 60 from around the world—before finishing our meal with fresh cups of coffee (¥420) and an enormous slice of key lime pie (¥735). It seems that the same sparks of magic from the New York diner fly through Shinagawa’s branch; it will be exciting to see them make their own wonderland from it.