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5-5-8 Ginza, Chuo-ku


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Editorial Review

Published on March 3rd, 2002

Housed in a narrow building along Ginza's West 5th Street, a stone's throw from Hermes and Chanel, Mizuho serves sake with a dose of high style. We arrived in the early evening and joined a discreet after-work crowd seated around sleek wooden tables and surrounded by recessed lighting and bold floral arrangements in the small second-floor dining area.

Once we put ourselves in the hands of the friendly wait staff—who quizzed us on our preferences for sweet sake versus dry, and weak versus strong—they started us off with an aperitif of a chilled, bubbly and slightly cloudy sake called ukiyo (¥600), a first for all of us. Mizuho exclusively stocks the Fukumitsuya brand, rotating the menu to include seasonal items and one-offs, and resulting in a drink menu longer than most izakaya.

For all the laudable libations, we remembered there was another reason we came here: sake cuisine. Mizuho specializes in prix fixe fare ranging from ¥7,500-12,000 and changes its menus monthly. We opted for the ¥8,000 course and sat back as dish after dish arrived beautifully presented on red lacquer trays, in multicolored jubako (stacked boxes), and sizzling over hot rocks. The opening shrimp and avocado salad was mixed with mayonnaise, but light and tasty. 

Likewise, the accompanying cold, dry Kagatobi Junmaiginjo (¥700) served in tall shot glasses had a light, clean finish. We continued with selections of seafood from baby squid sashimi to clam and seaweed soup.

Moving on to simmered takenoko (bamboo shoots) and grilled duck with okra, we opted for an aromatic and spicier Kagatobi Junmaidaiginjo-Ai (¥900) served in a funky gourd-shaped glass—also conveniently available downstairs. But the piece de resistance had to be the simmering salmon and vegetables dish sitting in fiery rocks that burned our chopsticks when we accidentally placed them on top. We washed it all down with Kuroobi Sanpaijunmai (¥700), which our waiter said had been "sleeping" for three years, making it one of the older brews available. We finished the evening with an impressive dessert made with fresh cream, strawberries and azuki, and served in a hollowed-out bamboo stalk sitting on a gleaming silver, scalloped-edge dish atop a red lacquer tray. Not to be outdone, our final drink was another first: a sweet mirin served as a dessert wine in tall, thin cups made to look like tulips.