Just a few blocks behind Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel is a cluster of eateries by the train tracks and highway in a thoroughfare known, fittingly, as Korido-gai, or Corridor Road.
The pizza, seafood, grilled chicken and countless other joints crammed together along Korido-gai are mostly cheap and cheerful watering holes where salarymen take refuge after a day’s work.
One notable exception is Honokawa, a Japanese restaurant with its roots in Osaka serving Kansai-style Japanese cuisine, which is generally lighter and more subtle in taste than Tokyo-style cooking.
A relative newcomer to the area, Honokawa is celebrating its first anniversary in Ginza this November.
On a recent visit, the Y2,500 lunch we ordered was a seven-course feast, which began with a light appetizer of goma-dofu (sesame tofu) seasoned with ume (pickled plum) and wasabi.
This was followed by the requisite sashimi course, but at Honokawa, the artfully arranged dish was enhanced by garnishes of fresh eggplant, seaweed and broccoli.
The owan, or clear soup with a hamo (daggertooth pike conger) dumpling, a piece of carrot and shaved daikon radish, managed to be beautifully transparent without sacrificing any of its flavor.
Next came grilled ayu (sweetfish), a favorite summer dish that makes an appearance at many fine Japanese dining establishments accompanied by a relish, such as myoga (Japanese ginger).
Our fish was accompanied by two cloud-like heaps of egg whites containing salt to season the fish, some chopped ginger and pumpkin and matcha green tea shaped in the form of a maple leaf.
Even as I sat wondering if there was more food on the way, a young chef brought in two empty plates with a pile of grated daikon radish and ginger and lemon wedges. Additionally, there was a small bowl of tempura sauce and another small plate of matcha, or green tea, flavored salt.
The three pieces of tempura were each brought in straight after being fried, beginning with the assorted vegetables, followed by corn tempura and finally a small ayu wrapped in shiso.
The savory part of the meal closed with a bowl of rice, pickles and miso soup and dessert was a square of tofu cheese cake with blueberry sauce, a piece of melon and a slice of pear.
At lunch, Honokawa also offers a course at Y1,500 and a slightly more expensive course at Y3,500.
Hinting at the challenges of breaking into the Tokyo kaiseki-scene, Honokawa’s okami-san, or female maître d’, joked
about the differences in pace and culture between Kansai and the vast metropolis of Tokyo.
Either way, Honokawa has already made a mark with its refined cuisine and painstaking service.
It’s certainly hard to beat these prices for the high quality cuisine Honokawa offers particularly as it is located just a stone’s throw away from central Ginza.
Address : 6th floor Nishi Ginza Building
Tel : 03-6264-5979/5978
Lunch : 11:30-14:00
Dinner : 17:00-23:00
Closed : Sundays, Holidays
Lunch courses : Y1,500, Y2,500, Y3,500
Y5,000 Y8,000 (kaiseki courses)
Dinner courses : Y10,000, Y13,000, Y20,000
(see the above English website for more details)