Running a restaurant in Tokyo is tough. With more competition than anywhere else in this world, it’s no surprise that the majority of restaurants fail to get much recognition at all. Ginza Toyoda is one such establishment that never really managed to gain stardom.
Despite its two Michelin-stars, Ginza Toyoda is hardly a cult-restaurant such as Den, or Sushi Sawada. Quietly, but surely, however, this small Kaiseki restaurant managed to build up a solid following among the locals, meaning that even lunch here is pretty busy. The atmosphere in the wood-dominated dining room is sophisticated and unpretentious at the same time. There is a sense warmth to it that comes from the diners, and the service staff alike, making this a perfect place to spend a few hours in.
The food here is more introvert, and less complex than that of Okuda, Kojyu, or other Ginza kaiseki eateries. It is composed, calm, and restrained. A piece of slow-cooked daikon for instance is served in a clear soup, and paired with seasonal greens. What looks deceptively simple turns out to be remarkably complex, and satisfying. The soup’s smoky, savoury notes give it a depth that is offset by the freshness of the soft, sweet daikon, the aromatic yuzu peel and bitter greens.
The sashimi course at Ginza Toyoda shows how good the produce here is: akagai is crunchy and soft at the same time, almost exploding with sweetness in the mouth. Equally, ankimo (monkfish liver) is served cool, in a lukewarm, sweet/savoury broth that intensifies the umami. Extremely delicate in texture, there is nothing fishy, oily or fatty about the ankimo here. Again, the simplicity of the composition is misleading, as this is a complex, intensely satisfying dish.
Ginza Okuda’s cuisine is best described as understated food of great sophistication. This is no restaurant that shows off with dramatic compositions; instead the chefs here produce food that is approachable, easy to enjoy, and very satisfying. Combined with the warm atmosphere in the dining room, this is a hidden gem of a restaurant.