23.4.17

Ginza Mitsukoshi, Tokyo

You know how in Singapore, we have those food halls in the basements of most shopping malls? There's usually a mix of casual affordable eateries and takeaway counters selling small bites? So, Tokyo has the same thing, except that they do it So. Much. Better. Like the food sold in these depachikas, or 'department store underground mall', is so awesome, and array so extensive and varied, you can actually have a thoroughly satisfying and totally delicious dinner here. 

It may be sardine-jammed crowded, but trust me, trawling Tokyo's depachikas for food is worth it. Besides, you're on holiday! So take the time to smell the roses! Or in this case, have a good long look-see. And have fun! Besides, the Japanese are so polite and so, it's not like people are jostling for space anyway.

The only trouble we had was that just about everything was written in Japanese, which then begs the question, how on earth were we to know what to buy, right? But, we quickly observed a couple of quirks, which I'd recommend any non-Japanese speaking tourists as "guiding principles" to follow. One: look out for the "No. 1" sticker tagged to whichever food set out at each counter - it denotes the best-selling food in each counter, and even if you don't know what you're eating, it's a pretty safe bet it'll be delicious. Two: and Singaporeans should be intimately familiar with this "proverb" - 'Where there's a queue, there's good food'. And it turns out that the Japanese love to queue for good food as well. So, we followed suit and joined in long snaking lines wherever we saw them, that's how we discovered Giotto. 

So now that you've gotten your food, you wanna eat it right? But then you look around, and there's "no eating" signs at seated rest lounges, and nowhere else to even stand to eat. You can either go back to the hotel to eat, or at Ginza Mitsukoshi, there's a designated open-aired patio on the 9th floor to enjoy the sunshine, breeze, and slow savour your depachika food.

An absolute must-buy, and the best thing at Ginza Mitsukoshi's depachika, was the Pork Katsu (JPY778), juicy mince patted into a rectangular form, breadcrumbed and fried to a golden crisp. This was incredibly luscious.

Their Ebi Katsu (JPY559) was just scrumptious. A plump sweet prawn that stays moist and bouncy on the inside through the deep-frying, while achieving that crunchy texture on the outside.

The counter for reference.

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Aother food we loved was this innocuous-looking nori-strapped Onigiri (JPY270), which wonderful flavour belied how its boring appearance. Like a kinder bueno egg, there was a soy-and-sake-marinated ajitsuke tamago swaddled within, perfectly oozy and umami.

The counter for reference.

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These popcorn chicken-esque Deep Fried Shrimp-Stuffed Shitake (JPY389 for 100gm) were the most addictive things ever. The salty notes of the shrimp seafood paste was balanced by the earthy accents of the mushrooms.

The counter for reference. There's a lovely selection of salads here as well, which were excellent.

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The Japanese are amazing bakers and their baked goods have this gossamer-light quality to it that sets them apart from their French counterparts. Like this Mini Baguette (JPY168) from Johan, which was rich and buttery, yet delicate in its flakiness. We returned the day we were due to return to Singapore, and bought 3 more packets of this to bring home.

There's a Johan in Singapore too (at Isetan Shaw Lido), but it pales in comparison to its Tokyo sister. 

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So, we saw this ridiculous line outside this patisserie, and at first the Hubs baulked, but then saw how unbelieavbly beautiful their cakes were, and decided to join the queue. Free wifi in Ginza Mitsukoshi helped pass the 40-minute wait for our turn. So we got 2 cakes, the top selling Mont Blanc (JPY648), which was heaven in a bite. A confection of fresh whipped cream and candied chestnut puree layered upon a vanilla sponge base, then blanketed in chestnut buttercream. Exquisite and remarkable, and this alone made the wait worthwhile.

The second bestseller was the Strawberry Shortcake (JPY540), ubiquitous to Japan's patisseries. Giotto's rendition was a hit-and-miss. The subtly lemony sponge, whipped cream and strawberry marmalade were stellar, but were let down by the overbearingly sour fresh strawberries. 

The Giotto counter for reference. Note that even after you've placed your orders, it'll take another 15-20 minutes for your cakes to be ready: the staff need time to meticulously box up your cakes in a pretty little bow.

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We also bought a box of wafer-like millefeuille (JPY1620 for 15 pieces) as souvenirs to bring home. These were only so-so, the cream between the layers lacking in oommph and volume, and the matcha ones at the airport were notably nicer.

The counter for reference.

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We also had Gyoza (JPY421), pork methinks, coz no English notes, and I can't be sure. Flecked with leek, these were flavourful and yummy.

The counter for reference.

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The only dud of our haul, the Tempura Moriawase (JPY568) was soggy, and batter less than light and crisp. I suspect this may be a lot better freshly cooked.

The counter for reference.

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A view of the mall from the street.


Ginza Mitsukoshi
4-6-16 Ginza
Chuo-ku
Tokyo
Open daily from 10.30am to 8pm
Website

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