Japanese restaurant does not have a big obnoxious sign or flashing lights letting you know that it's there. In fact I'm sure you have driven by it without even seeing it, which is a shame.
One of my old chefs once told me that I needed to dine at more Japanese restaurants to gain a better understanding of how wonderful simple, well prepared food can be. He had opened a restaurant in Japan and had the chance to go to some of the nation's top restaurants. He said the best and most memorable thing he ate was a bowl of dashi (Japanese soup stock) with a single clam in the broth. The dashi was perfectly balanced in terms of flavor. The clam, unbelievably fresh. It was an exemplary offering from the chef and everything in it was made with the most meticulous care and the best possible ingredients. When food is that simple, the ingredients really have to shine.
Ginza also has simple, well made food with fresh, high quality ingredients. As soon as you are seated, the server brings you complimentary edamame (soybean pods) while you mull over the menu. The green tea ($2.50) is a vibrant green which is indicative of the presence of matcha (green tea powder made from pulverizing dried tea leaves). Matcha is very labor intensive to make and priced accordingly. Most restaurants use cheap green tea which has no matcha in it.
The miso soup is also richer and deeper in color and flavor compared to other places. There is a richness to the broth that resonates with each spoonful.
The house salad ($3.50) features more than the typical iceberg lettuce, carrots and tomato. It tends to change depending on what the season is and what they obtain from the market. The last time I was at Ginza the salad had the usual items and orange slices and red onions with a healthy portion of the ginger dressing. The avocado salad ($5) and seaweed salad ($4.50) sound tasty as well.
Appetizers include smaller portions of sashimi ($9.50) and sushi ($7.50) as well as smaller orders of tempura ($8) and squid tempura ($4.95). Hot favorites like gyoza ($5.50), agedashi tofu ($6) and chicken tatsuta (fried chicken with ginger soy sauce, $5.50) are also available.
The sushi and sashimi are what I always order when I am here. The fish is some of the freshest around. For fellow sushi lovers the "sushi sashimi for two" ($52) is a feast for the eyes and stomach. Little touches like having fresh shiso (aka purple mint, Japanese basil, perilla) leaves on the platter are what make this place a standout. The strongly flavored leaf pairs well with raw fish. There are permutations of other fish plates with either sushi, sashimi or maki (rolls) which come in varying sizes ($14-$56). There are more than two dozen rolls ranging from basic tuna ($6) to the Hong Kong dragon roll (crabmeat, avocado, cucumber, crunch, tuna, eel, avocado, masago (smelt roe) and scallions, $13.25).
The cooked entrees include all your favorite proteins as teriyaki (salmon, $17.95; beef, $19.95; chicken, $17.50; tuna, $17.95 and tofu, $12.50) as well as seafood tempuras (shrimp, $18.50; lobster, $25.50) and my favorite, tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet, $15.50).
The udon ($13.50-$14.50) is excellent. The broth is good enough to be served on its own. I know two noodle aficionados that will only order udon here. Their complaint is that the broth tastes like water at other places. The tempura udon features firm noodles, the delicious broth and light and airy fried shrimp and vegetables. It is perfect for the winter month's.
Ginza is named after the fashionable high end retail area of Tokyo which also plays host to many of the city's best eateries. It may not be Tokyo but we're lucky enough to have some stellar examples of Japanese cuisine right here in our little corner of the Main Line.