The excellent fish and seafood served at Ginpei is flown in fresh from two regional fishing ports - Minoshima in Wakayama and Muroto Cape in Shikoku. Matching the impressive level of the seafood is a sake list assembled from craft sake breweries throughout Japan. Much of the menu is devoted to standard izakaya items like tempura, grilled fish and sashimi - simply prepared dishes that show off the freshness and quality of the seafood ingredients.
Ginpei's chef knows when to be creative though, and he puts together some original, seasonal washoku fare in the multi-part otoshi starter. We enjoyed a collection of five or six artfully arranged small bites including firefly squid, an ume-infused mini rice ball and an almost custard-like shrimp chawan-mushi. Next up was a sashimi platter - thick, meaty cuts of six different fish, beautifully presented on blocks of ice in a large earthenware bowl.
The tempura course was similarly generous, served with plain salt rather than a dipping sauce so as not to mask the pure flavor of the seafood and vegetables. One nice surpise was the hone sembei - we expected the roasted eel bones that typically go by that name, but instead we got crunchy chip-like morsels made from deep-fried flounder and sea bream.
The drinks list is another of the attractions here - around two dozen well-chosen sake labels, including seasonal specials and some hard-to-find limited-edition bottles. The main dining room is tastefully appointed, with a panoramic nighttime view from most tables. Tatami rooms with hori-kotatsu are available for groups and parties.
The hand-written Japanese menu can be a bit hard to read, but you can always opt for one of the multi-course prix-fixe menus, starting at Y5,400 in the evening and Y3,780 at lunch. Other lunchtime options include soba (from Y1296) and seafood-centered lunch sets (from Y1620). A la carte dinner with drinks averages Y6,000-7,000.
This book will introduce you to more than twenty of Japan's favorite specialty foods that are less well known abroad, along with a guide to the best places in Tokyo to try them and expert tips on what to order. From Bento.com.