Written by Nupur Jena
Ginza Sushi Ojima - Enjoy Exquisite Japanese Kaiseki Cuisine!
Kaiseki cuisine is one of the best culinary experiences one can enjoy in Japan. Let us introduce the exquisite kaiseki menu of Ginza Sushi Ojima, an elegant Japanese restaurant located in Ginza.
Japanese cuisine is one of the three national food traditions recognized by UNESCO as world cultural heritage. From the many various types of Japanese cuisine, international visitors to Japan should especially try kaiseki cuisine (or "kaiseki ryori"), which is the famous Japanese traditional multi-course dinner served at special, festive occasions.
To experience authentic kaiseki ryori one should visit a place of tranquility which perfectly highlights the beauty of this cuisine. One such place is Ginza Sushi Ojima, a restaurant specialized in Japanese cuisine located in Tokyo's Ginza area. This elegant restaurant takes in the taste, the appearance and the colors of the four seasons perfectly in both its select, multi-course meal, and in its ambience and interior.
Let us get to know the owner and master chef of Ginza Sushi Ojima – Mr. Takuhiro Ojima, and his restaurant which specializes in kaiseki cuisine, sushi and even fugu dishes.
Ginza Sushi Ojima - A Japanese Restaurant with a Special Atmosphere
Kaiseki cuisine is undoubtedly Japan's most exquisite culinary refinement. Consisting mainly of vegetables and fish with seasonings base of seaweed, these dishes are characterized by a very refined savor. The kaiseki dishes served at Ginza Sushi Ojima introduce the customers to a world of beauty and wonder. The menu is simple and elegant, beautifully reflecting the change in seasons. It draws out the natural flavor of the ingredients with a focus on simplicity, expressing beauty through its presentation. Each dish in the kaiseki course at this restaurant is a culmination of the culinary art.
Ginza Sushi Ojima, which opened in 2011, has a calm and serene atmosphere, similar to that of a Japanese garden. Cherishing the traditional Japanese arts, the hashi yasume (chopstick stands), plates and bowls used for the preparation of the meals and their serving are all customized and made at a temple in Odawara. The physical experience of touching these genuine ceramics and wood tableware makes the food even more appetizing. According to Mr. Ojima, owner and master chef of the restaurant, "the warmth that the diners feel when touching the plates and bowls is an essential part of experiencing the Japanese cuisine". True indeed!
Popular Among Both Locals and Travellers
The kaiseki menu at Ginza Sushi Ojima is the product of a very deep and rigorous period of training, combined with cooking proficiency, artistic sense and good knowledge of Japanese culture and history. Each dish is a piece of art in itself, being created with seasonal ingredients that please both the eye and the palate. It's no wonder that the restaurant enjoys popularity among both locals and visitors from abroad who visit Ginza.
This exclusive restaurant caters to only ten customers at a time. In this way, the customers get to enjoy their meals peacefully, with privacy. While preparing the dishes in front of the customers, the master chef also enjoys conversations with them. The customers learn the name of the dish, the ingredients it's made of, as well as its importance within the Japanese tradition and its significance within the season. This simple introduction in the cultural background of the dish, is very informative and an enlightening experience for the customers.
What makes this restaurant even more special is that Mr. Ojima can speak English and Italian, so international customers can hear the story of the dishes in Western languages!
According to Mr. Ojima, what the customers appreciate at Ginza Sushi Ojima is both the high-quality kaiseki cuisine, and the fugu (*1) dishes, as he holds a license fugu preparation. The restaurant became popular by word of mouth and is frequented by politicians, businessmen, salary men and ladies, locals and foreigners alike.
*1... Fugu is the Japanese name for pufferfish. Some of its organs contain lethally poisonous substances, that is why special care and proficiency is needed in order to remove the toxic parts before serving.
A Kaiseki Multi-Course Meal That Will Purify Your Soul
Enjoying kaiseki cuisine is more than a culinary experience, as it relates to experiencing aspects of the traditional Japanese lifestyle, characterized by seasonal ingredients, colors and motifs. This culinary art requires many years of expertise.
There is no formula for kaiseki cuisine, as each course is the original creation of the master chef. The courses are categorized depending on the preparation method, and it is the master chef who decides in which order to serve the various dishes made with fresh produce of the season. The kaiseki meal course at Ginza Sushi Ojima consists of subtle flavors that makes one appreciate the cultural heritage of Japan.
Let's see what a kaiseki course consists of:
The sakizuke is a light appetizer served together with some sake or beer. It is a delight to the senses.
This is the second dish in the course, which sets the "theme" of the meal. It consists of food made with fresh produce available in that season.
Mukozuke is a platter or individual arrangement of sashimi with dipping sauce.
Feeling content and blissful already? Just wait till the next dish arrives!
Wanmono refers to a clear soup with seafood and vegetables, served in a lidded bowl (called "wan"). Sometimes miso soup is also served.
Yakimono is a grilled dish (usually fish), either coated with salt or glazed with teriyaki (a sweetened soy-based sauce).
Nimono refers to simmered seafood and vegetables cooked in a pot. The chef decides the ingredients for this dish depending on the availability of fresh fish or seafood in that season.
Hanmono or Shokuji
The closing dish is a combination of cooked rice and pickles. At Ginza Sushi Ojima, the chef may also add a special sushi dish, designed by himself. The fresh fish and the flavorings are simply delicious, and you won't find them anywhere else.
The kaiseki multi-course menu concludes with fruit or dessert. The chef may also suggest matcha green tea in the end. The kaiseki meal is fulfilling and wholesome, and the bowl of matcha has a replenishing effect, giving a serene feeling to the customer.
Interview with Mr. Takuhiro Ojima, Owner of Ginza Sushi Ojima
Mr. Takuhiro Ojima, the owner and master chef of Ginza Sushi Ojima, was kind enough to tell us the story of the restaurant he owns.
Opening a sushi restaurant in Japan had been his dream since high school. As part of his apprenticeship, he studied in Florida, USA, and afterwards in Milan, Italy. In Italy, while studying at a local cooking school, he worked as a chef at a Japanese Restaurant. In order to pursue his dream of becoming a master chef and opening a restaurant in his own country, he went to graduate school in culinary arts at the Tsuji Institute in Tokyo.
In order to be able to create original kaiseki cuisne and sushi set meals, Mr. Ojima also studied Zen philosophy, Japanese tradition and culture, as well as Japanese arts such as ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) and shodo(Japanese calligraphy). He believes that understanding the essence of these Japanese arts is one of the best ways to get to know the hearts of the Japanese people, their culture and their mindset.
The display of the food should be a reflection of shapes found in nature, he says. He also takes care that his mind, body and soul are cleansed from any distractions or external energy before beginning the preparation of kaiseki food. This traditional Japanese practice helps him to direct all his energy toward creating a meal of the highest quality and flavor.
Preparing the whole course of kaiseki ryori requires a great deal of preparation and experience. Mr. Ojima never compromises in what he chooses for the day and goes to the Tsukiji Market to select the best fish, vegetables and seafood for his cuisine. The rice he uses is aged for more than a year and is brought from Yamagata prefecture, a region famous for its quality rice production. The edible flowers create an appealing display, and are used aesthetically, with the same care as if they were used in an ikebana arrangement.
Enjoying kaiseki cuisine means to experience the very best of Japanese cuisine. At Ginza Sushi Ojima, in addition to kaiseki cuisine, customers can enjoy various other deluxe sets, multi-course meals, eel bowls, fugu dishes, as well as sushi kaiseki courses. There is also a simplified kaiseki course available at a lower price. Beside, every meal at Ginza Sushi Ojima is served with a complimentary egg custard dessert, soup and a side dish.
When in Ginza, do try the sushi kaiseki cuisine at Ginza Sushi Ojima and let us know how was your experience discovering it!