Yesterday, after moffles, we went with my parents to meet some old family friends — including Naoko, the wife of my godfather and a close friend of my parents’ — for lunch. We ate at Hokkaido Dishes in Ginza, a two-year-old restaurant run by Naoko’s brother.
The small space, with only one counter, seats 6-8 people on stools. Specializing in food and drinks from Hokkaido (the northernmost island of Japan), milk, potatoes, and pork products including bacon and sausage (some of the island’s primary exports) are the stars of the show. We started our meal with some sauteed asparagus which is in season right now. It was hot, well-seasoned, and delicious.
One of the best-selling lunch options is the “wrap ‘n roll,” a potato-based crepe filled with vegetables and your choice of ham, smoked chicken, sausage, or bacon. It comes with a side of hot or cold soup.
Dave opted for the ham and sausage plate, and we shared the vegetable plate, which comes with a small soft ice cream.
Dave raved about the bacon which he described as “salty, smoky, and tender.” I greatly enjoyed my half of the vegetable platter including the steamed pumpkin buns (far left) which I filled with stewed gobo and carrot (hiding behind the buns in the photo). The gobo was some of the best I’ve ever had.
The real highlight of the meal, however, was dessert. Dishes serves soft ice cream made with Hokkaido dairy products in two flavors: azuki bean and milk. We wanted to sample both flavors, so we chose azuki for the ice cream that came with the vegetable platter and ordered a sweet potato parfait (which came highly recommended) with milk-flavored ice cream.
Both were cool and creamy with just the right amount of flavor, but the parfait was one of the best things I ate this entire trip. The combination of the cold ice cream with warm sweet potato and sweet potato flavored mochi at the bottom of the dish was indescribably appealing. Add to that crunchy strands of sweet potato that are thrown in as garnish and you have a killer dessert. It was hard to share.
After lunch we got to sample one more treat: blue beer. A special Hokkaido brew made with glacier water, Hokkaido Dishes is the only place in Tokyo that serves it.
Blue beer or not, I would highly recommend Hokkaido Dishes in Ginza to anyone looking for something to add a little variety to eating in Tokyo.
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