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Elegant Chinese with an Amazing View from the 21st Floor
by Sarajean Rossitto
This is a great location for a business lunch or when you take the time for a slow lunch with someone special.
In central Tokyo, elegant Chinese food with an amazing view from the 21st floor may not be an ordinary lunch but the Ochanomizu location of Ginza Aster offers that and more. This spacious restaurant has many tables with direct and indirect views over north-eastern Tokyo, where you can see Tokyo Skytree and the Kanda Shrine as well as the vastness of the Kantoh plain.
We opted for two different set lunches, a seafood soup noodle set and Keika set. The sets came with similar mixed appetizers, including pickled red cabbage, Guangdong style shrimp, vegetable gelatin, and Southern Chinese pork with green beans. Most of the course lunches come with your choice of soup and main dish. One can choose from Shark’s fin soup or a simple chicken based broth; we opted for the broth which was both flavorful and subtle.
Main dish choices vary by season but include meat, fish and vegetable options. We tried the pork with vegetables in a slightly sticky, sweet housin-type of sauce. The vegetables were still crispy and not overcooked, which is often hard to find.
The meal also included two very light very tasty Yum Cha, har gao (shrimp dumpling) and shumai (pork-filled dumpling). These were not overly spiced and not garlicky at all.
The main dish was light broth noodle dish with seafood and vegetables. This very satisfying seafood included crab, shrimp, squid, scallops, bamboo shoots, and various mushrooms and green vegetables such as chingensai. The thin green soup noodles were very flavorful and there were no strong flavors in the soup which took away from the taste of other ingredients.
The soup noodle set finisher was a dessert of Annin Dofu (Douhua or Almond Jelly) in rosewater with grapefruit sections. This was a not overly sweet. The grapefruit added a nice texture and made it a refreshing dessert.
The service is excellent, attentive and respectful of guests’ discussion time. There are a number of restaurants throughout the Kanto area, and some in Nagoya and Osaka. Lunch sets different by location. Reservations are suggested for parties of more than four or during busy meal times. An English menu is available upon request (English menus are not available at all restaurants).
Cost performance: A bit pricey for many people’s lunch budget, but this place is good for a work lunch or for a special occasion.
Access: Just a few minutes from Ochanomizu Station on the Marunouchi Subway and the JR Sobu and Chuo Lines. The New Ochanomizu Building has direct access from the B1 Exit of Shin-Ochanomizu Station on the Chiyoda Subway Line.
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