Aimed at shellfish lovers, there’s an age-old adage that attests, “Only eat oysters in months that contain the letter ‘R’ in the name.” While this pearl of wisdom advises connoisseurs to steer clear of raw oysters in the summer, one game-changing restaurant is swimming against the tide.
Emit Fishbar, the latest seafood restaurant from Japan-based General Oyster Inc, is a catch in a sea of newly-established restaurants on the sixth floor of Ginza Six. Exuding a breezy ambiance, there’s nothing banal about this oyster bar in the least. With a focus on creative flair, the seafood-centric menu features oyster mousse crostini, sea urchin peperoncino, and grilled belt fish wrapped around bamboo sticks generously drizzled with balsamic vinegar, just to name a few.
But it’s the unequivocal offering of unembellished raw oysters that have patrons hooked.
Heading into its 17th year of operation, General Oyster Inc prides itself on being at the forefront of food safety with its fastidious five-step cleaning process, coincidentally lending to the inspiration of Emit Fishbar’s logo: a pyramid of five solid stars. Selectively sourced along the Japanese archipelago and domestic farms, the signature mollusk—coined the “mineral oyster”—undergoes 60 hours of deep-sea water purification to earn its coveted name.
Not to mention two stringent hygiene inspections before the briny delicacy of iwagaki rock oysters and the mainstay magaki Pacific oysters are shipped off to their respective eateries.
The result? A delicious debunking that not only dispels the timeworn belief of “R” month shellfish, but also transforms these seasonal treats into a year-round feast.
With its sleek, ivory walls adorned with gleaming stars, the restaurant’s interior brings to mind the milky iridescence hidden inside each craggy oyster shell. Once settled into our seats, however, our eyes were immediately fixed to the countertop where a skilled shucker pried open prized shells, stacked upon a bed of crushed ice.
Not ordering oysters at an oyster bar would be a major faux pas; but when the “mineral oyster” count is up to eight varieties, it can be a bit daunting when deciding which mollusks to sip and slurp. Luckily, Emit Fishbar’s comprehensive menu not only lists the harvesting areas, but also categorizes them by size, salinity, and savory-rich intensity. Likewise, with prices ranging between ¥360 and ¥480 per piece, a side-by-side tasting of oysters on the half shell won’t break the bank.
For starters, my dining companion and I selected the eye-catching seafood platter (2 servings; ¥2,680). This assortment of shellfish arranged on three tiers resembled a towering tea stand ladened with cold boiled shrimp, mussels, salmon and sea bream carpaccio, sea scallops, and, of course, oysters: one from the Goto Islands of Nagasaki; the other from Iwate Prefecture’s Hirota Bay.
To optimize our oyster indulgence, we ordered a separate side of succulent iwagaki harvested off Ehime Prefecture’s Mishou Bay (1 piece; ¥480). These seasonal gems were properly washed down with a glass of crisp white wine (¥580)—the classic beverage of choice. Moderately priced bottled red, white, and sparkling wines are also available, among an organic pick as well.
Alternatively, those who revel in the lap of luxury may opt for a bottle of Champagne to accompany their plump bivalves, freshly shucked off their pearly shells.
Two more memorable starters graced our table that evening: spring roll served upright with seared tuna and seasonal vegetables; French toast draped in creamed crab meat, topped with a morsel of caviar (both ¥980). Aside from being a visionary dish (an inverted salad, per se), it was entertaining to watch the crisp rice paper get crunched over a medley of chopped turnips, baby corn, snap peas, and maguro (the coveted bluefin tuna).
Bite-sized baguettes browned in butter proved that savory French toast is equally delectable as its sweet counterpart. And the spoonful of creamy snow crab? A dollop of decadence.
The single-dish entrees were also shareable feasts with hearty portions to satiate hefty appetites. Spaghetti infused with clam juice and tomatoes packed an umami punch with its savory sauce (¥1,480). The noodles were perfectly al dente, allowing the potent mixture of red chilies, grilled leeks, and steamed mussels to cling to each strand—permitting no flavor to slip away.
But the risotto-style ochazuke (rice traditionally steeped in tea) was the unanimous hit for my seafood-loving palate (¥1,380). This versatile dish showcased a sea bream fillet: crisp on the outside, but revealing tender white meat under its golden exterior. Peppery greens dubbed wasabina generously garnished the grilled bait, while a side of clam broth, fresh-grated wasabi, and tiny rice crackers may be poured on top, seasoned to your liking.
Capping off our shellfish fare was a soothing bowl of siphon-brewed elixir: oyster liquor and bonito flakes bubbling away in the coffee contraption’s upper chamber. Like a wondrous display of alchemy, the warm brew exhibited yet another way the alleged aphrodisiac can be sampled, or sipped, for that matter.
And regarding the “R”-season theory, Emit Fishbar affirms oysters are a perennial feast, including the sweltering months of “summer”—which clearly contains this delightful consonant!
Address: Ginza Six 6F, 6-10-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (L.O. 10:30 p.m.)
Access: 5-minute walk from Ginza Station (Exit A3)
Featured menu: Seafood platter; oysters on the half shell; spring roll with tuna and seasonal vegetables; French toast with snow crab and caviar; clam and tomato pasta with grilled leek; ochazuke-styled risotto with grilled fish.
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