Tokyo for the Oenophile

Amy Ma 14 June 2010 1 comment


Experience a Japanese take on the quintessential pairing of a piece of great steak with a good bottle of wine. Here at Old Vine, the chef serves up a cuisine style he coined “fusion teppanyaki”, which simply translates into the fact that there are no tacky spectacles or flair-filled displays around the hot plate – just elegantly prepared food from the highest caliber of ingredients.


The specialty of the house is the Ohki beef, from the Yonezawa prefecture in Japan renown for their magnificently reared cattle. The combination of cold weather and their all-grain diet yields a marbled flesh equally tender but less oily than beef from Kobe and Matsuzaka. “In Kobe the cattle drink beer and get massages, like a lazy and unhealthy man,” says Senior Partner Jiro Kinoshita. “In Yonezawa, they eat a healthy diet, but because of the cold weather, they develop beautiful layers of fat.”

Like all great meat dishes, the ones at Old Vine scream for a glass of wine. And there are plenty to choose from. The entrance is lined with bottles from various estates, all personally autographed by the winemakers themselves. As the night progresses, feel free to migrate into the bar area to continue your wine tasting with the Enomatic Wine Machines, which allow you to select tasting, half-glass, or full-glass portions from an assortment of varietals.

Back at the dining table, attentive gourmands will enjoy the tasteful additions. Dip your rustic bread into two flavors of olive oils – robust or fruity. Or opt for the A.O.C. designated Lescure salted butter. And take a sip of the Vichy Catalan sparkling water, which carries a slight saltiness to cleanse the palate and is the brand of choice by Ferran Adria for El Bulli in Spain.

Only after the entire dining experience do you realize how well the 75-year old vine that adorns the doorway of the restaurant represents the philosophy here. Oenophiles have long since heralded that the grapes from old vines produce wines of a deeper complexity, and Old Vine restaurant carries within its many layers the same je ne sais quoi.

The soothing atmosphere and gracious staff quickly convert any first comer into a regular friend, who knows that like a good bottle of wine, Old Vine will get even better with age (or in this case, multiple visits).


Old Vine

1106 Bldg. 1/F, 1-10-6 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0031 Japan

Tel: +81-03-5771-2439

Amy Ma

Amy Ma

To predict what you’d become when you grew up, the Chinese have a fortune-telling game where a baby selects three things from a spread of items. She had chosen: a toy oven, a notepad, and a plastic Medieval-looking sword. Ignoring that last item (which suggest she’d grow up to be a knight of some sort), the rest were surprisingly accurate predictions of Amy’s life as a food writer. Nowadays, Amy is a regular contributor to the South China Morning Post and Wall Street Journal amongst other publications. She’s lived abroad in 4 countries, speaks a wide variety of languages and dialects, and has zero food allergies. On her last stop before hitting Hong Kong, Amy lived in New York, where she graduated from Columbia University and trained as a Pastry Chef. She cooks often…really. For more on Amy, check out her weekly column at:

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