Mimosa is a 22-seat restaurant in Minato Ku that specialises in food from the Shanghai region. As often with restaurants in Tokyo, it is tricky to find. From the main road there is a little alleyway between two office buildings, including one marked Minamiaoyama. Walk down this alley a few yards and there is a Japanese restaurant on the left. That is not it, but to its right as you are approaching it is an unmarked set of iron steps with a railing. Walk up one flight and you will see ahead of you a blank dark grey windowless door with a small sign “Mimosa” that you can pull open. The nearest subway is Omotesando on the Ginza line, which is less than a five minute walk away (212 metres to be precise), plus an indeterminate amount of time trying to actually find the entrance. Inside Mimosa’s well-hidden door is an open kitchen with seven tables arranged around it. Head chef Toshiro Minami is actually from Tsukishima, an island in Tokyo Bay, rather than China. The restaurant has one star in the Tokyo Michelin 2018 Guide.
The menu was only in Japanese, not English, though the young staff were very helpful and tonight used a phone translation app to help explain what was on offer. We started with cold abalone in soy sauce, garnished with chives. Abalone is a tricky ingredient, often chewy, but the version here was reasonably tender, and the soy based sauce lifted its flavour nicely (13/20). This was followed by spring rolls with a vegetable filling of onion, mushroom and bamboo shoots. This had not quite enough filling relative to its casing, and although the latter was crisp there was also a touch of excess oil. It was tasty enough but nothing special (12/20). This was followed by stir-fried prawns with strips of celery and Sichuan peppercorns. The prawns were carefully cooked, the celery had good flavour and the peppercorns provided their characteristic numbing spiciness (14/20).
A steamed fish that defied translation but seemed to be related to trout followed next, served with shredded leeks and coriander. This was nicely cooked, and the coriander and leeks both had good flavour (13/20). Next was a dish of mustard greens, simply but precisely cooked and having lovely flavour, with just a hint of pepperiness. This was a gorgeous dish: the greens having lovely texture and a flavour I will remember for a long time (easily 16/20). Soup noodles had delicate noodles in a chicken broth flavoured with chives. This was a warm and comforting dish on this extremely wet evening (14/20). They saved the best for last with a dish of egg-fried rice with shrimps. I have eaten plenty of versions of this dish over the years but this was exceptional, the prawns lightly cooked and the rice superb, the egg and prawn flavours combining nicely (easily 16/20). The meal concluded with a very pleasant mint sorbet (13/20). The staff here were friendly and helpful, overcoming the language barrier with a genuinely welcoming attitude. The bill came to ¥12,560 (£86) per person with plenty of beer to drink. There was a set menu at ¥9,180 (£63) so a typical cost per person with some beer might be around £75. This is certainly not cheap but it was an enjoyable evening, and the best dishes were genuinely excellent.