Pizza Bar on the 38th

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Tokyo, 103-8328, Japan

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This little seven-seat pizza bar is tucked away inside an Italian restaurant called K’shiki at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in the Ginza. As the name suggests it is on the 38th floor, providing a fine view over the city in the main dining room. The seats are bar type stools arranged around the gas-heated brick oven.

Chef Daniele Cason set up this pizza bar. He is from Rome and his style of pizza is a hybrid between the crisp, thin Roman style and the more familiar Neapolitan style which has recently taken the lead in pizza awareness around the world. The flour used is from Piedmont with tomatoes imported from Puglia for the sauce. Japanese tomatoes are added after the pizza has been baked, in order to keep it crisp, and the dough is made with a high 80% water to flour ratio, fermented for 48 hours. Unlike Neapolitan pizzas, the crust cooking process is slow, taking ten minutes or more to cook in an oven that is 190C at the bottom of the oven and 360C at the top. This is much less hot than the 500C blast of a Neapolitan pizza oven, where a pizza cooks in just a minute or so. The chef has an unusual background, training as a restaurant chef in places including three star Michelin Pergola, but had always been fascinated by pizza. He has since been promoted to executive chef of the entire hotel.

There was a little nibble of a sliver of baked aubergine to begin with salt, which was pleasant. This was immediately followed by a salad of two different tomatoes, from Hokkaido and Chiba, with a quite sharp dressing. Japanese tomatoes can be of a very high standard indeed, and these were gorgeous, having deep and lovely flavour, their slight inherent sweetness balanced by the vinegar of the dressing. On the side was a little bread that was actually pizza bianca i.e. plain pizza bread just drizzled with olive oil and salt. This was a simple salad but was really impressive, and the texture of the pizza bianca was lovely (15/20). This was followed by a little sandwich of fresh baked focaccia with a filling of four cheeses, black olive paste and a garnish of black truffles from Australia, with a final topping of Parmesan. This was completely gorgeous, the olives having lovely flavour, the melted cheese lovely and the bread again superb, a warm, comforting creation with a touch of luxury (16/20). 

We tried two different pizzas, a diavola and one with a custom topping involving artichokes. These were both extremely impressive, the base even and retaining crispness, the toppings added after baking to avoid making the base soggy. The toppings were much higher quality than most pizzerias use e.g. rocket on my diavola was superb, as was the spicy salami. The base was fabulous. I know this is “just” a pizza but it is a great one (15/20) and a real achievement.

Our Japanese waitress was charming. The bill here was quite hefty by pizzeria standards, though of course we had tried several things. The pizzas are priced at ¥2,500 (£17) and worth every penny. Mineral water was extortionate at ¥1,850 (£12.64) for a litre of San Pellegrino, but then I guess this is a smart hotel setting. So good was the pizza that I didn’t mind too much. Our bill at ¥14,594 for two worked out at £50 a head including drinks, service and tax, so for sure this is pricier than a regular pizzeria. It is also much better than any regular pizzeria that you are likely to encounter. I would return in a heartbeat.

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