To your health: Vinegar is the toast at Osuya


Following the refurbishment of the Ginza Mitsukoshi department store, much media attention has focused on the ninth-floor rooftop lawn terrace. But it’s the bottommost floors that grab our interest. They have been totally revamped to create Tokyo’s newest, classiest depachika basement food hall.

The B2 level is devoted to the usual cakes and sweets, gourmet teas and groceries, both local and imported. One floor down is the fresh- food market. The superb seafood section boasts eye-catching arrays. At the meat counter, joints of marbled wagyu beef are displayed like designer jewelry in gleaming glass cases. And the produce department currently flaunts baskets of matsutake and other mushrooms alongside immaculate Kyoto vegetables.

But the most intriguing outlet of all is up at street level in the store’s sparkling new annex. Called Osuya, it’s a boutique bar that dispenses not wine or draft beer but shots of premium fruit vinegar.

There are several varieties, which you can take hot or cold, straight or blended — cassis vinegar and soda works; fruit black vinegar with soy milk is, let us say, an acquired taste. We passed over the vinegar-sausage hot dog and the vinegar ice cream. But we enjoyed the sparkling wine with vinegar. Even more impressive (and, at ¥1,000, twice the price of everything else) was the blend with high-end Katsuyama daiginjo sake, from Miyagi Prefecture.

Osuya is run by Uchibori Vinegar, a dynamic brewer in Gifu Prefecture that is leading the way in promoting vinegar as a refreshing and “health-giving” drink. It also operates a similar but more modest outlet inside Tokyo Station, called Expre-su Bar (“su” being the Japanese for “vinegar”).

Osuya, Mitsukoshi Ginza, 4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku; (03) 3561-7401; www.uchibori.com/osuya. Open daily 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; nearest station Ginza (Ginza and Hibiya lines)