Visitors are immediately won over by this Ginza-chic two-storey all-glass structure, located on the grounds of The Legation Quarter, formerly the American Legation which was built in 1906 during the final years of the Qing dynasty. Shiro Matsu, or “White Pine” in English, takes its name from the beautiful pine trees around which the glass structure is built. The sexy interiors are a modern reinterpretation of a traditional Japanese bamboo house, featuring 6.5m-high bamboo curtain walls and a dramatic transparent catwalk in the floor standing over a sand Zen garden. The dining venue is highlighted by “floating” candles, inspired by the Harry Potter movies, which cast a cosy glow against the earth-toned walls.
Shiro Matsu has what is said to be China’s best-stocked and longest sushi bar, stretching some 18m, which serves innovative sushi selections. The Tataki Platter contains 10 large sushi wrapped in a thin cucumber skins, with a variety of fillings: tuna, salmon, shrimp, goose liver, salmon roe and crab. The sumibiyaki (charcoal) grill room serves choice cuts of wagyu, steaks and fresh seafood, all grilled in your presence. The grilled crusted wagyu beef with wasabi sauce has a nice kick. For dessert, try the tofu cheese cake, which comes in five small cubes on a plate.
In house mixologist Jackie Ho, winner of numerous international bartender awards, designs creative fruit-infused cocktails using fresh strawberries, raspberries, passion fruit lemons, cranberry, pineapple and lemon grass. Signature drinks include the Shiro Matsu Queen and Southern Peach. A wide variety of sake is also available.
Service is attentive but not suffocating.
Appetisers are between US$8.65 and US$11.65; main courses are US$11.65 to US$75.
If you’re not a purist when it comes to Japanese food, and are in the mood for a high-end culinary adventure, this is the place for you.
No. 23, Qianmen Dong Dajie, Dong Cheng District, Beijing 100006, China, tel 86 10 6559 6266, www.legationquarter.com. Open Monday to Sunday, 6pm to 10.45pm.