About six years ago, I took my Japanese classmates Akio, Koichi and Masaki restaurant-hopping to find the best sushi in town. As homesick grad students from Tokyo, they were were partial to Benkay, or Sonobana, as it is now called. To expand their Nashville sushi horizon, I led them to Virago and Ginza, which were both newly opened at the time. Virago—or, more specifically, Virago's sake-tinis—blew their socks off. But the guys said the demure Green Hills restaurant Ginza, named for a popular entertainment and shopping district in Tokyo, stacked up well against the real thing in terms of freshness and selection. They did mention sheepishly, however, that the waitresses in red satin bathrobes were dressed in what they described as formal imperial attire. (At least, that's what I thought they said. We had a significant language barrier, which sake-tinis greatly helped to eliminate.) They also mentioned that the décor was a little kitsch and that the music was something along the lines of 1950's Japanese pop.
The last couple of times I went to Ginza, I noticed that things were a little different. The servers were in simple black and white, the background music was an unobtrusive Asian melody, and the décor was simpler. Last year, Owner Minqin Yang undertook a renovation of the kitchen, sushi bar and dining room, which was completed in November. The effect is a cheerier environment with the same reliable menu of sushi and teriyaki.
Our acid test is the scallop, which can often be rubbery or milky, but Ginza passed with a gorgeous buttery specimen. And props to Ginza for what might be the cutest tea cups in any restaurant in town (sort of like this one, but without the handle).
My favorite treat at Ginza, which consistently makes me smile as I leave, is the orange half cut into wedges and served with a toothpick. I don't know what kind of refrigeration they use there, but not only are those oranges presented beautifully, they are a special kind of cold. No doubt, Akio, Koichi and Masaki would approve.
Located at 3900 Hillsboro Road, 292-1168, Ginza serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday and opens for dinner at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.