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Saturday, November 4, 2017

NANZAN GIRO GIRO

Nanzan Giro Giro is a non-traditional Japanese multi-course kaiseki restaurant.  Fodor has described the cuisine as "punk Kaiseki ryori," experimental, and non-traditional.  Who could have guessed that the name comes from Nanzan Ito, a ceramic artist (left), and Giro Giro Hitoshima, a restaurant, both from Kyoto.

Original founder of this concept is Eiichi Edakuni, who personally runs Giro Giro Paris, in that French city.  Haven't yet figured out why Hitoshima.  Also, in Paris, the restaurant is called Guilo Guilo.  All very mysterious, as Guilo is Julius in Italian.  You could say Giro Giro influenced Guilo Guilo.  But why Giro Giro?  Giro means a kind of stare in Japanese.

In any case, we have a special spot in 15 Craigside, where the four doors on the 12th floor conjoin.  The occupants of these four residencies, for almost a year now, have dabbled in epicurean adventures:
Last night we went to Nanzan Giro Giro:


There are seats around the kitchen, plus a second living room-type area, where the five of us sat.  At first, three of us shared a large bottle of Asahi beer.   I ordered the wine pairing, which turned out to be a curious combination of two German whites, a rose' and champagne:

We started with a tiny amount of raw tuna in soy milk and cauliflower soup, topped with greens, melon and bubu (rice cracker balls).


The soup was good, of grilled barracuda, tofu, etc:


Next, oshinogi, and here is what was written on the menu:  Salmon roe, Salmon and Heart of Palms tartar, Kaiware radish sprout, Quinoa, Wasabi, Myoga Ginger root, Shiso, Tomato vinegar soup--


The main entre, and, again, I'm repeating the menu:  Roast Duck breath, Sesame tofu tempura, Sweet potato puree, Kyoto miso soup with Yuzukosho pepper, Spinach:


What is roast duck breath?  The menu was dotted with what must have been language conversion bemusements.

Next came the most disappointing item of the night:  Mahimahi, Foie grass (must have meant gras) sauce, Mizuna, Shimeji, Sesame seed--


First, the dish was lukewarm, and worse, there was no presence of foie gras in any form.  I guess the key point was that "real" foie gras would have cost too much for this one-price meal, which was $58.

The final course was worthy and the best of the lot:  Anago fly, Sweet soy sauce, Eggplant, Egg ankake soup, Gobo Burdock root Rice, Wasabi, Nori seaweed--


The small plate had Nappa cabbage, Cucumber, Sesame seed, Ume puree...which totally lacked in character, and the portion was microscopic.

There were five of us, and I was the only one who did not order the $12 dessert, which was symbolic of the entire meal, a concoction of disparate ingredients:  Ginger bread, Brie cheese Ice cream, Pumpkin seed Almond meringue, Raspberry sauce, Pear, Kyoto Tsujiri--


Incidentally here we are:


This all ended with matcha:


Was this worth it?  Yes, for we neighbors had a good chance to talk.  The quality of the cuisine was somewhat above average.  Admirably creative, but the effort did not quite deliver.  They could not use Japanese Wagyu Beef nor a chunk of foie gras, for either one alone could well have been worth  $58.  The menu changes monthly, so might be worth a second try.

Next month?  On to Senia, only nine months old, located in downtown Honolulu and led by former Vintage Cave chef, Chris Kajioka, and Anthony Rush.  They have already been nominated for a James Beard award.  To the left, Rush, his wife Katherine Nomura and Chris.  I had lunch at Senia several months ago, and, like Nanzan Giro Giro, featured is fine cuisine at moderate cost.

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