Nanzan Giro Giro

Foodie friends love outdoing each other, and that’s just what my friend and chef Russell and his wife, Marcy, did with us on Monday night at Nanzan Giro Giro in Honolulu.  (They don’t actually have a website, so the attached link is to Yelp’s review.)  A simple full-window corner restaurant, Nanzan Giro Giro looks simple enough.  But what’s going on inside is going to blow you away.

Kaiseki is, in my opinion, Spanish Tapas, or small plates.  If you want to learn more about Kaiseki, Martha Chung of Honolulu Magazine wrote a great article on the subject as well as a review of Nanzan Giro Giro.  The seven courses offered change monthly on the last Thursday of the month and costs $50.  Dessert is extra.  They have a wonderful menu of sakes, and Kirin beer on draft is cold and frosty.

What’s unique about Nanzan Giro Giro is the way they pair various Japanese foods.  We started with a salad of greens with miso that tasted as if the miso was creamed cheese.  It was topped with ebi, uni, and nori.  The flavors blended nicely.  Anago, green bean and sesame tofu tempura in a ginger stock came next.  Not only beautiful but amazingly innovative.  Next a grilled scallop with a water chestnut fishcake in a Mongchong clam broth.  OMG.  How did chef Yoshihiro Matsumoto EVER think of that!!??  The sushi dish was Mongchong over zucchini vinegar sushi rice with trout roe among other things.  The sushi rice was de-constructed, as in not molded together.  That made it more difficult to eat, but fortunately there is a small spoon in the place setting to insure you can get to every last morsel.

The grilled steak came with a foie gras croquette with tomato vinegar broth with even more additions.  To those of us Californians starved for the recent ban of foie gras, this was a treat beyond belief.  Nanzan Giro Giro takes every opportunity to blend flavors and textures, and this was a perfect example of that.  Roasted Duck Udon was served with fried tofu.  I really liked the flavor, but I would have liked a bit of soy sauce to enhance it, but I was afraid to ask. It’s like asking an artist to put a bit more blue in the sky.

Dessert is optional, and even though we were full, we just had to try the Banana Tiramisu with Coconut Ice Cream.  What a cute little pot it was served in, and how delicious the flavors.  To settle the stomach and nerves, hand-whipped Machi was served.

There are many young people behind the counter at Nanzan Giro Giro.  One chef is in charge of hot, the other cold.  It appears that everyone behind the counter has multiple roles with specific expertise, like the young man who made the dessert.  They are a delightful and efficient group and make your visit to Nanzan Giro Giro that much more wonderful.

Nanzan Ito is a Japanese artist who blends Chinese ceramic methods into beautiful Japanese ceramics.  There’s not much information about him on the web, but if you look here, you’ll get a picture of his beautiful artwork.  ALL dishes at Nanzan Giro Giro are served in Ito-san’s artful works.   There is also a gallery in the restaurant where you can buy his work.  Bring lots of money, and you’ll go home with pieces of art you’ll be proud to display.

Nanzan Giro Giro Depot Wrap-Up

Price: $$$$


Good Things

  • Truly innovative
  • Kaiseki at its best
  • The Japanese French Laundry

Bad Things

  • Hard to find
  • On the expensive side

The Breakdown


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