Nanzan Jiro Jiro is by far one of the best restaurants in Honolulu that I’d recommend for contemporary Japanese food. Located in the middle of nowhere, the restaurant uses a chef table style of service where customers sit at a bar-style counter wrapped around the kitchen. With this set up, you get to see in real-time how the kitchen staff cook and plate your dishes as well as a chance to interact with the chef. There is only one large dining table available intended for bigger parties.
Nanzan Giro Giro in Honolulu is headed by Chef Yoshie, a Japanese native, but with culinary training in Paris. He and his partner opened up Nanzan Giro Giro in Honolulu as a kaiseki set menu restaurant with a monthly changing menu using the freshest of local Hawaiian ingredients that fuses both traditional Japanese and French-style cooking. The style of cuisine is called “Kuzushi Kaiseki”, which describes a contemporary version of traditional Japanese cooking with creative flair. Fittingly, the original restaurant is in Kyoto, Japan and they also have a branch in Paris, France.
Random fact: a lot of the plates, cups, bowls, and pottery used and displayed around the restaurant is made by one of the owners.
These guys are impressive. Everyone in the kitchen staff are attentive and knowledgeable about each dish on th menu (as well as with their diverse sake selection). The kitchen is incredibly organized, clean, and there’s no unnecessary movements or noises among the friendly staff.
This place is great for a fine-dining experience in a casual environment. The seven-course kaiseki dinner is $50 ($8 extra charge for dessert).
Below is the service from the February 2015 Kaiseki Menu:
Nanzan Giro Giro – Feb 2015 Menu
They have an incredible line-up of dishes with a lot of ingredients in each dish. Nanzan Giro Giro’s flavor theme can be described as fresh, rich, and balanced. There are very few overpowering ingredients, which allows for a very complex, subtle flavor profile that works together very well!
Nanzan Giro Giro – Feb 2015 Starter – Uni Sea Urchin, Salmon, Cucumber, Tatsoi, Yuba, Shiso leaf, Vinegar Jelly, Ginger, Soy Sauce
Nanzan Giro Giro – Feb 2015 Soup – Wagyu Beef, Taro, Mizuna, Grated Radish Anakake soup, Eggplant, Wasabi, Micro Rice Cracker
Nanzan Giro Giro – Feb 2015 Oshinogi (“3rd course”) – Kinmedai Red Snapper, Monk Fish Liver, Soy Sauce, Shiso Leaf, Sushi Rice, Green Onion
Nanzan Giro Giro – Feb 2015 Grill – Duck, Radish pickles, Purple sweet potato puree, Ume, Salt, Wasabi
Nanzan Giro Giro – Feb 2015 Main 1 – Oyster Tempura, Steamed Crab Meat & Egg Tofu, Crab & Clam Miso, Yuzukosyu Pepper, Pea Sprout, Lotus Roots, Micro Amaranth
Nanzan Giro Giro – Feb 2015 Main 2 – Black Cod Roe Tempura, Gobou Burdock Fish Cake, Kinmedai Snapper Broth, Mitsuba, Black Shichimi Pepper
Nanzan Giro Giro – Feb 2015 Dessert – Apple Mint Macaroon, Sweet Potato and Cacao Ice Cream with Peanuts and Pine Nuts Mascarpone, Yuzu Chiffon Cake with Honey Whip Cream
The end of the meal dessert also comes with a freshly made cup of Kyoto Matcha Green Tea – a perfect way to end and amazing meal. I would definitely recommend Nanzan Giro Giro to anyone visiting Honolulu, and even for those that live in Honolulu since the menu changes monthly. If you pay attention, everything about this place – the food, the people, the atmosphere, the decor, the restroom (the entrance to the restroom is hidden behind a rotating secret trick wall) – will offer a fresh experience that can’t easily be found in any other restaurant. The key thing is that the price point also makes this experience incredibly accessible. Do make sure to make a reservation before you go as not only are they heavily booked, they also usually prepare their food and ingredients to just be enough for the number of guests they expect.