Kaiseki Straight from KyotoCover Story
July 17, 2022
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
By putting a modern spin on the traditional kaiseki course menu concept, chef/owner Yoshihiro Matsumoto brings intention and fresh local flavors to every bite served up at Nanzan Giro Giro.
Matsumoto and the owner of the original Giro Giro Kyoto restaurant in Japan decided to open a Hawaii version after surveying the local culinary landscape. In April 2011, Matsumoto’s vision became reality when he debuted Nanzan Giro Giro at its convenient Pensacola Street location. The skilled chef and restaurateur explains that the eatery’s name reflects the passions and talents of its eclectic owners.
“Nanzan is one of them,” Matsumoto says. “He is Ito Nanzan, a ceramic artist in Kyoto who creates unique dishware that we ship from Kyoto and use in the restaurant. Giro Giro is my original Kyoto restaurant’s name. ‘Gi’ is the owner’s last name and ‘Ro’ is from Rosanjin, a very famous artist in Japan who’s a cook, ceramic and drawing artist. We have tremendous respect for Rosanjin.”
Matsumoto explains that his training and honed skills developed by working in various Kyoto kaiseki restaurants, which feature a set menu of multiple courses. The dishes are artfully prepared, using seasonal ingredients. They may appear small, but as is the case with Nanzan Giro Giro, with six or nine courses, diners walk away satisfied.
“I love to work in restaurants and cook,” he says. “I make the tasting menu with my Kyoto kaiseki skills and local American ingredients. I use local ingredients and keep the traditional Kyoto kaiseki-style approach but add a modern twist to enhance the flavors of each ingredient.”
Nanzan Giro Giro offers two kaiseki menus each month, a six- and a nine-course menu.
“For Kyoto kaiseki menus, the feel of the season is very important, so I import three seasonal ingredients from Japan,” Matsumoto explains, adding that typically, it’s seasonal fish, while produce is sourced locally.
July’s six-course menu ($78) includes a starter (kabocha squash soup with pork, eggplant, spinach and yuba soy milk paper); soup (grilled trout with gobo burdock root, sesame tofu, ankake broth and junsai); small dish/mukozuke (deep-fried ayu, sugar peas, broccoli potato salad, tomato soup, blue fin tuna, wasabi and shiso); main (black cod with foie gras sauce, kale rice, cooked daikon, sansho and kale sprouts); broth (Kona abalone and corn soup with dill, tomato and cucumber with tosazu vinegar jelly); and rice (hamo eel and broth, barley rice, sesame sauce, ume purée and mitsuba) along with pickles (hakusai cabbage, cucumber nukazuke and wasabi).
The nine-course menu ($143) offered this month features the aforementioned items, with the addition of both land (duck caviar with cauliflower, Parmigiano Reggiano and mustard seed) and sea courses (lobster, uni sea urchin, green soy soup, egg tofu and zucchini). This menu also includes a sweet course (coconut milk with kuzu starch mochi, hempseed brown sugar and mango peach mousse); the dessert is available for an additional $15 with the six-course menu.
To make reservations for these incredible set menus, call 808-524-0141, text 808-782-0142 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.