Kikuchi - Rambling Review & Sad Notice of Closure
Because my job is as invigorating as a seniors shuffleboard tournament, Ive been passing my days, dreaming about my next great meal & foraging through the web for inspiration. I usually burst home through the door with some proclamation to my girlfriend about the next place we must try (but probably never will because were living on pre-depression era subsistence farming wages.)
After reading ers258's take on Kikuchi in last week's thread, entitled "Anniversary dinner - tasting menu preferred," I ran home on Monday & announced Kikuchi as my latest find. In a bold & awe-inspiring move, my beautiful girlfriend surprised me yesterday with a dinner outing to said eatery.
The minimall-housed Kikuchi space holds a squat & narrow dining room with maybe 7 tables, and with the exception of 1 other table, we had the space to ourselves last night. A rectangular hole, the size of a plasma TV, gave us a clear shot into the kitchen. Inside, the chef/owner, a wiry Japanese man with a wispy goatee and an impeccably positioned beret, calmly tends to his space, sans the frenetic shouting, bustling and antics of your standard kitchen. The chef's wife, acted as the only server, and she took such gracious care of us that it bordered on suffocating without ever actually going that far.
I blindly asked for help picking a bottle of white & our server quickly pointed to the least expensive bottle on the list (a first in my book) -- a crisp Sauvignon Blanc & we were off to the races -- 5 courses, chef's choice:
1 -- Two plump Scallop & shrimp ravioli in a spinach pesto, topped with arugala & a light dusting of parm. A really nice juxtaposition of the standard Italian accoutrements with a steaming ravioli interior that instantly screamed Chinese dumpling over Italian ravioli. This really grew on me quickly & I was in love by my last bite. Could have eaten a few more.
2 -- Pork spare rib with micro greens & a cold purée of apple & bell pepper soup. 1 of the best spare ribs I've ever had -- meat literally slipping off the bone with a nice glaze. The accompanying soup was a clever play on the familiar pork & apple theme and worked better alongside the spare rib than it would have on its own.
3 -- Hawaiian something fish (couldn't understand but similar to yellow tail) baked w/ a miso/soy reduction?? & served atop a cluster of mushrooms, squash & broccoli. This was delicate & a nice way to move the meal along.
4 -- Lamb loin perfectly cooked med-rare w/ a dark, rich a jus and string beans. Very nice although nothing inventive here. I could have eaten a few of these all the same.
5 -- Flourless chocolate torte w/ a homemade, chunky banana frozen yogurt. The torte was so-so & the banana I could have had more of. Good espresso & coffee.
Here's my bottom line on this place. The food is good, but not the very best in town. The space is cute but nothing special. But the one thing this place has that is almost unmatched anywhere is HEART. This place has heart. The husband and wife team care about you and your entire experience & that bleeds through. I could not have been happier with the meal & sharing it with such beautiful and wonderful company. BUT here's the sad part.
On our way out, as we congratulated the chef & his wife & explained to them the wonderful world of Chowhound, they informed us that they would be CLOSING for good in a month to return to Japan. They said that there family missed them & mentioned something having to do with "immigration." Only 1 more month to try this hidden gem -- I'll definitely be back for 1 more meal.
I agree with your assessment of their delicious food. It's kind of like having a top-class chef cook you a meal at his home. I enjoyed this place both as Kikuchi and as Bistro 21, and it's a real shame they're closing. I'd urge people to go check this place out before it's gone for good. Our loss is Tokyo's gain I guess.