Friday, August 13, 2010

Il Ghiottone, Marunouchi

Let's not call it a grudge match, but I've had an animus against Il Ghittone ever since I went there for lunch one time years and years ago (in the scale of my life; that means early 2005, I think). But plenty of people like it, and some love it, so I was pretty excited when Say You Say Me invited me there for a business lunch (sorry about that - everyone has a nickname around here, even business associates that are probably reading this...). The concept of Japanese-Italian fusion done at a high level and filtered through the chef's Kyoto sensibilities is pretty appealing, isn't it? It ended up with me feeling pretty much the way I felt about it back then - uninspired - although there were some really cool bits.
The coolest bit was the first bite - a little cup that was bright, colorful, and full of ingredients of unclear provenance - Japanese or Italian? If I remember correctly, it was boiled octopus on a thin layer of rice milk, with some lightly-boiled okra, grated bottarga, and shiso flowers. Pure white at the bottom, reddish octopus, green okra, yellow fish eggs, green and purple flowers - a beautiful dish, and it didn't taste half bad either.
For me, things went pretty steadily down from that point, although the second course was quite good too - a salmon salad. This was a biggish affair of fatty salmon slices topped with salmon eggs, then slices of melon and (I think) pumpkin, then salad. The pasta seemed quite Japanese in style and pretty average - sardines with eggplant. The eggplant may well have been an interesting variety or of a different preparatory technique, but it didn't show much.

The meat course was a notch uphill; the chicken (thighs?) were rolled into little standing cylinders, and accompanied by slices of fried zucchini. Very good technique and preparation there, but the best fried zucchini is still about as good as what you can make at home. The standout of this dish was the scoop of fresh ricotta topping one of the zucchini slices; really smooth and creamy in a way that I wish my fresh ricotta tasted. It was a lot more like mascarpone, come to think of it, but the web site even says ricotta...

The dessert bears mention only because it was so typical - two blocks of a dry little cake containing dried fruits, with a scoop of ice cream, drizzled with a thin thread of chocolate sauce in an attempt to distract you from you distressingly ordinary the whole thing was. The coffee was good, for what that's worth. What's it worth? Well, all the above is Y3675, which isn't so bad now that I think of it. It was a lot of food and variety.

And there you have it - I don't have an animus against the place any more, (and of course I'm grateful that I got to try it in a business setting) but I don't think the lunch lives up to the billing of creativity or inspired fusion. You may well have better results for dinner, but the price is also 2-3X, so you'd have to ask if it was worth the risk or whether you'd rather stay home with your pasta maker, grill pan, Y10k of Japanese steak and a bottle of Chianti. 



  1. Some people do read your subtitles.

    Thought you had made a mistake and it should be "Windshield wipers slappin time" - Janis Joplin but on researching it found it was correct at "Windshield wipers slappin out a tempo" - Eddie Rabbit.

  2. I always wondered about that, why Kristofferson wrote a song about a man. Like he might have written it for Janis. Probably I just never heard his version, because, y'know, shaved his legs and then he was a she, Bobby is gender-neutral enough, and it seems the original lyrics were she's. And the founder of his record label suggested the title because it was his secretary's name, so maybe there was something else going on there.