Ever since Zigu opened in a renovated Mission Revival on Seaside Avenue, I have been a regular. My friend and I usually sit at the bar that runs the length of the open galley kitchen and with a flight of sake at hand, order the same things: smoked potato salad, wasabi Kauai shrimp and kale pesto udon. On our most recent visit, chef Masaki Nakayama told us the locavore modern Japanese izakaya was starting lunch service. Two days later I was there.
Nakayama is adept at marrying local ingredients with Japanese details in dishes like the smoked applewood Waimana egg potato salad and Pono Pork belly with laulau. Since these appear on the lunch menu, the rest of the offerings I trust will follow suit. Right now the menu features seven items ranging in price from $9.50 for their cold kale udon with fried kale chips to a $22 premium bento of Zigu's greatest hits served with soup and rice. Sides include rice ($2) and plain ($2.50) or pork miso soup ($4.50).
The Eat Local Gozen Bento set ($22) is a splurge for lunch but it boasts nine dishes that are mostly locally sourced. Standouts include the shoyu ahi poke, brightened with micro shiso greens, a luscious opah grilled misoyaki butterfish style, and a Pono pork belly kakuni laulau with macadamia mochi and smoked potato salad. Tonjiru, a savory pork miso soup full of carrots and burdock root, is hearty and shouldn't be missed.
It appears contents will change day to day but generally will stay along the lines of what you see here.
Since I'm a freak for the basil pesto kale udon on the dinner menu, the photo of the glistening emerald local vegetable cold ramen ($14) caught my eye. It features the kale udon's refreshing blend of local basil, olive oil, dashi and other ingredients along with Sun Noodle ramen, green onion, sprouts, kale, lettuce, avocado and cucumber. If you need more of a meaty option, the $16 beef sukiyaki set could be your ticket.
Zigu's new offerings make it a good Waikiki power lunch option tucked away from the bustle of Kalakaua. The dishes are relatively healthy and best of all, local. If you're driving in, the restaurant offers free validated parking at Hyatt Centric when you spend $30 or more.
413 Seaside Ave.
Lunch daily 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. (validated parking for two hours)
Dinner 4 p.m. - 12 a.m. (validated parking for four hours)