Kaiseki dining at Shunji is finally outdoors. It's a true multiple-hour, multiple-course experience as befits their Michelin star, and it starts off subtle fashion before immediately showcasing Chef Shunji Nakao's skill in the second dish, a deep-fried whole baby crab.
Sashimi (including bonito), oyster tempura, Miyazaki waygu A5, a formidable line up of snapper and halibut, and yes, some NOMNOMONOM homemade ginger anchor the middle of the meal. The balance is well done, a brief interlude with ikura over rice, and then the next round of sushi comes. Otoro (fatty tuna), small barracuda, albacore, and spanish mackerel (Japan), then anago (sea eel) are the highlights of the second round of sushi-- the otoro and the small barracuda were spectacular.
Before getting to the finishing rounds, it was time to consider add-ons. They had plenty available, so I skipped the clam, but went for both kinds of uni, grant (whitefish), and negudoro (black throat sea perch). Santa Barbara uni was fresh but the Hokkaido uni was ridiculously sweet. Sooooooooo good. And knowing that they apparently have a regular supply of negudoro was a pleasant surprise!
Closing rounds of the meal were a toro hand roll. Again so deliciously balanced in flavors. Holy cow. The clam miso soup was a nice contrast and a bit of warmth but I honestly could have skipped both that and the dessert, which almost would have been a shame, as the dessert was a very interesting rice cream atop fresh strawberries.
As good as Shunji's to-go boxes have been, from sushi assortments to negudoro chirashi, their return to their full-service experience is a very, very welcome one.