Garlic Jo's Ninniku Bar & Grill
2332 W Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Do you like Garlic? Well I sure do! If you're a huge fan of garlic, then you have got to get yourself down to Garlic Jo's. Garlic Jo's is a garlic lovers paradise. Everything here is made with garlic. Items here range from common-garlic bread, to extreme-garlic ice cream. Garlic Jo's is a japanese chain of garlic restaurants. This Newport Beach location is their only loaction in the US. Even though this place is Japanese owned and is even called a "Ninniku", I wouldn't really classify the food here as Japanese. Some of it may be Japanese inspired, but it's mostly just good ol' garlic food.
I went here last Friday night as a party of four. My wife and I have been to this place many times and it ranks high as one of our favorite places. The couple we went with, Tim and Isabel, had never been here before. They were excited to try it though since my wife and I always rave about this place.
As soon as we were seated, I asked the waitress to bring us an order of their famous garic bread($4.00). One order of garlic bread here comes as two large pieces, each cut in half. Therefore, one order is usally enough for four people to start out with. The picture below is half of one piece. Soft fresh baked bread is split open and crowned with a mound of perfectly roasted garlic and butter. Use your knife to push the garlic between the folds of your bread and you will be in garlic lovers heaven.
The time came to order our entrees. I decided to order my two favorite items here. The first is garlic fried rice with beef($9.95). The second, odd as it may sound, is shrimp and mayonnaise pizza($10.95). Every person that I have told about this pizza thinks that it sounds odd to say the least. Once they try it though, they can't stop raving about it. Tim decided to tackle a garlic and hot pepper pizza($8.95) and a creamy garlic pasta dish($12.95). Isabel and my wife decided to share a garlic vegetable fried rice($9.95) and a shrimp and mayo pizza. Our dinner selection was limited to our favorites, but Garlic Jo's definitely has a lot more to offer. Other menu items include garlic steak, garlic chicken, spicy mexican peperoncino pasta, jambalaya and more.
First to arrive were our pizzas. They are wafer thin, but not crispy. Nine square, floppy pieces are easily folded into just a few bites. Tim said the peppers on his were quite spicy. A succulent shrimp tops each piece of the mayo and shrimp pizza. The mayo complements the flavor of the pizza so well it's a wonder that Pizza Hut hasn't stolen this combination yet. If you only order one thing at this restaurant, make sure the shrimp and mayo pizza is it. The pizzas are served with a trio of sauces, a slightly spicy chili sauce, a parsley pesto and a roasted tomato.....I think. I really only use the chili sauce.
Next up were the pasta and the fried rice. Tim didn't say much about his pasta, but he seemed to like it because he ate the whole bowl. The fried rice is perfectly seasoned with plenty of garlic. The top is covered with more toasted garlic slices. My only complaint about the fried rice is that you seem to get a rather small serving for the price.
After gorging on pizza, fried rice, pasta and garlic bread, we were way too full for dessert. I was diappointed because I wanted to have some of their garlic ice cream. It sounds weirder than it actually is. It really tastes mostly like vanilla ice cream with just a hint of garlic spicyness.
Bottom line: If you like Garlic, you will LOVE Garlic Jo's!