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Elegance, Wine, Good Food and the Best Acoustics in Okinawa

By: Dinner Gong

Date Posted: 2000-04-14

After the daily grind you might just be in the mood for soft lights, tinkling ivories and quiet sophistication.

These are offered by Pianissimo, a new piano lounge at 266-4 Kishaba Kitanakagusuku. This place was a former warehouse which had its interior ripped out and replaced with soaring wooden walls, curving graciously into an arched ceiling. There is plenty of sound equipment here, but no flashing lights, garish chrome or banks of digital switches.

The owner, Kiyo Kubota, says “the whole world’s going digital, but I’m following the opposite trend. This place is full of natural material, mostly wood and all my sound equipment is analog”. Pianissimo is designed for perfect acoustics and Kubota has spared no expense obtaining enormous speaker stacks of some antiquity which have been lovingly restored. These include some massive Tannoys in the minstrels’ gallery, imported from Great Britain. Dotted around the place is other musical equipment such as a 78 rpm horn player, an antique organ and a grand piano.

The other piano, on a spotlit stage, is played by Mr Machu, who specializes in easy listening classics, ballads and jazz.

Kubota has run several restaurants in the past but he has never been entirely satisfied with them. In Pianissimo he feels he has the perfect combination of aesthetic appeal, gourmet food and wonderful acoustics. He assures Dinner Gong no other establishment in Okinawas has acoustics anywhere near as good as his place. Similar claims could perhaps be made for the cooking and the wine list.

The lounge has South African red and white wines at Y1,800 a bottle and Y500 a glass. There are German, Bulgarian and Italian whites from reds from France, Argentina and Australia, a sparkling Italian wine and a French rose. Wines cost Y2000 to Y5000 a bottle.

Pianissimo’s master chef , Mr Uezu, used to run a renowned kitchen in Tokyo’s Ginza district and he cooks fish, meat, pasta and curry dishes priced between Y800 and Y2000. Tapa snacks are also available at the bar.

Dinner Gong tried three dishes. The Beef Curry and Rice had fluffy rice and top quality meat done to a turn. The curry was delicately subtle, rather than a roof of the mouth fire extinguisher job, as in some other places. Next was Filet Steak with Boiled Vegetables in Madeira and Sake Sauce. The steak fell off the knife, the vegetables were not overdone and the sauce unusual, with hints of both liquors. The Seafood Fried Onions and Salad with Avocado Sauce had tasty local fish and king size prawns. The fried onions were crispy toasted shavings.

The lounge is also open for afternoon tea when cakes and scones are served. The accent, as with the evening program, is on refinement and elegance with suitable mood music.

Pianissimo is open for tea 2pm to 5pm and dinner is 6pm to midnight except Fridays, when the kitchen closes at 1pm. The lounge is closed on Tuesdays.

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