The plate is a deep turquoise blue, hand-thrown and uneven. The sliver of fish on top, its skin grilled to a burnished copper, sits on a jade green sauce. The place mat depicts a neon psychedelic geisha. Welcome to the Technicolor world of dining, GiroGiro style.

There are plenty of restaurants that have come up with new twists on Japan's traditional kaiseki cuisine. But few have had such an impact or taken it so far into alternative territory as GiroGiro Hitoshina. Over the past five years, it has gone from Kyoto's most happening little under-the-radar scene to one of the most talked-about dinner spots in the old capital. It has spawned branches in Paris and Hawaii. Now it has arrived in Tokyo.

Fittingly, GiroGiro has touched down in one of the few neighborhoods in the metropolis that can hold a candle to Kyoto in terms of atmosphere. Kagurazaka boasts winding cobbled alleys, sudden inclines, even occasional glimpses of geisha. And despite gentrification in recent years, it has long concealed an irreverent, alternative side.