OK, so with no help from the Chowhounds in my request for a review of the place, I ended up at Garlic Jo's new location in Newport Beach this Saturday night (they closed their Corona Del Mar Location). Upon enterering, it appears that everyone gets a bonus for the amount of times they tell you the story of the place - it's Japanese owned - there are 15 in Japan and it serves a kind of Japanese fusion cuisine. The decor is quite striking, a lot of dark wood, a very large bar with a small stage in the corner where live music played. 99% of the time I hate live music, but this was actually pleasant, the volume was such that one could easily converse so it actually added to the funky ambience. Now the food, we shared the "Dinner for two" special, which for $52 is quite a deal considering how much food you get. Start out with their large hunks of garlic bread with visible real minced garlic and olive oil, then you get your choice of salads from 3, we chose the grilled chefs salad - which was good as well. Grilled half head of lettuce (still crisp, just some grill marks on the cut side), with chopped vegatables and a terrific Japanese miso dressing. Next course is your choice of Pizza - very very thin crust, but really quite large, maybe a 11" - 12" pizza. We chose the Thai Chicken pizza - with gouda cheese, sliced red chilis on top with a sweet chili sauce drizzled on it. It also included 3 dipping sauces - a thai basil sauce with garlic and olive oil, a medium spiced chili sauce and a spicy chili sauce, all three were excellent. Next cam the main course, and we chose the seared ahi, a generous portion of seared ahi (decent, I'm not sure if it was previously frozen. To their credit, we asked for it rare and that's what we got) with a spectacular lemon butter sauce which would make a shoe taste good. But that's not all, the dinner for two also included a choice of garlic fried rice or pasta - we chose the mozzarella and roasted garlic with tomato sauce option and it was spectacular - it included several whole pieces of roasted garlic in a full bodied tomato sauce with gooey mozzarella dripping within it - garnished by a fresh basil leaf. Something about the pasta hinted at Asian/Italian fusion but I couldn't put my finger on it. Doesn't matter because it was my favorite dish there. This bowl alone was enough for one person's entire meal so again, for $26 a person you will be stuffed to the gills. I'd go back, and I wouldn't eat for a day or two beforehand.
Negatives included $4 valet parking or parking at meters on the street (this bugs me to no end), and their tap water tasted like, well tap water - they should invest in a nice filtration system.