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Inside Feature

Celebrate Flavors of Kyushu at Restaurant Suntory

By Kyle Galdeira Photos By Leah Friel
October 21, 2012

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For 32 years, Restaurant Suntory has treated visitors to traditional Japanese cuisine — from shabu shabu and sushi to teppanyaki — featuring Hawaiian touches and ingredients.

But, for a limited time, the popular eatery in Royal Hawaiian Center is bringing the dynamic flavors of Kyushu — one of Japan’s islands — to Hawaii in what the restaurant calls its “Kyushu Festival.”

Restaurant Suntory’s general manager Nobuyuki Aoyama explains that Kyushu is located at the southwest end of the Japanese archipelago, and is known for an abundance of natural resources and ingredients used for cooking, thanks to fertile soil and thriving ocean life in the area. The island is surrounded by waters featuring both hot and cold currents, which combine to enhance the growth of plankton, that in turn bolsters the aquatic life. The fish from the area are the centerpiece of the “Kyushu Festival,” which will allow diners to taste the flavors of the region through November.

“Our goal on a daily basis is to introduce visitors from Japan to the tastes and flavors of Hawaii, whether it’s seafood or any traditional Japanese cuisine that we can incorporate local ingredients into,” Aoyama says. “We like to serve as the bridge to introduce some of the cuisine of Japan to both local diners and visitors from the Mainland as well. We’d like to use this Kyushu Festival to thank our local customers for being loyal to us for 32 years because without them, we couldn’t make it this far.”

Diners may enjoy an array of flavors from the Kyushu area with Shunsaizen ($28), a special lunch set available in limited quantities daily. The multiple-course set includes Sashimi, Nagasaki Gomadofu (sesame tofu), Ikashumai (squid dumpling), Iwashi Ichiyaboshi (marinated sardine), Matsutake Dobinmushi (a rich mushroom broth) and Nori Somen (noodles) with somen sauce.

For dinner, Aoyama recommends Kyushu Gourmet Roll ($8) featuring squid, spicy fish eggs, fresh wasabi and fresh pickles. Iwashi Mentaiko ($10) is another dinner option included in the “Kyushu Festival” menu, and features sardine marinated in a rich mushroom sauce.

Kyushu Sushi Course Dinner ($52) has a host of seafood selections from the region in both sashimi and sushi form as well as Matsutake Chawanmushi (savory custard with mushrooms). The set also includes a savory dessert, Kumamoto Ikinari Dango (available a la carte for $6), which is composed of Japanese sweet potato and vanilla ice cream topped with Kaposu jam from Kyushu.

“Their seafood is known around the world,” says Aoyama of the featured fish from Kyushu. “The festival is focusing on the one island in Japan, but Kyushu contains seven different prefectures that each have their own ingredients and flavors that we incorporate in the menu.”

Diners also are reminded that they will receive 20 percent off the dinner menu when they bring in the current coupon in Dining Out. Additionally, those visiting the shopping center may still take advantage of the ongoing parking deal: free for the first hour and just $1 per hour thereafter for up to four hours with validation.

“Waikiki has changed a lot, and the shopping center itself has undergone vast renovations that have resulted in significant changes,” says Aoyama. “I hope that our restaurant will serve as an opportunity for local residents to come back to Waikiki and experience what the area has to offer, while also enjoying our food. We still offer the same traditional cuisine and great service that we’ve developed over 32 years in Hawaii.”

Restaurant Suntory

Royal Hawaiian Center
2233 Kalakaua Ave., Bldg. B, Third Level, #B307, Honolulu
922.5511
Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, noon-9:30 p.m.
RestaurantSuntory.com