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Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite restaurant? Well, much credit goes to the many chefs, owners and managers who work diligently day in and day out to make sure Hawaii’s diners have a top-notch dining experience.
This week, Dining Out gets the inside scoops from Il Lupino’s chef Lawrence Nakamoto, who gives us a little taste of Il Lupino and shares just what fuels his culinary drive.
Name: Lawrence Nakamoto
Title: Chef at Il Lupino
Training/Education: Graduated from Kapiolani Community College’s Culinary Arts Program, and studied under two great chefs, Chef Donato Loperfido (Elua, Sapori) and Chef Nicola Sayada (Il Lupino).
Who or what inspires you as a chef/manager/ owner? This may sound corny, but I just enjoy creating dishes that will make others happy. Simple as that.
What is your favorite dish on the menu? Why? Bucatini all’Amatriciana. I love the pancetta — it’s the finest quality, and the flavor combined with tomato sauce and garlic is awesome. Even the aroma while cooking is like a slice of heaven. I could eat it every day!
What is your favorite ingredient to work with? Why? Fresh fish. I grew up eating a lot of sashimi, and still love it, but I also like cooking fresh fish, being able to enhance the flavor without overpowering the fish. It’s a delicate balance.
Is there a dish that you create that’s not on your menu, but available upon request? We can customize menu items such as our pizzas and pastas to our patrons’ tastes. For example, we can add meat to a vegetarian dish, or do a vegetarian version of our dishes with meat. We also feature five to seven specials every night for dinner, and offer items such as Braised Short Ribs or Pork Belly glazed with Quince to provide our guests with a delicious selection. And we just introduced our own version of the Loco Moco ($15) — made with our veal, pork and beef meatball patty and a marsala mushroom gravy — molto delizioso! You may order a mini version that is currently not on the menu for only $10.
What are your culinary goals? What do you hope to improve on? I would really like to be a chef in Japan someday. I’m sansei (third generation), and have only been to Japan four times, but it feels like home. I love it, and hope to live and work at a restaurant there — maybe even my own Italian restaurant — in the not too distant future.
Royal Hawaiian Center, Bldg. B, Level 1
2301 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu
Monday-Wednesday, 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Thursday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-2 a.m.