When Eats Meet West
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It was 2010, and I will never forget my month in Italy. Visions so vivid like it was just yesterday — beautiful architecture, fascinating history, and the food — oh, the food! Crossing the piazza each day at noon, this strange little American tourist would be greeted with great gusto by my favorite wrinkled resident. (I secretly called him Don Giovanni.) “Buongiorno, Principessa!” he would croon. And you know what? I did feel like a princess — in a magical world that was Italia.
From my first Italian soda (the fizz bubbles bursting in my mouth and tickling my tongue), to the warm, rich risottos held fast together with such flavors of garlic, parmesan and oregano (oh my!), and right down to the cool, creamy gelato gobbled with childlike glee by sticky-fingers and sweet teeth — here was a country where cuisine is king.
And if Italian food is the ruler, then Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto is its royal palace. A Honolulu-based eatery earning rave reviews, this eatery creates an eclectic mix of mouth-watering dishes even tua madre would approve of. Likened in my book to the Don Giovanni of dining, this impressive restaurant offers up a rare fusion of Italian-inspired plates paired with the artistry of precise Japanese presentation — one that you just can’t help falling in love with. Now that’s amore.
“The owners began the restaurant with the creative concept of taking traditional Italian dishes and infusing an eye-catching Asian aesthetic,” explains Michael Lopez, restaurant and bar manager. “It’s really about understanding that your appetite isn’t just about your stomach, but your eyes, too.”
And my eyes see goodness. It begins with an appetizer of Bagna Cauda ($14). A longtime Italian favorite, Bagna Cauda is a creamy dip of anchovies, garlic, and olive oil served warm with a vibrant assortment of crudites (raw vegetables) ranging from bell peppers, to cauliflower, onions, okra, daikon and asparagus.
Moving on to the main dishes, Vegetarian Puttanesca ($17) vowed for my complete attention with spaghetti pasta packed with black olives, capers, anchovies and vegetables tossed in a zesty tomato sauce.
And for the hardcore vegetarians out there, if anchovies just aren’t your thing, Mimasuya comes to the rescue with its Porcini and Mushroom Risotto ($19), a flavorful blend of Italian porcini mushrooms, Island grown Alii mushrooms and button mushrooms melded into a mouthwatering risotto dish that is sheer delizioso.
You’d think such a feast would suffice, but Lopez assures me that Mimasuya has much more to offer. “Soon we are going to be expanding the already extensive drink menu to bring in more creative and handcrafted cocktails, as well as pupus incorporated into the mix. We’re really excited and have a lot of great ideas in the works,” he explains.
Faced with such kingly splendor, all that’s left for this satisfied subject is to kiss my fingertips and splay them in a starburst to the sky: Muah! “Magnifico!”
Contact Andy Beth Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto
1341 Kapiolani Blvd., Ste. 101
Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Dinner: 5:30-10 p.m. (last seating 9:30 p.m.)
Closed every other Tuesday.
Happy hour: Sunday-Thursday, 8:30 p.m. until closing.
Note: The restaurant is home to a full bar. Free parking is located just past the eatery at the Kapiolani side entrance of Uraku Tower, basement level.