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Zooming in on YuZu’s flavors

By Jaimie Kim Photos By Tony Grillo
July 6, 2014

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I love the sprightly citrus fruit known as yuzu. At restaurants, I make it a point to try any items on the menu that incorporate its flavors.

From all outward appearances, yuzu resembles a wrinkled relative of an orange. Its flavor is a medley of familiar citrus notes that will tickle your tongue just enough without having your mouth completely pucker. Yuzu tastes good with anything — in sauces that accompany red meat, mixed with cocktails, as a natural flavor addition to kanten — I mean, you really cannot go wrong with it.

As much as I love its tangy flavors, I’ve yet to find yuzu, even after searching most grocery stores.

But lo and behold, I was just looking in the wrong places.

Tucked away in Ala Moana Hotel’s Kona Tower ground floor is YuZu, which takes its name from the novel fruit. YuZu’s menu boasts a wide variety of dishes that allow you to sit back and experience deliciously playful creations, many of which incorporate the fruit’s unforgettable flavors.

Along with yuzu-flavored drinks, the fruit’s notes also are incorporated in the sauce that accompanies the restaurant’s freshly made udon, among many other dishes.

The eatery’s yuzu, as well as many of its vegetables, are locally sourced. And as a healthier alternative to other condiments, only vegenaise is used in dishes.

Currently on YuZu’s lunch menu are two items, both featuring generous portions of fish.

The Maguro Kama Teishoku ($13.95) presents a large cut of island-sourced tuna that is lightly seasoned with salt (diners may request no salt) and grilled. It is served with garlic soy sauce and basil vegenaise.

A more unique fish, the Hamachi Kama Teishoku ($15.95) makes its way to the eatery from Japan and is prepared the same way.

Kama, which is essentially meat taken from the fish’s jaw area, is succulent and flavorful with every bite.

Both teishoku items are served with white or brown rice, miso soup, kinpira

(strips of seasoned gobo) and ohitashi.

For an extra dose of culture outside the kitchen, stop by YuZu’s Cuban Salsa Night on Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Cover charge is $5 for women and $10 for men, and includes a free salsa lesson.

YuZu

Ala Moana Hotel
410 Atkinson Drive, Honolulu
943-1155
Monday-Saturday, Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner: 5-11 p.m. Sunday, Dinner 5-9:30 p.m.
yuzuhawaii.com