Two Unique Cultures MergeFeatures Inside Feature
September 7, 2014
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
With an emphasis on fusing traditional Italian favorites with Japanese style and flair, Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto succeeds in transporting diners around the world with each beautifully crafted dish that exemplifies “Kyoto-Style” flair.
Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, is known for its warm and welcoming nature, as well as a knack for eye-pleasing culinary presentations that create exquisite taste and portray works of art. The restaurant was launched by Japanese restaurateur Masaki Hibi in late 2012, with Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto representing the first of his eight establishments to open in Hawaii. Executive chef Toshiya Umeda continues to craft an innovative menu, and utilizes more than 20 years of experience in French and Italian cooking when blending classic Italian dishes and concepts with artistic Japanese presentation techniques.
“It’s all about your traditional Italian favorites, including Carbonara and Bolognese, but with a Japanese interpretation of how to present the eye-catching cuisine,” says Mike Lopez, who manages both the restaurant and its bar. “Chef approaches each dish as a work of art, and he wants to draw you in. It’s up to you whether to eat it or admire the passion of his cooking.”
Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto is situated conveniently along Kapiolani Boulevard on the ground level of Uraku Tower. In addition to its close proximity to Honolulu’s urban core, the restaurant offers complimentary covered parking in its garage, which sits just a few steps away from the front door.
Lopez stresses attention to detail and stellar customer service when training his skilled and friendly staff, and notes that Mimasuya Italiano offers a fine-dining experience without the sky-high prices. The restaurant’s popular happy hour, available nightly from 5 to 7 p.m., offers up beer and wine specials along with specially priced pupus including Parma Prosciutto Flatbread ($6.50), which features house-made sauce and dough topped with mozzarella and gorgonzola cheeses, prosciutto ham and arugula.
“It’s a smaller version of pizza, and it’s perfect for sharing,” Lopez says. “Our happy hour is a great way to experience some of the food that our restaurant has to offer. All the dishes are great for sharing with friends around the table.”
Lopez also recommends Shrimp Puttanesca ($4 during happy hour), which incorporates sautéed shrimp in a spicy tomato and anchovy sauce, along with black olives, capers and fresh vegetables including onions. The capers provide a bold flavor that couples with the anchovies and garlic to produce an invigorating aroma.
Umeda continues to supplement the restaurant’s expansive menu by adding daily specials. This practice affords customers the opportunity to try something new upon each visit, including dishes that eventually make their way onto the permanent menu. Veal Scallopini ($28, dinner) offers delicate, fine-textured veal in a savory mushroom Marsala sauce served with a side of mashed potatoes and locally grown vegetables.
The chef also prepares Assorted Appetizers ($28, dinner), a nightly combination of 10 freshly made starters that can easily serve two to three diners. The appetizers are rotated regularly, so diners will be treated to a new experience upon each visit, and include innovative recipes such as caprese salad with fresh tomatoes, seafood favorites including tuna carpaccio, as well as chicken, pork or beef selections. Umeda also incorporates locally grown and harvested produce and fish, a practice that enhances flavor and freshness across the menu.
Another house favorite available on the dinner menu is Mimasuya Crab Cake ($17), a rich crab cake cloaked in a crispy yuba (tofu-skin) wrapper and served with a zesty Dungeness aioli sauce.
“It’s not your traditional crab cake,” Lopez explains. “It’s very eye catching, and resembles sushi or an egg roll — that’s where the Japanese influence shines through. Chef really makes an effort to incorporate Japanese techniques and spices with each dish.”
Customers also may look forward to a new line of cocktails at the restaurant’s inviting full bar. Lopez is working with a master mixologist to craft the ideal cocktails to accompany Umeda’s culinary wizardry.
“I come from a fine-dining background in Las Vegas, so I educate my servers about the level of service that I expect for our customers,” Lopez says.
Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto
1341 Kapiolani Blvd. Ste. 101
Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dinner, 5:30 to 10 p.m. (last seating at 9:30 p.m.)
Note: The restaurant features an extensive full bar and also offers free parking on the Kapiolani Boulevard entrance to Uraku Tower.