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Step Up to the Plate

Japengo

By Lynsey Beth Futa Photos By Anthony Consillio
May 19, 2015

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After making the switch from Pacific Rim fare to Hawaii Regional Cuisine, Japengo has never been better. Under the direction of chef Jon Matsubara, the Hyatt Regency restaurant now focuses on what’s locally available, appealing to tourists and locals alike. The word “extravagant” doesn’t even begin to describe Japengo’s menu, with dishes that call for ingredients such as Kona Abalone, and that require working with prominent farmers from neighboring islands. The eatery is anything but common, and its most over-the-top dish is a remix of a local classic — rightfully dubbed Ultimate Loco Moco.

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Chef Matsubara claims this item was originally part of a Japanese tasting menu, but customers liked it so much that the dish would eventually be requested a la carte. Still off the menu, Ultimate Loco Moco can be prepared a la carte upon request, and the dish indeed is requested, over and over again.

A delicate, lightly fried quail egg acts as the crown to this royal dish, as a pinch of chives sprinkle over all its majesty.

A 2-ounce lobster tail rests at the foot of the dish, wrapped in robes of escargot butter

What would loco moco be without its gravy? Chef Matsubara does not skimp here either, as he creates a Black Truffle Madeira Sauce, similar to a demi-glace, revealing notes of red wine and black truffle shavings.

Fit for a king, Japengo’s loco moco begins with a layer of Hamakua Mushroom (and) Toasted Bonito Rice, which includes mouthfuls of Alii King Mushrooms — sautéed in garlic butter and foie gras drippings — and crunchy bits of salty bonito.

A thick slab of a Hawaii Ranchers’ 6-ounce filet mignon is vacuum-sealed in garlic butter before cooked, and is sure to earn high praise with every bite.

Decadent foie gras is seared before taking its rightful place at the near tip of the tower.

Japengo

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort
2424 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu
Open daily, 6-10 p.m.