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Japanese Cuisine At Its Best

Cover Story

April 1, 2018

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Executive chef Go Kamikubo and manager Asami Saka

What are you hungry for?

That’s a question you’ll want to ask yourself before you dine at Restaurant Suntory, the celebrated Japanese eatery at Royal Hawaiian Center.

Do you crave sashimi? Some of the freshest delicacies in Waikiki may be found at Suntory’s small sushi bar. It only seats 16 guests, but if you’re one of the lucky ones, you won’t be disappointed. Depending on what time of year you visit, the offerings could include a lovely rainbow roll with ahi, whitefish, eel and avocado; delectable red snapper sashimi; a spider roll with sweet soft-shell crab; or anything else from a list of mouthwatering piscatory possibilities. Whatever you taste, it will be expertly prepared and made with the finest ingredients.

Restaurant Suntory offers a wide range of Beam Suntory whiskies, perfect to accompany your meal.

Are you hungry for a teishoku — or set meal — with sukiyaki or shabu-shabu? Ask to be seated in Suntory’s Washoku area. You might want to start with Hawaii Zensai ($12), an appetizer sampler whose five extraordinary little dishes spotlight the bounty of our island home. There’s abalone from Kona … a tiny heart of palm salad … Okinawan sweet potato … macadamia nut tofu … and a cheese cleverly made with miso. This unique sampler is a nightly special, found on the menu insert. (It’s also included in the Chef Omakase Course, if you’re feeling celebratory or simply self-indulgent!)

Suntory’s savviest guests know that the beautifully renovated restaurant’s daily specials often include dishes made only during certain seasons, or at the whim of chef Go Kamikubo, who once worked for Rokusaburo Michiba, the original Iron Chef Japan. Locals and traditionalists alike will be excited to hear that Chef Go has added Arani ($22) to the list of specials this month. This classically rustic dish features snapper heads, braised in a sauce of shoyu and mirin.

A classic presentation of Arani ($22)

Perhaps you have an appetite for something grilled to sizzling perfection before your very eyes? If that’s the case, you’ll want to dine in Suntory’s Teppanyaki Room. Here you can order a variety of luxurious entreés, from California free-range chicken to lobster tails, and watch as the chef expertly chops, slices, cooks and plates your meal.

If you’re celebrating a special event or just in the mood to treat yourself, do consider the Miyazaki Wagyu Sirloin ($83 for 4 ounces; $154 for 8 ounces). This succulent cut (the equivalent of a New York cut of strip sirloin) is available as an entree (which includes salad, shrimp appetizer, grilled vegetables, rice and dessert), or as a steak option in Suntory’s three Teppan courses.

Miyazaki Wagyu Sirloin ($83 for 4 ounces, $154 for 8 ounces)

And if you still haven’t satisfied your hunger for traditional Japanese food, come back for lunch the next day and try Chef’s Special Shunsaizen ($30). Chef Go changes this meal monthly, but always includes sashimi, a ya-kimono (grilled) item, a nimono (simmered) dish, an agemono (deep-fried) dish, and a seasonal shokuji with rice or noodles. It’s a terrific way to experience the very best in classic washoku cuisine.

Last year, Beam Suntory was named World Whisky Producer of the Year in the prestigious International Spirits

Challenge. Its Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Hibiki whiskies are consistently ranked among the world’s best. Restaurant Suntory — owned, like Beam Suntory, by Suntory Holdings Ltd., a Japanese brewing and distilling company group established in 1899 — proudly offers some of the finest Japanese whiskies on the market. Kampai!

Hawaii Zensai ($12) sampler

Still can’t figure out what to eat at Restaurant Suntory? Don’t worry! Friendly and welcoming general manager Nobuyuki Aoyama — or manager Asami Saka — will help you make your reservations, or greet you at Suntory’s gorgeous, newly remodeled entrance.

They’ll be happy to assist you in determining exactly which menu and room are appropriate for your appetite. Really, though, no matter what you eat here, you’re bound to be delighted.

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