Evolving Flavors at Yuzu

Ali Carte Columns

March 17, 2012

Story By: Dining Out Team |

In recent years, you may have noticed a “food revolution” of sorts, with blogs, lunch trucks and gastropubs popping up faster than you can say “feed me.” This explosion of culinary expression has sparked a burst of creativity when it comes to food concepts — the list of cuisine types is endless.

  • YuZu presents a cool and contemporary dining experience.
  • Lotus-root Pizza ($8.95)
  • Kamiya Papaya Dynamite ($11.95)
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Husband-and-wife duo Isam and Moco Kubota took part in the evolution of all things food when they opened YuZu four months ago at Ala Moana Hotel. It all started with a simple concept: to incorporate yuzu, or Japanese citrus fruit, into a variety of menu items. The resulting eatery is a maximally modern dining space offering a melange of creative flavors in a cool, contemporary setting.

Their idea may have been new, but the Kubotas’ cooking experience is not. Only knowledge gained from 23 years in the kitchen could result in such original recipes as Kamiya Papaya Dynamite ($11.95). Maui onion, asparagus, scallops, tomatoes as well as Hamakua, button and eringi mushrooms fill locally grown papaya halves. What makes the dish pop? A surprisingly delicious vegenaise (non-dairy mayonnaise) topping that contrasts well with the sweet fruit shell. It’s a unique flavor, for sure, but oh, so satisfying.

The restaurant feels like a snazzy world of its own, with colorful walls, mod-style furniture and large-wooden tables, which are great for large parties. But if you’re in the mood for something quick, grab pupus at the fun bar and lounge area. Lotus-root Pizza ($8.95), full of crunchy lotus root slices melted with different cheeses including Mexican, mozzarella and Cheddar, is a great one to munch on. Moco suggests top-ping the appetizer with Yuzu-It, a citrusy, mild version of Tabasco sauce.

While trying new flavors, sip on the upbeat spot’s own YuZu Mojito ($10 glass), YuZu Sangria ($10 glass) or a selection of shochu, sake, martinis, beer and wine.

Just like the bright fruit itself, YuZu restaurant offers a big squeeze of refreshment over an evolving plate of food.


  • Where
    • Ala Moana Hotel, Kona Tower (Main Floor)
    • 410 Atkinson Drive
    • Honolulu, HI 96814
  • Call
    • (808) 943-1155
  • Hours
    • Lunch (Daily)
    • 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    • Dinner (Monday – Saturday)
    • 5 p.m. – Midnight
    • Dinner (Sundays)
    • 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Early Bird Special: 5-6 p.m.
    • Late Night Specials: 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.
  • Website

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