New Menu Inspired by Sustainability, Local ProductsFeatures Inside Feature
November 9, 2014
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
By working with local fisheries, farmers, dairies and ranchers, Japengo has elevated the notion of offering sustainable Hawaii regional cuisine with global influences, and takes diners on a journey from “mauka” to “makai” with every dish.
Hyatt’s commitment to sustainability revolves around the brand’s philosophy of “food that is thoughtfully sourced and carefully served.” This concept resonates throughout Japengo’s new menu, which was crafted by chef de cuisine Jon Matsubara and recently introduced to diners.
Situated on the third floor of Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa’s Ewa Tower, Japengo offers an inviting atmosphere in which diners are treated to some of the best locally grown and sourced ingredients available. Matsubara estimates that at least 70 percent of the menu contains these local products, which he enjoys cooking to bring out their unique flavors.
“The menu reflects my personality, so there are multiple options with flavor profiles based on classic dishes,” Matsubara explains. “We try to interpret those classics in a new way. A lot of my experiences from traveling also are incorporated. We try to add a ‘global touch’ to each dish.”
Case in point, Japengo’s Chilled Seafood Tower (market price) offers a bounty of fresh fare, including shrimp, abalone, king crab, ahi sashimi and lobster tail — served on ice and accompanied by classic mustard, wasabi vodka cocktail and soy wasabi.
Seafood aficionados also are encouraged to sample Seared Hawaiian Yellow Fin Ahi and Diver Scallops ($42), which is accented by “black magic” spice, sake-braised spinach, ruby port prosciutto-wrapped mushrooms and Chinese mustard sauce.
“Seared ahi has been around forever, so we’ve prepared and plated it in a way that you still have the familiar flavor profiles with a fun reinterpretation,” Matsubara says.
Those looking for the ultimate surf-and-turf combination will find the best of both worlds in Hawaii Ranchers 6-ounce Fillet Mignon and Lobster Tail ($65). The succulent lobster and perfectly cooked beef are accompanied by sake-creamed spinach, Hamakua mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes and Bordelaise sauce.
Matsubara incorporates pork from a Kahaluu family farm with Shinsato Farms Roast Pork ($32), accented with local fern shoots, toasted ebi, tomato, tabbouleh of quinoa, coriander and soy garlic chili.
Duck Breast En Sous Vide ($34) is cooked with a special vacuum-sealing process that locks in flavor and renders out fat before being seared to perfection and served with Hamakua mushrooms, charred Brussels sprouts, taro-brandy root puree, and Japanese pickled plum and port wine.
With Restaurant Week right around the corner (Nov. 17-23), Japengo will offer a special four-course menu to mark the occasion. The dinner includes: Kona Lobster Chermoula complemented by a host of spices; Little Neck Clams and Nueske Bacon with mushrooms, scallions and sake-garlic butter dashi; Breast of Duck Sous Vide in Duck Fat with a tasty taro brandy puree; and Tiramisu featuring Kona coffee and macadamia nut mascarpone (all for $49).
Japengo also will serve up a special Thanksgiving feast ($65) Thursday, Nov. 27, complete with a turkey carving station, mashed potatoes and stuffing, as well as soups and salads — all of which incorporate local products and ingredients. The family-style dining area also will feature live entertainment to enhance the holiday atmosphere.
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa showcases the efforts and products of local vendors at its weekly Farmers Market every Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. Situated throughout the hotel’s beautiful and inviting Great Hall atrium setting on the resort’s ground level, the bustling event features local vendors offering everything from freshly harvested honey to fresh-pressed sugar cane juice.
“The Farmers Market offers a great combination of local farmers and vendors in a well-organized environment,” says director of food and beverage Vince Brunetti.
“We are supporting the local community and local farmers, and that was a big aspect when we first looked into creating this event. We have the ability to support our local vendors in this arena.”
Dinner is served nightly from 6 to 10 p.m., and Japengo offers a nightly happy hour with drink specials available from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the lounge.
In addition, guests of Japengo are treated to complimentary validated valet parking — a rarity in Waikiki — providing kamaaina with yet another reason to embark on a flavorful journey provided by Japengo’s revamped menu.
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa Ewa Tower, Third Floor
2424 Kalakaua Ave.
Nightly, 6-10 P.M.