Restaurant brings bite of ‘Big Apple’ back to the Islands

Chew On This Digest

June 28, 2015

Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Anthony Consillio

After preparing a meal at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City last week, Japengo chef de cuisine Jon Matsubara is poised to “wow” local diners with a similar menu crafted to portray the unique flavors of the Islands.

Like a finely tuned orchestra, the “Japengo at The James Beard” menu produces a crescendo of flavors, as the symphony of locally sourced produce, seafood and other sustainable aspects bring forth the best notes Hawaii has to offer. Matsubara explains that this unique menu will be available starting mid-July for $170 (exclusive of tax and gratuity) and includes wine pairings selected by master sommelier Roberto Viernes.

Situated on the third floor of the 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, coupled with stellar service. By working with local fisheries, farmers, dairies and ranchers, Japengo elevates the notion of crafting sustainable cuisine, taking diners on a journey from “mauka” to “makai” with every dish.

“You don’t have to travel all the way to New York to experience this menu combination,” Matsubara explains. “The wine pairings are spot-on, and diners really enjoy the experience. I’m fortunate to present these special ingredients for what they are — all you need is freshness and the correct preparations.”

The James Beard menu features alluring appetizers: Kiawe Smoked Hawaiian Moonfish with local water-cress, heirloom radish and purple potato chip; Nalo Mountain Apple with Japanese pickled plum, opal shiso and rice cracker; and Limu Poke featuring fresh Kona abalone, Hawaiian Bigeye Ahi, Maui onion and a sesame chili sauce. The flavorful starters are accompanied by Vin du Bugey-Cerdon “La Cueille” from Domaine Patrick Bottex.

Diners are then treated to entrée courses of Summer Tomato Tartine with Kahalu‘u boar, nori burrata and baby rocket (paired with Domaine Henri Perrusset Macon Farges “Vieilles Vignes,” 2012) and Keahole Lobster with Kahuku sea asparagus, lomi ebi and an aromatic kaffir lime and chili broth (paired with Champalou Vouvray “La Cuvee des Fondraux,” 2013). The entrée round is completed with Niihau-raised Tenderloin of Eland, an antelope/elk-like animal that offers sustainably sourced and tender meat — comparable to beef — accompanied by taro brandy puree, Hamakua mushrooms, Ewa sweet corn and poha berry gastrique (paired with Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir “Los Alamos,” Santa Barbara 2009).

The memorable dining experience concludes with Matsubara’s sweet take on Hawaiian Twix, featuring Waialua Estate chocolate ganache, toasted coconut caramel and macadamia nut cookie (paired with Domaine La Tour Vieille Banyuls “Rimage,” 2013).


Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, Ewa Tower, third floor
2424 Kalakaua Ave., Waikiki
923-1234 or 237-6180
Open nightly for dinner, 6 to 10 p.m.
Note: Guests of Japengo also are treated to complimentary validated valet parking — a rarity in Waikiki that provides kamaaina diners with yet another reason to embark on a flavorful journey.

Honolulu, HI 96815

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Hawaii's Best