Keeping It FreshCover Story
October 17, 2021
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
By featuring an alluring combination of creative “New American” dishes that showcase the vibrant local flavors of Hawaii, GOEN Dining + Bar creates a time-honored dining experience inspired by chef and restaurateur Roy Yamaguchi and his talented team.
Situated in the bustling Lau Hala Shops in the heart of Kailua, GOEN is open nightly for dinner starting at 4 p.m., and serves lunch Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. Guests are invited to relax and unwind in the open-air atmosphere that offers a hip and refreshing vibe. GOEN executive chef Yoichi Saito and his heart-of-the-house team prepare a variety of refreshing starters, entrées and desserts, from seared fresh fish and roasted meat preparations to carefully crafted pasta selections, fresh salads and creative sushi presentations.
According to Yamaguchi, the name GOEN signifies a 5 yen Japanese coin, and refers to good luck, fate and strong relationships. The three graphic elements on the coin represent agriculture and fisheries, and the hole in the middle represents industry. Yamaguchi thought the name fit his restaurant concept perfectly, as it’s guided by the principles of helping Hawaii become more sustainable by working with local farmers, fishermen and ranchers. Native Hawaiian illustrator Solomon Enos created the eye-catching mural at GOEN that features fish and the namesake coin with vibrant colors that also relates to a gathering place.
“GOEN is meant to be a neighborhood restaurant, and we truly want that ‘everyone knows your name’ feeling,’” Saito says. “We want to leave guests wanting more, and we’ve created a menu that is dynamic enough bring you back time and time again.”
For example, one excellent dish is the Braised Beef Short Ribs ($37) accompanied by creamy polenta, kale and tomatoes with a teriyaki bordelaise demi-glace. Meanwhile, Ko Chu Jang Glazed Pork Ribs ($13.50) offers a bold flavor profile with shishito peppers, grilled lemon, Italian salsa verde, chile threads and yuzu kosho tartar.
Guests rave about the Maui Cattle Co. 8-ounce Burger ($18) with onion rings, lettuce, Gouda, bacon and GOEN’s secret sauce with a side of waffle fries.
Seafood enthusiasts can reel in the Sushi Trifecta Combo ($40), which features ahi, salmon and Japanese hamachi sashimi; ahi, kizami wasabi and salmon, ikura and hamachi, and negi nigiri sushi; and a Rainbow Roll crafted with sliced hamachi, ahi, salmon and avocado atop a center of shrimp tempura, red onion, shishito and ogo. Lobster Bucatini ($40) includes a Maine lobster tail accented with Onda bucatini, lobster cream and kale.
“The community has been our biggest supporter over this past year, allowing us to be a part of their lives and to evolve with the times,” Saito says. “We can’t begin to thank our diners enough for supporting us, from enjoying takeout to dining in with us, we are here because of you! Look for some changes for the fall as we have some fresh new cocktails and menu items coming at the end of October and early November.”