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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Restaurant Suntory

Restaurant Insider

September 11, 2022

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Anne Lee shares a meal with Restaurant Suntory assistant manager Asami Hamana.

ANNE LEE speaks with Restaurant Suntory assistant manager ASAMI HAMANA

Restaurant Suntory has been a favorite for both locals and visitors for over 42 years. It’s one of the original tenants at Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and recently got a face-lift to offer a true Japanese dining experience. The popular kaiseki lunch offering, Shunsai-zen, is back on the menu, and changes the first of every month. Shun translates to “in season,” sai translates to “vivid colors” and zen means “meal.” The September Shunsai-zen is a delicious array of in-season, vibrant, colorful items with creative intention from executive chef Kamikubo. He even included a Moon Viewing Soup in honor of Jugoya (Night of the Harvest Moon), a shrimp cake made from Shiratama mochi skin in delicious dashi broth. This was not only clever and delicious, but also a beautiful way to honor the harvest moon. Assistant manager Asami Hamana walked me through the rest of the eight courses as we talked more about the restaurant.

Tuna and Salmon, Tsukimi-wan; Moon Viewing Soup with shrimp cake; Washugyu Roast Beef Salad

AL: Shunsai-zen is Restaurant Suntory’s version of a kaiseki-style lunch. Can you tell me more about the name and dishes?

AH: Our Shunsai-zen follows the seasons of Japan, from the ingredients to the culture of the season. While it is hard to get all the ingredients from Japan, we try our best to gather all the needed ingredients to structure the season’s course each month with well-balanced flavors and cooking methods. Autumn is known to be the best season to enjoy food, as many ingredients reach their peak. Even if we cannot get “autumn eggplant” or “autumn salmon” like in Japan, we try to implement these ingredients from other places to “feel” the season.

Homemade Sweet Potato Mousse with Chestnut

This month, the first course is three items. We always have a sashimi and two more items: Washugyu Roast Beef Salad with a little miso ponzu and wasabi dressing, and the Moon Viewing Soup. Our guests are wowed by this. In September, many people in Japanese and Chinese cultures celebrate the full moon. Chef Kamikubo created a shrimp cake to emulate the moon, and upon opening the soup, it creates a view of a full moon on a clear September night sky.

The second course is the hot items. This month, we have Agedashi Nasu deep-fried with shrimp and tofu with nameko mushrooms, daikon and green onions. The Kara Miso with steamed pork and vegetables in spicy miso is served in its own hot pot with fire to represent getting ready for the cold fall weather. Then we have Ahi Belly Teriyaki, a local ahi belly topped with a little bit of ancho pepper garnish. Our Mixed Rice is mushroom and chicken cooked in chicken broth — very delicious.

Kara Miso steamed pork and vegetables in spicy miso; Agedashi Nasu with shrimp, tofu and mushroom; Ahi Belly Teriyaki; Mixed Rice with mushroom and chicken

Lastly, the dessert is homemade Sweet Potato Mousse with Chestnut and served with our local KOHO chocolate.

There are only 18 servings per day at $42 each. To request this menu, secure a lunchtime reservation for “washoku” dining through Resy. Then, email your request for the Shunsai-zen menu to aloha@rs-honolulu.com with your name and reservation date.

AL: Now you are able to offer four different dining experiences. Can you tell me more about them?

All items are part of the part of the September Shunsai-zen Lunch Special ($42)

AH: Sushi Tokiwa (omakase). During lunch, we have multiple time slots available from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., but for dinner, we have only two seating times at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., both with allotment of two hours. Lunch omakase is $100, and dinner is $250 per person. Make reservations through Resy from your app or our website and be sure to select “sushi omakase.” A credit card is needed to apply our cancellation policy. (Full meal price charge to any cancellation 24 hours prior to the reservation). No children under the age of 13 will be allowed.

Washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) lunch is 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and dinner is 5:30-9:30 p.m. Make reservations through Resy from your app or our website and select “washoku.” Please note that this cuisine is the most popular and usually fills up fast.

Our private room can accommodate up to 12 people, including small children. We serve only washoku here. Lunch is 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and dinner is 5:30-8:30 p.m. Email aloha@rs-honolulu.com for private room reservations or inquiries. Minimum spending and a deposit policy apply to private room reservations.

At our teppanyaki dining, our chef prepares fresh, high-quality ingredients from mouthwatering Japanese wagyu steak to seafood and chicken right in front of you on the sizzling grill. Make reservations through Resy from your app or our website and select “teppanyaki.”

AL: Anything else you want our readers to know?

AH: Our parent company is Suntory Holdings, which is of Japan’s oldest and largest brewing and distilling companies, known for Suntory whisky. We also carry its famous Suntory pilsner, which is Japan’s bestselling beer.

Seasonal omakase courses at the sushi bar will continue, and we hope to host more whisky tasting dinners, at least two times a week.

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