Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: MariposaRestaurant Insider
December 4, 2022
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
ANNE LEE speaks with Mariposa general manager ALAN TAKASAKI
Chef Alan Takasaki is back in the restaurant scene as the general manager of Mariposa at Neiman Marcus. Many remember his legendary Le Bistro Restaurant in Aina Haina.With executive chef Lance Kosaka, they are creating unique experiences and offering guests a unique version of dinner and a show titled Sunset Lounge (the show being the daily sunset that guests can see while dining at Mariposa with unobstructed views).
We sampled Rudolph’s Red Nose, the featured holiday beverage, and heartier options that were added to the menu. Alan also shares what the future of dining looks like at Mariposa, and the story behind everyone’s favorite popovers with strawberry butter.
AL: What changes have taken place with the menu?
AT: Our previous executive chef Lawrence Nakamoto recently took over ownership of Tango, and Lance Kosaka joined our team to help with that transition. Lance has been in the industry for many years and has worked with some of the best and was at the helm of many restaurants. I remember him coming into Le Bistro to dine, and we would talk for hours. We will keep the signature dishes that Mariposa is known for, such as the salmon salad, and the smoking process that started at the corporate headquarters. Each dish you see on the menu will be curated specifically and unique for that location. Guests will see a few new items based on the season.
AL: The Sunset Lounge was your concept. Can you tell me more about it and the menu items?
AT: Mariposa was closing at 4:30 p.m. when we reopened from the pandemic. Dinner was hard to execute, as there were too many challenges and inconsistencies that were beyond our control. Fridays were in demand, as guests would come in to see the fireworks. One day, I was looking through the dining room at 5 p.m., and it made me sad that no one was there to witness the beautiful sunset this restaurant’s view offers. I would say many times, “There goes another wasted sunset, a whole show for no one.” This was titled specifically to make sure that guests knew to come at this time to view the spectacular show — our version of dinner and a show. It’s the perfect ambiance to enjoy the modestly priced wine list; you can even order a generous pour of Caymus by the glass.
Every month, we also work with our corporate chef, Kevin, and feature a beverage. One signature drink is the Bees Knees ($16), made with Empress 1908 Gin, honey syrup and lemon. In December, we will have Rudolph’s Red Nose (contact for cost), made with Etoile sparkling rose, with Belvedere vodka, peach marmalade, simple syrup, orange juice and fresh lime juice — shaken and served over ice.
For food, we have the Arancini ($12) for a starter. It is a salmon ochazuke arancini with Japanese pickled vegetable aioli, smoked trout roe and shiso.
The Vietnamese-inspired Lemon Beef Salad ($32) has grilled rare washugyu hangar steak, Mari’s Gardens greens, sliced red onions, cucumbers, Ho Farms tomatoes and radish, with a chile and fish sauce dressing.
We added some heartier items to the menu such as chef Lance’s popular Salmon Ochazuke ($35). It’s pan-roasted salmon with ochazuke risotto, ikura and Japanese picked vegetable relish with green tea.
My vision originally was to just serve tomahawk and a whole roasted fish Mediterranean style, just like you would see in pictures of people eating in Italy; all the herbs stuffed in this big, huge fish, and appetizers such as oysters all served family style. So, we added a 32-ounce Tomahawk Steak ($165) served with crispy fingerling potatoes and umami butter, which has dashi and Asian flavors.
The new dish we are launching this week is the Lobster Pasta ($35) with fresh lobster, spaghetti, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and chopped parsley all with a butter sauce.
And we can’t forget about desserts, which are all made in-house and priced at $10 each. You can make it á la mode for $5 extra. One of our bestsellers is the Chocolate Macadamia Tart ($10). I asked our pastry chef and team to make a modern version using Equatoriale chocolate for our guests. It’s a fresh new option.
AL: We can’t forget about the signature popovers. What’s the story behind these?
AT: In 1955, the original corporate chef, Helen Corbitt, introduced this recipe to Neiman Marcus, served with strawberry butter.
There is a special way to make these; there is even a special tray to bake these in. The monkey bread was served at dinner, which was different from the popover, which Helen Corbitt introduced in the ’60s.
AL: What is something about Mariposa that guests may not know?
AT: If you look in the dining room, there are two large tables that our corporate chef, Kevin, had brought here that were handcrafted by a woodworker on Kauai.