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Japengo Opens in Waikiki

Pacific Rim adventures at Japengo, Waikiki
Pacific Rim adventures at Japengo, Waikiki
Camilla Carboni

Japengo Restaurant

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Less than a week old, the Hyatt Regency’s newest restaurant, Japengo, brings another high-end dining option to the bay area of Waikiki.

Salmon has never before been this tender
Camilla Carboni

Situated on the 3rd floor of the Ewa Tower, Japengo fuses hot red with elegant décor, and formal seating with comfortable booth-style options, radiating an inviting and trendy locale, and offering a refined menu to match.

While a full-bodied glass of red wine pairs effortlessly with the atmosphere and the majority of the menu’s rich and fully flavored sauces and spices, those in a tropical mood should try the Kai Breeze, a refreshing coconut-based mojito that sips dangerously smoothly.

When glancing over the menu, I urge you to attune to an adventurous spirit – the sushi is top-class – but Japengo moves beyond the basics to innovative and varied options. In particular, the salmon skin roe, is a unique crispy concoction, fried, dried and served atop a maki roll with a side of “secret dressing”, meant to moisten the salmon skin as au jus does a prime rib sandwich.

Whether you preference is fresh fish or meat, Japengo is a safe bet for a quality meal. The salmon proved to be the most tender I have ever tasted, and the Angus filet and succulent Caledonian prawns are equally highly recommended.

What really stood out, which seems to go amiss at many of the more average restaurants, were the sides. As impressive as the main dish features themselves, the baked squash with it’s slightly spicy additive, and light and buttery mashed potato with kim chi and edamame surprises, pair superbly with the heavier flavors of the seafood and steak.

Just be sure to save room for dessert, or order it anyway, as you will suddenly have ample space after the first bite. The Chocolate Pofiteroles (a mouthful in both senses of the word) resemble crème puffs, but with the taste of a sophisticated bake-shop delicacy and the creaminess of hazelnut ice-cream. Best of all are the sprinkles of macadamia-nut brittle surrounding the three profiteroles...crunchy, sweet and lingering... Or, for a more traditional, yet still island-inspired dessert, try the Kona Coffee Chocolate Ganache Cake – decadently sweet without being overly sugary – the flavor is spot on, as is the presentation.

Go and enjoy being one of the first to appraise the taste of Japengo, and let me know how you enjoy it.

Trendy Tip: The Hyatt offers diners complimentary valet parking for up to four hours.

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