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Sunday, April 7, 2013

JAPENGO

JAPENGO
HYATT REGENCY WAIKIKI
HONOLULU, HAWAII

JAPENGO
HYATT REGENCY WAIKIKI
2424 KALAKAUA AVENUE
HONOLULU, HAWAII  96815
808-923-1234
HOURS: Monday thru Sunday 5:30 PM - 10:00 PM

I took the time to read quite a few reviews on Japengo before making a reservation for the Japanese/Pacific Rim restaurant.  While there were a lot of positive reviews, some people really knocked the food, prices, portions and service.  I kept an open mind going in and just sat back and took it all in while enjoying a few glasses of bubbly.  We started with valet parking at the Hyatt Regency.  The valet welcomed us to the hotel and asked how he could help.  I told him we were dining at Japengo and he lit up with a smile and said "great choice, I love the place" and then offered a few menu suggestions.  Valet parking is free here with validation.  This is a big plus in Waikiki where parking has gotten expensive and sometimes difficult.  Once you valet, you can stroll through the long indoor lobby that connects the two towers at the Hyatt.  The walk takes you past a beautiful waterfall and puts you in the Waikiki vacation mode kind of mindset.  Japengo is located on the third floor of the Ewa Tower.   We grabbed the elevator and then were at the entrance to Japengo where not one but two young ladies were waiting with big smiles.  The two hostesses welcomed us to Japengo and asked if we were local and if we had been to the restaurant before.  We said this was our first time and they smiled and thanked us for coming and added that we wold love the food.  One girl took us to our seat with a smile.  Great start I thought.  As we sat into a comfortable booth, the Manager approached and welcomed us.  This was the second day of their new menu so he took the time to show us some of his favorite dishes.  Our waiter (Tomo) arrived and greeted us like special guests.  He offered us menus and said to relax and take our time while he gets our drinks.  Tomo was professional and attentive during the entire meal.  Could have not asked for a better waiter or service.  On this night, the entire staff at Japengo was excellent and made us feel like valuable guests that they really want to return.  The interior of Japengo is a bit cut up with small and large rooms for groups or larger parties.  I guess we were in the main dining area where there are just a bunch of tables and chairs with a large window that overlooks the Westin Moana Surfrider Hotel.  Our booth was set in the front and a bit more private which we liked.  Lets get onto the food.  Japengo bills itself as serving Pacific Rim Cuisine.  What it is basically is a fusion of Japanese, Chinese and Asian food with the emphasis being Japanese and Sushi.  I started my meal with a glass of Cava Brut Champagne from Spain.  For $7 this was not a bad glass of juice.  Liked it and enjoyed a few more.  My wife asked for a Plantation Ice Tea which is not on the menu, but our waiter quickly told her "sure, we can do that for you".  The tea was $4.  The menu at Japengo to me should be shared by the table.  This is the kind of place where you can order a variety of dishes and have everyone share.  Even the larger entree dishes are perfect for sharing.  While my daughter ordered a complete meal from the Keiki (Kids) Menu, she still managed to consume a little bit of everything on the table.  She ordered the Keiki Kushiyaki Set ($15) which included Teriyaki Beef Sticks, Miso Soup, Edamame and rice.  She loved it but I thought $15 was a bit high for this particular kids meal.  I had read rave reviews about the Scallop ButterYaki ($16) served with Black Tobiko and Shiso Leaf.  My wife was not in the mood for scallops she said but when the dish arrived she said "wow" looks good.  All three of us took a scallop and placed them on our small plates.  There was silence and then accolades of enjoyment.  The scallops were perfectly cooked and filled with flavor.  Perhaps one of the best Scallop dishes ever.  This dish was the "bomb".  Next up was the Hamachi To-Jo ($18).  Thinly sliced raw fish served in a Ponzu Sauce and topped with Maui Onions, Jalapeño and Crispy Garlic.  My daughter grabbed a slice and smiled with joy.  In five seconds she had eaten three slices and my wife told her to stop so the rest of us could have some.  I picked up a slice with my chopsticks and topped it with the onion and jalapeño.  Took one bite and wanted to order three more plates of this.  I could have made a meal out of eating multiple servings of the Hamachi.  It was just that good.  Perfection on a plate!  Next up was the Tootsie Roll ($20).  Soft Shell Crab, Snow Crab, Avocado, Shitake Mushroom and Lobster Teriyaki.  This sushi roll was one of the best and freshest ever.  Absolutely loved it.  The Dynamite Roll ($18) with Unagi (Eel), Scallop, Chili and Ponzu is a ramped up California Roll that was a bit of a mess on the plate but still delicious.  Since everything was tasting great we looked over the menu again and picked another dish.  The Sea Treasure Cake Noodle ($38) did not disappoint, but did not knock us out like some of the other dishes.  The Cake Noodles are topped with fresh seafood.  Scallops, Shrimp, Calamari and Lobster.  I found some nice pieces of lobster and really liked the flavor.  The Peas and Carrots added color but also flavor that this dish lacks. For $38 I would expect a little more flavor.  Other than that is was good.  We finished the evening with Chocolate Molten Cake with Ice Cream and Berries ($11).  Pretty basic chocolate cake with chocolate sauce in the middle.  This was a fantastic night out in Waikiki.  Loved the food and service at Japengo and will recommend to friends and visit again when in Waikiki.

JAPNEGO IS LOCATED IN THE HYATT REGENCY HOTEL IN WAIKIKI
HYATT REGENCY LOBBY WITH WATERFALL
WELCOME TO JAPENGO
ENTRANCE TO JAPENGO IS ON THE THIRD FLOOR OF THE HYATT
MAIN DINING ROOM A BIT BLAND
JAPENGO NEW MENU AS OF 4/5/13
CHEF SPECIAL MENU
JAPENGO STARTERS
TENGU'S SPECIALTIES
SASHIMI AND SUSHI
SUSHI ROLLS
SCALLOP BUTTERYAKI
TOOTSIE ROLL WITH SOFT SHELL CRAB, SNOW CRAB, AVOCADO,                                                        SHITAKE MUSHROOM AND LOBSTER TERIYAKI
TOOTSIE ROLL
DYNAMITE ROLL - CALIFORNIA ROLL WITH UNAGI, SCALLOP, CHILI AND PONZU
DYNAMITE ROLL A BIT DIFFICULT TO PICK UP BUT DELICIOUS
SEA TREASURE WITH CAKE NOODLE
KEIKI MEAL - KUSHIYAKI
CHOCOLATE MOLTEN CAKE

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