I wrote a few weeks ago about a nice surprise that awaited me after I had checked in at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, having mentioned on their Facebook page that it was my birthday during my stay. Unfortunately I was unable to use the offer of dinner at their Japengo restaurant. The hotel kindly offered to host me when I was next in Hawaii, which luckily I was last weekend. Despite not staying at the Hyatt Regency they were happy to have me for dinner. So at 6pm on Saturday last I arrived at Japengo on the 3rd floor of the EWA tower. I was met by the property’s Head of Marketing Communications.
The restaurant has an extensive menu – which was great as I am not really a fish person. So going to a Sushi restaurant might be counter intuative.
Menu for download – JAPENGO Dinner 1 1 12
The restaurant has a number of different areas – some just for drinks, a traditional Sushi area as well as more traditional tables and booths. The atmosphere is upbeat but not loud, with the other guests seeming to be having an excellent evening.
We started with Japengo’s Manager’s award winning cocktail – a great fusion of Grand Marnier and Mango – tasty but not too sweet!
I asked that they choose some dishes for me, to reflect their signature items. This resulted in their wonderful Japengo Fried Chicken – satisfingly gooey but not sweet, with a kick of Chili. In addition, the Japengo Scallops made an appearance – large, juicy and full of flavour these are definetly a winner for me.
The main course was the Emperor’s Prime Sirloin in the most delicate mushroom sauce you could ask for, accompanied by Japengo Fried Rice.
The options for dessert were numerous and I have to say that the Creme Brulee (Japengo Coconut Creme Brulee) which comes in a half coconut, was lovely – rich and creamy yet soft and tasty. A real winner for me.
Over dinner, discussion roamed over several subjects, some of which I will cover a little later in this review. The very pleasant surprise(s) were visits from both the Japengo Head Chef, Michael Imada and the hotels Executive Chef, Sven Ullrich. Both were genuinly interested in how I was enjoying the food and the atmosphere. Both were happy to share their ideas and concepts behind the restaurant, which has been open about 11 months. Growing month to month, the restaurant clearly had a mixture of a strong local following as well as guests at the Hyatt Regency and neighbouring hotels. The service was professional I never felt rushed, despite occupying the table for nearly three hours.
During the course of the evening the discussion turned to the sourcing of the produce being served. I have to say I had missed a Hyatt initiative ‘Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served’. This it turns out is a global philosophy from Hyatt, and I personally think they need to make more of a fuss about it. Most travellers are aware that they eat differently when they travel and that often it’s less good for you. It seems to me that Hyatt are trying to redress this by offering sensible sized portions, noting that many people have gluten allergies, others want vegetarian options and some want what Hyatt calls ‘Stay Fit Cuisine’.
The plan from Hyatt requires the local sourcing of items – planting chef’s gardens on property, and the recycling of food waste to local farms. Interestingly the menu refers to ‘Contributors’ – these are organisations and farms who have sourced the items on the menu for the property – local farms and fishermen.
Hyatt also wants to do this whilst supporting the communities in which they work. They have engaged with local schools, hosted farmer’s markets and require five local ingredients to be used on the menus at their properties.
I understand that these changes are not just front-of-house but have taken place in the staff canteen on site. They have sourced cage-free eggs (something that is essential in the EU as caged eggs are now banned here), growth hormone and antibiotic free meat, sustainable seafood and providing items in season rather then flying them halfway around the world.
I have to say it was a lovely evening, and I would wholeheartdly recomment Japengo’s if you are in Waikiki – book early!
On the wider Hyatt issues – I have to say I did notice some menu changes for Room Service recently, but had not worked out what drove them. I have to say now that I understand I think it’s great and something that makes Hyatt stand out for me from other chains.
Dinner was provided at no charge to the author but no suggestions were made about what to write. Photo’s supplied by the Hyatt Regency Waikiki.