Tuesday, November 8, 2011
YuZu splashes into scene
Motoko "Moco" Kubota shows YuZu's lotus pizza.
YuZu Hawaii hosted its grand opening party Nov. 3 at its location on the ground floor of the Ala Moana Hotel. The casual bar concept described as "not your grandmother's Japanese cuisine" is the latest project of Isamu Kubota and Motoko "Moco" Kubota—following Kai Okonomiyaki, Kaiwa and Hale Macrobiotic—who continue to feed us in novel ways.
The couple still lean healthy, using veggie-based mayo, gluten-free tamari, housemade dashi and focusing on locally grown produce.
In spite of their having done this countless times before, the restaurant wasn't quite ready when guests arrived, only to be left standing outside while the room was being set up. Food and drink were also slow to materialize and when platters did arrive, there was so little food on them that a mere six people could clear a whole tray if they merely grabbed two skewers of yakitori chicken.
It got to a point where people stood around the table and swarmed the minute a plate landed. I called it a fish feeding frenzy and Yelper Thomas Obungen corrected that it was more like watching piranha!
I have to admit it was a bit scary, like being in the center of a mosh pit at times when I was just trying to take a photo, surrounded by an immediate circle of photographers, and outer circle of hungry people armed with chopsticks and forks. In those moments, I looked for a gap in the human wall to slip through, without risking grabbing a bite. It made no sense to try to grab a plate either, because by the time you got back, every scrap would be gone.
What I did sample was simple fare of french fries with yuzu aioli, garlic and regular soy beans, and tender yakitori that also paired well with the aioli. There was also a lotus-cheese pizza which could also be doused with Yuzu-It!, a bottled yuzu-pepper sauce.
One big selling point is that most of the menu items are priced at less than $10.
After I left, others who were there tweeted me about the udon I missed. Three kinds—(hoso, thin round), (gokufuto, wide flat) and (futo, thick round), will be prepared fresh daily and cut to order. I look forward to trying it without battling a crowd.
YuZu is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and dinner service from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m., with full bar service, and parking is free at Ala Moana Hotel, or just walk over from Ala Moana Center after one of your holiday shopping tours.
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