Taste of Japan

September 5, 2014 | By Nicole Kato

Using traditional flavors and the best quality ingredients set this buffet dining experience apart.

Authentic Japanese cuisine runs abundant at Hakone Restaurant, located in the Hawaii Prince Hotel, and the d├ęcor mimics the wonderful, serene atmosphere of traditional Japan.

“What people really like about Hakone is the quality of the fish that we serve,” explains director of restaurant and special events Aaron Miyakawa, “including the sashimi platters, sushi we serve, and the crab [legs].”

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Numerous sushi and dining options are included in the buffet price ($54/ person; $27/children 6-10 years) such as hamachi nigiri, negitoro temaki, futomaki sushi, vegetable tempura, beef shabu shabu and more.

A line forms each night at the sushi station because everyone wants a piece (or two or three). Each masterfully created piece is one of the highlights of the establishment.

“We only serve six pieces at a time, so everyone can get a chance to go through,” explains Miyakawa.

But not to worry, you can go back for more as many times as you want!

Chef Masami Shimoyama brings the real traditional flavors of Japan to Hawai‘i in all his dishes, a comment that employees hear often from customers.

Some buffets skimp on the quality, but Chef Shimoyama, who came to Hawai‘i from Japan in 1990, takes pride in serving the best quality foods, a gesture that does not go unnoticed by loyal guests. Returning local customers make up around 75 percent of Hakone’s clientele, and they articulate that the fresh seafood and wonderful hot dishes are worth every trip.

It’s hard to pick a favorite when dining at Hakone, but among the desired dishes of course include the traditional construction of sushi, which is made with the just the right amount of rice and sashimi.

Customers also flock to the tempura assortment, which features an amazing daikon radish sauce, as well as the sukiyaki.

Chef Shimoyama’s talent is evident in the sauces that he creates, and he checks each dish before it goes out to make sure it’s spot on.

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The slow-cooked pork kakuni (braised pork belly) is another favorite and melts in your mouth.

No offering of Japanese cuisine would be complete without a wonderful libation pairing, and general manager Ikuko Shimizu brings her knowledge of sake to Hakone.

Her deep knowledge of sake allows her to coordinate the sake with corresponding dishes in the restaurant.

A teishoku set menu also is available, but Miyakawa notes that because of the numerous options in the buffet patrons often choose to go that route.

For those with keiki, Hakone also has an okosama menu for children 6 to 10 years old.

Each employee at Hakone strives to offer the best customer service to every individual who walks through the door, and the family-friend ambiance takes your dining experience to a whole new level of comfort and enjoyment.

Reservations are recommended and can be made online or by phone at (808) 944-4494. Resort or business attire is requested.

Hakone
Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki
100 Holomoana St., 3rd Floor [D:2 Waikiki Map]
(808) 944-4494

Friday to Sunday 5 to 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday to Thursday 5 to 9 p.m.

PHOTOS: COURTESY HAKONE