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The Weekly Eater

Nadine Kam

Sunday, September 28, 2003


Chef Kiyoshi plating
for peace at
Youme.n restaurant


With the fallout of war in Iraq threatening to cast a shadow of hatred on Americans for the rest of our lives, it seems that what the world needs now is love sweet love ... but how to get it?

The most proactive and prescient have been vocal in first urging a mix of caution and conversation in dealing with opposition, and now chide -- to put it mildly -- government officials responsible for the debacle that will now cost taxpayers more than $87 billion to "fix."

Many make their own statements through writing, music and other creative arts that communicate tolerance, still others contribute by making donations to relief organizations, or join in rebuilding efforts.

Still others, like artist-sushi chef-musician Kiyoshi attempt to demonstrate peace, love and brotherhood by example, and he has turned all his talent toward bringing people together.


art
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM


There is no more hospitable way to meet than to invite all to one's table for a meal, so he has come to preside over Youme.n restaurant (formerly Furusato) at the Hyatt Regency. You can pronounce that "Yoo-min," short for Shoku Raku You Min. The entire name can be translated as "to eat and enjoy at a joyous place with fun people." The shortcut version, or combination of Japanese characters, depending on who you ask, might also be interpreted as "you 'n me, together." Anyway, you get the idea.

Unusual name, atypical place. As if to drive home the point about fellowship through a shared love of food, Kiyoshi serves what he terms pop-Japanese cuisine that merges aspects of East and West. And why wouldn't we love it? Are we not the same under the skin?

And if you think Youme.n's sister restaurant L'Uraku is colorful, get ready for a paint-can symphony. Like a Japanese version of the Hawaiian demigod Maui, Kiyoshi seems to have lassoed the rainbow, bundled it up, spun it around ... and let go, splashing color throughout the room. It's startling, and transporting. In such a joyous place, you can't help but be struck by selective amnesia. Stress? What's that?

KIYOSHI plays up family dining through sushi platters and entrees meant to be shared, such as 8 ounces of bite-sized slices of black peppercorn-studded steak ($18), or slices of filet mignon ($19.50), stacked with layers of mushrooms and onions, the latter topped with a ribbon of French mustard.

Medallions of baked opakapaka ($15) are similarly stacked and topped with strings of deep-fried potato and slivered almonds.

But do start at the beginning, where poke is given a magical touch. Nairagi, or striped marlin, was the fish of the day when I tried the "Hawaiian Poke Poke" ($5) with its light sauce bearing a hint of chili pepper surprise. Built into the carefully sculpted creation were diced strawberries, onions and threads of shiso, topped off with a small mound of diced avocado. Light and refreshing, it was the perfect starter.


art
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chef Kiyoshi prepares sushi at the very colorful Youme.n restaurant in the Hyatt.


What followed were chicken karaage ($5) similar to mochiko chicken, wrapped musubi-style with an obi of nori, and three deep-fried Kahuku shrimp ($5), slightly spicy and so crisp this was one of the rare occasions in which I could eat the shell and all. I left the head, but a friend polished off hers.

And what's a pop Japanese restaurant without mayo? Here, it's spread across a trio of oysters on the half shell ($9) that have been layered with seafood and avocado, then baked in all its oozy, sweetened custardy splendor.

Just when you think sushi can't be reinvented, Kiyoshi wraps at least eight different kinds of fish and shellfish plus a small chunk of cream cheese in pink soy bean wrapper. Naturally, it's dubbed the Pinky Roll ($18). Tastes like sushi, but I guess I haven't tapped deep enough into my playful inner child. I prefer the more standard Rainbow Roll ($15), which delivers a larger piece of the fish I want.

But the Pinky Roll seems to neatly sum up Kiyoshi's philosophy for residents of Planet Earth: All the ingredients, as different as they are in texture, taste, rhythm and color, come together and the result is pretty good. And that, I believe in his view, is perfection.



Youme.n

Hyatt Regency Waikiki, 2424 Kalakaua Ave. / 922-4991

Food Star Star Star

Service Star Star Star

Ambience Star Star Star Half-star

Value Star Star Star

Hours: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. daily

Cost: About $25 to $45 for two without drinks




See some past restaurant reviews in the Columnists section.



Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:

excellent;
very good, exceeds expectations;
average;
below average.

To recommend a restaurant, write: The Weekly Eater, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or send e-mail to nkam@starbulletin.com


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