Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s new restaurant concept will be 'quaint, energetic'

 A rendering of Alexander & Baldwin's Lau Hala Shops, the redeveloped Macy's building in Kailua, where Chef Roy Yamaguchi will open his newest concept this year.  COURTESY ALEXANDER & BALDWIN

A rendering of Alexander & Baldwin's Lau Hala Shops, the redeveloped Macy's building in Kailua, where Chef Roy Yamaguchi will open his newest concept this year.

COURTESY ALEXANDER & BALDWIN

By Katie Murar  –  Reporter, Pacific Business News

Feb 7, 2018, 2:55pm HST Updated Feb 7, 2018, 3:49pm HST

Renowned Hawaii Chef Roy Yamaguchi will open his newest restaurant concept this year, and it will be designed with the residents of Windward Oahu in mind.

Yamaguchi has not yet started his build out of the approximately 3,500-square-foot space, which will be called Goen Dining + Bar and be located at Alexander & Baldwin's Lau Hala Shops in Kailua, a shopping and dining complex that is still under construction.

“We still haven’t gotten possession of the premises, so we haven’t started construction,” Yamaguchi told Pacific Business News, adding that the new restaurant will be a “one of a kind concept.”

He said he hopes the restaurant will open in September.

“We are very happy that A&B gave us the opportunity to go into the old Macy’s spot, and we are hoping the town of Kailua will be happy that we will be representing their town in a very special concept,” Yamaguchi said.

The name of the restaurant, which will seat about 100 people, is derived from the name of the five Yen coin, which represents the fishing and agriculture industries.

“If you look at the actual coin, there is a hole in the middle of it, and in Japan as kids we used to give the coins to friends and they would tie a string through it and put it around their neck,” Yamaguchi said. “It was a sign of friendship. We thought it would be cool to have a restaurant with a name that incorporated the agricultural history of Kailua along with friendship, because that is what we are about as a business.”

Yamaguchi is beginning to conceptualize the restaurant’s menu and design, which is intended to reflect the town of Kailua. Construction of the space may begin as soon as next month.

“We want it to be a smaller restaurant that will fit into the town of Kailua and be more of a neighborhood restaurant that people want to come to. It will be quaint, energetic…it’s going to be cool,” Yamaguchi said.

The Hawaii regional cuisine chef will incorporate a menu that will be locally sourced, with seafood and Asian-inspired flavors.

“We try to blend in with the community we are in. That has always been our goal, to be a community-based restaurant wherever we go, just like how we started in Hawaii Kai,” Yamaguchi said.

This year marks the 30-year anniversary for Roy’s Restaurants, and a year-long roster of events kicks off on Thursday at the original Hawaii Kai location, which first opened in 1988, and will reach his four other locations in the Islands.

“We will have events throughout our restaurants on Oahu and the Neighbor Islands throughout the year, and end with a final party on Dec. 2 in Hawaii Kai,” Yamaguchi said, adding that other local chefs will participate in the celebration, including Alan Wong, Andrew Le, Lee Anne Wong and Chris Kajioka.

Yamaguchi added that the price of the new restaurant will be similar to Eating House 1849, a concept that he launched in 2015 on Kauai, and has since expanded to two other locations. He owns about 30 Roy’s Restaurants in the United States and Guam.