Hyatt rolls out next Maui Tastemakers

The March 24 dinner at Japengo will feature omekase nigiri with fresh fish galore along with four other courses. Hyatt Regency Maui photo

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa’s signature Japengo restaurant in Kaanapali will kick off its 2018 Maui Tastemakers series with a sake-pairing Aipono Dinner on March 24. The five-course meal by Japengo Chef de Cuisine Gevin Utrillo and Sushi Chef Jin Hosono will be paired with craft sake from various regions of Japan.

March’s dinner, in partnership with Maui No Ka Oi Magazine, supports the University of Hawaii Maui College Culinary Arts Program with a portion of the ticket proceeds, and provides a chance for the current students to shadow the chefs in the kitchen as they prep for the event. Cost is $125 a person.

“The last three years of the Tastemakers program has been an excellent opportunity to share our local flavors with diners,” says Chef de Cuisine Utrillo. “We’re excited to expand the program this year to highlight local culinary students, local ingredients and local beverages.”

The menu includes sake-soy marinated and seared big eye tuna with yuzu pepper cucumber salad and truffle shiso tosa vinaigrette, followed by hamachi and uni yaki marinated in sake-jalapeno miso served with Taiheizan “Grand Mountain” Junmai Kimoto from the Akita prefecture.

Next comes ume-sake braised short rib, savory bread pudding, Hamakua mushrooms and goat cheese tatsoi and smoked tomato jam served with Wakatake “Demon Slayer” Onikoroshi Junmai Daiginjo from the Shizuoka prefecture.

Other courses include omakase nigiri (pictured above); and Japengo cream puff filled with coconut mascarpone, lilikoi butter and dusted with kinako. More sakes will flow.

Upcoming 2018 Tastemakers dinners and partners include Stag’s Leap Cellars, featuring winemaker Marcus D’Notaro on June 9; Maui Brewing Co. on Sept. 8; and Hali’imaile Distillery on Dec. 8. All dates fall on Saturday evenings.

Japengo is open for dinner and sushi from 5:30 to to 9:30 p.m. with expanded bar hours. For reservations, visit