Pau Hana Patrol: Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto

Aug. 21, 2014 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition
Happy-hour specials at Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto include the parma prosciutto flatbread, foreground, and onion rings. The food's low prices encourage sampling. (Bruce Asato / basato@staradvertiser.com)

Happy-hour specials at Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto include the parma prosciutto flatbread, foreground, and onion rings. The food’s low prices encourage sampling. (Bruce Asato / basato@staradvertiser.com)

BY CHRISTIE WILSON / cwilson@staradvertiser.com

Most days my life feels like one of those fast-motion videos — it’s all a herky-jerky blur.

That’s why at the end of the day it’s so nice to find a quiet place where you can finally exhale and release the tension gripping your shoulders.

And when that place is smack in middle of the urban bustle, not far from the office, all the better.

Mimasuya Italiano of Kyoto is such a place, located in the Uraku Tower off Kapiolani Boulevard. Another major stress reliever: Parking is free in the underground lot.

MIMASUYA ITALIANO OF KYOTO

1341 Kapiolani Blvd No. 101

951-9000
mimasuyaitaliano.com

Happy Hour:
5-7 p.m. daily

» $2 off beer and wine by the glass ($3 Budweiser, Bud Light; $4 Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Longboard, house wines)
» $4-$6 plates include caprese, shrimp puttanesca, sauteed garlic mushrooms, garlic fried potatoes, onion rings, crispy calamari, garlic octopus, smoked duck
» $5.50-$6.50 flatbread

THE EXPERIENCE

The picture windows, mirrored bar and understated, modern decor make this a bright, elegant establishment for pau hana drinks with co-workers or the girls, or for an early start to the evening with your significant other.

Happy hour is confined to the restaurant’s small lounge. We counted nine seats at the bar and four bar-height tables. It seemed a little odd at first that the tables were arranged two on each side of an etched-glass divider, but the separation afforded some privacy from eavesdropping.

The atmosphere, scored by smooth jazz, was hushed but not in a forced way. The service was what you’d expect at a white-linen restaurant: attentive, competent and friendly.

THE FOOD

The happy-hour menu reflects Mimasuya’s Japanese-style Italian cuisine — though the blend is not always successful.

Portions are much smaller than at your average local-style pub, but that’s an advantage here, allowing patrons to run through the menu.

The shrimp puttanesca ($4) offered seven pieces drenched in a tangy sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, capers, black olives and garlic served atop a bed of greens. We didn’t want the savory sauce to go to waste so we requested some bread to sop up the goodness.

The sauteed garlic mushrooms ($4) were undercooked, with spongy feel and earthy flavor intact. The dish could have used more of the aromatic garlic, olive oil and herb butter sauce that generously bathed the garlic octopus ($6). (More bread, please!)

The bruschetta’s ($4) lightly grilled bread slices — not the tooth-cracking baguette crostini we’re used to — provided a weak platform for a dense but garden-fresh topping of Kunia tomato, basil and olive oil, making it messy to enjoy.

The crust of the parma prosciutto flatbread ($6.50) tasted more like a commercially produced flour tortilla than artisanal bread. In fact, it was so thin and flaccid that I had to roll it up and eat it like a taquito.

Most vexing of all were the specialty Mimasuya crab cakes ($6). The mushy mix of Dungeness crabmeat wrapped in crispy yuba (tofu skin) with an aioli drizzle was a real East-West head scratcher. A large part of the confusion was that trio of “cakes” resembled spring rolls more than patties. An accurate menu description might have better prepared us for what to expect — but wouldn’t have helped overall.

Michael Lopez is Mimasuya's restaurant and bar manager. (Bruce Asato / basato@staradvertiser.com)

Michael Lopez is Mimasuya’s restaurant and bar manager. (Bruce Asato / basato@staradvertiser.com)

THE DRINKS

A $2 happy-hour discount is offered on select bottle beers and house red and white wine by the glass. There are no deals on cocktails, but the beer and wine choices were more than adequate for this type of outing.

THE VERDICT

The relaxed mood and upscale decor make Mimasuya Italiano a quiet pau hana oasis offering great value. And if the food wasn’t quite rave-worthy, the prices left us smiling and vowing to return. At $4 to $6 per plate, you’ll be tempted to sample more of the menu, which adds to the fun.

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