Asian and Italian Flavors Collide in Mariposa’s New Menu

Newly appointed executive chef Lawrence Nakamoto adds his personal style and experience to several new dishes debuting next month.
Mariposa unveils a new menu with dishes by newly appointed executive chef Lawrence Nakamoto.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox


Growing up fishing and camping with his family, Lawrence Nakamoto remembers picking little black pipipi that cling to rocks near the shoreline with his dad and boiling them to eat. It’s one of his earliest memories that involve food—and part of the reason why he wanted to be a chef.


“I always cooked in the house,” says Nakamoto, who grew up in Wai‘alae Iki and recalls helping with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals as a kid.


This summer, Nakamoto, 29, was elevated from evening sous chef to executive chef at Neiman Marcus Honolulu, heading the kitchen at the award-winning Mariposa restaurant. He joined the team about four years ago as a line cook.


Starting this week, dishes that he helped develop, from a grilled beef tenderloin with a bone-marrow crust and ravioli stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese, are appearing on Mariposa’s lunch and dinner menus.


The bone marrow-crusted beef tenderloin, a new dish by executive chef Lawrence Nakamoto.
Photo: Courtesy of Neiman Marcus Honolulu


“I look forward to incorporating my personal style, using my training in Italian cuisine combined with flavor profiles from my Asian heritage,” he says.


Prior to Mariposa, Nakamoto, who earned his culinary arts degree from Kapi‘olani Community College, served as executive chef at Il Lupino and sous chef at The Kāhala Hotel & Resort. He’s also worked at ‘Elua Restaurant & Wine Bar, Sapori Enoteca and Padovani’s Grill under mentors Philippe Padovani and Donato Loperfido. (All three restaurants have since closed.)


One of the new dishes really showcases this fusion of Asian and Italian flavors: Nakamoto combines perfectly cooked scallops with an unagi-furikake risotto, one of his favorite Italian dishes to make, and adorns with microgreens from Mari’s Gardens in Mililani. It’s an interesting take on the classic rice dish with bold and unexpected Japanese flavors.


He also gets playful with a foie gras appetizer, in which he pairs a seared slab of the buttery liver with a savory French toast version of the restaurant’s signature monkey bread and puffed rice crackers.


The scallops with Risotto infused with asian flavors.


An unexpected take on foie gras, served atop a French toast version of the restaurant’s monkey bread.


Since the restaurant serves a fair amount of local diners, especially at lunch, Nakamoto decided on a seared ‘ahi plate—classically local—on a bed of Mari’s Gardens lettuce and microgreens, avocado wedges and halved cherry tomatoes. He also elevated an appetizer of mirin-glazed salmon on wild rice and edamame to an entrée.


This seared ‘ahi salad is geared toward the restaurant’s local clientele.


This salmon dish was once an appetizer, now a full entrée dish, with black wild rice and edamame.


Don’t worry about these new changes, though. Such old favorites as the lobster club, crab salad and Kahuku corn chowder are still on the Mariposa menu.


1450 Ala Moana Blvd., 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, (808) 951-3420