Merriman's at Anaha has named Jon Matsubara its Executive Chef. With his years of experience and success in starting high-end restaurants in Honolulu, we look forward to seeing what Chef Matsubara brings to Merriman's. The restaurant at Anaha is slated to open June 2018.
Read more from the Star-Advertiser, below:
Jon Matsubara has opened three high-end Honolulu restaurants — Stage at the Honolulu Design Center, Azure at the Royal Hawaiian and Forty Carrots at Bloomingdale’s. He’s adding a fourth: Merriman’s Honolulu, set to open in June in the new Anaha complex in Ward Villages.
“I enjoy the energy,” Matsubara said. “It’s always a different concept. When I open a restaurant I always say, ‘I’m going to reinvent myself.’”
The restaurant will be the first on Oahu directly owned by Peter Merriman, an original Hawaii Regional Cuisine chef. Merriman’s more casual Monkeypod Kitchen and Moku Kitchen are partnerships with Handcrafted Restaurants.
“Many people in Honolulu have admired Jon’s cooking for years, myself included,” Merriman said. “Jon shares our vision of minimalist cooking that showcases Hawaii’s great products.”
Matsubara left Bloomingdale’s in January to be Merriman’s executive chef.
The challenges of a restaurant opening teach lasting lessons, he said, comparing those challenges to mishaps in the kitchen. “I always believe the best cooks make the most mistakes. Then you know how to fix everything.”
Matsubara described the new restaurant as a bistro, casual but with a modern elegance. The menu is still in the works, he said. “I see it as presenting local ingredients and turning it into magic.”
The dish he hopes will find a home on the menu is his bouillabaisse, which has taken many forms as he has brought it from dinner at Stage to lunch at Forty Carrots. “I can see that working.”
Matsubara, 45, was on his way to a law degree in 1995, when he decided he had no passion for that and turned instead to cooking. He took a job as a dishwasher at both Roy Yamaguchi’s and Alan Wong’s restaurants, coming in early for his shifts to learn the cooking basics.
After three years he entered the French Culinary Institute in New York and then went to work for some of the biggest names in the business: Daniel Boulud, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Floyd Cardoz. He returned to Hawaii as chef de cuisine at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on the Big Island.
Matsubara views his current gig as about the most exciting he could ask for.
“Kakaako is going to be the future,” he said. “The energy is incredible. It’s not something I’ve seen anywhere before in Honolulu.”