Neighborhood Eatery offers a Kailua Vibe
By Brandon Bosworth
When Alexander & Baldwin opened its Lau Hala Shops late last year on the site of the former Macy’s in Kailua, one of its very first tenants was Goen Dining + Bar. The 3,500-square-foot eatery is the brainchild of local chef extraordinaire Roy Yamaguchi, and the space was designed with Kailua in mind. According to general manager Christine Fukada, it’s a perfect fit for the new retail center.
“Our open-air concept and patio seating flow with the walk-around vibe of the shops,” she said. “Offering a little bit of something for everyone, the Lau Hala Shops is a great home for us.”
The name Goen is derived from the name of the five yen coin, which depicts a representation of the fishing and agriculture industries. The restaurant offers Pan Asian/American cuisine with a Hawaii twist. “We wanted to do something different,” Fukada said, “offering guests a mix of small bite appetizers, salads, specialty sushi rolls, along with more substantial main plates in a casual neighborhood setting that is inviting to the community. We want a vibe of good times shared with friends.”
The most popular items at Goen include portobello mushroom fries, kiawe wood grilled salmon, roasted beets with brie, halo halo, and Yamaguchi-style pancakes. Goen’s executive chef Francisco Adolfo has a wealth of experience, having worked at Mina Group, Dominique Crenn, Cory Lee, Pebble Beach Co., Post Ranch Inn, Georis Restaurant Group and Roy’s Restaurants. Yamaguchi works with Adolfo on the creation of each and every dish.
Besides the great food in a great atmosphere, Goen has a number of ways to attract patrons. For example, there is a daily happy hour at the bar from 3:30 to 6 p.m., with specials on drinks and food. Every Friday Shane Kainoa offers live entertainment from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. For late weekend risers, brunch is available from 10:30 a.m. with featured drink specials.
Once a month, Goen has what Fukada calls “a late-night walk-around the market event.” This month’s theme is “Bubble’s n’ Bites.” Taking place Aug. 22 at 8:30 p.m., it’s a sparkling wine event with crab finger sandwiches, nigiri sushi, mushroom fries, blini and caviar.
In addition to offering lunch and dinner service, Goen is available for private functions. “We are available for group lunches or dinners up to 120 people,” Fukada said. “Goen has a private loft that can accommodate 16 guests with audio visual. We also offer full catering services. We recently did a lunch for 150 guests (two waves) in a two-hour period.”
With so much going on, the staff of 45 are always on their toes. When it comes to new hires, Fukada said she looks for “passionate team players with an eagerness to learn.” Goen offers on-the-job training to make sure employees can maintain the well-established Roy Yamaguchi tradition of excellent service.
Though Goen Dining + Bar has been open for less than a year, Fukada has an ambitious vision for the restaurant: “We want to become Kailua’s favorite neighborhood restaurant.”
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COMPANY: Goen Dining + Bar
LOCATION: Lau Hala Shops, 573 Kailua Rd., Kailua
GENERAL MANAGER: Christine Fukada
BENEFITS: Medical, dental, vision