Shared from Honolulu Magazine
FOR ROUGHLY A DECADE, CHEF JON MATSUBARA OPENED OTHER PEOPLE’S RESTAURANTS WHILE TRYING UNSUCCESSFULLY TO OPEN HIS OWN. NOW, MATSUBARA IS IN THE KITCHEN OF ONE OF THE MOST BUZZABLE NEW EATERIES IN TOWN—AND IT’S FINALLY HIS.
At the corner of Lowrey Avenue and East Mānoa Road, in the gathering gloam of evening in Mānoa Valley, Jon Matsubara is sitting in his empty restaurant talking about chicharrones. Four weeks after he opened Feast by Jon Matsubara, the 46-year-old chef’s first real restaurant of his own, he sold out of nearly everything by midafternoon and had to close early. It’s been the busiest day yet: At the height of lunch hour, Matsubara and a bare-bones kitchen crew of two served up 70 plates every 30 minutes. He should be exhausted. But his eyes gleam as he talks about his chicharrones, which aren’t really chicharrones at all.
“One of my favorite foods is Chinese roast pork. It was always the unicorn dish—people can make it, but how many people really know how to make it good?” He leans forward across the table. “When I went to Japengo (now shuttered, at the Hyatt Regency Waikīkī), there was a Chinese chef named Charlie. He used to own a Chinese restaurant so he knew how to make dough from scratch, Singapore chili crab. We weren’t serving roast pork but because he knew so much I asked him, you know how? He taught me how and that buggah came out good.”