Sneak peek with Neiman Marcus’ new chef

Neiman Marcus Executive Chef Lawrence Nakamoto. — photo from Mariposa

There’s a new chef in charge at Mariposa, but don’t worry — he’s not going to take away your favorite lobster club and crab salad.

Lawrence Nakamoto has already been with Neiman Marcus in Ala Moana for three and a half years, so he knows what works in their signature restaurant. The department store had been looking for a new executive chef for several months, and Nakamoto had to interview with all the other candidates to show that he could stand out from the rest.

We got to meet him recently and get a taste of what he’s doing at the restaurant as he transitions into his new role. He definitely understands the corporate style of Neiman Marcus dining, but is putting a few personal touches for local flavor. And the menu will change again in September, as Nakamoto incorporates more of his style with Italian cuisine and Asian influences.

Okay, the Asian part I got, but where did he learn Italian? Turns out that he had spent four years with chefs Philippe Padovani and Donato Loperfido at their restaurants Elua, Sapori Enoteca and Padovani’s Grill.

Nakamoto’s surf ‘n turf for the special wine dinner, featuring a roasted filet of beef and Tristan lobster tail.

Nakamoto’s real debut dinner will be on August 17, where he will present a wine dinner at Neiman Marcus with his mentors — Padovani, Loperfido, and Marc Anthony Freiberg (whom he worked under at Mariposa) — a five-course collaboration featuring dishes from each chef. Mariposa’s sommelier will select the wine pairings. Tickets are $150 and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Culinary Institute of the Pacific, of which Nakamoto is a graduate. Call 808-951-3420 or email

If you can’t make it to the dinner, here’s a look at what we had at his preview event. We’re looking forward to see what Nakamoto does with the rest of the menu.

To start, tender grilled octopus with fingerling potatoes, smoked bacon, cipollini, fava beans and a sherry vinaigrette.

You could smell the truffle oil wafting from the potato gnocchi with wild boar bolognese. That always makes such a difference.

Wailua asparagus salad with walnuts, crispy bacon, bacon mustard vinaigrette, and a pan-fried egg.

Grilled beef tenderloin with a — gasp — bone marrow crust roasted garlic potato puree and truffle madeira sauce.

Hazelnut praline pave bars with bourbon anglaise and coffee gelee. I was so full, I could have just eaten a bowl of the coffee jelly and been fine!


Mariposa at Neiman Marcus
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.