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Before the year comes to a close, indulge in some of the exciting changes in the islands’ cuisine scene. There are new chefs and new spaces—not to mention, one special anniversary for one of Hawai‘i’s best known chefs.

Try the scallop butter yaki at Japengo, where top toque Jon Matsubara recently joined as chef de cuisine.

1. Japengo
Celebrated chef Jon Matsubara may have changed restaurants, but he hasn’t gone far, leaving his post at Azure for chef de cuisine at Japengo Lured by the prospect of revamping Japengo’s menu with dishes that rely on local meats, seafood and other ingredients, Matsubara says he’s also thrilled to have what he calls “really strong weapons,” namely three experienced (and very skilled) Japanese sushi chefs and a wok specialist, who’s already whipped out a dazzling foie gras char siu bao. “The new menu will be more contemporary and more fun,” he says, citing a recently created dish—Smokin’ Sushi with Kobe beef carpaccio wrapped around a Kona lobster rolled, then torched. “We’re calling it Beef and Reef.” Hyatt Regency Waikiki, 2424 Kalākaua Ave., Waikīkī, 237.6180,

2. Merriman’s
In December, Peter Merriman’s namesake restaurant will celebrate its 25th anniversary with an All Big Island Grown celebration, honoring the island’s farmers and ranchers, and awarding $25,000 to five local charities. During the week of Dec. 9-13, diners also will be offered a special three-course anniversary menu, featuring grass-fed beef, lamb and local produce, all grown or raised within a few miles of the restaurant. 65-1227 Opelo Road, Waimea, 885.6822,

3. 12th Ave Grill
Foodies have been keen to visit Kaimukī’s ever-popular 12th Ave Grill at its more spacious digs at the former Victoria Inn. With double the space, owner Kevin Hanney now has a dining room suitable for private events and a true bar and lounge showcasing housemade bitters, liquors and rotating craft beers. Plus, there’s a new late-night bites and drinks menu offered after 10pm, and the restaurant is finally open on Sundays, offering family-style dishes. 1120 12th Ave., Kaimukī, 732.9469,

4. Signature Prime Steak & Seafood
Location, location, location. You’ll find that and more at the new Signature Prime Steak & Seafood located on Ala Moana Hotel’s 36th floor and offering 360-degree city and ocean views. But that’s not the only draw. The prime cuts of beef, lamb and pork, along with fresh seafood, are top-notch. Owner Peter Kim also honors his Korean roots, kicking things up with spicy lettuce steak wraps and more. 410 Atkinson Drive, Ala Moana/Kapi‘olani, 949.3636,

5. Sugar House Island Kitchen
Having replaced Tropica at the Westin Maui, this new eatery centers on sustainability, incorporating an abundance of fresh, locally sourced ingredients into its menu. After dinner, be sure to settle at the Sugar Shack Rum Bar and indulge in a signature mai tai. The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, 2365 Kā‘anapali Parkway, Kā‘anapali, 667.2525