By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
Oysters that are part of the 53 Seafood Showcase platter. This was the grand opening selection. The actual $30 seafood platter will be portioned for two.
Now open on the site of the former John Dominis restaurant is 53 By the Sea, Honolulu's latest Italian restaurant helmed in the kitchen by a Japanese chef, Hiroshi Hayakawa.
No one who's ever been to John Dominis will see a trace of the former restaurant here. It's given way to a $16 million Mediterranean-style chapel-looking building that will also serve as a wedding venue marketed to Japanese lovebirds.
The 200-seat Italian restaurant is on the ground floor, and a ballroom staircase will lead to the Terrace by the Sea. The two-story, 18,825-square-foot building features two wedding chapels and six banquet rooms in an unbeatable setting right on the water's edge in Kakaako, with a straight-ahead view of Diamond Head.
Whereas the former restaurant was built close to the water, with waves splashing against glass walls, the new restaurant is raised, with glass doors and outdoor seating for those who want to actually feel the ocean breeze and take unobstructed photos.
The restaurant is open for dinner, and lunch service is set to begin around Sept. 26. During a media reception this morning, the restaurant offered a sampling of its menu, with entree prices ranging from $18 for spaghetti Bolgonese, to $42 for grilled Maine lobster with fried island vegetables.
*Note that the dishes below were presented in group portions, and not the actual individual portions.
The exterior of the new 53 By the Sea restaurant built on the site of the former John Dominis restaurant.
The ballroom staircase leading to the wedding chapels.
Chef Hiroshi Hayakawa.
Prosciutto and Pecorino.
Among the beef offerings is grilled Black Angus filet mignon.
Bow-tie pasta and pesto scampi.
The million-dollar view.
The private dining room.
Tadashi Kobayashi, executive corporate advisor of World Dining Inspirations (WDI Group) with pianist Chiyo Flynn.
Ahi is part of the 53 Seafood Showcase platter, which during regular meals is portioned for two.
Caprese comprising Buffalo mozzarella and Hau'ula tomatoes.
Added Sept. 18: I went back and got a photo of the actual shellfish platter, and also saw one of the brides departing by limo: