Take a Bite

Restaurant Week is here

November 18th, 2014
PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comTo start the Restaurant Week menu at Arancino at the Kahala, there is amuse bouche, followed by picture perfect caprese, with Ho Farms cherry tomatoes and petite basil encircling an orb of pillowy burrata.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

To start the Restaurant Week menu at Arancino at the Kahala, there is amuse bouche, followed by picture perfect caprese, with Ho Farms cherry tomatoes and petite basil encircling an orb of pillowy burrata.

Restaurant Week is here through Sunday, providing an opportunity to revisit old favorites to see what special they've cooked up for the occasion, or try that new hot spot you've always intended to visit.

It's all for a good cause, created to support culinary education in Hawaii with the eventual completion of the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head.

To entice diners, restaurateurs are putting their best face forward with menus that often read like a best hits list.

There are 78 restaurants participating in this year’s event; here’s a sampling of what's on the menus. Bon appetit!

Arancino at the Kahala

For the upscale Arancino at the Kahala, Restaurant Week marks the opportunity to showcase its Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare, arguably the best uni pasta in town since South King Lounge shut its doors. The restaurant’s four-course dinner is priced at $62 plus tax, with wine pairings for $24, or wine pairings a la carte, at $5 to $9 per glass.

Amuse bouche of Kahuku sweet corn foam with proscuitto di Parma at Arancino at the Kahala.

Amuse bouche of Kahuku sweet corn foam with proscuitto di Parma at Arancino at the Kahala.

Next up is arancini, a seafood risotto ball, and two pieces of grilled calamari, served over squid ink sauce.

Next up is arancini, a seafood risotto ball, and two pieces of grilled calamari, served over squid ink sauce.

The main course is the uni pasta, with the thin spaghetti enveloped in a sauce of white wine-garlic-tomato cream, plus sweet Santa Barabara urchin roe. Swoon! It looks like a small portion but is so rich I was sorry I could not finish it all.

The main course is the uni pasta, with the thin spaghetti enveloped in a sauce of white wine-garlic-tomato cream, plus sweet Santa Barabara urchin roe. Swoon! It looks like a small portion but is so rich I was sorry I could not finish it all.

The meal finishes with deconstructed tiramisu.

The meal finishes with deconstructed tiramisu.

For those who prefer dining midday, the Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare will be offered at a 25 percent discount off its regular $32 price for lunch during Restaurant Week. At Kahala Hotel, 5000 Kahala Ave. Call (808) 380-4400.

Also: Arancino’s original 255 Beachwalk Ave., and Waikiki Beach Marriott locations will be offering the same discount for lunch, and a three-course dinner menu of caprese salad, uni spaghetti and tiramisu.

Búho Cocina y Cantina by night.

Búho Cocina y Cantina by night.

Búho Cocina y Cantina

The rooftop restaurant and bar in the Waikiki Shopping Plaza is offering a four-course, $35 per person tasting menu with room for personal choices.

The menu starts simply, with a salad of mixed greens tossed with roasted pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, Big Island goat cheese and tamarind vinaigrette, then layered with thin slices of apples and jicama and drizzled with honey.

Next comes an appetizer duo of pork belly flautas, with your choice of either a pork belly taco or fish taco. This would be a tossup for me. I enjoyed both tacos, but might go with the deep-fried fish because of the pork belly duplication with the flautas.

Next comes an appetizer duo of pork belly flautas, with your choice of either a pork belly taco or fish taco. This would be a toss-up for me. I enjoyed both tacos, but might go with the deep-fried fish because of the pork belly duplication with the flautas. This is the pork taco.

This is the fish taco version.

This is the fish taco version.

 Course three asks you to choose between a pan-seared duck breast, pictured, the only time you’ll find this on the menu here, or Mexican adobo Jidori chicken breast.

Course three asks you to choose between a pan-seared duck breast, pictured, the only time you’ll find this on the menu here, or Mexican adobo Jidori chicken breast.

I liked the spicy adobo sauce over the Jidori chicken, as well as the jalapeño-bacon potato gratin sitting underneath the chicken. The chicken was dry when I tried it, but they may have corrected this by now.

I liked the spicy adobo sauce over the Jidori chicken, as well as the jalapeño-bacon potato gratin sitting underneath the chicken. The chicken was dry when I tried it, but they may have corrected this by now.

The finale is a dessert of Mexican habañero brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. At first, you’ll pick up the cinnamon notes that distinguish it from every other brownie, before the heat kicks in.

The finale is a dessert of Mexican habañero brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. At first, you’ll pick up the cinnamon notes that distinguish it from every other brownie, before the heat kicks in.

Some of the decor.

Some of the decor.

Buho decor

Mariposa

The restaurant at Neiman Marcus is offering separate Restaurant Week menus for day and night. The lunch menu, at $30 per person, starts with crab and cauliflower bisque, with entrée choices of shrimp tagliatelle or a roast turkey salad, followed by dessert of a chai-spiced panna cotta with winter fruit compote.

The evening menu runs $50 per person with a starter of barbecued tiger prawns, and entrée choice of duck breast saltimbocca or diver scallops with hearts of palm purée, beet greens, oyster mushrooms and seaweed butter. Dessert is the same as lunch. Call 951-3420 for reservations.

Go to RestaurantWeekHawaii.com to see what your favorite restaurants are offering this year.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage appears in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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