Archive for December, 2015

MW tea pairing with Kathy YL Chan

By
December 30th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comFood writer and tea specialist Kathy YL Chan was in town to join Michelle Karr-Ueoka in presenting a tea and dessert pairing event.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Food writer and tea specialist Kathy YL Chan was in town to join Michelle Karr-Ueoka in presenting a tea and dessert pairing event.

The art of tea is relatively new in the West and it's only within the past two or three years that Asian-style tea shops began springing up around town. Even so, sipping on oolong, white, pu-erh and green teas continues to be a standalone experience as we get to know the flavors, chemistry and benefits of the teas.

We have yet to embrace the idea of tea sommeliers that exist in China. Here's one of my earlier blog posts about such an experience: http://takeabite.staradvertiserblogs.com/2012/05/01/opening-the-senses-to-jin-xuans-tea-experience/

Kathy YL Chan is trying to change that. Born and raised in Hawaii, the tea connoisseur now lives in New York and travels the world as a tea consultant for restaurants and hotels, and as a writer and speaker focusing on teas. Somke of her clients include Lady M Confections, Eleven Madison Park, and The Peninsula Hotels.

She teamed with fellow Alan Wong restaurant alum Michelle Karr-Ueoka for an afternoon tea and dessert pairing event that took place Dec. 27 at Michelle's MW Restaurant.

Wine pairing with her desserts is nothing new to Michelle, but she said the event marked her first attempt at pairing teas, a ritual that will no doubt grow in popularity—like beer and sake pairings—as people become more familiar with the teas themselves.

Guests eyes, and palates, were opened as they bit into Michelle's first offering of a Ka'u orange and tropical fruit "Pop Tart," noting how it meshed with the creamy, honey notes of China's Mi Xiang oolong.

Kathy said oolong is her favorite category of tea because it offers the biggest variety and most complexity.

She is currently consulting with a major restaurant set to open here next year.

The first pour of Mi Xiang oolong tea, which was a hit of the day.

The first pour of Mi Xiang oolong tea, which was a hit of the day.

Michelle's dessert of Ka'u orange and tropical fruit "Pop Tart" with orange cheesecake, fresh fruit, lilikoi sorbet, and Hawaiian honey over yuba "puff pastry" boosted the tea's creamy, honey notes.

Michelle's dessert of Ka'u orange and tropical fruit "Pop Tart" with orange cheesecake, fresh fruit, lilikoi sorbet, and Hawaiian honey over yuba "puff pastry" boosted the tea's creamy, honey notes.

A selection of Hawaiian Island Goat Dairy cheeses accompanied by housemade tea leaf lavosh and Da Hong Pao oolong.

A selection of Hawaiian Island Goat Dairy cheeses accompanied by housemade tea leaf lavosh and Da Hong Pao oolong.

We were wowed by Michelle's interpretation of zenzai.

We were wowed by Michelle's interpretation of zenzai.

The shiso-matcha meringue cap was removed to reveal matcha tapioca with azuki, strawberries and black sesame ice cream.

The shiso-matcha meringue cap was removed to reveal matcha tapioca with azuki, strawberries and black sesame ice cream.

The zenzai was paired with Uji matcha from Kyoto, whisked tableside. I loved this  tea bowl, which matched my holiday Smith & Cult manicure.

The zenzai was paired with Uji matcha from Kyoto, whisked tableside. I loved this tea bowl, which matched my holiday Smith & Cult manicure.

Michelle presented an extra "apple pie" dessert to go with the Mi Xiang tea. She had experimented with several desserts in the pairing process, and this runner-up was too good to stay hidden.

Michelle presented an extra "apple pie" dessert to go with the Mi Xiang tea. She had experimented with several desserts in the pairing process, and this runner-up was too good to stay hidden.

Kathy and Michelle became fast friends while working at Alan Wong's restaurant. Kathy, who grew up here, now divides her time between NYC and Hawaii.

Kathy and Michelle became fast friends while working at Alan Wong's restaurant. Kathy, who grew up here, now divides her time between NYC and Hawaii.

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

Fan faves won't go away at Islands

By
December 29th, 2015



At Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks, several retired sandwiches are part of a hidden menu of old favorites that they continue serving because customers can't get enough of them. This one is the CA Flyer, grilled chicken with Island Reds (sweet grilled red onions) and pepper jack cheese. Served with all-you-can-eat fries.

At Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks, several retired sandwiches are part of a hidden menu of old favorites that they continue serving because customers can't get enough of them. This one is the CA Flyer, grilled chicken with Island Reds (sweet grilled red onions) and pepper jack cheese. Served with all-you-can-eat fries.

I don't know about you, but ever since Bloomingdale's and the Ala Moana Ewa Wing Expansion opened, I've been pretty much living at the mall for work-related and holiday reasons.

In between lugging bags, or perhaps needing a break because of it, I ended up eating there too, checking out what's new in Bloomie's third-floor restaurant, and revisiting CPK and Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks.

At Islands, there's more to the menu than meets the eye. About a half dozen retired sandwiches and burgers are part of a hidden menu of old favorites that the restaurant continues serving because customers won't let them delete them from their repertoire.

Among these are the CA Flyer, grilled chicken with Island Reds (sweet grilled red onions) and pepper jack cheese; and the bacon-and-avocado topped Rincon (all the burgers are named after famed island surf destinations), which is otherwise comparable to the restaurant's Maui burger.

Also back by popular demand is the Hana Hou Burger, topped with pepper jack, tomato, lettuce, pickles, a spicy aioli and topped with caramelized Borracho beer onions. It was reintroduced yesterday, and will be offered through the end of January.

Football fans were the first to discover the restaurant's extended happy hour available during Saturday and Sunday NFL playoff games in the bar area from 3 p.m. to close.

Some of the food specials available during the happy hour are kalua pork sliders ($10.59), quesadillas ($5.29), cheddar fries ($5.19) and Island nachos ($8.55).

Sunday NFL drink specials include Bud Light for $3.85 and Bloody Marys for $4.25.

During a visit, I ordered dishes off both happy hour and regular menus:

Islands Nachos disappeared in no time. One does work up an appetite while Christmas shopping!

Islands Nachos disappeared in no time. One does work up an appetite while Christmas shopping!

Love the Buffalo chicken wings. I like the traditional, though the restaurant also offers BBQ and teriyaki versions.

Love the Buffalo chicken wings. I like the traditional, though the restaurant also offers BBQ and teriyaki versions.

Cheddar fries are $4.99, but if you don't mind going cheese-less, ordering a burger will get you all the fries you can eat.

Cheddar fries are $4.99, but if you don't mind going cheese-less, ordering a burger will get you all the fries you can eat.

We attempted to balance out the bar fare by ordering the Kalifornia Kobb salad off the regular menu. It's a great entrée salad, with lettuce tossed with grilled, chilled large dice chicken breast, crumbled applewood  smoked bacon, avocado, blue cheese crumbles, chopped egg, tomatoes and scallions & lettuce,  with a light, creamy vinaigrette.

We attempted to balance out the bar fare by ordering the Kalifornia Kobb salad off the regular menu. It's a great entrée salad, with lettuce tossed with grilled, chilled large dice chicken breast, crumbled applewood smoked bacon, avocado, blue cheese crumbles, chopped egg, tomatoes and scallions & lettuce, with a light, creamy vinaigrette.

The Rincon burger is a hidden menu offering, essentially a Maui burger with bacon, in addition to lettuce, tomato, onion and guacamole. I could taste why customers keep requesting this burger the company tried to retire.

The Rincon burger is a hidden menu offering, essentially a Maui burger with bacon, in addition to lettuce, tomato, onion and guacamole. I could taste why customers keep requesting this burger the company tried to retire.

You can order a single drink or if you don't mind sharing with friends, there's the Punch Bowl for two. This drink is bigger than Ritsuko Kukonu.

You can order a single drink or if you don't mind sharing with friends, there's the Punch Bowl for two, from the regular menu. This drink is bigger than Ritsuko Kukonu.

 Among dessert offerings on the regular menu is the Kona Pie, mocha almond fudge ice cream and cookie crust topped with a thick layer of fudge, whipped cream, roasted almonds and cherry.

Among dessert offerings on the regular menu is the Kona Pie, mocha almond fudge ice cream and cookie crust topped with a thick layer of fudge, whipped cream, roasted almonds and cherry.

Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks is in the Ala Moana Center fourth-floor Ho'okipa Terrace. Call (808) 943-6670.

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

CPK launches its 'Next Chapter'

By
December 28th, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comWild-Caught sesame-seared ahi with seared baby bok choy, over a stir-fry of roasted farro, shiitake mushrooms and red chili.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Wild-Caught sesame-seared ahi with seared baby bok choy, over a stir-fry of roasted farro, shiitake mushrooms and red chili.

California Pizza Kitchen may have started by doing one thing well, but over the years has adapted and grown with its audience to offer a well-rounded menu of salads, sandwiches and entrées to accompany those pizzas and flatbreads.

Because face it, just because your friends want pizza doesn't mean you want it at the same time. We all have our favorite things on the menu. I typically order the cedar plank salmon with salad of white corn, spinach and feta. A friend always orders the jambalaya fettuccine.

Now, CPK is expanding its menu even further with its "Next Chapter" menu, focusing on high quality, fresh and seasonal ingredients.

CPK CEO G.J. Hart said in a press release, “We are upping our game with this transformation," explaining that the initiative addresses today’s more sophisticated diner.

That means, in addition to CPK favorites, diners from city to city will find a new focus on the regional. So, locally, CPK fans will find a trio of new ahi dishes exclusive to Hawaii. The new dishes are being offered at CPK at Ala Moana Center, Kahala Mall, Kailua Town Center, Pearlridge, and at 2284 Kalakaua Ave.

In addition to the seared ahi dish above, here's a look at what's new on the menu:

Crispy ahi egg rolls of wild-caught tuna with avocado and shaved cabbage, served with options of housemade tamari-ginger dipping sauce or Sriracha sauce. The ginger sauce delivers balance. With the Sriracha sauce, all you taste is the sauce.

Crispy ahi egg rolls of wild-caught tuna with avocado and shaved cabbage, served with options of housemade tamari-ginger dipping sauce or Sriracha sauce. The ginger sauce delivers balance. With the Sriracha sauce, all you taste is the sauce.

Poke Chop Chop Salad features a tower of baby bok choy, arugula, spicy kim chee pears, cucumber and cilantro, tossed with housemade black sesame vinaigrette, and topped with marinated ahi. The poke flavor was light, and I thought the poke might be better seared to give more texture to the dish.

Poke Chop Chop Salad features a tower of baby bok choy, arugula, spicy kim chee pears, cucumber and cilantro, tossed with housemade black sesame vinaigrette, and topped with marinated ahi. The poke flavor was light, and I thought the poke might be better seared to give more texture to the dish.

Brussels + Bacon Flatbread in the background is topped with Nueske’s Applewood-smoked bacon, sweet caramelized onions, Brussels sprouts and creamy goat cheese. Yum, a new favorite! The greens make you feel less guilty. If you have no guilt, in the foreground is unapologetic ham and cheese flatbread.

Brussels + Bacon Flatbread in the background is topped with Nueske’s Applewood-smoked bacon, sweet caramelized onions, Brussels sprouts and creamy goat cheese. Yum, a new favorite! The greens make you feel less guilty. If you have no guilt, in the foreground is unapologetic ham and cheese.

If one of your New Year resolutions is to start eating more healthfully, CPK's Harvest Kale Salad offers the best of two worlds: baby kale, thin-sliced Bosc pears, roasted butternut squash, spiced pecans, goat cheese and cranberries for the greenies, and add-ons of, pictured, your choice of salmon, shrimp or chicken (below), for those with one foot still in the animal kingdom.

If one of your New Year resolutions is to start eating more healthfully, CPK's Harvest Kale Salad offers the best of two worlds: baby kale, thin-sliced Bosc pears, roasted butternut squash, spiced pecans, goat cheese and cranberries for the greenies, and add-ons of, pictured, your choice of salmon, shrimp or chicken (below), for those with one foot still in the animal kingdom.

cpk shsalad

cpk csalad

A Sunny Side Up Bacon + Potato Pizza sounded like a good idea, the pizza dough topped with Nueske’s Applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized leeks, thin-sliced potato slices, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and two sunny-side up eggs, but it's missing a sauce. The idea was that, when broken, the egg would provide the right texture, but there were too many dry spots and overall flavor was lacking.

A Sunny Side Up Bacon + Potato Pizza sounded like a good idea, the pizza dough topped with Nueske’s Applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized leeks, thin-sliced potato slices, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and two sunny-side up eggs, but it's missing a sauce. The idea was that, when broken, the egg would provide the right texture, but there were too many dry spots and overall flavor was lacking.

You can get stronger potato flavor from baked potato soup, which can be paired with a half sandwich. This rich and decadent soup is like liquid au gratin.

You can get stronger potato flavor from baked potato soup, which can be paired with a half sandwich. This rich and decadent soup is like liquid au gratin.

Presented here with the BBQ chicken half sandwich is CPK's new Farmers Market soup of butternut squash and vegetables, finished with a drizzle of olive oil. The squash puts this soup on the sweet side.

Presented here with the BBQ chicken half sandwich is CPK's new Farmers Market soup of butternut squash and vegetables, finished with a drizzle of olive oil. The squash puts this soup on the sweet side.

I wished I wasn't so full by the time the fire-grilled ribeye arrived, flavored with housemade pinot noir sea salt, topped with creamy blue cheese butter and served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic wild arugula salad. Alas, I could only take two bites.

I wished I wasn't so full by the time the fire-grilled ribeye arrived, flavored with housemade pinot noir sea salt, topped with creamy blue cheese butter and served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic wild arugula salad. Alas, I could only take two bites.

Wild-caught Alaska halibut gets the cedar plank treatment before being layered over farro accented with butternut squash, grilled asparagus and baby kale.

Wild-caught Alaska halibut gets the cedar plank treatment before being layered over farro accented with butternut squash, grilled asparagus and baby kale.

Dessert is their take on S'mores, served in a mason jar.

Dessert is their take on S'mores, served in a mason jar.

Also new are hand-crafted cocktails like the California Roots, made with fresh avocado, shaken smooth with Svedka vodka, mint and lime, with a fennel salt rim; and the Blueberry Ginger Smash, with muddled blueberries, lime and cranberry, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Domaine de Canton Ginger.

Coming from the land of the trendy diet, CPK is also proactive about catering to those with restricted dietary requirements so can direct diners to low-calorie, vegetarian and gluten-free options. They can also provide allergen information to those with food sensitivities.

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

Holiday grandeur at Chef Mavro

By
December 23rd, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com Roasted Keahole lobster is on Chef Mavro's Grand Degustation Menu, and available as a seafood option on the restaurant's holiday menu. It's served with housemade choucroute, kabocha confit, grilled Brussels sprout leaves, layered over kabocha and crustacean essence purée. Pairing: Morlet Family Vineyards, 2013 Chardonnay “Ma Douce,” Sonoma coast (premium selection).

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Roasted Keahole lobster is on Chef Mavro's Grand Degustation Menu, and available as a seafood option on the restaurant's holiday menu. It's served with housemade choucroute, kabocha confit, grilled Brussels sprout leaves, layered over kabocha and crustacean essence purée. Pairing: Morlet Family Vineyards, 2013 Chardonnay “Ma Douce,” Sonoma coast (premium selection).

AT Chef Mavro, chef-owner George Mavrothalassitis, chef de cuisine Jonathan Mizukami and their team recently made it to No. 59 on La Liste of Top 101 restaurants in the United States, the only Hawaii restaurant to make the exclusive list.

La Liste is based on an algorithm named Ciacco—the nickname of Dante’s gluttonous friend in “The Inferno”—created by French-American computer systems architect Antoine Ribaut. Ribaut drew on data from sources that included 200 food guides in 92 countries, such as Michelin, Gault & Millau and Zagat, and crowd-sourced sites like TripAdvisor and OpenTable.

A committee of experts helped to define the criteria, including the quality of food, ambience, wine and spirits lists, and service, to come up with La Liste for 48 countries.

If you want to know what the fuss is about, now is a good time to sample Chef Mavro's fall menu, with all the luxurious touches you'd expect for season of getogethers and entertaining out-of-towners.

I recently revisited to try the fall Grand Degustation menu of 15 courses, including amuse bouche, intermezzo and mignardises. The presentation may differ from the photos, but many of the grand degustation dishes will also appear as options on the chef's holiday "Art of Pairing Food and Wine" six-course menu, at $148 per person Dec. 23 through Jan. 3 (except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve). Optional wine pairings are $98 per person. You can view the holiday options, including a New Year's Eve gala menu online at chefmavro.com.

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Chef Mavro is at 1969 King St. at McCully. Call (808) 944-4714.

Meli-Melo salad of Upcountry vegetables of the day, Sumida Farms watercress, escarole, crispy mushroom persillade, grilled Ali'i Mushrooms, essence of mushroom vinaigrette and pinot noir sauce. Pairing: Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, 2012 Alsace blend.

Meli-Melo salad of Upcountry vegetables of the day, Sumida Farms watercress, escarole, crispy mushroom persillade, grilled Ali'i Mushrooms, essence of mushroom vinaigrette and pinot noir sauce. Pairing: Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, 2012 Alsace blend.

This is a Hudson Valley foie gras parfait, topped with preserved Black Mission fig, pinot noir gelée and Marcona almond purée, served with a side of toasted brioche. Even though I could not finish all of this, I would not let it go, thinking I might get a second wind and finish over the course of the meal. Pairing: Chateau Gravas, 2011 Sauternes.

This is a Hudson Valley foie gras parfait, topped with preserved Black Mission fig, pinot noir gelée and Marcona almond purée, served with a side of toasted brioche. Even though I could not finish all of this, I would not let it go, thinking I might get a second wind and finish over the course of the meal. Pairing: Chateau Gravas, 2011 Sauternes.

Marseilles fisherman’s soup is a hometown specialty of Chef Mavro, with onaga, saffron, rouille and aioli-topped crouton. This dish made me want to head to the kitchen to make my own aioli so I could taste this every day. So delicious. Pairing: Domaine Ott, 2014 Bandol Rose, Chateau Romassan.

Marseilles fisherman’s soup is a hometown specialty of Chef Mavro, with onaga, saffron, rouille and aioli-topped crouton. This dish made me want to head to the kitchen to make my own aioli so I could taste this every day. So delicious. Pairing: Domaine Ott, 2014 Bandol Rose, Chateau Romassan.

Juniper berry cured opah belly is served with red beets, pickled Japanese cucumber, dill pudding and a crunchy mixture of crumbled coffee flour rye bread which gave wonderful texture and flavor to the dish. Pairing: Pascal Jolivet, 2014 Sancerre.

Juniper berry cured opah belly is served with red beets, pickled Japanese cucumber, dill pudding and a crunchy mixture of crumbled coffee flour rye bread which gave wonderful texture and flavor to the dish. Pairing: Pascal Jolivet, 2014 Sancerre.

Offered on the Grand Degustation menu but not on the holiday menu is chef Mizukami's Egg "Osmose" creation, a poached Peterson Farms egg  with white truffle potato declinaison: confit, purée and crispy "pomme Maxim's" with pickled shallots and fresh white truffles shaved tableside. There are so many things going on with this dish that your palate will be wondering, "What's this sensation? What's that?" Your brain will just be thinking, "Yummm!" Pairing: Pio Cesare, 2011 Barolo, Piedmont.

Offered on the Grand Degustation menu but not on the holiday menu is chef Mizukami's Egg "Osmose" creation, a poached Peterson Farms egg with white truffle potato declinaison: confit, purée and crispy "pomme Maxim's" with pickled shallots and fresh white truffles shaved tableside. There are so many things going on with this dish that your palate will be wondering, "What's this sensation? What's that?" Your brain will just be thinking, "Yummm!" Pairing: Pio Cesare, 2011 Barolo, Piedmont.

This dish of Berkshire pork loin is also on the Grand Degustation menu but not on the holiday menu. Its essence is Vietnamese, with a crispy belly phó of pork consommé with pickled green papaya, Thai basil and aleppo pepper. The pork medallions are layered over mung bean vermicelli. Pairing: Andis, 2012 Cabernet Franc, Sierra Foothills, California.

This dish of Berkshire pork loin is also on the Grand Degustation menu but not on the holiday menu. Its essence is Vietnamese, with a crispy belly phó of pork consommé with pickled green papaya, Thai basil and aleppo pepper. The pork medallions are layered over mung bean vermicelli. Pairing: Andis, 2012 Cabernet Franc, Sierra Foothills, California.

Roasted Niman Ranch lamb loin brings a taste of India to the experience, with Pondicherry vadouvan curry, a quartet of autumn chutneys such as green apple and dates, cucumber mint raita, and basmati fried rice with toasted cumin seeds. Pairing:  Domaine Faury, 2013 Cote Rotie (premium selection.

Roasted Niman Ranch lamb loin brings a taste of India to the experience, with Pondicherry vadouvan curry, a quartet of autumn chutneys such as green apple and dates, cucumber mint raita, and basmati fried rice with toasted cumin seeds. Inquire about pairing.

Grade 9+  Austrailian Tajima wagyu on the Grand Degustation menu is a $35 add-on on the holiday menu. It's offered with wonderfully textured rissolée potato mochi and Japanese pepper sauce, with roasted carrot and broccolini. Pairing: Col Solare Winery, 2011 Red Mountain, Washington State (premium selection).

Grade 9+ Austrailian Tajima wagyu on the Grand Degustation menu is a $35 add-on on the holiday menu. It's offered with wonderfully textured rissolée potato mochi and Japanese pepper sauce, with roasted carrot and broccolini. Pairing: Col Solare Winery, 2011 Red Mountain, Washington State (premium selection).

Hawaii Island goat cheese mousse is served with caramelized li hing mui green apple sorrel, and topped with honeycomb candy. Inquire about pairing.

Hawaii Island goat cheese mousse is served with caramelized li hing mui green apple sorrel, and topped with honeycomb candy. Inquire about pairing.

Light and refreshing intermezzo on the Grand Degustation menu: honeydew melon in champagne gelée with mint.

Light and refreshing intermezzo on the Grand Degustation menu: honeydew melon in champagne gelée with mint.

Dessert is an either/or option on the holiday menu, but the Grand Degustation menu includes both Waialua chocolate crémeux with coffee crème, cardamom ice cream, coffee flour crumble, coconut gel and crispy quinoa; and an autumn quince declinaision with roasted, pate de coings and coulis, dulce de leche, candied almond and ginger, and Hawaiian vanilla frozen yogurt. Chocolate pairing: W. & J. Graham’s, 10-year tawny port. Quince pairing: Domainedes Bernardins, 2013 Beaumes de Venise, Rhone.

Dessert is an either/or option on the holiday menu, but the Grand Degustation menu includes both Waialua chocolate crémeux with coffee crème, cardamom ice cream, coffee flour crumble, coconut gel and crispy quinoa; and an autumn quince declinaision with roasted, pate de coings and coulis, dulce de leche, candied almond and ginger, and Hawaiian vanilla frozen yogurt. Chocolate pairing: W. & J. Graham’s, 10-year tawny port. Quince pairing: Domainedes Bernardins, 2013 Beaumes de Venise, Rhone.

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

Arancino Kahala's holiday decadence

By
December 22nd, 2015



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comDessert of tiramisu alla fragola, housemade strawberry tiramisu encased in thin sheets of white chocolate colored red for the holidays, is as pretty as any gift you'll receive. With dots of fruit purées and finished with silver powder.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Dessert of tiramisu alla fragola, housemade strawberry tiramisu encased in thin sheets of white chocolate colored red for the holidays, is as pretty as any gift you'll receive. With dots of fruit purées and finished with silver powder.

To celebrate the holidays, Arancino at The Kahala will be offering an exceptional Buon Natale 2015 menu created by executive chef Daisuke Hamamoto.

The seven-course meal runs $150 per person excluding tax and tip, and will be offered four days only, on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Years Day. Wine/liqueur pairings will be offered for an additional $30 per person.

If coming close to the holidays your mood has been more of the "bah humbug" variety lately, this meal will definitely lift your spirits again.

I was lucky to have had a preview of the menu. Upon sampling the second course alone, the Sturia caviar over Kauai shrimp, a male dinner companion let out a hoot, as if reaching the summit of a roller coaster and knowing what comes next, and his giggling like a school girl said it all. I could eat buckets of that dish.

Each dish was greeted by a moment of reverie in appreciation of its precise execution and combination of classic, decadent ingredients, including many of our favorites all in one dish: A5 wagyu, black truffles, foie gras, maitake, truffled mashed potatoes. Even so, it could have been over-the-top heavy, but in chef Hamamoto's hands, the combination was calibrated to perfection.

Depending on when you are able to go, it could be considered a lovely finale for 2015, or a delicious start to 2016.

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Arancino at The Kahala is at 5000 Kahala Ave. Call (808) 380-4400 for reservations.

Starter of a duck foie gras terrine topped with kumquat compote over brioche.

Starter of a duck foie gras terrine topped with kumquat compote over brioche.

The luxury of Sturia caviar over sweet Kauai shrimp. Pure ecstasy!

The luxury of Sturia caviar over sweet Kauai shrimp. Pure ecstasy!

The caviar comes with a prosecco or Stolichnaya Elite vodka  on ice option. Because the sweetness of the Prosecco is in competition with the dish, the Stoli is the better option.

The caviar comes with a prosecco or Stolichnaya Elite vodka on ice option. Because the sweetness of the Prosecco is in competition with the dish, the Stoli is the better option.

A centerpiece of porcini arancini surrounded by petite short rib cuts over a sangiovese reduction.

A centerpiece of porcini arancini surrounded by petite short rib cuts over a sangiovese reduction. Pairing: Chianti Superiore, Antinori Santa Cristina, Toscana, Italy.

More taste of heaven with a first course of a creamy egg yolk and fontina ravioli, butter sauce and slivers of black winter truffles. Very difficult to make and keep the liquid yolk center.

More taste of heaven with a first course of a creamy egg yolk and fontina ravioli, butter sauce and slivers of black winter truffles. Very difficult to make and keep the liquid yolk center. Pairing: Gavi Bianco, La Scolca, Piemonte, Italy.

Next up was a seafood course of scampi al forno, a baked Icelandic shrimp, sweet and lobster-like, split in half and accented with Hokkaido uni. Pairing: Greco di Tufo, Mastroberardino, from Campania, Italy.

Next up was a seafood course of scampi al forno, a baked Icelandic shrimp, sweet and lobster-like, split in half and accented with Hokkaido uni. Pairing: Greco di Tufo, Mastroberardino, from Campania, Italy.

A closer look at the scampi.

A closer look at the scampi.

A5 Miyazaki tenderloin arrived as the meat course, topped with foie gras, sauce Perigueux, earthy maitake mushroom that was crisped on the outside and still tender inside. The works served over truffled mashed potatoes. Basically, everything decadent on a single plate. Pairing: Greco di Tufo, Mastroberardino, from Campania, Italy.

A5 Miyazaki tenderloin arrived as the meat course, topped with foie gras, sauce Perigueux, earthy maitake mushroom that was crisped on the outside and still tender inside. The works served over truffled mashed potatoes. Basically, everything decadent on a single plate! Pairing: Pinot Noir, Chalone, Monterey, California.

As if all of the above were not enough, there is a $30 per person option to have chef Hamamoto come out of the kitchen to personally blanket your steak with shaved black winter truffle.

As if all of the above were not enough, there is a $30 per person option to have chef Hamamoto come out of the kitchen to personally blanket your steak with shaved black winter truffle.

You can also go off menu to cocktails such as the Arancino, in the background, comprising Skyy Blood Orange Vodka, Combier Liqueur D'Orange, Funkin passionfruit purée and cherry juice ($11). In the foreground is the Baci Rossi, a mix of Dimmi di Milano liqueur, Funkin strawberry purée and sour mix, topped with rosemary ($13).

You can also go off menu to cocktails such as the Arancino, in the background, comprising Skyy Blood Orange Vodka, Combier Liqueur D'Orange, Funkin passionfruit purée and cherry juice ($11). In the foreground is the Baci Rossi, a mix of Dimmi di Milano liqueur, Funkin strawberry purée and sour mix, topped with rosemary ($13).

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is 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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