First course: Stripsteak
Whereas I have heard some imported chefs dissing Hawaii's cuisine lately, Michael Mina embraces it. He clearly loves everything about Hawaii, saying that he has tried multiple times to open a restaurant here.
And why not? He's practically a part-time resident anyway, traveling here about five times a year to vacation because he "doesn't want to be disappointed," as he has been when traveling elsewhere.
The reason is simple. "I need the time to unwind, and here, I can unwind in a day. Otherwise, it's hard for me."
So he's thrilled to be opening Stripsteak by Michael Mina at the International Market Place. His restaurant will open at lunch time, from 11:30 a.m. Aug. 25, the same day as the market place, and he'll be here through early September to make sure the operation is running smoothly.
"I'm definitely nervous, I'm always nervous when opening a new restaurant," he said. But he said because this is a city where many people pass through, his waitstaff is accustomed to dealing with every type of patron, and he's happy with the team he's assembled, starting with executive chef Ben Jenkins, an 18-year company veteran whose held the top posts in the Mina Group.
The restaurant represents a departure from the traditional steak house in that Mina said he's noted that people no longer embrace the stereotypical notion of walking into a steakhouse and being almost too stuffed to walk out. He said people want to eat lighter and cleaner.
With Stripsteak Waikiki, Mina is merging the best ideas from his Bourbon Steak restaurants and izakaya-style Pabu restaurants, a combination that fits in naturally with Hawaii's diverse culinary scene, where we are accustomed to preceding main courses with raw selections, and of course, surf-and-turf combos.
He said obsession over great product and great technique, binds the steak house with the izakaya, and both concepts suit the modern diner, who enjoys sharing dishes as a path to exploring more of what a menu has to offer. Especially with the addition of distinct regional flavors.
As for prices, starters range from $8 and $12 for charred edamame and blistered shishito peppers, respectively, up to $21 for chilled lobster tacos and $31 for Hudson Valley foie gras with roasted pineapple, brioche, coconut and macadamia nuts.
Japanese A5 striploin is $34 per ounce, 10-ounce prime flat iron steak is $44 and 8-ounce filet mignon is $54.
Stripsteak by Michael Mina is in the International Market Place, 2330 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 330. Lunch 11:30 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays, dinner from 5:30 p.m. nightly. Call 800-3094.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.