Take a Bite

Top of Waikiki marks 50th year

October 6th, 2016

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Foie gras brioche is among the appetizers on the new 50th anniversary menu selections at Top of Waikiki.

Perhaps coinciding with the Space Age that began in fall of 1957 with the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik I, the fascination with technology and the open skies led to the development of spaceship-shaped revolving restaurants in the sky.

The first revolving restaurant opened in 1961 atop Egypt's Cairo Tower, the same year Seattle architect John Graham was tapped to design a revolving restaurant, La Ronde, near the newly opened Ala Moana Center. Then in 1966, came The Top of Waikiki, now marking its 50th anniversary with a recent refresh and a new menu that combines old and new to satisfy both newcomers to the restaurants, as well as old-timers and visitors who return for the classic steak and Bearnaise sauce that owes its existence to a maitre d’ at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The dish dominated menus of the 1960s, right after Julia Child debuted her cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," awakening a fascination with the Gallic table.

It's a chef's dilemma to serve two audiences, but executive chef Lance Kosaka does a great job paying homage to the restaurant's roots while offering up progressive selections at a 21st century pace.

With La Ronde gone, the Top of Waikiki is a treasure that continues to revolve, giving diners a panoramic view from mountain to ocean, east side and west side. Stop by for dinner and enjoy the ride.
Top of Waikiki is on the 21st floor at at 2270 Kalakaua Ave. Open 5 to 9:30 p.m. daily. Call (808) 923-3877.

Here's a look at dishes from the 50th anniversary menu:

I loved these kalbi and kim chee tacos with crunchy summer squash and zucchini, just $10 on the happy hour menu, offered from 5 to 9:30 p.m. daily at the bar.

Ahi lettuce wraps are also on the happy hour menu.

Goat cheese rangoons on the dinner menu.

Fois gras mousse tops housemade brioche, with dots of guava jelly, on the appetizer menu at Top of Waikiki.

Local-style BBQ half Jidori chicken with warm potato salad and veggies is one of the entrées on the 50th anniversary menu.

Filipino cuisine is coming on strong across the nation, and a dish of slow-roasted porchetta was inspired by lechon kawali features a tomato and onion relish, served over mung bean risotto.

Food history lives with an entree of filet Oscar topped with butter-poached king crab legs, asparagus and served with Bearnaise and veal jus, and a side of roasted tomatoes and red bliss potatoes.

I loved pastry chef Heather Bryan's light dessert of pineapple shave ice with coconut sorbet, vanilla bean tapioca, strawberry syrup and sweetened condensed milk.

Housemade doughnuts filled with ilikoi curd and served with strawberry ice cream.

Haupia-filled eclairs served with dark chocolate sauce and candied macadamia nuts.

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 nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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