Archive for the ‘Leeward’ Category

4th of July Four Seasons-style

By
July 6th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Glen Almazan oversaw a raw bar featuring crab claws and snow crab legs, and different kinds of poke.

All across the nation, the 4th of July is celebrated with an All-American backyard bash. In Hawaii, the beach cookout is another popular option. So the Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina made it a double celebration when it hosted a grand opening party for 500 with a backyard barbecue extraordinaire, complete with a view of the resortwide fireworks show at the end of the evening.

Guests were welcomed with cocktails and treated to music by Tahiti Rey while enjoying food from a raw bar, seafood paella, bone-in prime rib, roast pork, and grilled corn on the cob which my friends and I were calling magic corn after enjoying a version of it during a visit to the resort's Fish House restaurant. (This was a pared down version, so you'll just have to go to the restaurant to get the full impact of just how good it is.)

Fireworks above the palm trees.

In addition to his welcoming remarks, Jeff Stone, founder of The Resort Group behind the development of the Four Seasons property, formerly the Ihilani Resort. Looking to Maui for inspiration, he said he envisions Ko Olina as "Wailea on Oahu," as a draw for travelers, with the aim of creating another economic engine for Hawaii.

Well, they certainly started with a bang!

Biggest wok ever.

Welcoming cocktails.

A table set with bone-in prime rib and tomato and arugula salad.

Roast herbed potatoes and a view of the beachfront lawn.

More prime rib making its way to other stations across the lawn.

Paella for 500.

Grilled corn being plated for service.

I had a view of the fireworks from the adult pool deck.

PHOTO BY MELISSA CHANG

Gangsta pose at the end of the night with Sean Morris, with Four Seasons caps added to our red, white and blue outfits.


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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.

First Course: Inside Fish House, at the new Four Seasons Ko Olina

By
June 29th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

It took three to bring this three-tiered Fish House Tower to the table. From left, Four Seasons Ko Olina general manager Sanjiv Hulugalle, Fish House chef Ray German and Fish House general manager Thomas Stone.

I've been so busy keeping my eye on soon-to-open restaurants in Waikik that I overlooked what was going on in Ko Olina, where The Four Seasons Resort Oahu has opened to all in need of an escape from their daily routines.

To celebrate, the resort at Ko Olina is offering Hawaii residents (with valid ID) a 50 percent off best available room rate (about $595 per night to date) from June 29 through Dec. 19, 2016, with complimentary amenities including valet parking and Internet access throughout the resort.

Coinciding with the hotel opening is the debut of dining areas on site, including the Hokule'a Coffee Bar, the luxury Italian restaurant Noe, and the casual-luxe, beach-front, line-to-table restaurant, Fish House.

The restaurants opened to hotel guests yesterday before opening to the public today. A visit to Fish House netted an abundance of seafood and other dishes with chef Ray German's signature Latin flair.

In spite of all the luxury the Four Seasons stands for, this place is far from stodgy. Dishes of burgers, steaks and seafood are presented in a room with a rustic, beachy vibe that suits the location mere steps from sand and sea.

Here's a quick peek that doesn't begin to give a complete picture of the number of dishes and sides available. This being the Four Seasons, sandwiches are $22, 8- to 14-oz. steaks are about $48. Budget accordingly.

A fish scale pattern graces the bar at Fish House.

To the side of this lounge area is a pool table.

To the side of this lounge area is a pool table.

An amuse of cubed mango topped with black sea salt, with lardon and uni.

At a restaurant named Fish House, your first thought may be to get the Fish House Tower, configured to suit your party size, and starting at $35 for four seafood selections for one to two. This is essentially a large ($125 for four to five people) with the addition of two whole Keahole lobsters at $55 each.

The large tower also comes with two kinds of poke, here the traditional ahi with ogo and onions, and one of the specials for the summer's day was ceviche with lime, orange slices and avocado.

Kim Shibata wanted an overhead vantage of the feast.

Libations include many a craft cocktail, beer, wine, kombucha, cold-pressed juices and this Pineapple Elyx-ir of local pineapple juice, pomegranate, hibiscus, champagne, bitters and vodka. Share it with friends, or not.

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The Fish House salad is a cross between a wedge salad and old-fashioned shrimp-and-crab Louie, topped with shaved bonito. Mix in the poached egg.

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As good as all the dishes were, no one could get enough of the spiced-up North Shore corn on the cob with lime, smoked paprika, creamy condensed milk aioli and Parmesan cheese. The corn itself was so fresh and sweet, the perfect texture. A definite OMG moment.

Grilled onaga was served with chili water and flavored vinegar.

A healthful starter of chilled avocado drizzled with quinoa and hazelnut crumble, and cider vinegar.

One of the entrances to the restaurant.

Looking down from the lobby level to one of three pools. Fish House restaurant is next to the pool.

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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.

Yo quiero Coquito's, en Waianae

By
March 16th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Mofongo is one of the specialties available at Coquito's Latin Cuisine in Waianae. This one is topped with a veggie sauté, but diners also have a choice of proteins.

It's not often that I visit Waianae because I have no reason to be there. One of the last times I was there was to drop off a ring-neck parakeet that flew into my life and needed a good home with a couple who love and care for hundreds of birds, from chickens to macaws.

Farrington Highway from Nanakuli to Waianae is an arid stretch and the sights include all the usual suspects popular in any local community—burger joints, poke and seafood stops, drive-ins and bake shops.

Honolulu is large enough to accommodate other outliers such as the occasion Jamaican jerk, Peruvian and Middle Eastern specialists, but in the relatively insular Waianae community, Coquito’s Latin Cuisine stands out as the one restaurant that doesn’t belong.

The setting was simply a matter of convenience for Stevina Kiyabu, who hails from Puerto Rico but married local. Trained as a pastry chef at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, cooking was in her blood, and in looking at the demographics of Waianae, she saw there is a sizable population of Puerto Ricans. So, she opened Coquito’s in 2012. Since then, it’s become a popular stop for a military personnel from her native country in search of a homey taste of the Mother Land, as well as locals from all parts of the island eager to try authentic Latin cuisine. Last year, she opened Valentina's Ristorante, serving up Italian fare about a block away from Coquito's. I'll be checking that out some other time.

The restaurant is in a charming plantation-style house along Farrington Highway. If west-bound, look for it on the left side of the road.

The menu is manageable for a small kitchen, yet manages to pay homage to specialties of Cuba, the Caribbean and Argentina. Dishes tend to be heavy, so you would have to make several return trips to fully explore the menu.

The most novel of the dishes is mofongo, an African-influenced dish of mashed fried plantains studded with bits of bacon and garlic for extra flavor. (It's their equivalent to American mashed potatoes.) Atop this mini plantain “platter” sits your choice of entrée options such as sautéed shrimp ($16), grilled steak ($14), pernil (roasted pork shoulder, $14), or stir-fried vegetables ($12) that add juiciness to the dish. The mofongo dries out quickly and is best eaten when hot and the exterior is more crispy than spongy.

Each entrée comes with a choice of two sides. These are habichuelas, a mild stew of kidney beans; tostones; white rice; gandule rice; fried yucca; sweet plantains; and potato salad or mixed green salad.

The gandule rice is one of the dishes that differentiates Kiyabu’s cooking with that of locals who grew up with black olives in their rice.

“Local Puerto Rican food is very different from food at home,” Kiyabu said. “One old lady told me that when they immigrated here, it was hard to find certain ingredients, so used what they could find. To this day, they add black olives, but I use green, the Spanish olives.”
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Coquito’s Latin Cuisine is at 85-773 Farrington Highway, Waianae. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. Call (808) 888-4082. Costs about $25 to $40 for two for lunch or dinner; BYOB.

Camarones al Ajillo, shrimp sautéed with garlic and cilantro, is served over tostones, or double-fried plantains. The shrimp is yummy, but as an appetizer, it is so very very filling because of the deep-fry component. Recently, $14.

I'm not a big fan of carbs, so even though the beef-and-potato Colombian empanadas are also delicious, they leave me too full to enjoy the entrées. It's lightened with a side of tomato salsa.

A juicy pork-filled pastele comes with two choices of sides. Here, it's gandule rice and sweet plantains.

Habichuelas is another side offering. The stewed kidney beans might be compared to a mild, sausage-less version of Portuguese bean soup.

Caribbean jerk wings are slathered with a sweet-sour sauce. I'd rather taste more jerk.

A Cuban on Italian bread with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and plenty of mustard. This plate features a side of yucca frita.

Chuleta de cerdo sounded delicious, but the onion-topped pork chop was rather staid.

In contrast to the pork, the Argentinian flank steak served with garlicky, verdant chimichurri sauce is muy delisioso. Me gusto mucho!

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