Archive for the ‘Hawaii regional’ Category

First course: Mahina & Sun's

May 18th, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Deep-fried whole snapper, and salads of root vegetables and pohole ferns are part of the Family Feast at Mahina & Sun's.

Following a zombie apocalypse and cut off from the rest of the world, what would we eat?

If you envision such a future, sustainability makes perfect sense. I'm not saying Ed Kenney and Dave Caldiero are thinking in those bleak terms, but with their latest restaurant, Mahina & Sun's, I think they have the opposite in mind—a bright sunny future in which people awaken to caring for the planet and nurturing their bodies in a single move, by choosing foods both healthful and sustainable.

The two have been preaching this concept for about a decade, but takes it even further with Mahina & Sun's, making sustainable seem more palatable than ever.

A "snack" of Sweet Land Farms goat cheese beignets with beet ketchup and arugula.

It all starts with teaching us to love such basics as 'ulu and ugly root vegetables, hairy roots, green tops and all. There was a time I would have lopped off these unsightly ends, but here, they're a joy to pop whole into the mouth, and I was surprised to see my meat-loving friends reaching continuously for the bowls of vegetables and 'ulu.

Kenney would be the first to tell you he could do more, noting that it is still difficult to go without imported oils, beans, grains, Japanese products, pastas and spices, as well as most bar content.

Satisfying kahala (amberjack) crudo with preserved lemon, toasted inamona, purslane and brown butter vinaigrette.

But moreso than most outlets, I see a commitment, not only to the locally grown, but foods basic to the earliest Hawaii settlers. Most chefs, and diners, would find that limiting, but Mahina & Sun's is doing its best to win over a 21st century audience accustomed to getting any foodstuff they want, sourced from all parts of the planet.

It won't be an easy feat bringing diners back to the homestead, but they're committed to trying.

The setting, poolside at the equally new Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club.


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Mahina & Sun's is in the new Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club at 412 Lewers St. Call 924-5810.

Mild, clean-tasting Kualoa Ranch oysters are simply graced with chili pepper water, succulents and slices of kalamansi.

It doesn't get much more local than pa'i 'ai topped with akule. Not for those who don't like fishy fish.

Usually, I would love the Shinsato pork paté, but having so many other good things to eat made it seem less interesting than the alternatives.

The grilled he'e is my favorite dish.

Rigatoni with local wild boar ragu. I don't know how they are able to secure a steady supply of local boar for making this dish.

A pour of smoky bacon broth over swordfish and savoy cabbage. The restaurant is committed to using sustainable seafood based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, but swordfish has a tendency to be dry and is still not one of my favorites. A dish of monchong, however, was perfection.

A pan-roasted half chicken is tasty, but has been inconsistent, moist one day, dry the next. But I love the coriander chutney on top.

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

Going off menu at Forty Carrots

May 11th, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Maui Nui Venison tartare with quail egg, pickled wasabi and chicharron was one of the off-menu dishes presented by chef Jon Matsubara at Bloomingdale's Forty Carrots May 5.

Foodies are always on the prowl for what's new, but to think every diner is thrilled by change is a mistake. There are many more people who seek the tried and true, people I don't understand, who can eat teriyaki beef (or whatever their favorite food is) every day.

Trying to satisfy both kinds of diners is a balancing act for chefs, creatives who for the most part must commit to a menu—whether for three months to decades—but who otherwise get to play and wow us through daily specials and special occasion menus.

Over at Bloomingdale's third-floor Forty Carrots restaurant, chef Jon Matsubara bridges the gap between the two kinds of diners by introducing specials that riff on classic, familiar local fare. He can also go off-menu to create unique dinner menus for organizations or individuals who want to book the space for evening events or special occasions. The space seats 38.

One such recent menu was highlighted by a local, literal and luxurious take on the French beef stew, pot-au-feu, or "pot on fire."

In it, the chopped watercress, salt meat and chili pepper water of a Hawaiian diner was upgraded. The greens and beef were layered with a generous helping of foie gras, followed by a pour of chili pepper bouillon. Served with rice.

And we all had second helpings of crispy chicharrons that accompanied the opening dish of Maui Nui Venison tartare.

For special menu inquiries, email jon.matsubara@bloomingdales.com.

A juicy Hokkaido scallop was paired with Kona abalone in Italian black truffle sauce. Hidden on the other side of the dish was an elegant slice of pork "shumai" freed of its wrapper.

A generous piece of foie gras was layered over three slices of salt beef and presented with chopped watercress for a local-style pot-au-feu. Below, the pour of chili pepper bouillon.

40 soup

Dessert of vanilla bean sticky rice topped with toasted almonds and spearmint, served with ruby grapefruit and lemon-ginger syrup.

First course: Goofy Cafe embraces local

February 6th, 2014
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goofyfishGrilled mahimahi with chardonnay butter and local vegetables. — Nadine Kam photos

In the old model of national invasions, the conquerors would plow over native cultures and instill their own set of values and traditions. The current tide of Japanese investment in our islands is much more respectful. It would seem they like us, they really do, and many, like Goofy Cafe—which I reviewed Feb. 5 in the Star-Advertiser—are doing what they can to help us negotiate a changing world to preserve what we can of our land, sea and culture.

I feel a similar protective instinct toward China. If I had the proper global standing, I would have told their leaders 20 years ago, look at us and learn from our mistakes. Don't promote the automobile. Don't build super highways. Keep your bikes; promote public transportation. They did the opposite to the detriment of their air and quality of life.

At the front of executive chef Keigo Yoshimoto's menu is Goofy's Traceability Report, as well as its food policy, which is "Local first, organic whenever possible." About 80 percent of its food and condiments are sourced locally, from the basics of Kunia tomatoes, Ewa onions and Big Island Kulana Ranch beef, to rum from Lahaina, and honey and vanilla from the Big Island.

The surf-themed cafe is very comfy, done up in rustic style with a warm wood interior. "Goofy" is a surf/skate/board sport reference to that small proportion of goofy-footed boarders who lead with their right, instead of more common left, foot.

These right-footed folks are viewed as being more artistic and rebellious, terms that reflect nicely on the cafe. Here's a look at a few of the dishes.
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Goofy Cafe is at 1831 Ala Moana Boulevard, Suite 201, in front of the Grand Waikikian Hotel. Call 808.943.0077. Open 7 to 11 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for lunch, and 4 to 11 p.m. for dinner. Also www.goofy-honolulu.com

goofykaleKale namul.

goofyajilloA special of Big Island abalone ajillo, with plenty of garlic cloves. There is also a Hamakua mushroom version available daily. The textures are similar.

goofycornKahuku corn penne with cream sauce. (more…)

First course: Kaiseki returns to Hiroshi

February 5th, 2014
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hitakoBraised island tako was the second course served up during the inaugural New Age Kaiseki dinner at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas. — Nadine Kam photos

The kaiseki dinner has long been a draw at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas, but the concept was put on hold after namesake chef Hiroshi Fukui's departure last August.

With the new year, the kaiseki dinner returned on Jan. 28, now showcasing the work of executive chef John Iha, exec sous chef Axelrod Colobang, and pastry chef Cherie Pascua, a former James Beard nominee.

The trio honed their skills in Hiroshi’s kitchen, and are moving beyond “Eurasion”— a fusion of European and Asian aesthetic, opening the menu to a world of flavors and ingredients. Even so, the menu is rooted in local meat, seafood and produce in the belief that helping local producers enriches the entire community in terms of sustainability and livelihood.

The nine-course "New Age Kaiseki" dinner was priced at $75 per person, with six-course wine pairing set at $25.

To get on the mailing list for future dinners, email cgomez@dkresturants.com.

Here's what was on the inaugural menu:

carpaccioFirst course: Mekajiki carpaccio with sesame oil-chive relish, chili pepper water vinaigrette, micro greens and truffle oil. Accompanied by Birichino Malvasia Bianca. (more…)

First Course: Chai's open on Kapiolani

March 12th, 2013
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chai barNadine Kam photos
Restaurateur Chai Chaowasaree at the bar of his new restaurant with some of his crew, from left, Cody Kalua, Kevin Malama and Anthony Murata.

Chai Chaowasaree marked the grand opening of his new restaurant, Chef Chai, with a celebration that took place March 9 at Pacifica Honolulu, 1009 Kapiolani Boulevard.

The restaurant has elegant, sophisticated appeal, and though it looks just as spacious as his former Chai's Island Bistro digs at Aloha Tower, he said it's an illusion. The new restaurant seats 100, but appears larger because of its horizontal layout.

There's also a private dining room that seats about 16 to 18, though if you have a couple more guests, where there's a will there's a way I always say.

The menu makes a more healthful departure from his previous menu, as the chef acknowledges Honolulu's graying population. I grew up with the original "name" chefs who got their start in the late '80s, so we're all in the same boat and looking for food that tastes great, with less salt, sugar and fat than the typical restaurant menu.

That doesn't mean there's any lack of flavor, and anyone walking in cold would not miss a thing, as the dishes he served that night proved.

This particular stretch of Kapiolani is rapidly becoming Health Row, with the raw vegan Greens & Vines leading the charge at 909 Kapiolani, and organic-oriented Blue Tree Cafe also in the Pacifica building. They make it easier to start eating healthier.

chai heaterSpace heaters outside keep diners toasty when the mercury dips.

chai roomGorgeous interior.

chai privateThe private dining room.

chai salmon2Gravlax salmon roulade with cream cheese and crab meat on cucumber.

chai pokeAhi tartare in mini waffle cones.

chai escargotEscargot in pastry cups.

chai chickenChicken satay.

chaioysterOysters with lemongrass-garlic mignonette.

chai rollGarlic gochujang shrimp and apple kimchee summer rolls.

chai hamachiHamachi!

chai kataifiChai's signature kataifi-wrapped shrimp with pineapple.

chai seabassMiso Chilean sea bass over steamed coconut milk-ginger brown rice.

chai wontonSun-dried tomato and Puna goat cheese wontons with spicy relish.

chai crabcakeAlaskan king crab leg crabcakes were presented with roasted garlic aioli. The full dish also features tomato-mango salsa.

chai chopsGrilled Mongolian lamb chops.

chai bottleHave bottle will travel! A passerby just stopped in to check out the new restaurant en route to a party at one of the Pacifica condos.

chai oxtailThai-style oxtail soup with lemongrass broth.