PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Mina is excited to be opening his first restaurant in Hawaii. Stripsteak by Michael Mina will open its doors Aug. 25 at International Market Place.
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.
The restaurant's interior hews closely to these artist's rendering of Strip Steak's bar and lounge, and dining room.
"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.
PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / email@example.com
Staffers go through a training session in the dining room, during which Mina Group president Patric Yumul offers serving suggestions and demos the tableside presentation of Michael's ahi tuna (poke).
Michael's ahi tuna (poke) calls for first mixing the egg, then tossing the fish with ancho chili pepper, sweet Asian pear and pine nuts before enjoying on toast points. Different, yet still credible for locals steeped in poke knowledge.
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.
A blessing of the 8,600 square foot restaurant took place Aug. 23. From left are Kahu Cordell, chef Ben Jenkins, Michael Mina, Mina Group president Patric Yumul and general manager Ron Bonifacio.
A trio of cocktails including the Black Tie, a mai tai reimagined with black sesame paste. Delicious! And duck fat fries, regular and furikake, served with a trio of sauces: ketchup, truffle and tonkatsu.
The market price "Luau Feast" raw platter featuring king crab legs, whole lobster, six oysters, six clams, six shrimp, six pieces of sashimi, two sushi rolls and two kinds of poke, for four to six.
The feast was almost as big as Krislyn Hashimoto.
A "small plate" of Instant Bacon comprised Kurobuta pork belly topped with tempura oyster and black pepper-soy glaze.
Blistered shishito peppers with slivers of espelette pepper and daikon sprouts are served over watermelon carpaccio, just in case you get the hot one. I did!
Of course you can't go to Stripsteak and order everything BUT the steak. This market price World Wide Wagyu set features Japanese A5 striploin, American wagyu skirt steak and Australian wagyu shortrib. Yes, the Japanese are hard to beat.
A side of creamed corn with Jalapeño is so ono, $12. At this point, I had to leave for a second dinner, so didn't get a chance to sample dessert. I will make up for it later.
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.