Archive for July, 2016

SALT eateries prep for prime time

By
July 29th, 2016



Todd Constantino, executive chef, and Mason Hundhausen, general manager of Moku Kitchen, serve Pumpkin Patch ravioli at a preview event. Photo by Erika Engle.

Todd Constantino, executive chef, and Mason Hundhausen, general manager of Moku Kitchen, serve Pumpkin Patch ravioli at a preview event. Photo by Erika Engle.

At some 8,000 square feet, Moku Kitchen by Peter Merriman will be the largest tenant in Kakaako's SALT development when the restaurant opens in October. Executive Chef Todd Constantino and General Manager Mason Hundhausen, as well as a number of other employees, will be making the trek from Monkeypod Kitchen in Ko Olina to open the new restaurant, to ensure a smooth opening, according to Sara Hill, vice president of development and general counsel for parent company Handcrafted Restaurants.

Some menu items will be familiar to Monkeypod Kitchen devotees, while Moku Kitchen also will offer its own signature dishes cooked in a rotisserie oven. Constantino said the oven and the dishes that emerge from it will give the restaurant a point of differentiation from other restaurants.

To see a listing of SALT tenants that are preparing to open and when, as well as places that are open and operating, keep reading.

Handcrafted pot pies, including kalua pork, traditional chicken, and vegetarian kabocha-kale, as well as other combinations, will be offered at the Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room. Photo by Erika Engle.

Handcrafted pot pies, including kalua pork, traditional chicken, and vegetarian kabocha-kale, as well as other combinations, will be offered at the Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room.
Photo by Erika Engle.

Village Bottle & Tasting Shop, set to open in early August, is a project by Star-Advertiser beer industry writer Tim Golden and his business partner Daryn Ogino. The "beer cafe," as Golden calls it, will offer a rotating selection of beers and wines on tap, as well as savory pies and other baked goods by HI Pie owner and baker Casey Burns (shown below). Village is "Hawaii's first bottle shop and tasting room," Golden says, as it also is a retail shop that will specialize in beers. The business isn't aiming to offer the largest beer selection, "just, the best," Golden said. A certified cicerone, like a sommelier is for wines, Golden and Ogino plan to curate the shop's selection and offer "beer geeks" and beer noobs, or those new to brews, "a really good experience," he said.

Customers who chose to buy a bottle can enjoy it on-premises for a corkage fee, from $2 to $4, depending on the bottle size, "and we'll give you glasses," for sharing with friends, perhaps at the 19-foot communal table, while smartphone and laptop users can avail themselves of the free WiFi.

"We want people to feel comfortable here, even if it's just for 20 minutes," Golden said.

Given his longstanding relationships with local brewers, the shop will feature local beers, both on tap and bottled for sale. "Hawaii's (beer) scene is strong and vibrant, and we want to help that thrive," said Golden.

HI Pie owner Casey Burns with a box full of the buttery-crusted savory pies she baked fresh this morning for service at Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room in Kakaako. Photo by Erika Engle.

HI Pie owner Casey Burns with a box full of the buttery-crusted savory pies she baked fresh this morning for service at Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room in Kakaako. Photo by Erika Engle.

Burns' baked goods also can be found at the four Island Vintage Coffee shops on Oahu, and soon, at Mr. Tea Cafe. One of its two locations is across from Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room.

Mr. Tea Cafe has become a popular stop among Pokemon GO players, as he offers a discount for active players. Owner George Huang's shops in Kakaako, and at 909 Kapiolani Blvd., specialize in boba teas, smoothies, and other refreshing treats. The SALT location has been open two months, while the Kapiolani Boulevard shop has been open about two years, he said.

A freshly made latte from 9Bar HNL Coffee, Breakfast and Bake Shop. Artful latte by barista Ryan Plaza. Photo by Erika Engle.

A freshly made latte from 9Bar HNL Coffee, Breakfast and Bake Shop. Artful latte by barista Ryan Plaza. Photo by Erika Engle.

Set to open in early August, 9Bar HNL Coffee, Breakfast & Bake Shop is a modern, gleaming mom-and-pop run by former coffee wholesalers Stephen and Tracey Seta. You will not find a countertop espresso machine. Instead, the equipment is built into the counter providing a more open feeling between customers, the barista, and the kitchen in back. Traditional coffee, fancier coffees such as espressos, lattes and the like, as well as still, cold-brews and nitro brews also will be available. The shop's beverage-making technology also will enable customers to order sparkling juices and teas, said Tracey Seta. As for the business name, 9Bar refers to "the pressure required to extract the perfect espresso shot," Stephen Seta said.

Gabrielle Sanehira, an employee at photography shop Treehouse, holds a vintage camera as an example of the store's merchandise. Photo by Erika Engle.

Gabrielle Sanehira, an employee at photography shop Treehouse, holds a vintage camera as an example of the store's merchandise. Photo by Erika Engle.

Photography buffs may already be familiar with Treehouse's Ward Avenue location, above Kramer's Big & Tall shop. It will be moving to the second floor of SALT, set to open by the end of the year. It will be located near the elevators, said employee Gabrielle Sanehira. The photography shop sells vintage cameras, film, and other accoutrements for photogs and hobbyists who like to keep it old-school.

Open, or preparing to open at SALT:

• ARVO - cafe and lunch spot, inside Paiko - open and operating.

• Bevy - a bar and restaurant, often with live entertainment - open and operating.

• Hank's Haute Dogs - gourmet hot dogs, burgers, Italian beef sandwiches and more - open and operating.

• Highway Inn - Hawaiian food and other local favorites - open and operating.

• Juic'd Life - cold-pressed juices - open and operating.

• Lanikai Juice - juices, smoothies, bowls, more - open and operating.

• Lonohana Chocolate - a Manoa-based maker of estate-grown chocolates - opening date pending.

• Moku Kitchen - a new restaurant concept by chef and restaurateur Peter Merriman - opening in October.

• Morning Brew - a Kailua favorite coffee shop and restaurant - opening in the fall.

• Mr. Tea Cafe - specializing in boba teas, smoothies and other refreshments - open and operating.

• 9Bar HNL Coffee, Breakfast and Bake Shop - specialty coffees, teas, all-day breakfast and baked goods - opening early August.

• Orange Theory Fitness - a gym and health studio - opening in the fall.

• Paiko - botanical boutique - open and operating.

•  Sprint - mobile communications, other services - open and operating.

• Starbucks - specialty coffees, meals, baked goods and other snacks - open and operating.

• The Boiling Crab - seafood restaurant, think brown paper on the tables. Its first location in Hawaii - to open first quarter of 2017.

• Treehouse - cameras, vintage cameras, film, and other photography needs - opening by the end of the year.

Save

Save

Posted in Eating Out, Food, Shopping | Comments Off on SALT eateries prep for prime time

Only one Hawaii restaurant among the nation's most-scenic

By
July 27th, 2016



According to diners who use OpenTable.com, Mama’s Fish House in Paia, Maui, is the only restaurant in Hawaii that deserves to be listed among the 100 most-scenic U.S. restaurants.
OpenTable.com released its annual list today, compiled from some five million reviews submitted by what OpenTable calls verified users of the site. The reviews covered more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The big winner among the states was California with nearly one quarter of all the listed restaurants, followed by Washington state with 11, and Florida with seven.
States with four restaurants each include Michigan, Nevada and New York, while Arizona, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia each have three.
Other states that beat Hawaii, according to OpenTable.com users, were Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, and Utah, with two scenic restaurants apiece.
Alongside Hawaii, other states with one restaurant each on the list are Alaska, Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

The full list, as posted online, http://www.opentable.com/m/most-scenic-restaurants-2016/ includes the tricky addition of the Chart House's national locations, that are not individually cited on the overall list. The locations listed do not include the similarly named Waikiki restaurant.

Posted in Food | Comments Off on Only one Hawaii restaurant among the nation's most-scenic

Super-fresh salad

By
July 27th, 2016



A Snip and Serve Salad is the ultimate in freshness. PHOTO BY BRUCE ASATO refreshingly dePapaya Seed Dressing - paired with Champalou Vouvray, Loire, France, Poseidon Chardonnay, USA. (Diners were asked to snip hydroponically grown greens in a container). Danny Matsushita, sommelier with the West Side Wine Club, meeting at the Poke Stop in Mililani Mauka where the diners enjoy a 3-course dinner prepared by chef Elmer Guzman and Matsushita pouring wine, Thursday, July 21, 2016.

Guests snip away at the greens for their salads. Photo by Bruce Asato, Star-Advertiser. 

Farm-to-table freshness? So yesterday. Farm-on-the-table freshness is what you get with a Snip and Serve Salad, as served by chef Elmer Guzman at a dinner last week.

Manoa lettuce from Mari's Garden was brought to the table as whole heads, roots still attached, in pots of water. Clusters of Okinawan spinach also filled the pots, adding splashes of purple.

Accompanying the pots were scissors, and for each guest a plate dotted with feta cheese, taro bread croutons and pickled radishes and okra.

The greens were snipped at the table by the guests. When tossed with the little pickles and a drizzle of papaya seed dressing, a salad was made.

Guzman said he wanted to showcase the fresh produce of Mari's Garden, a hydroponic farm in Mililani, the same neighborhood as his restaurant, Poke Stop. The act of assembling also added an engaging bit of interactivity to the salad course.

The dinner was not normal Poke Stop fare. It was one in a series of wine dinners that Guzman hosts in partnership with sommelier Danny Matsushita's West Oahu Wine Group. More on that in a future edition of Crave.

By the way, Matsushita paired the Snip and Serve Salad with Champalou Vouvray from Loire, France, and and American Poseidon Chardonnay.

 

Posted in Food | Comments Off on Super-fresh salad

Luxury cars, luxury food

By
July 25th, 2016



Chefs Gianpaolo Raschi, front, and Roberti Maurizio familiarize themselves with one of the luxury Italian automobiles that will be part of the ambiance at their new restaurant.

Chefs Gianpaolo Raschi, front, and Maurizio Roberti familiarize themselves with one of the luxury Italian automobiles that will be part of the ambiance at their new restaurant.

On the one hand you have your exotic automobiles — a Lamborghini here, a Maserati there. On the other, some fine Italian food and wine. The twain shall meet at Velocity Honolulu, a high-concept retail-restaurant venture in the soon-to-open Symphony Honolulu condominium tower.

Now, that term — retail-restaurant — might not seem all that revolutionary, until you realize that by retail they're talking very high-end cars and motorcycles.

The JN Group, Honolulu's principal purveyor of fancy cars, plans to add a high-end Italian restaurant to the mix at Velocity, which is principally a vehicle showroom. The restaurant, as well as a more casual cafe and bar, and an enoteca, or wine shop, will join the auto showroom and other retail ventures in the bottom floors of the Symphony tower.

Chef Gianpaolo Raschi's squid in marinara.

Chef Gianpaolo Raschi's squid in marinara.

It takes some imagination to wrap your brain around the synergy here. But Brad Nicolai, JN president, says the idea is to capitalize on the artistic merits of both extreme autos and extremely authentic Italian food.

Chef Gianpaolo Raschi, of Guido Ristorante in Rimini, Italy, will be the "signature chef" of the as-yet-unnamed Honolulu restaurant. Guido has earned a Michelin star every year since 2008.

He will be assisted by Maurizio Roberti, an Italian master chef, who will be based in Honolulu while Raschi travels between Italy and Hawaii.

Sea bass with vinegar, celery and onions, served at Raschi's Guido Ristorante.

Sea bass with vinegar, celery and onions, served at Raschi's Guido Ristorante.

Their menu is in its earliest stages, but both chefs were in town last week scouting local produce and seafood. Guido, a beachside restaurant, centers on seafood and Raschi said his Honolulu menu would do the same.

The auto showroom at Velocity Honolulu is expected to open next month, with other retail components — including a men's shop — planned by the end of the year. The restaurant and cafe are set to open next spring.

Posted in Food | Comments Off on Luxury cars, luxury food

Chef Mavro named one of top 40 restaurants in U.S.

By
July 23rd, 2016



Chef Mavro restaurant in Honolulu was the sole Hawaii representative on the 2016 top 40 U.S. restaurant list assembled by Gayot, an international restaurant, hotel and travel guide.
The restaurant menu, crafted by owner/chef George Mavrothalassitis and chef de cuisine Jonathan Mizukami, "features the finest ingredients Hawaii has to offer, but also supplements them with luxurious imported items like caviar and fresh truffles from France," Gayot stated in its review. It described dishes as "thoughtfully created and well-executed" and referred to the restaurant's seasonal menus and wine pairings.
Chef Mavro is in good company. Among the restaurants named to the list are Alinea in Chicago; the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.; Atelier Crenn in San Francisco; Daniel in New York City; Joel Robuchon Restaurant in Las Vegas; and Jean-Georges in New York.
For the complete list, visit http://bit.ly/2a7ElCM
Posted in Eating Out, Food | Comments Off on Chef Mavro named one of top 40 restaurants in U.S.

Michelin-starred chef hits local food truck scene

By
July 20th, 2016



Ben Jenkins, left, will be executive chef at STRIPSTEAK, one of 17 restaurant concepts by Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Michael Mina, (center). Ron Bonifacio, (right), will serve as the upscale restaurant's general manager. Photo by Erika Engle.

Ben Jenkins, left, will be executive chef at STRIPSTEAK, one of 17 restaurant concepts by Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Michael Mina, (center). Ron Bonifacio, (right), will serve as the upscale restaurant's general manager. Photo by Erika Engle.

To give local people a small taste of what they can expect at STRIPSTEAK by Michael Mina at the International Market Place in August, free Maui onion cheeseburger sliders; BBQ pork spare ribs & charred Mexican street corn; chilled shrimp & onaga bowls, and samples of coconut milk horchata and chef-made “Hawaiian Punch” are being handed out at the corner of Alakea and Beretania Streets until 1 p.m. today, or while supplies last. You will have additional opportunities this afternoon and tomorrow -- so keep reading.

A sample of Michael Mina's BBQ pork rib with charred Mexican street corn was savory, a tad sweet, and its kick of spice came from a brunoise, or fine dice of fresh jalapeno peppers, among other seasonings. Photo by Jose Rodrigues.

A sample of Michael Mina's BBQ pork rib with charred Mexican street corn was savory, a tad sweet, and its kick of spice came from a brunoise, or fine dice of fresh jalapeno peppers, among other seasonings. Photo by Jose Rodrigues.

A bright orange and white food truck parked in a reserved space in a private parking lot, and inside chef Ben Jenkins and his culinary team endured the heat of the morning without the benefit of cooling tradewinds that were blowing about outside, to prepare ribs, sliders and a chilled shrimp and onaga dish. Mina recruited Jenkins from the Michelin-starred Michael Mina restaurant in Las Vegas, to open STRIPSTEAK in Waikiki. Jenkins has been with Mina Group for 18 years, while the restaurant's General Manager Ron Bonifacio, makes the move to Hawaii after opening more than 10 restaurants for the company on the mainland, Bonifacio said.

STRIPSTEAK Hawaii Executive Chef Ben Jenkins holds samples of Maui onion cheeseburger sliders and chilled shrimp & onaga bowls prior to lunch service today. Photo by Erika Engle.

STRIPSTEAK Hawaii Executive Chef Ben Jenkins holds samples of Maui onion cheeseburger sliders and chilled shrimp and onaga bowls prior to lunch service today. Photo by Erika Engle.

The two words "free food" are always a draw, but the words gain a special heft when said food is by a globally known chef and his team.

Anyone who did not make it downtown during lunch hour today can head to Kakaako for the truck's so-called "Happy Hour" from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. this evening at the Honolulu Farmers Market at Blaisdell Center.

Two more opportunities await on Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. downtown at King and Punchbowl Streets, and from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Kewalo Basin at the Makers & Tasters Food Park at 1011 Ala Moana Blvd.

Mina's STRIPSTEAK Hawaii will open at the International Market Place on August 25, alongside dozens of other upscale dining and retail shopping options in the center redeveloped by Michigan-based Taubman Centers. Mina also is spearheading "The Street" at IMP, which the marketing folks are calling a multi-concept gourmet social house. Think Shirokiya Japan Village Walk, only with many varied types of cuisines from around the world. Food halls like these are a growing trend across the mainland.

Mina's plans call for a dozen to 18 vendors in The Street, some of which will be permanent, while others will occupy spaces on a rotating basis, Mina said.

Mina has been a regular visitor to Hawaii for decades, honeymooned with his wife here, and comes at least twice a year. "We tried once to take a vacation somewhere else," Mina said. "We don't try anymore," the family always comes to Hawaii, he said, smiling.

Having arrived last night for this business trip, he and some members of his team ate at MW Restaurant, owned and operated by Alan Wong's alumni Michelle Kerr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka, and Mina raved about every aspect of the experience from "the hospitality to the quality of the food … it was a great dinner," he said.

Save

Posted in Eating Out, Food | Comments Off on Michelin-starred chef hits local food truck scene

Jimbo's 2.0 menu

By
July 19th, 2016



Photos by Joleen Oshiro / joshiro@staradvertiser.com Toro Neba Udon features some of Jimbo's co-owner Makiko Motojima's favorite food items, including mountain vegetables, sea veggies, natto and green onions. Served cold, it comes with a dollop of wasabi. Jimbo's makes its udon in-house daily.

Photos by Joleen Oshiro / joshiro@staradvertiser.com
Toro Neba Udon features some of Jimbo's co-owner Makiko Motojima's favorite food items, including mountain vegetables, sea veggies, natto and green onions. Served cold, it comes with a dollop of wasabi. Jimbo's makes its udon in-house daily.

With udon made fresh daily, Jimbo's has long been a go-to venue to get a consistently delicious, well-made meal. Its menu of hot and cold udon, donburi, curry, tonkatsu, tempura, gyoza and combo meals offer numerous routes for regulars to sate their hunger and a variety of means to draw in new customers.

Yet this year, owners Jim and Makiko Motojima have introduced new items that take their menu to places it's never before tread, with dishes that will appeal to foodies' love of big flavors and culinary adventure, not to mention top-quality ingredients.

Much of this starts with a versatile sauce they call Jimbo's Ultimate Sauce, which goes with everything from fish and chicken to tempura, gyoza and salad. The sauce is the result of 25 ingredients concocted using a multitude of steps and cooking techniques, said Jim.

The Black Goma Tan Tan Udon combines a black sesame seed sauce with spicy chilies, garlic, ginger and other items for a Chinese-flavored bowl of goodness. It took Jim Motojima a month to create the black sesame sauce, plus four or five revisions to develop the tan tan broth.

The Black Goma Tan Tan Udon combines a black sesame seed sauce with spicy chilies, garlic, ginger and other items for a Chinese-flavored bowl of goodness. It took Jim Motojima a month to create the black sesame sauce, plus four or five revisions to develop the tan tan broth.

The process begins with frying onions, ginger and garlic coated in flour, and boiling a combo of sake, miso and sugar. The fried vegetables are added to the sake mixture, then combined with sesame seeds, togarashi (chili pepper) and sesame oil. Soybean oil heated to its smoking point is combined with the mixture, and fresh green onions, miso, garlic and a ponzu sauce, also made by Jim, are added in.

He isn't kidding when he says it has a complex taste. The sauce is so popular Makiko is looking into bottling it for sale.

While Jim is responsible for recipe development, Makiko flexed her creative culinary muscles to help create the fiery and flavorful Black Goma Tan Tan Udon, a customer favorite. The broth starts with a black sesame sauce Jim created with kuro goma (black sesame seeds), soy sauce, sugar and soy milk. The sauce is punched up with chilies, green onions, garlic, ginger, and garlic and ginger oils, for "lots of Chinese flavor," said Jim.

The bowl of spicy udon is garnished with jidori chicken, snow peas and other vegetables.

Want to spread the joy of Jimbo's new dishes? Get a Jimbo's gift card. It bears the restaurant's new logo, designed by Jim and Makiko's daughter, art student Kana Motojima.

Want to spread the joy of Jimbo's new dishes? Get a Jimbo's gift card. It bears the restaurant's new logo, designed by Jim and Makiko's daughter, art student Kana Motojima.

Another new dish, inspired by Makiko's favorite Japanese foods, is the Toro Neba Udon, a dish featuring mountain yam, nameko mushroom, mekabu (a sea vegetable) and natto — all slimy in consistency — and served hot or cold. A cold version, delivered with a dollop of wasabi on the side, is both refreshing and satisfying.

Diners who don't or can't partake of noodles have many ono options, thanks to the inclusion of jidori chicken and kurobuta pork on the menu. The jidori chicken adds a boost of flavor to not just udon bowls, but donburi and curry items as well. The kurobuta delivers clean flavor to a plate of ginger pork, donburi and Jimbo's beloved gyoza.

The dessert menu was also beefed up, with zenzai, sorbet and a goma mocha that finds another delicious use for Jim's kuro goma sauce.

Posted in Eating Out, Food | Comments Off on Jimbo's 2.0 menu

Mango love

By
July 17th, 2016



Michelle Karr-Ueoka's mango shave ice drew crowds to her station.

Michelle Karr-Ueoka's mango shave ice drew crowds to her station.

The lobby, courtyard and verandas at the Moana Surfrider were packed Saturday with devotees of Hawaii's favorite summer fruit. Mangoes at the Moana drew hundreds to taste mango many ways.

A crowd favorite was MW restaurant pastry chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka's mango shave ice with tapioca and sorbet, served with two mini cocktails. The dish won the Mango Throwdown, a friendly competition among six chefs.

Taormina chef Hiroyuki Mimura's mango risotto with scallops.

Taormina chef Hiroyuki Mimura's mango risotto with scallops.

Dishes were savory and sweet and reflected the many ways mango's — either naturally sweet or pickled and tart — can fit into with classic preparations such as risotto and crab cakes.

Chef Mark Noguchi used papio from the ancient fishponds at Paepae O He‘eia, served in a tasty morsel with a garnish of spicy pickled mango. Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki's paired a mango harissa (chili) sauce with a quinoa crab cake.

A mango meringue with mango semifreddo and pop rock topping from Carolyn Portuondo of the Royal Hawaiian.

A mango meringue with mango semifreddo and Pop Rock topping from Carolyn Portuondo of the Royal Hawaiian.

Sweets included a mousse-like semifreddo that looked like a little marshmallow, with a surprising topping of Pop Rocks, from Carolyn Portuondo of the Royal Hawaiian, Ed Kenney's toasted mango bread topped with ricotta and olive oil, a deceptively simple dessert that was simply fabulous.

Several varieties of mangoes were offered for tasting.

Several varieties of mangoes were offered for tasting.

One of the purposes of the event was to showcase the many varieties of mangoes, offered in free tasting. The line for this tasting wrapped around the veranda. For people who only know the Haden this was an introduction to varieties such as Excel, Gouveia and Dot.

Executive pastry chef Nanako Perez-Nava went through the steps of making a mango cream pie.

Executive pastry chef Nanako Perez-Nava went through the steps of making a mango cream pie.

Then came cooking demonstrations by Moana chefs Nanako Perez-Nava and David Lukela. Perez-Nava made a luscious mango cream pie, while Lukela quickly ran through a day's worth of mango recipes – breakfast, lunch and dinner — in the form of oatmeal, wild rice salad and fish tacos.

David Lukela, chef de cuisine at Beachhouse at the Moana, demonstrates making mango fish tacos.

David Lukela, chef de cuisine at Beachhouse at the Moana, demonstrates making mango fish tacos.

Look for Perez-Nava's recipe for mango cream pie in Wednesday's Crave section.

 

Posted in Food | Comments Off on Mango love

Kona's operative word: fresh

By
July 13th, 2016



Photos by Joleen Oshiro / joshiro@staradvertiser.com Pulehu ahi belly at Umeke's in Kona captured both the smoky goodness of pulehu and the freshness of fish caught in isle waters.

Photos by Joleen Oshiro / joshiro@staradvertiser.com
Ono pulehu ahi belly at Umeke's in Kona captured both the smoky goodness of pulehu and the freshness of fish caught in isle waters.

Eateries in Kona on the Big Island sure know how to take full advantage of the bounty that fills their land and waters. On a short visit last week to the island, I ate at several restaurants both humble and fancy, and was duly impressed by the absolute freshness of the food served on the plate.

Now, I must admit I don't necessarily gravitate toward fish as my first choice in a meal, but if I had been familiar with fish this fresh, I'd be eating it all the time. Besides breakfast, it was pretty much part of every meal I had in Kona during my stay.

My newfound appreciation began at Akule Supply Co., a casual outdoor eatery at Keauhou Bay run by the Sheraton Kona. Servers told me fishermen come right up from the bay to bring fresh fish to the restaurant. It sure tasted like they do. My 10-year-old niece had a fish and chips plate filled with battered fish and fries that she said she'd share with her mom, who was in the hotel. But instead she gobbled up the whole thing, and I understood why: Not only was the tender, white-fleshed fish so fresh, it was perfectly cooked, moist without a trace of mushiness.

Akule Supply Co.'s Fried Nori Rolls delivers fresh ahi, lump crab and fresh avocado in a nori roll, fried crisp on the outside. It's dressed with a garlic aioli.

Akule Supply Co.'s Fried Nori Rolls delivers fresh ahi, lump crab and fresh avocado in a nori roll, fried crisp on the outside. It's dressed with a chipotle ginger aioli and served with furikake rice and namasu.

My daughter order a poke bowl, which based on the ingredients didn't seem like anything particularly distinctive. Sea salt, shoyu, sesame oil, lime, green and round onions and chilies, all standard fare for a poke mix, seasoned her dish. But the fish itself took the dish to another level, and served with perfectly cooked rice, it moved my daughter to clean her plate the same way the fish and chips had my niece.

Since there were no more fish and chips, I ordered my sister a Crispy Nori Roll, a sushi of sorts (sans rice) filled with fresh ahi, avocado and lump crab, then wrapped in nori, doused in panko and fried. Chipotle ginger aioli lent a lively touch, and servings of furikake rice and sweet, vinegary namasu balanced out the meal. She devoured the plate before I got to have a taste.

Avocado Fries — perfectly ripened avocado coated in panko and fried golden on the exterior while remaining fresh inside — is Akule Supply Co.'s most popular appetizer.

Avocado Fries — perfectly ripened local avocado coated in panko and fried golden on the exterior while remaining fresh inside — is Akule Supply Co.'s most popular pupu.

As for myself, I selected the only nonfish dish, Avocado Fries, which the waitress said was the most popular appetizer on the menu. It entailed a perfectly ripened avocado coated in panko and fried golden. While that may seem like a ruinous way to treat a perfectly ripened avocado, the cook executed magic — the morsels of avo were delightfully crisp on the outside while somehow remaining fresh and cool inside. Generous drizzlings of teriyaki and spicy aioli sauces covered the fries, and I feared they would dominate the delicate rich flavor of the fruit. But their tempered flavors were complementary rather than overpowering.

A couple nights later, upon recommendations from family friends, I dined at Umeke's Fishmarket Bar and Grill, where fresh fish was centric to the menu. My friend ordered a pupu item, Umeke's Poke Balls, deep fried and finished with a spicy garlic aioli. The fish, fully cooked and fully flavored, was delicious.

I made a meal of another pupu item, Pulehu Ahi Belly, which I ordered with a couple scoops rice. It's served with garlic, furikake or spicy aioli. I chose spicy, which wasn't at all overbearing, and its creaminess added a nice contrast to the smoky fish.

By the time we left, our opus were thoroughly satisfied.

Posted in Eating Out, Food | Comments Off on Kona's operative word: fresh

New Kailua breakfast, brunch spot, ready to open

By
July 12th, 2016



Kailua Eggs ($12), a Nik Lobendahn signature dish riffing on congee, comprising rice, Portuguese sausage, rice and two sunny-side-up eggs from Waimanalo, with Lobendahn's special bacon-cabbage broth poured tableside.

Kailua Eggs ($12), a Nik Lobendahn signature dish riffing on congee, comprises rice, Portuguese sausage, rice and two sunny-side-up eggs from Waimanalo, with Lobendahn's special bacon-cabbage broth poured table-side. Photo by Erika Engle.

A media preview this morning offered a glimpse of savory and sweet breakfasts, and savory lunches to come, starting Wednesday morning in Kailua. Those who aren't early risers but still love breakfast fare will appreciate that breakfast is served as long as the restaurant is open.

Over Easy, at 418 Kuulei Road, is the fruition of a longtime dream for Nik and Jen Lobendahn, both alumni of chef and restaurateur Alan Wong's culinary empire.

Put the toast and bacon on the side, mix up the remaining ingredients in the bowl, and dig in using toast and/or bacon. Photo by Erika Engle.

Put the toast and bacon on the side, mix up the remaining ingredients in the Brunch Bowl, and dig in using toast and/or bacon. Photo by Erika Engle.

The Brunch Bowl (above, $11) is served with sourdough toast made from a starter that Jen Lobendahn has been feeding for seven years. It is delicious. Also served with the bowl, the bacon and the toast can be used in place of utensils once the remaining contents in the bowl are mixed together, stone-pot-bi-bim-bap style. Lobendahn makes his own yogurt and tomato jam, and adds avocado, spinach and soft-cooked OK Farm eggs from Waimanalo.

Okinawan sweet potatoes, lomi tomato, OK Farm eggs, green goddess dressing, cilantro. Photo by Erika Engle.

Okinawan sweet potatoes, lomi tomato, OK Farm eggs and cilantro atop a bed of restaurant-made kalua pork, surrounded by a swirl of green goddess dressing. Photo by Erika Engle.

 

Potato puree, bacon crumble, French bread, topped with poached eggs, served with greens. Photo by Erika Engle.

French bread, topped with poached eggs, potato puree and crumbled bacon, served with greens. Photo by Erika Engle.

The Potato n’ Eggs ($13) is Chef Nik's playful take on Eggs Benedict, using flavorful potato puree in place of Hollandaise sauce, perfectly poached OK Farm eggs from Waimanalo atop French bread, topped with a bacon crumble and served with greens. Because you may share the writer's interest in egg-yolk porn, the following photo is provided as a bonus.

Because you too, might enjoy a close up of the luxurious, silky egg yolk the dish offers. Photo by Erika Engle.

Sigh. Photo by Erika Engle.

 

Soaked in custard and coated in crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, this thick and hearty French Toast is crunchy and creamy. The restaurant-made blood orange creme fraiche adds another dimension of dreaminess. Photo by Erika Engle.

Soaked in custard and coated in crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, this thick and hearty French Toast is crunchy and creamy. The restaurant-made blood orange creme fraiche adds another dimension of dreaminess. Photo by Erika Engle.

Custard French Toast (Full order $13, half-order $8). The thick-sliced Punaluu sweet bread from Hawaii island is soaked in custard and coated with crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, and is served with blood orange creme fraiche and berries. The toast takes 15 minutes to bake, and is absolutely worth the wait. It could just be the best French Toast you will ever encounter.

Chef-made pork sausage by Nik Lobendahn of Over Easy, in Kailua. Initially porky and sweet, the kick of chili pepper flakes intensifies slightly at the end of each bite. Photo by Erika Engle.

Chef-made pork sausage ($5) by Nik Lobendahn of Over Easy, in Kailua. Initially porky and sweet, the kick of chili pepper flakes intensifies slightly at the end of each bite. Photo by Erika Engle.

A side order of Crispy Mixed Potatoes ($4) is just that, crispy and flavorful outside, soft and comforting inside. Photo by Erika Engle.

A side order of Crispy Mixed Potatoes ($4) is just that, crispy and flavorful outside, soft and comforting inside. Photo by Erika Engle.

 

Lunch at Over Easy is served beginning at 11 a.m., though breakfast is available during all hours of operation.

Fried chicken sandwich ($11). Buttermilk-brined chicken breast, breaded with signature mixture and fried; served with cole slaw and Asian aioli on a French roll, and a choice of mixed greens or French fries. Photo by Erika Engle.

Fried chicken sandwich ($11). Buttermilk-brined chicken breast, coated with a signature breading mixture and fried; served with cole slaw and Asian aioli on a French roll, and a choice of mixed greens or French fries. Photo by Erika Engle.

One of the four standard lunch choices is a Fried Chicken Sandwich, comprising buttermilk-brined chicken breast, breaded and fried, and served atop a French roll with Asian aioli. Also on the menu are a Quinoa and Mixed Seed Salad ($10); the Over Easy burger ($10); or the Coconut Shrimp Burger ($13).

Keiki can choose a grilled cheese sandwich ($6) or fried chicken strips ($8) for lunch, offered with a choice of carrot sticks or French fries.

Over Easy serves Kailua-based Chadlou’s Roast Coffee, made with beans grown on Maui, roasted especially for the restaurant. Other drinks include its signature Bloody Mary made with fresh tomatoes, onion, wasabi, celery salt, house-pickled vegetable and bacon; a lilikoi mimosa, and among other non-alcoholic choices, bright and refreshing  Calamansi limeade.

The Bloody Mary at Over Easy is a unique and eye-popping blend of fresh tomatoes, wasabi, pickled vegetables and bacon. Photo by Erika Engle.

The Bloody Mary at Over Easy is a unique and eye-popping blend of fresh tomatoes, wasabi, pickled vegetables and bacon. Photo by Erika Engle.

In addition to traditional mimosas, Over Easy offers a lilikoi mimosa. Photo by Erika Engle.

In addition to traditional mimosas, Over Easy offers a lilikoi mimosa. Photo by Erika Engle.

The non-alcoholic drink includes calamansi and lime juices, lime zest and simple syrup. Photo by Erika Engle.

This refreshing non-alcoholic Calamansi Limeade includes calamansi and lime juices, lime zest and simple syrup. Photo by Erika Engle.

Over Easy will open to the public Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. It will open for its regular hours, from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed Mondays, its regular schedule will be Tuesdays through Sundays, 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Save

Save

Save

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories