Local Grinds

local-grinds

In Hawaii, look out for ono grinds or “tasty food.” Eat like a local on your stay and try some of the different and unique cuisines the Islands have to offer. Here are a few dishes that you might see on menus and think: “what’s that?”

HAUPIA:
In its truest form, haupia is a coconut milk based traditional Hawaiian dessert with a texture similar to flan. The white gelatinous squares are a sweet luau staple. As with most traditional fare, it’s been given a modern kick in many restaurants that serve haupia pie with added flavors like chocolate or sweet potato. Pictured is a version of haupia pie with purple sweet potato mash and a macadamia crust.

BLUE HAWAII:
No drink conjures images of crystal clear waves like a Blue Hawaii. Legendary bartender Harry Yee poured the first Blue Hawaii at what is now the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Visitors often asked for local style cocktails, but in the 1950s there was no such thing as Hawaiian cocktails, leaving Yee to often create them on the spot. He made the Blue Hawaii through experimenting with Blue Curaçao, vodka and rum to concoct one of the world’s most famous exotic drinks.

HULI HULI CHICKEN:
It’s hard to go wrong with a well basted grilled chicken. Huli-Huli chicken ™ is just that. It starts with a perfect sauce. Recipes vary, but usually include shoyu (soy sauce), brown sugar, ginger, garlic, ketchup and sherry. The chicken is marinated in this salty-sweet sauce then constantly basted with it while grilled. The chicken is turned regularly on the grill hence the name “huli-huli,” which means: “to turn.”

SAIMIN:
Similar to Japanese ramen, saimin is a broth-based soup with egg noodles and various meats, often including fish cake. As with most local grinds, saimin is influenced by many cultures. It borrows from ramen, Chinese mein and Filipino pancit. It’s developed into a beloved comfort food in Hawaii.

POI:
In ancient Hawaii, if a bowl of poi was present and uncovered for eating, any arguments had to stop in respect of this revered staple. Poi is still a prominent part of Hawaiian culture and cuisine. It’s made by cooking and then pounding the root of the taro plant while adding water until it reaches the desired viscous consistency. When fresh, poi has a relatively neutral flavor. Over time, it becomes increasingly sour, which some prefer. Try it with a hint of sugar or as a side to lomilomi salmon.

TARO CHIPS:
Taro chips are a modern twist on a traditional Hawaiian staple. The root or corm of the taro plant is peeled, thinly sliced, then either fried or baked to crisp perfection. You’ll taste salt and sweet as you bite into purple-streaked goodness. These tasty snacks are found at most local grocery stores or as a side at a variety of Waikiki restaurants.

GARLIC SHRIMP:
Hawaii is one of the lead suppliers of shrimp in the U.S., so it should be no surprise that a delectable dish, such as the garlic shrimp, has come to satisfy locals and visitors alike. The shrimp, best when harvested from local farms, is pan fried with fresh garlic and laid on steaming white rice, often paired with mixed greens or macaroni salad. These fragrant crustaceans combine a blend of sea taste with rich garlic butter.

SHAVE ICE:
Nothing satisfies a day in the sun and sweet cravings like shave ice. Unlike Mainland snow cones, shave ice has a finer consistency and usually has your choice of ice cream or azuki beans (sweet red beans), or both as its base, and shaved ice is piled high on top. Then comes the fun part. Customers can top their shave ice with any of their favorite flavors. The popular “rainbow” is a combination of strawberry, pineapple or lemon, and vanilla. Add a “snow-cap” — a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk on top — to finish off this cold confection.

LAULAU:
Laulau translates to “leaf, leaf,” named after the taro leaves used to wrap the meat. Preparation starts with putting Hawaiian salt on either pork or chicken and butterfish, known locally as walu. The meat and fish are wrapped first in taro leaves, then ti leaves to help heat the meat while it’s being steamed. Traditionally laulau was steamed in an imu, a pit dug underground with heated lava rocks, on a layer of banana leaves. The bitterness of the taro leaves paired with the saltiness of the meat and butterfish make for a unique taste dating back to ancient Hawaii. These mouth-watering bundles can be found on most Hawaiian food menus or at a luau.

LOCO MOCO:
There are many foods in Hawaii that are considered ono, but nothing does delicious super-sized like the loco moco. The palate pleaser originated in Hilo where local diners desired a taste of something different. The savory dish didn’t disappoint, and can now be found across the Islands. It starts with a bed of rice, topped with a hamburger patty, crowned with your choice of eggs, and smothered in gravy. A loco moco is commonly considered a breakfast item, but can be ordered any time of day. It’s perfect for a famished visitor.

poke-postPOKE:
Poke, (pronounced poh kay) is ubiquitous in any local gathering. No party would be complete without a tray of the savory fresh fish. Poke means “to cut or slice,” and the dish certainly features precision blade work to create perfectly cubed chunks of raw fish that is tossed with soy sauce, onion and other spices. If raw fish isn’t your favorite, there are other types of poke, including tofu poke or shrimp poke. There are also different flavors from spicy to slightly sweet using various types of fish, although ahi is most common. With all of the types of poke available, there’s certain to be one to suit your desires.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 1.08.27 AMMALASADAS:
Originally from Portugal, malasadas made their way to the islands with Portuguese plantation workers in the late 1800’s. These donut-like confections are made from fried dough sprinkled with granulated sugar. Other variations have fillings such as chocolate or custard.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 1.11.03 AMSPAM MUSUBI:
Spam isn’t native to Hawaii, but it certainly has found a home here. The salty canned-meat has become a local favorite, even inspiring an annual Spam Jam Festival in April. Spam musubi is the quintessential spam treat, consisting of sticky rice topped with fried spam and wrapped with nori (seaweed).

LOMILOMI SALMON:
This popular Hawaiian side-dish is often paired with poi. Lomilomi salmon is a mixture of raw, salted salmon with diced tomatoes and sweet Maui onions. Sometimes it also includes pepper flakes for a little spice. This dish is usually spotted at a luau or in the poke section at grocery stores.

PLATE LUNCH:
Plate lunch is as simple as it is delicious. It usually consists of white rice, macaroni salad, and a choice of meat. Popular meats are steak, garlic shrimp, chicken katsu or kalua pork to name a few. Some of the best plate lunches are found on food trucks around the island, including Oahu’s North Shore. If you don’t want to take the drive to the North Shore, check out Pau Hana Market on Waikiki’s Beachwalk Dr. to try food trucks in a permanent installation.

New Tastes at TROPICS BAR & GRILL

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Chef Michael Brookshire

Tropics Bar & Grill has long been a beachfront favorite for visitors in Waikiki. Located in the Hilton Hawaiian Village, this restaurant has ono (delicious) food and spectacular views.

Tropics recently welcomed a new Head Chef, Michael Brookshire. Chef Michael is a Culinary Institute of America grad, and he’s worked to update the lunch menu with his own signature style.

Before coming over to Tropics, Chef Michael was with Rainbow Lanai, also at the Hilton Hawaiian Village where he oversaw the breakfast buffet. While the pace is different at Tropics with three full-service meals, he’s happy to try something new.

“I love the challenge,” Chef Michael says. One of the fi rst challenges he received was updating the lunch menu. The most popular item on the new menu has been the BLT. It features premium bacon, house-made garlic aioli, and a house-made savory tomato jam.

“That tomato jam really bumps up the flavor. We cook it for eight hours,” says Chef Michael.

Also new to the menu are several burgers, including the Paniolo Burger and the B&B Burger.

“I don’t know about you,” Chef Michael says, “but once in a while I get that craving for a burger and I go out and it’s hit or miss. But the B&B Burger is a great one and the Paniolo Burger is another one. It’s just so full of ingredients and so satisfying.”

Tropics is also known for using locally-sourced ingredients where possible, including taro chips from the Hawaiian Chip Company, the Maui Taro Burger from the Hawaii Taro Company, and other seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner oceanside at Tropics. The restaurant is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Living a Long Weekend at TOMMY BAHAMA

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Executive Chef Andrew Warner

Tommy Bahama is best known for casual yet chic clothing suitable for a tropical retreat. Their motto is “life is one long weekend,” to accompany their relaxed styles. In addition to their popular line of apparel, the company has a chain of 15 restaurants, including their latest installation in Waikiki.

We couldn’t wait to sit down with Executive Chef Andrew Warner to hear what the new restaurant has to offer.

WM: How long have you been with Tommy Bahama?

CA: As of the beginning of January, this will be four years. I was with the Scottsdale [AZ] location for the last three and a half.

 

WM: What made you and Tommy Bahama decide to come out here to Waikiki?

CA: This was a good opportunity. This is probably going to be the flagship restaurant. They talk about how beautiful the restaurant is. This has been a dream for a lot of guys in the company for a while. To be selected to come over here and be the chef of the Waikiki location was a pretty big honor. So far we have an awesome team and we’re starting to see just how talented each individual is. I’m fortunate with the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with.

 

WM: How do you like Hawaii so far and how long have you been here?

Chef: It’s been great. I’m lucky that the first month I wasn’t in the restaurant. I got to go do some hikes, and I made it up to North Shore and did some golfing. I got to see Hawaii. But right now, I’m here at the restaurant. This is where I’m at for a while.

 

WM: What do you think makes this location unique?

CA: I think the importance of Honolulu is being able to tie our brand and what we do in with different parts of the world.

 

WM: Are you making Hawaiian-influenced dishes and using locally sourced ingredients?

CA: Oh absolutely. That’s always the goal. Even though we have some similar dishes on our core menu, we try to source as much locally as we can. So tomatoes, could be from Kunia. Our lettuce is going to solely come from a farm called Mari’s Garden in Mililani. Which is really cool because they’re growing lettuce just for Tommy Bahama’s. It’s all aquaponic and sustainable. It’s really pretty. I went around when I first got here before we opened to try to figure out what’s unique to Hawaii and what we can do to support the community here. It’s also a better product when it comes from somebody’s backyard as opposed to coming over on a barge.

And of course all of the fish. We do a lot of specials, and we see whatever is coming through the fish auction and try to make sure we have good sustainable practices as far as going with good sources. The fish auction here at Pier 38 in Honolulu, that’s the way to go to buy fish.

 

WM: I have to ask, if you had to choose one favorite dish from the menu, what’s your personal favorite dish?

CA: There’s a few different dishes that I really like. I think that for me, the scallop sliders from the appetizers. You can’t go wrong with that. I recommend that to everybody. And I also like what the chefs come up with as well. Whether it’s something that I come up with or one of the sous chefs, there’s a lot of passion in that and it shows. We sell a ton of fish specials because there are a lot of passionate chefs in the building, and then we have a great team that goes out and talks about it to the guests as well.

Paradise in a Glass

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Before you ever landed in Hawaii, you could see it in your head: you, sitting under an umbrella on Waikiki Beach, with an island cocktail in your hand, perfectly adorned with a purple orchid and miniature umbrella. You just know this will be bliss.

But where should you go for your perfect island concoction? Break free from the typical Mai Tai and try some exotic flavors on your vacation.

Many of the eating (and drinking) establishments in Waikiki try to blend local flavors to create a uniquely Hawaiian taste. Enjoy fresh pineapple, lilikoi, guava and other luscious fruits blended creatively into martinis or margaritas.

You might also try drinks with Island-made liquors, such as Ocean Organic Vodka, Whaler’s Dark Rum or Ko Hana Rum. Step out of your comfort zone and let loose with some of these adults-only beverages.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.26.16 AMRumfire
Sand and Sea

If you’ve got at least two people in your party, you can have one of the jumbo drink “bowls.” The Sand and Sea uses Hawaiian-made Deep Island Rum, pineapple and passion fruit juices, sweet and sour and a dash of Dekuyper Blue Curacao. This liquid aloha is garnished with fresh pineapple slices and tiny umbrellas.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.28.49 AMRumfire
Lilikoi Cosmo

Rumfire isn’t just a spot with spectacular ocean views and the best tater tots you’ve ever had. They also have an extensive cocktail list with lots of local flair. The Lilikoi Cosmo would make Carrie Bradshaw swoon. It uses Hawaiian Ocean Organic Vodka to start the local experience and adds lilikoi puree for a sweet touch, but still offers the classic cranberry twist to give it a pink hue.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.30.42 AMTommy Bahama
Pineapple Paradisio

This popular drink is a feast for the senses. You’ll be torn between wanting to take its picture and taking that first sip. It starts with Bacardi Pineapple, then adds in St. Germaine Elderflower, Crème de Banana, Scratch Sour, and finishes off with actual fresh-cut pineapple (in fact all drinks at Tommy Bahama are made with fresh-squeezed ingredients). The pineapple blend is superb and a great way to start (or finish!) the night.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.34.16 AMHeavenly
Big Island Honey
Papaya Sangria

Heavenly is known for using high-quality local ingredients to create fresh and flavorful meals. Just imagine what that creativity can do for a cocktail. The Big Island Honey Papaya Sangria is phenomenal. This atypical sangria blends the ingredients together to a smoothie-like consistency, instead of leaving chunks of fruit. You’ll never want another traditional sangria again after trying this.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.35.47 AMSurf Lanai
Royal Mai Tai

If you’re going to have a Mai Tai in Waikiki, you might as well have the king of Mai Tai’s at the Royal Hawaiian’s Surf Lanai. All of the juices that go into this island favorite are fresh squeezed to make the flavor pop. All of the liquors involved are also top-notch including Bacardi Superior, Cointreau and Amaretto di Disaronno liqueur topped with Island-crafted Whaler’s Dark Rum.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.40.37 AMTiki’s Grill & Bar
Pele’s Love

Oahu-crafted Ko Hana Rum and watermelon nectar- need I say more? Tiki’s Grill & Bar has more than their iconic tiki glasses and views of Waikiki Beach. Pele’s Love will make you feel the passion with fresh watermelon chunks and local rum. If Pele’s love doesn’t strike your fancy, rest assured that something on Tiki’s extensive cocktail list will.

Carnivorous CREATIONS

carnivorous-creations

My grandfather used to love steak.

When asked how he wanted it prepared, he’d request the cow placed on a grill. When it stopped moaning, it was ready. Rare was distinctly best in his book.

If you are also a steak-lover, your stay in Waikiki won’t disappoint. There are plenty of options available. From tri-tip to rib eye, or filet mignon to a classic Hawaiian steak plate lunch, this meat is incredibly versatile.

Whether you like your steak prepared well done or nearly raw like my grandfather, Waikiki has something to offer. Read on for more information about some of our favorite steaks in town.

 

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TIKI’S GRILL & BAR
If you want to enjoy local live music with your meal, head down Kalakaua Ave. to Tiki’s Grill & Bar. Here traditional classics are given a local twist. Take the alae salt (red Hawaiian salt) rubbed and grilled filet mignon. This beauty is served with Kahuku sea asparagus poke, red wine Tahitian luau leaf demi-glace and a sumptuous taro puree. The melting pot of different flavors blends perfectly for a unique take on steak.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.10.56 AMWOLFGANG’S STEAKHOUSE
When it comes to steak, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse immediately comes to mind. Located in the Royal Hawaiian Center, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse has a classic feel with Brazilian cherry wood floors and alabaster chandeliers. Known for their 28-day dry aged steak, Wolfgang’s is practically synonymous with good steak. Try the filet mignon for a smaller portion, or go all-out with a porterhouse. Either way your taste buds will thank you.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.12.52 AMTANAKA OF TOKYO
For a less traditional take on steak, head over to Tanaka of Tokyo. Tanaka specializes in teppan-yaki cuisine, where food is prepared on a flat iron grill right at your table. Be prepared for entertainment in addition to good food. The master chefs are adept showmen with impressive knife skills. They create fire “volcanoes” with cut onions and wow guests by twirling knives as they expertly prepare and season each dish. Using only Premium Angus beef and fresh seafood, steak at Tanaka of Tokyo isn’t just delicious, it’s an experience.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.14.25 AMHY’S STEAKHOUSE
The ambiance at Hy’s transports you to another time – one where gentlemen wore tuxedos to dine and women always came prepared in white gloves. You probably won’t actually see individuals dressed so formally when you visit Hy’s (although the evening waiters do wear tuxes) but you’ll understand the urge to pretend you’re in Downton Abbey. Décor aside, the food is also amazing. Hy’s uses USDA prime beef that is aged and trimmed to perfection in house. The steaks are then grilled over fragrant Hawaiian kiawe wood for a perfect smoky flavor.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.15.50 AMHAU TREE LANAI
Wander to the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel for beachside seating at Hau Tree Lanai. Hau Tree’s Black Angus New York Steak is Harris Ranch all-Natural Beef, grilled to perfection. It comes with a red wine reduction sauce that is not only a great accompaniment to the prime steak, you’ll also want to drink it with a straw.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.17.19 AMTAORMINA SICILIAN CUISINE
Nestled on Lewers St. across from the Waikiki Beach Walk is Taormina Sicilian Cuisine, a delectable Italian restaurant. If you venture to “Le Carni” (meat) in the menu, you will find several choice steaks, including the prime rib eye. This meaty masterpiece is 14 oz. of grilled prime aged rib eye accompanied by the house marinade, fresh vegetables and horseradish. Most of the produce used is also locally sourced to enhance the flavor.