Art Meets Taste at Basalt

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It’s impossible not to gleefully anticipate driving a fork into the
heaping stack of ebony-colored pancakes that executive chef Keith Kong has drizzled exquisite bright red guava-strawberry sauce and
garnished with fresh raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. It’s obvious he takes pride in the wholesome, artistic creation that’s become one of Basalt’s signature dishes, and for good reason. The pancakes taste as delicious as they look.

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Kong is the star of the edible show at Basalt, where unique culinary crafts appease all palates and the atmosphere is contemporary in a
casually chic way. But the talented, albeit humble, culinary master credits his entire team for the authentic, international fusion of flavorful dishes at Waikiki’s latest hot spot, tucked neatly inside Duke’s Lane Market and Eatery.

Kong’s famous Basalt Charcoal Buttermilk Pancakes that have created such a buzz are made with a classic buttermilk base. But what causes them to stand out is that they are crafted with edible
charcoal to form a lovely slate color. Even the topping is “charcoal ash,” which consists of whipped cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar
and vanilla.

Executive Chef Keith Kong blends international flavors with unusual ingredients, such as charcoal, in each dish at Basalt.Customers especially rave about his Basalt Charcoal Buttermilk Pancakes.

The charcoal that’s added to the heavenly pile of pancakes is meant to represent the restaurant’s name and foundation of the Hawaiian Islands, basalt, a black, volcanic rock or solidified lava.

Charcoal serves as an ingenious ingredient that’s gained popularity among health enthusiasts of late. People use it in various beauty products, including teeth whiteners, but charcoal is also beneficial for digestion. The theory is that it aides absorption and is a “detoxifying” agent that keeps your insides nice and shiny.

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The Pork Belly Buns appetizer also features charcoal. The handmade, traditional bao buns are incorporated with the powder to create a beautiful, rich color. Each bun is stuffed with slow-roasted pork belly dry-rubbed with Chinese five-spice that gives it a robust flavor. To add even more oomph to this already delicious pupu, the pork belly is topped with pickled daikon (Asian turnip) and carrots, and adorned with green onions and cilantro—together, representing the traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. Moreover, the buns are brushed with hoisin Sriracha sauce and served with a crispy side of black sesame rice chips. The colors contrast as perfectly as the textures, and the taste is an impeccable blend of sweet, salty and sour.

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The details to every dish are unparalleled at Basalt. Kong knows how to please palates and does so with 100 percent conviction. The Hawai‘i native was introduced to the food industry as a dish washer but worked his way through the ranks and graduated from the California Culinary Academy. Now, he commands the kitchen of a spot that’s deemed one of Waikiki’s best kept secrets. What’s more, he oversees the entire operations of the Europeanstyle marketplace where the restaurant resides, includes an in-house bakery and burger bar. Therefore, guests of Duke’s Lane Market and Eatery not only have an opportunity to sit down and enjoy Kong’s innovative blend of international flavors, as well as the textures and shapes that represent the process of how basalt is made, they can grab something just as authentic and delicious at another eatery, to go. It’s one of the few places in Waikiki that truly has something for everyone.

Duke’s Lane Market and Eatery is open daily from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Basalt operates from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Visit dukeslanehawaii.com for more information.