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Hawaii's Harvest: Fall 2014

Hawaii’s Harvest

Locally sourced dishes from the island’s top chefs

Photography by Amber Schoniwitz

The Hawaiian Islands have long been known for luaus and the Pacific Ocean’s freshest catch, but it wasn’t until a couple of decades ago that a handful of visionary chefs began shaping what is know today as Hawaii Regional Cuisine.  It started slowly; with a single farm supplying gourmet leafy greens to a single restaurant, and has grown into a statewide network of sustainable farmers, ranchers, and fishermen providing island-fresh ingredients to Hawaii kitchens.  Here’s a taste of a few creations from Waikiki’s top restaurants and their talented chefs, featuring the best of Hawaii’s unique local fare.



Sous Vide of Big Island Kulana Beef Strip Loin

Executive Chef Albert Balbas, D.K Steak House

_MG_1326 The revival of the American steak house takes a local turn at D.k Steak House in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.  Executive Chef Albert Balbas is committed to incorporating sustainable ingredients, whenever and wherever possible.  His mouthwatering Sous Vide of Big Island Kulana Beef Strip Loin is a perfect example.  This juicy, Hawaii Island strip loin steak is slow cooked to tender perfection and is presented pupu-style (sliced into bite size portions) with roasted fingerling potato ragout and herbed Naked Cow Dairy butter.  Featuring an array of farm to table appetizers, side dishes, and entrees alongside their premium, in-house dry-aged Vintage Natural steaks, D.k Steak House offers a refreshing, innovative, and locally inspired, steak house experience._MG_1653


More info:  D.k Steak House


Opah Dynamite

Executive Chef Frederick Pittman, Tropics Bar & Grill


Tropics Bar & Grill is a hotspot for locals and visitors alike, and it’s not hard to figure out why.  Nestled right up against the sands of Waikiki Beach at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, this place hums with live local music, tropical drinks, and a vibrant dining experience.  The beauty of the Islands has truly inspired Executive Chef Frederick Pittman’s signature dinner entree, the Opah Dynamite.  This light dish delivers a full-flavor experience as fresh caught Opah (moonfish) is topped with a spicy-citrus tobiko dynamite sauce, and complimented by an Alii mushroom and spinach jasmine couscous.  This is just one of Chef Pittman’s many inviting island specialties, and a perfect choice for an enjoyable beachside evening at Tropics Bar & Grill.

More info:  Tropics Bar & Grill


Molokai Gnocchi

Executive Chef James Aptakin, MAC 24/7


_MG_4155-RGBStunning presentation, quality, and flavor don’t usually describe an around-the-clock eatery, but then again most restaurants don’t have a Food Network award-winning chef in the kitchen.  Executive Chef James Aptakin’s menu at MAC 24/7 is a combination of both American and Island comfort-food-favorites, with a dedication to using locally sourced ingredients from across the Hawaiian Islands.  His colorful creations range from hearty entrees to elegantly styled tapas and share plates.  The Molokai Gnocchi, for example, consists of house made Molokai sweet potato pasta dumplings with local braised kale, local kabocha, and an island basil pesto sauce.  Satisfy any cravings with an unforgettable foodie experience, day or night, at MAC 24/7.

More info:  MAC 24/7


Pan Seared Shutome

Executive Chef Mariano Lalica, Oceanarium Restaurant



The Oceanarium Restaurant is the only place on Oahu where you can enjoy an abundant selection of fresh local seafood and regional cuisine, while being captivated by the Pacific Beach Hotel’s three-story tall aquarium filled with more than seventy different species of marine life… and the occasional mermaid.  Executive Chef Mariano Lalica utilizes the island’s fresh catch, local farms, and the hotel’s own rooftop herb garden to create exciting specialties like the tempting Pan Seared Shutome (broadbill swordfish) with tropical fruit salsa.  Chef Lalica prepares meticulously to offer both quality and variety, and his nightly themed buffet is a tradition for generations of local families.

More info:  Oceanarium Restaurant


Kampachi Crudo

Executive Chef Jason Ichiki, Roy’s Waikiki


Chef-owner Roy Yamaguchi is one of the forefathers of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, and his distinctive style of cooking has paved the way for many of today’s local chefs.  Continuing in this tradition of excellence is Roy’s Waikiki Executive Chef Jason Ichiki.  Along with Roy’s classic signature dishes, Chef Ichiki designs a seasonal menu based upon the freshest ingredients at hand.  One of Chef Ichiki’s most recent creations is the Kampachi Crudo.  Thinly sliced, sashimi grade Kona Kampachi (almaco jack) is flavored with a yuzu kosho emulsion, white soy sauce, and a touch of garlic aioli.  Adding a zesty crunch to each mouth-watering bite are sliced jalapeños, Nalo Farms watermelon radish, Kahuku sea asparagus, and Nursery Farms micro-greens.  Chef Ichiki updates his seasonal menu regularly, so be sure to discover all of his newest inspirations exclusively at Roy’s Waikiki.

More info:  Roy’s Waikiki


Localicious Salad

Executive Chef Paul Rivera, Hula Grill


Catch a stunning Waikiki sunset from Hula Grill and taste Executive Chef Paul Rivera’s newest combinations of flavors and traditions.  Hula Grill’s team makes it a top priority to visit, volunteer, donate, and support Hawaii’s small farmers and their gourmet produce.  This effort shines in Chef Rivera’s Localicious Salad.  Fresh Nalo greens, sweet Ewa onion, Kahuku sea asparagus, hoio fern, Big Island heart of palm and Ho Farms tomatoes are tossed together in a sweet citrus lime miso vinaigrette.  The salad and its exotic ingredients are a very popular conversation starter, and just one of the many Hawaii regional delights to be found at Hula Grill Waikiki.

More info:  Hula Grill


Chinese Salt & Pepper Kahuku Prawns

Executive Chef Darren Demaya, Kai Market

_G6A4014-RGBThe Sheraton Waikiki’s signature restaurant, Kai Market, sources over seventy percent of their ingredients from local producers.  Executive Chef Darren Demaya believes that this is the best way for his guests to truly experience a taste of the islands.  On Fridays and Saturdays Chef Demaya hosts “Seafood Nights,” a celebration of the island’s fresh seafood favorites.  Local highlights from the buffet selections include the Hawaiian style seafood paella, steamed snow crab legs with Big Island meyer lemon infused drawn butter, premium sashimi, steamed island market fresh fish, and the always-popular Chinese Salt and Pepper Kahuku Prawns.  These extra large, head-on prawns are raised on Oahu’s north shore and are an island delicacy not to be missed.  Make your reservation to feast on all of Chef Demaya’s island inspired cuisine at Kai Market.


More info:  Kai Market


Grilled Hawaiian Swordfish

Executive Chef Ronnie Nasuti, Tiki’s Grill & Bar


_MG_1254-RGBTiki’s Grill & Bar is always fun, exciting, and delicious.  Daily happy hours and nightly live music may rule the open-air lanai bar, but in the kitchen award-winning Executive Chef Ronnie Nasuti steals the show.  Continually searching for new and exciting local ingredients, Chef Nasuti’s off-the-menu specials allow him to introduce the freshest seasonal flavors to his guests.  His colorful Grilled Hawaiian Swordfish is a “special of the moment,” and a locavore dream.  The Hawaiian waters grilled swordfish is served with Kahuku corn succotash, Hauula haricot vert, kabocha puree, and is surrounded by a purple Molokai potato yuzu essence.  Whether it’s on or off the menu, Chef Nasuti’s award winning cuisine and the lively atmosphere at Tiki’s Grill & Bar make for a fun and memorable meal.

More info:  Tiki’s Grill & Bar


Olive Oil Confit of Big Island Abalone & Shinsato Farms Pork

Chef de Cuisine “Shaymus” Alwin, Azure

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Expect nothing less than the highest quality local catch and exquisitely intricate presentations at Azure Restaurant.  Located in an elegant beachfront setting at the Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, Chef “Shaymus” Alwin has a knack for reinventing contemporary dishes with intricate flare.  One of Chef Alwin’s newest menu additions is his Olive Oil confit of Big Island Abalone and Shinsato Farms Pork.  As part of the new Papa Aina (Hawaiian dining table) offerings at Azure, the dish features Kona Gold abalone, tonkatsu-style Shinsato Farms pork, Hirabata Farms greens, and Big Island heart of palm.  Pair with a glass from Azure’s extensive wine list, and savor an island experience that is beyond compare.

More info:  Azure Restaurant

On the Block: Chefs of the Moana Surfrider

The First Lady of Waikiki elevates her culinary creativity with new local talent

Photography by Amber Schoniwitz
Executive Chef Ryan Loo (left) and Executive Sous Chef Brooke Tadena (right) of the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa
Executive Chef Ryan Loo (left) and Executive Sous Chef Brooke Tadena (right) of the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa

When Ryan Loo found out that his friend and former culinary associate, Brooke Tadena, had recently joined the Moana Surfrider, the opportunity to return to Oahu and work with a strong team was too tempting to resist. Since the two chefs first met in the kitchens of the Kahala Mandarin hotel, each has spent more than a decade leading notable food and beverage operations here and across the Pacific. Most recently, Loo held the position of Executive Chef at the W Seattle, and Tadena was the Executive Banquet Chef at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Today, Executive Chef Loo and Executive Sous Chef Tadena take pride in designing meals that demonstrate Westin’s core value, “feeling better when you leave than when you arrived.” They utilize local ingredients and offer superfood-inspired dishes at each of the Moana Surfrider’s outlets, from in-room dining to the resort’s signature steak house and sea grill, Beachhouse at the Moana.

“Beahhouse Chopped” their signature salad, with market fresh longbeans, baby kale, Big Island hearts of plam, edamame, summer corn, smoked bacon, chicken breast, and Maui onion vinaigrette.
Crab cakes made with fresh lump crab, red pepper rouille, over a yuzu-infused guacamole, served with frisee salad and Big Island hearts of palm

Being committed to using locally-sourced products whenever possible means both incorporating these ingredients into traditional recipes, as well as creating menu items that are elegantly local-style. Chef Loo explains, “visitors come to Hawaii to taste Hawaii, and what makes Hawaii special are the different people, cultures, and cuisine.” Beachhouse’s prime steaks may be the focus of the restaurant, but look for items like “oxtail” dumplings, luau (coconut creamed) spinach, Okinawan sweet potato fries, and Pacific oysters and seafood for a touch of what makes Beachhouse unique. Chef Loo highly recommends the ‘poke’ and the ‘catch of the day,’ suggesting, “even if everyone at the table is having a steak, I encourage guests to share a local fish done in a preparation that is always changing.”

Next on their plate, Chef Loo says we can look forward to some new twists at the hotel’s piano bar, Bin1901. Currently offering a variety of eclectic wines, specialty cocktails, and small plates, the team plans to unveil a new menu with bourbon-friendly foods and suggested pairings this summer.

More Info: Beachhouse at the Moana

Waikiki Foodie: Summer 2014

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A Fresh Look at Some of Waikiki’s Unique Finds

Photography by Amber Schoniwitz

Hawaii enjoys a rich history of welcoming people and cultures from around the globe in the spirit of Aloha.  Nowhere is this more evident than in local cooking.  From family kitchens to five-star restaurants, find an eclectic mix of cuisines, flavors, and ingredients that make Hawaii a one-of-a-kind foodie destination.  Waikiki is home to the Island’s top chefs, serving up a variety of dishes and dining experiences unique to Hawaii.  We hope you enjoy everything Waikiki has to offer, and make memories in the sun and especially at the dinner table.


Truffle Burger


The Burger, Executive Chef Danny Chew

RumFire offers panoramic oceanfront views, fiery drinks, and Executive Chef Danny Chew’s “street-food-chic” creations at Sheraton Waikiki.  Chef Chew, originally from Taiwan, fuses traditional American food with Asian influences.  His street-style Korean fried chicken is done with a sweet and spicy “kochujang” vinaigrette and “namul” (Korean vegetables, in this case, watercress, bean sprouts, and sesame oil).  On the chic side, sink your teeth into The Burger’s truffle boschetto cheese melted over a charbroiled Black Angus patty, topped with Nalo Farms’ spicy greens and carmalized Maui onions.  Rediscover local comfort food at its finest at RumFire.

More Info: RumFire Waikiki

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Cacciucco Di Mare, Executive Chef Rodhel Ibay

Executive Chef Rodhel Ibay’s signature Cacciucco di Mare is a seafood lover’s dream come true.  Live Maine lobster, jumbo shrimp, Manila clams, scallops, and the fish of the day are brought together with a spicy local tomato broth.  Bold flavors and spices compliment the fresh seafood with ease, showcasing Chef Ibay’s passion for introducing local ingredients and character to old-world Italian cuisine.  Indulge in all of the unique specialties at Fresco Italian Restaurant, overlooking Duke’s Lagoon from the second floor of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Rainbow Bazaar.

More Info: Fresco Italian Restaurant

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Prosciutto al Papaya, Executive Chef James Donahue

Stroll through the Royal Hawaiian Center to experience restaurateur Wolfgang Zweiner’s Italian trattoria, Il Lupino.  Executive Chef James Donahue adds his personal touch to new and old favorites throughout the menu.  The new Prosciutto al Papaya is paper-thin, house-cut Parma prosciutto surrounded by locally grown papaya, and drizzled with candied Marcona almonds and Big Island honey.  This sweet and savory starter is a local play on the classic Italian prosciutto and melon combination, and just a taste of what you’ll find at Il Lupino.

More Info: Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar

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Kiawe Grilled Steaks, Executive Chef Erwin Manzano

The unmistakable aroma of sweet, smoky kiawe wood meets every guest as they enter through the ornate doors at Hy’s Steak House.  The centerpiece of the dining room is a custom built, glass-enclosed, brass and copper cauldron, where Executive Chef Erwin Manzano broils each entree over native Hawaiian kiawe wood flames.  Although famous for outstanding USDA Prime steaks, Chef Manzano also prepares house specialties, from chops to fresh seafood, with the kiawe fire adding its unique local flavor to each dish.  Take a bite of that juicy steak, sip your cognac, and savor the traditional gentlemen’s club atmosphere that is Hy’s Steak House.

>> Pictured: Hy’s kiawe grilled Porterhouse t-bone, Delmonico, New York strip, and filet mignon.

More Info: Hy’s Steak House

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Bagna Cauda, Executive Chef Daisuke Hamamoto

One look at Executive Chef Daisuke Hamamoto’s beautiful Bagna Cauda, and you might begin to wonder what other culinary creations await at Arancino at the Kahala.  The flowerpot arrangement is a clever disguise for a base of fresh bread beneath an assortment of fresh vegetables, which are planted into a layer of baked and ground cremini mushrooms.  The Bagna Cauda, or “hot bath” in Italian, refers to the heated bowl of anchovy, garlic, and olive oil provided for dipping.  Relax in the bistro-chic atmosphere of Arancino’s newest location, and design your very own three or four-course meal with beautiful and innovative Italian dishes like this one.

>> Pictured: Arancino’s Bagna Cauda veggies – baby rainbow carrots (Maui), baby candy cane beets (Oahu), baby zucchini (Maui), watermelon radish (Oahu), cherry tomato (Oahu), English cucumber (Maui), fingerling potato, Brussels sprout, cauliflower, purple cauliflower, Romanesco, haricot vert beans (Maui), sugar peas (Oahu), and boiler onion.

More Info: Arancino at the Kahala

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Awabi and Uni Gelee Martini, Executive Chef Hideaki Kishishita

Kaiwa, a dining experience designed to engage the senses, combines traditional cooking methods with local ingredients to create exquisite and modern Japanese cuisine.  From teppan to sushi, Executive Chef Hideaki Kishishita presents layers of flare, a taste for fusion, and attention to every detail.  His Awabi and Uni Gelee Martini features a Hawaiian seafood delight alongside a classic delicacy from Japan.  Steamed whole Big Island abalone and fresh Uni sit atop a light daishi gelee, and are complimented with red ginger, wasabi, shiso leaf, and fresh lemon.  Enjoy the best of Japan with a touch of Hawaii, in a style and sophistication that is uniquely Kaiwa.

More Info: Kaiwa

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Matsu Entree, Teppanyaki Chef Anson Ikehara

Make your summer, and your dinner, sizzle at Tanaka of Tokyo.  Teppanyaki Chef Anson Ikehara dazzles guests with knife juggling, shrimp tail acrobatics, and a fire breathing onion volcano, all while expertly preparing your selected entree to perfection.  Choose the “Matsu” and enjoy a complete meal highlighted by Premium Angus Beef sirloin, chicken, and lobster tail hot off the grill.  The food is excellent, but the show and the atmosphere make for one of the best Japanese teppan experiences in the world.  Check out any of Tanaka of Tokyo’s three locations, all in the Waikiki area, for a dining experience filled with fun, excitement, laughter, and amazing flavors.

>> Pictured: Tanaka of Tokyo’s Matsu entree includes Teppanyaki grilled Premium Angus Beef sirloin, chicken, and lobster tail with tossed green salad, grilled shrimp appetizer, teppanyaki vegetables, steamed rice, pickled vegetables, miso soup, Japanese green tea, and dessert.

More Info:Tanaka of Tokyo