All posts by marlon

Seaside Romance

Seaside Romance

Stunning ocean vistas with Diamond Head’s majesty in the background make the scenery alone fit for any romantic occasion at The Reef Bar and Market Grill. Treat that special person in your life to the sensational crisp, salty air along the shores of Waikiki, while also spoiling them with fresh “farm-to beach” edibles.

Make an impression beachside any time of year, and especially on Valentine’s Day, when the restaurant offers heartwarming specials. Celebrate your love on Feb. 14 with an exclusive “Surf n Turf” dish that features a juicy 8-ounce slice of filet mignon and a succulent serving of lobster.

“Food is one thing that everybody has an opinion on, which makes it such a great profession to be in. To be able to push people to try new things or turn their stance on certain foods is empowering.”
“Food is one thing that everybody has an opinion on, which makes it such a great profession to be in. To be able to push people to try new things or turn their stance on certain foods is empowering.”-Delia Romano, Director of Food and Beverage

-Delia Romano, Director of Food and Beverage

 

Prepare them any way you like and choose from a selection of tasty seasonings and homemade sauces.

Seasonal oysters, considered “aphrodisiacs” by many, contribute even more spice to your love life when they accompany your edible agenda. Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell make for a great appetizer. The mollusks are shucked upon order and served with cocktail sauce and chili pepper water mignonette.

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If you’ve come with an appetite, pair your entrées with any number of sides, including a Stuffed Baked Potato with butter, black pepper, sour cream, bacon and green onion, enough to accompany any hunk of meat. Or try garlic bread made with a French baguette, freshly grated garlic and butter.

On the most romantic day of the year there will also be a special flourless chocolate cake with strawberry jelly shaped in a heart. A perfect way to cap off the meal.

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Can’t make it for Valentine’s Day? Don’t worry. Sumptuous food is always available at The Reef Bar and Market Grill. What makes this spot stand out is the unique way in which meals are selected and prepared. Order from the menu and embark on an interactive culinary adventure on which you grill your own meal.

The Reef, which has an ample salad bar, specializes in Island meat and fish. Select from a variety of options, including local ‘ahi (tuna), rib eye or Kukui Sausage (Portuguese or spicy Italian), as well as vegetarian options such as a “stack” of tofu, cauliflower, zucchini and onion, or corn on the cob smothered in spicy international flavors and garlic butter. From there, choose the seasonings for your meat or veggies and cook your selection under the guidance of the grill master to your desired consistency. Finally, choose from in-house sauces, such as Pineapple Teriyaki or Miso Glaze.

And just as on Valentine’s Day, there are a range of appetizers and desserts to pick from for a romantic dining experience year-round. Try the Baked Goat Cheese with crisp toasted herbed focaccia made for dipping into an angelic basil and sundried tomato pesto with fresh goat cheese. Desserts include the Kona Mocha Chocolate Wedge, a house special chocolate cake and the Upside-Down Pineapple Cake with tropical coconut ice cream.

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The menu at this open-air restaurant is thanks in part to Delia Romano, director of Food and Beverage. She strives to craft dishes that use as many flavorful local ingredients as possible and combines them in ways that are “innovative and memorable.” She always makes sure that the menu is filled with options for people with a range of dietary needs, from vegans to those with certain allergies.

 

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The Reef Bar and Market Grill not only has plenty of tasty items to select from on the menu created by Delia Romano, it offers a sizeable salad bar and other one-of-a-kind interactive dining experiences.

 

Romano has always had a fondness for food but it was her grandma who really drew her into the craft of cuisine. Now she delights in preparing meals for visitors and kama‘a¯ina (Hawai‘i resident) alike at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, whose dining room opened in 2017.

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“Food is one thing that everybody has an opinion on, which makes it such a great profession to be in,” she says. “To be able to push people to try new things or turn their stance on certain foods is empowering.”

Dine in a casual, charming atmosphere with your loved one on Valentine’s Day, or celebrate each other any other day of the year next to one of the most beautiful shorelines in the world at The Reef Bar and Market Grill.

Call 808-924-7333 or visit reefbarandmarketgrill.com.

Sweet Sensations

Sweet Sensations: Satisfy Sugar-Coated Cravings with these Delicious Desserts

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It’s unlikely you’ve ever had this famous fireside treat in quite the same fashion. Made exclusively for Valentine’s Day, the S’mores Bar is a perfect way to celebrate your love. Savor the incredible layers of sweet graham cracker crust, chocolate brownie, chocolate mousse and torched marshmallow top. Mix the one-of-a-kind s’more with an unbelievable homemade strawberry ice cream that truly pops and is arguably one of the best features of this dish. Share the crisp homemade tuille (French vanilla wafer) shaped as a cup for the ice cream and a heart that sits on top of the s’more to add even more delight to this decoratively crafted dessert. And, of course, the restaurant, located at the Waikiki Beach Marriott, offers an assortment of other goodies year-round for you and your loved one.

 

Mahina & Sun’s

Executive chef Erik Leong has done it again. He’s crafted yet another delicious concoction at the ultra-trendy Mahina & Sun’s, tucked inside the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club. Packing a pretty pleasant punch, the dishes at this Ed Kenney restaurant are centered around fresh ingredients combined with exceptional, flavorful extras. The Salted Caramel Banana Pudding is a prime example. Leong whips up a delectable vanilla pastry cream blended succinctly with fresh, melt-in-your mouth bananas. This bowl of saccharine heaven is accompanied with a homemade double chocolate cookie sprinkled with cacao nibs and drizzled with caramel sauce.

 

Fresco Italian Restaurant

You can’t go wrong ordering one of Italy’s most celebrated desserts at Fresco, a premiere Waikiki Italian restaurant. The eatery, located in one of O‘ahu’s most happening hubs at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, serves a heaping slice of traditional tiramisu with sensational texture and consistency. Tiramisu Hawaiano is precisely crafted with dewy lady finger biscuits, divine mascarpone cream and Kona coffee caramel sauce. To say Fresco’s signature dessert and all its flavors fuse together in an exquisite manner is an understatement. This dish is a lovely conclusion to any meal at this elegant, yet casual, south shore dining establishment.

 

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Make sure you save room for this delicious delight. Better yet, make it a point to head to this eatery, open 24/7, at the Hilton Waikiki Beach, for the primary purpose of ordering the Donut Split Sundae. Share it with a friend or splurge on this sumptuous dessert by yourself. Just make sure your belly has extra space and forget about calorie counting. Allow your taste buds to enjoy this treat made with a donut that’s fried in-house and piled skyhigh with whip cream and Lappert’s vanilla ice cream. Other luscious additions include chocolate drizzle, chunky Oreo crumbles, cinnamon sugar and a liliko‘i glaze that combine for an even greater confectionary festival.

 

Buho Cocina Y Cantina

Almost too beautiful to eat, Búho’s Caramelized Avocado Brulée is a work of art. This creative dessert was created by culinary master, chef Arturo Silva, who, instead of placing the creamy custard inside a ramekin, tucks it into a sliced avocado. The dessert has a sensational, crisp, caramelized sugar layer that cracks open into a luxurious center. Topped with a scoop of Kona coffee ice cream meant to resemble the avocado’s seed, this extra adds more unparalleled flavor to the unique menu item. While you might not think of avocado as a dessert food it is an ingenious way to add Mexican flair to a traditional French dessert. The pear-shaped fruit adds extra smoothness to this already delightfully velvety treat.

EDIBLE ELEGANCE AT TAORMINA : Fine Sicilian Dining in Waikiki

EDIBLE ELEGANCE AT TAORMINA : Fine Sicilian Dining in Waikiki

 

Chef Hiro Mimura derives great pleasure from cooking. This is evident in his ear-to-ear grin as he tosses spaghetti from a pan in the neatly tucked open kitchen at Taormina Sicilian Cuisine. It’s a weekday afternoon, moments before the nightly crowd descends upon the restaurant, and Mimura appears to love every minute of the hustle — sprinkling basil and other herbs onto his dishes while directing his staff. This devotion to his craft is incorporated into each and every menu item and is the primary reason why this little eatery is the perfect place to bring your amore.

Chef Hiro Mimura

You are bound to impress your date with an evening of ophistication and exquisite Sicilian cuisine at this quaint Waikiki Beach Walk establishment. Not only will Mimura’s food win over your loved one, the atmosphere is a bonus. Sleek, wooden tones and minimalist European rustic décor, designed by Peter Vincent Architects, provide an intimate ambience. Patrons may dine inside under the dim, romantic lights or outside on the patio where cool, tropical breezes accompany the background bustle of the city. No matter what area you dine in, the service is flawless and staff are accommodating, polite and efficient.

The top-notch food, crafted with love, however, is truly the main event. Mimura has done an impeccable job presenting a Southern Sicily menu to the Pacific. Sicilian food is akin to Italian but incorporates other cultural flavors such as Greek and Spanish. Originally from Tokyo, Mimura gained inspiration for this contemporary cuisine with an “old school” Western Europe essence working at Trattoria Marumo in Japan and also from his adventures in Italy. He traveled to the country at the age of 21 and worked at various fine dining rooms as a sous chef in Florence.

 

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Taormina is a modern, European-style restaurant located in the heart of Waikiki. The menu contains a range of speciality dishes crafted with quality ingredients, including Chef Hiro Mimura’s all-time favorite, Pomodoro con burrata. Patrons have the option of sitting inside the quaint, romantic dining room or enjoying a romantic meal outside on the patio.

 

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In 2007, he joined WDI International Inc., and assisted in the opening and creation of Taormina Sicilian Cuisine, one of the company’s many eateries. Three years later, Mimura moved to the Islands and became the restaurant’s executive chef, a position he has held ever since.

Mimura uses only high quality meats and seafood, and blends as many seasonal and local ingredients into his dishes as possible. Entrées and appetizers range from featuring the fresh, local catch of the day to vegetables plucked straight from Hawai‘i farms. All dishes have top-of-the-line flavor and are accompanied with light sauces rather than rich, heavy toppings, so every detailed ingredient stands out.

 

 

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Unique, exquisite flavors flourish in each dish at Taormina. The restaurant also offers an extensive selection of wine from around the world. Bringing a date to this fine dining establishment is a treat for all their senses.

 

Pomodoro con burrata is Mimura’s favorite dish and one that he recommends for any romantic occasion. The spaghetti is steeped with juicy ripe tomato sauce, basil and creamy, semi-soft cheese, and bursts with a fresh, springtime flavor. It is the most popular dish on the menu and also happens to be the first meal Mimura learned to prepare during his time in Italy.

“Very simple, but reminds me of Italian life,” he says of his beloved dish.

 

Chef Hiro Mimura
CHEF HIRO MIMURA has an affinity for Italian food and prior to helping open Taormina, he spent years working as a sous chef in Florence.

 

Among Mimura’s other recommendations for an amorous evening of edibles are the Burrata Caprese for starters. This appetizer is another dish that features the smooth, velvety burrata cheese made with mozzarella and cream. A scoop of the hearty cheese, from the region of Puglia, sits on a bed of spicy arugula, local bright red and yellow cherry tomatoes and is finished off with a light drizzle of balsamic reduction to further enhance the crisp taste.

 

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Main courses in addition to the tastefully uncomplicated pomodoro include Sarde e finochetti, a spaghetti with sautéed sardine, tomato paste, fennel for zest, anchovy, olives and capers for salty finesse and seasoned bread crumbs. Or Bolognese Siciliana, another classic entrée made with spaghetti expertly crafted with homemade beef ragu, blended with spinach and garlic, and spiced with red chili pepper.

 

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As for dessert, Taormina, which was named after a seaside village in Sicily, has a range of gratifying sweets to share with your sweetheart. Try any dessert on the menu, such as a slice of traditional tiramisu or a warm, chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice gelato. Or, order something custom like a parfait made with local seasonal fruits such as pineapple and liliko‘i, housemade coconut jelly and tapioca and paired with dragon fruit sorbet—a combination that will bring joy to your taste buds.

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This cozy spot, open for lunch and dinner, is made even more exceptional by its specialized wine list, created by master sommelier Roberto Viernes. Over 125 selections are offered here, making it one of the most diverse selections of Italian vino in the state.

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All of these factors combine to make Taormina an extraordinary place to take someone near and dear to your heart and spoil them with some of the best Sicilian flavors you will find in Hawai‘i.

Call 808-926-5050 or visit taorminarestaurant.com.

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Soup’er Salad

Soup'er Salad


 

Hawaiian Pho Noodles

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Made with local pork and greens from a third-generation family operation in Hawai‘i Kai, Otsuji Farm, this Hawaiian-style pho noodle bowl makes for great, Island-inspired comfort food. Accompanied with fresh herbs, locally harvested basil and cilantro, and packed with wholesome goodness, this Asian dish is a hefty portion of hearty ingredients that will satiate your belly. A great thing about the restaurant is that it’s open from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., so even if you’re not craving a warm bowl of noodles, there are plenty of other breakfast, lunch and dinner options to choose from.

 

House Salad With Quinoa

Besides a gorgeous view of the ocean and warm salty air to accompany your meal, Kai Market offers fresh, flavorful dishes like House Salad With Quinoa. Local greens are mixed with ingredients such as zesty watermelon radishes and locally grown Kamuela tomatoes, and paired with the sweet pop of papaya and salty punch of feta cheese. The quinoa adds an extra essence to this simple but flavorful salad that’s yummy even without any dressing.

 

Cobb Salad

This mountain of goodness is piled high with all the classic ingredients you’d expect in a hearty Cobb salad—tangy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, fresh mixed greens, shredded cheese and eggs, and the finest gourmet bacon and turkey breast. Choose a traditional blue cheese dressing to accompany your salad or any of the others offered at this New York style deli. In addition to its luxurious salads, this casual restaurant is perfect for families and has menu items for everyone, from pizzas to hamburgers, as well as plenty of local favorites.

 

Crab Ramen With Asian Truffle Broth

Save your appetite for this decadent dish. Served with a heaping portion of melt-in-your-mouth fresh crab, the ramen is perfectly seasoned with cilantro, Thai basil and mild jalapeños. The truffle flavor in the broth gives an extra kick to the combination of ingredients in this warming mixture that’s soothing for the soul. Also, this dish pairs well with the Seared Ahi Salad crafted with delicious locally caught fish and served over a bed of greens lightly drizzled with Sansei’s signature soy sesame vinaigrette.

 

1849 Spicy Ramen

Eating House 1849, located at the International Market Place, is noted for incorporating Hawai‘i’s many cultural flavors. For example, this Asian ramen dish is made in traditional fashion, served with a rich sesame broth, pork belly, dumplings and topped with a soft egg. The things that make eating in Hawai‘i so unique are dining establishments like this one where you can try a combination of Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese and Filipino-style dishes. And if you have a hankering for warm soup during the “chilly” winter eves in Waikiki, then this is your spot for tasty authentic edibles.

Introducing Authentic Japanese Cuisine with Local Flair

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Dishes at ZIGU feature local ingredients, such as fresh seafood from Kaua‘i Shrimp.

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EXPERIENCE JAPANESE FOOD like never before at this brand-new contemporary eatery and sake bar in the heart of Waikiki. The restaurant’s fine cuisine alone is enough to warrant a visit but it’s the atmosphere that’s the delicious icing on this dining experience cake.

Nested inside a historic apartment building that was built in 1939 on land revered by ancient Hawaiians, ZIGU maintains a feeling of yesterday, accompanied with modern-day décor. Earthy wood tones dominate the quaint interior where patrons will find seating at the bar. Those who enjoy fresh air while they dine will be delighted that the majority of seating is offered on the outdoor patio, streamlined with sleek tables in a simple, sophisticated setting.

The interior space at ZIGU is small but comfortable.
The interior space at ZIGU is small but comfortable.

 

Most of the seating at this trendy Waikiki restaurant is located outside.
Most of the seating at this trendy Waikiki restaurant is located outside.

 

Topnotch service can also be expected at this lovely nook, with servers who are highly knowledgeable about the dishes served, and the comfort of their guests. What’s more, at the kitchen’s helm is chef Masaki Nakayama, a culinary expert from Yaizu City, in Japan’s Shizuoka prefecture.

ZIGU almost didn’t have such an accomplished chef as Nakayama’s original intention was to become a jazz musician in America. His family ties to food are what ultimately caused him to gravitate toward making delectable cuisine. Aside from growing up in a commercial fishing port, his grandfather made katsuobushi (the dried, fermented and smoked tuna used to make edibles such as soup bases) for a living. Nakayama learned to craft his own food after graduating high school and was especially drawn to seafood after working at Tsukiji Market, which recently ceased operations after serving as a wholesale fish market for more than eight decades.

Chef Masaki Nakayama runs the show at ZIGU and brings his professional experience to the table with many sensational dishes, such as the Apple Wood Smoked Local Egg Potato Salad (below)
Chef Masaki Nakayama runs the show at ZIGU and brings his professional experience to the table with many sensational dishes, such as the Apple Wood Smoked Local Egg Potato Salad (below)

 

Apple Wood Smoked Local Egg Potato Salad
Apple Wood Smoked Local Egg Potato Salad

 

Nakayama has been a noteworthy presence in the restaurant industry, including working with Michelin-starred chefs. He held positions at several esteemed dining establishments in Japan, where he continued to gain knowledge in its traditional culinary methods. He eventually opened his own restaurant in New York City, Mr. Robata.

Luckily, Nakayama has since brought his seafood and culinary expertise, as well as his passion for fine dining, to the south shore of O‘ahu. ZIGU’s menu is filled with items that will have your mouth ablaze with anticipation. No matter what is ordered, every dish has such an artistic presentation that makes it obvious the staff takes great pride in what they do.

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One of the many outstanding aspects of this restaurant is that every meal is prepared with as many fresh, Hawai‘i-made ingredients as possible. So besides placing an emphasis on Japanese cuisine, the dishes have a tropical flair. For example, a delicious mango cream accompanies the appetizer, Macadamia Nuts\ With Sweet-Soy Sautéed Burdock.

Other dishes at ZIGU that beautifully blend Japanese and Hawaiian fare include the Local Tuna and Kona Amberjack Poke Sushi served with fresh fish sculpturally wrapped with ingredients such as sea asparagus, seaweed and yuzu pepper. Also, Deep-Fried Kaua‘i Shrimp is made with locally grown and harvested crustaceans and paired perfectly with wasabi-basil aioli sauce.

Additionally, you’re unlikely to find dishes from ZIGU anywhere else in Waikiki, including the Apple Wood Smoked Local Egg Potato Salad with crispy potato sticks and Cold Kale Udon with Fried Kale Chips which comes with an exceptional sesame dipping sauce.

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Cocktails also do not disappoint at this one-of-a-kind restaurant and are crafted with as much care as the edibles. Mari’s Garden Shiso and Fresh Berry Shochu Mojito, for instance, is made with fresh strawberries, blueberries and lime, and combined with a smooth shochu, a distilled Japanese beverage made from sweet potatoes, rice or barley. Big Island Ginger Moscow Mule is another drink at ZIGU handmade with the finest homegrown ingredients such as ginger from Hawai‘i Island and locally made vodka.

From vegetables grown on O‘ahu farms, macadamia nuts plucked from Big Island orchards to deep-water fish caught in the Pacific Ocean, the list of local ingredients is impressive. Add to it the exquisite taste of authentic Japanese cuisine and you’ve got a match made in culinary heaven.

ZIGU is located at 413 Seaside Ave. and is open daily for dinner from 4 to 10:30 p.m. The bar remains open from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Validated parking is available at Hyatt Centric with a purchase of $30 or more. Call 808-212-9252 or visit waikiki.zigu.us for more information.
ZIGU is located at 413 Seaside Ave. and is open daily for dinner from 4 to 10:30 p.m. The bar remains open from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Validated parking is available at Hyatt Centric with a purchase of $30 or more. Call 808-212-9252 or visit waikiki.zigu.us for more information.

 

Locally Grown KAUA’I SHRIMP

KAUA‘I SHRIMP Global demand for Hawai‘i-grown crustaceans on the rise

Thousands of recently harvested shrimp make their way down a conveyer belt at Kaua‘i Shrimp’s processing facility. The journey eventually lands the crustaceans into the hands of some of the busiest people in Hanapepe, “Kaua‘i’s biggest little town.” The employees sort the robust sea creatures, which are raised at a farm in Kekaha where 20 tons of shrimp reside within 44 1-acre ponds, bound for destinations around the globe, including many restaurants in Waikiki.

“These are our babies,” says processing manager Andy Althouse, as he provides a tour of the refrigerated area of the processing facility where shrimp are plentiful and there is a noticeable method to the hustling and bustling madness.

The shrimp farm in Kekaha. Photo courtesy Kauai Shrimp
The shrimp farm in Kekaha. Photo courtesy Kauai Shrimp

 

There’s been a sharp up-tick in local shellfish sales of late, which keeps the staff at Kaua‘i Shrimp busy meeting the demand.

The business, which is conducted entirely on Kaua‘i, shrimp that are as natural as if you plucked them right out of the ocean. The so called “fruits of the sea” aren’t adulterated with sulfites (what makes people allergic to shrimp), chemicals or processing aids.

Harvest is at 5:30 a.m. on weekdays, after which the shrimp are put through a “chill kill” procedure before being sent to the processing plant a few hours later. There they are graded by size and cuticle hardness, and destined for distribution.

Kaua‘i Shrimp harvests and processes thousands of shrimp each day of operation.
Kaua‘i Shrimp harvests and processes thousands of shrimp each day of operation.

 

The plant can process more than 5,000 shrimp before noon, and by 2 p.m. have them frozen and bound for their eventual destination on someone’s dinner plate. Each week, roughly 16,000 to 17,000 pounds are delivered throughout the state and the Mainland, as well as other countries like Japan. Last month, however, the enterprise reached a new record by distributing more than 20,000 pounds of shrimp in one week.

“Things are really progressing well,” says Althouse. “Everything we make is already sold. As long as we get shrimp into people’s hands, once they try our product, all they want is more.”

According to Althouse, the magic starts at the nearby farming facility, which reopened its doors about a decade ago. Here, the shrimp are raised in salt water sourced from a well that has percolated through the volcanic substrata of Kaua‘i for eons. Kaua‘i Shrimp also cultivates its own algae to make a hospitable environment to sustain life for the shrimp. This domain, coupled with special anchovy-based food products, lends each Kaua‘i Shrimp crustacean its unique, snappy texture.

Restaurants throughout Waikiki serve dishes that feature Kaua‘i Shrimp, including Buho Cantina.
Restaurants throughout Waikiki serve dishes that feature Kaua‘i Shrimp, including Buho Cantina.

 

“Almost like lobster or a rock shrimp,” says Althouse.

The former executive chef prides himself for having used whole animals “tail to snout” when he professionally prepared food. That’s one reason he enjoys working for Kaua‘i Shrimp: the shrimp are sold with heads, shells and tails still intact. This business strategy contributes to sustainable farming and foregoing waste, allowing chefs to use as much of the product as possible.

Leaving the heads on the shrimp also gives buyers a way to determine freshness and whether the shrimp have been mishandled or if the “cold chain” — being frozen and then re-frozen — has been disrupted. Because if any of these things happen, the head turns red. And just like you wouldn’t want to purchase a fish at the market with cloudy eyes and slimy gills, you wouldn’t want to buy shrimp in this condition.

Providing this kind of superior product is another reason why Althouse continues to remain in charge at the processing facility — that, and the business’ focus on aspects like selective breeding and sustainability.

“It was a perfect match for me,” he says.

The employees at Kaua‘i Shrimp’s processing facility in Hanapepe, including Andy Althouse pictured in the middle
The employees at Kaua‘i Shrimp’s processing facility in Hanapepe, including Andy Althouse pictured in the middle

 

Now he gets to work on new projects that include raising and distributing clams and oysters, as well as implementing new traceability and inventory systems. He’s also instrumental in helping the business become one of the top broodstock suppliers on the planet, which means sending “mamas” and “papas” to countries like India, China and Vietnam.

“Aquaculture is going to become more and more important in feeding people on this planet,” says Althouse.

A movement, he adds, that wouldn’t be possible without a team effort.

Visit kauaishrimp.com for more information.

Kunoa Cattle Company: Leading the Local Food Industry Moo’vement

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A cowboy hat shades Bobby Farias’ eyes and his square-toed boots make imprints as he walks across the dirt at a Kunoa Cattle Co. ranch on Kaua‘i. He jumps in his truck and drives toward a herd of cattle grazing in what could arguably be the most beautiful location in Lihu‘e surrounded by jade mountains and endless fields. Cattle peer at him with innate curiosity, albeit a touch of caution, as he climbs out of the vehicle and calls to them. They steadily make their way closer, their big, brown eyes peering at him with interest.

Farias is a third-generation paniolo (cowboy), champion team roper and co-founder of the Kunoa Cattle Co., which includes more than 4,000 acres of land on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu with some 2,000 head of cattle. While he hung up his cowboy hat for about two decades to follow a different career path as a property manager, he got roped back into his family’s ranching legacy during the early 2000s after acquiring land in Kapa‘a.

Now, the operation he co-founded with CEO Jack Beuttell, which has since been named Kunoa Cattle Co., is reaching phenomenal local foodindustry heights. One reason is because Farias understood that the process of raising cattle required feedback from customers. He realized that information wasn’t trickling back to him or other ranchers from buyers and he was determined to close that gap. He recognized that the “producer” or rancher went through three years of work raising cattle to a “finished market animal” but never knew what the final pay-back would be.

 

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Jack Beuttell (left) and Bobby Farias are the co-founders of Kunoa Cattle Co.

“He or she takes all the risks, and they have no idea what the outcome’s going to be,” Farias says. “We decided that if we’re going to stay in ranching, we’ve got to be part of the end product so that we can be part of the decision-making. We are the sellers, we have to go find the buyers.”

So, Farias began pounding the pavement becoming his own broker. A decade later and Kunoa Cattle Co. is now distributing its meat to several O‘ahu restaurants, including d.k. Steak House and Mahina & Sun’s in Waikiki.

He helps make this possible by aggregating large quantities of calves from other ranchers, who may not be able to take them all the way to finish due to a number of factors like drought. He hosts them so they can be finished in Hawai‘i or until they are ready to continue to the Mainland. Kunoa Cattle Co. currently purchases cattle from about three dozen ranchers statewide.

 

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The processing facility in Kapolei on O‘ahu.

“Kunoa is an evolution of the ranching business, in that Kunoa brings the aggregator part to the table,” says Beuttell. “A lot of Hawai‘i ranchers can just concentrate on ranching and call Kunoa to continue them through the business chain so there is a positive economic impact for them.”

Another way Kunoa Cattle Co. has carried on Farias’ mission to help ranchers stay afloat is by providing processing services at the only USDA-inspected livestock harvest facility on O‘ahu, which the business purchased in 2016. The facility, located in Kapolei, processes more than 100 animals per month, but is capable of handling about 12,000 cattle and 48,000 hogs annually. Achieving this would help create an all-around more sustainable food industry, as Hawai‘i falls severely short in meat-processing infrastructure.

“We need five more Kunoas,” says Farias.

Kunoa Cattle Co. is working with lawmakers and ranchers statewide to develop a supply chain for local meats so that fewer animals need to be sent to the Mainland for processing. Currently, tens of thousands of calves are shipped to California or Texas each year, where they mature and are harvested and sent back— even though there’s no way of knowing for certain if the meat that’s returned is from the same animals. But even if all of Hawai‘i’s cattle stayed in the state until maturity and were processed locally, it would only account for a small percentage of the total meat consumption in the Islands. With more than a million fallow acres in the state, Farias says there’s plenty of room for alternative possibilities, and Kunoa Cattle Co. wants to pick up those reins.

 

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Kunoa Cattle Co. distributes its products to several restaurants on O‘ahu.

“If all the ranchers could grow by just 5 percent each year, then we maybe could really take a big bite out of that red protein food security in Hawai‘i,” says Farias.

Moreover, cattle that get to live stress-free days grazing on grass in mild weather conditions in Hawai‘i provide a healthier final product. And a grass-fed diet also allows for a robust beef flavor profile that is higher in omega-three fats, has higher beta carotene as well as vitamins B and E.

“… it’s like the experience of terroir (meaning soil/earth) in wine, with pasture-raised beef, the minerality of the volcanic soil and the traits of the grasses carry through to the beef,” says Beuttell. “These cattle spend their entire lives in Hawai‘i, with no added hormones or antibiotics.”

It’s easy to tell that Farias and Beuttell are passionate about keeping food on the Islands. And if they continue on their current path, their dreams of keeping beef in Hawai‘i throughout the entire process might just come true.

“This is all about building more food sustainability,” says Farias.

Visit kunoacattle.com for more information.

*PHOTOS BY PATRICK WILK

Tasty Meets Trendy at MAHINA & SUN’S

tasty-trendy

CONTEMPORARY COLORS mix with subtle geometric patterns to adorn what could arguably be one of Waikiki’s most on-trend dining establishments. Tucked inside the Millennial-inspired Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club on Lewers Street, visitors and kama‘aina alike have been flocking to the fashionable Mahina & Sun’s since it opened in 2016. It’s hard to beat the restaurant’s relaxing beachy, poolside atmosphere with walls decorated by a number of modern local artists. Not to mention nightly activities and live music from some of Hawai‘i’s most cherished musicians, including Na Hoku Hanohano award-winners. But what’s really got people raving are the restaurant’s unbeatable flavors in every one of the dishes and cocktails.

 

Mahina’s Family Feast features a whole deep-sea snapper that comes with a variety of other sumptuous dishes to share.
Mahina’s Family Feast features a whole deep-sea snapper that comes with a variety of other sumptuous dishes to share.

 

The food, which is described as “elevated home cooking,” is based on the Hawaiian cultural “sense of place.” In other words, the menu is filled with ingredients centered around Hawai‘i’s seasonal bounty that journey straight from farms across the Islands onto every plate. Moreover, the culinary team at Mahina & Sun’s represents ethnicities from around the world and each cultural background has an influence in the recipes. This meld of culinary talent is in alignment with a mom-and-pop sense of nostalgia the owner, celebrated chef and restaurateur Ed Kenney, wanted to evoke in guests.

 

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It helps that Executive Chef Erik Leong is at the kitchen’s helm. Born and raised on O‘ahu, he knows just what it takes to create comfort food with memorable mixes of cultural seasonings that once flourished in small businesses on the Islands. Prior to joining Mahina & Sun’s, he worked at Kenney’s Town Restaurant for almost a decade and moved up the ranks from a night cook to sous chef. His passion for food struck at an early age. After graduating from Kapi‘olani Community College with a degree in culinary arts, Leong worked for Sodexo, a sustainable dining program for students at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

Try a poke bowl (raw fish salad) or any number of other freshly made and locally sourced dishes at Mahina & Sun’s.
Try a poke bowl (raw fish salad) or any number of other freshly made and locally sourced dishes at Mahina & Sun’s.

 

Now he has formed the ultimate dream team with Kenney at Mahina & Sun’s to create breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings, as well as a special brunch menu on Sundays. Locally sourced ingredients are a prerequisite for every dish, including one of the most popular, called Mahina’s Family Feast. The meal is made for several people to enjoy, and features an “ocean-friendly” mochiko fried or steamed whole deep-sea snapper that comes with exquisite homemade dipping sauces, such as green chutney.

The restaurant goes above and beyond with this dish, not only by providing unparalleled, robust flavors in the main fish course, but in each of the sides that accompany it. From buttered ‘ulu (breadfruit) with chili-pepper-water aioli to Kualoa Ranch oysters, there’s something everyone can savor in this meal. Moreover, the feast’s grand finale is the Salted Mac Nut Pavlova (Australian for meringue-a sensationally sweet dessert that comes with local, seasonal fruit such as papaya and pineapple, a lemon-‘olena (Hawaiian turmeric) curd and vanilla cream.

 

The atmosphere at this trendy Waikiki restaurant is casual yet sophisticated. The poolside restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers menu items made with the finest ingredients, such as the Surfjack Breakfast.
The atmosphere at this trendy Waikiki restaurant is casual yet sophisticated. The poolside restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers menu items made with the finest ingredients, such as the Surfjack Breakfast.

 

Cocktails are equally as satisfying as the edibles at Mahina & Sun’s, including simple libations decorated with fresh herbs served during happy hour, as well as drinks with more gusto presented during Sunday brunch, such as the Bella Matina made with Prairie vodka, espresso, lemon and vanilla gelato.

Only the finest ingredients, many of which are gathered from local farmers and ranchers, are used at Mahina & Sun’s, where the atmosphere is avant-garde and the food evokes the flavors and feel of yesteryear.

“My ultimate goal is and has been to cook great food, and from my past that feeds my present that makes me hungry for the future,” says Leong.

Visit mahinaandsuns.com for more information.

Not Ordering Beef is a Missed Steak

not-ordering-beef

If you’re craving a juicy, hearty piece of meat to sink your canines into then look no further than Waikiki. Some of the freshest and most flavorful beef dishes are created in this pristine South Shore location. Order a slab of prime rib, a sizzling fillet, or any of another number of beef-centric dishes and you’ll have the bonus of fantastic beachside settings to indulge every single one of your senses.

 


 

FRESCO ITALIAN RESTAURANT
FILETTO DI MANZO

Made with 8 ounces of seared Island beef tenderloin, this dish is topped with gorgonzola fondue that packs a mighty powerful palate-pleasing punch. Vibrant sautéed veggies accompany this hearty meal, as well as fine, feathery mashed potatoes garnished with kukui nuts that will fill your belly and your soul. Finally, a marsala wine sauce adds a subtle essence to this Italian and Hawaiian fusion restaurant’s signature dish.


d.k STEAK HOUSE
KAUA‘I RED DIRT-RUBBED LOCAL GRASS-FED BEEF

Straight from the ranch to your plate, you can’t get a fresher slice of meat. Besides being as sustainable as it gets, generated directly from Hawai‘i ranchers, its tenderness and taste exceed expectations. The Kaua‘i red dirt salt-rubbed steak sits perfectly on a bed of fluffy, roasted garlic-chive fondue and a red wine demi-glace. Flawlessly crisp Brussel’s sprouts and tasty cremini mushroom ragout add zest to this dish and a dollop of tarragon herb butter with a handful of Hamakua ali‘i mushrooms provide a combination of ingredients that are simply divine.


 

CINNAMON’S AT THE ILIKAI
cinnamons-steak
BONELESS KALBI SHORT RIBS

Known for presenting phenomenal local classics, this famed O‘ahu eatery gives you a chance to try beef crafted with cultural flair. This Korean specialty, for example, is created from a traditional family recipe and allows diners the opportunity to try the kind of food kama‘aina (Hawai‘i residents) grow up with. The rich, luscious meat
is served with a subtly sweet sauce and two sides of your choice, such as local favorites white rice and macaroni salad. Rather than a typical grab-and-go plate lunch, this is its elegant sister, with the added perks of friendly service and salty ocean air.


BALI STEAK AND SEAFOOD
bali-steakUSDA PRIME ALLEN BROTHERS STEAK

Besides being blown away by the generous serving of meat this dish has to offer, ordering this Tomahawk ribeye makes for a pleasurable dining experience. Created with artistic mastery, this grain-fed, pasture-raised “superior”-bred dry-aged ribeye has unparalleled tenderness. Furthermore, it’s adorned with garlic herb butter to make the meat even more succulent and paired with a delecta-ble dipping sauce, as well as garlic crostini and vegetables, such as cauliflower and sweet potatoes. The dish is for two and there’s more than enough to leave everyone satisfied.


MIYAKO
miyako-steakWAGYU BEEF SUKIYAKI

Made at your table with a hot pot, the sensuous smell of this dish alone will cause your mouth to water with anticipation. Plenty of extras are thrown in with the 4-ounce serving of wagyu or Japanese beef cattle, including tofu, bamboo, Chinese cabbage and rice noodles. What’s more, you’ll have an epic view of Waikiki Beach while you savor the flavors of this comforting soup that not only can cure ailments but will lift your taste buds’ spirits.

 

 

 

Hot Food

hot-food

Set your mouth ablaze and order something with a spicy kick during your next Waikiki restaurant outing. From subtle to strong, nothing is out of the realm of possibilities when it comes to creating a tempestuously tasty inferno on your tongue.

 


 

 

TROPICS BAR & GRILL

seared-hamachiu
SEARED HAMACHI

The lovely seaside setting and ocean breezes at this dining establishment will help cool you down after sampling something spicy like the Seared Hamachi. Served with succulent fresh Pacific yellowtail seared in truffle kabayaki sauce, the pupu (appetizer) is garnished with sizzling shichimi or Japanese spice and garnished with sweet onions, Fresno chilis and cilantro. You’ll want to make sure your water glass is full to help smolder the heat of this fiery dinner item.

 

KAIWA

SPICY DOUBLE TUNA ROLL
SPICY DOUBLE TUNA ROLL

Tucked along Waikiki Beach Walk on Lewers Street, this trendy restaurant, open for lunch and dinner, specializes in authentic Japanese cuisine mixed with contemporary Hawai‘i flavors, some that pack a powerfully spicy punch. The Spicy Double Tuna Roll, made with cucumbers and fresh tuna, is topped with several scorchers, such as habanero tobikko (flying fish roe), green onion, jalapeno and shichimi pepper. Additionally, this delicacy, exploding with peppery properties, is gracefully accompanied by a spicy miso and eel sauce.

 

TAORMINA

BALOGNESE SICILIANA
BALOGNESE SICILIANA

Known for expertly crafted Sicilian meals, this quaint European style restaurant has a pasta dish with the kind of spice you need in your life. The Bolognese Siciliana is a spaghetti dish made with homemade beef ragu sauce that tastes like it was lovingly made in a countryside kitchen by your grandmother. Blended with spinach and garlic, the meal is lightly and flawlessly spiced with red chili pepper. The seasoning is integrated in such a way that it won’t overwhelm your senses: rather than numb your taste buds, it accentuates the sauce’s flavors. If you find that you desire more heat, you can always ask your server to add the chef’s house-made chili oil to the mix.

 

WOLFGANG’S STEAKHOUSE

CAJUN RIBEYE
CAJUN RIBEYE

This restaurant is known for offering hearty pieces of juicy, mouthwatering steak, and its Cajun Ribeye is no exception. Tender and buttery, the hefty slab of meat is coated with a combo of jazzy spices, including cayenne pepper, that elevate the dish to the next level of any meat lover’s paradise. Make sure you bring your appetite, not only for the main course, but for this international restaurant’s sensational sides, such as Lobster Mac and Cheese, which are just as worthy of sampling and will help simmer down the heat.

 

SANSEI SEAFOOD RESTUARANT

GRILLED HAWAIIAN ‘AHI AND SANSEI’S AWARD WINNING SHRIMP CAKES
GRILLED HAWAIIAN ‘AHI AND SANSEI’S AWARD WINNING SHRIMP CAKES

Located within the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, this elegant Japanese restaurant doesn’t hold back when it comes to presenting dishes with unique spices and flavorings. The Grilled Hawaiian ‘Ahi and Sansei’s Award-Winning Shrimp Cakes is a perfect example of how an unusual spicy ginger chili lime butter sauce is ingeniously crafted with ginger, shallots, lime juice, butter, white wine and sweet Thai chili. Layered atop this superb dressing, that includes a dash of cilantro pesto, are slices of a 6-ounce serving of grilled ‘ahi, as well as an Asian rock shrimp cake mixed with a hint of peppy Dijon mustard, sautéed local vegetables and a generous side of grilled furikake rice onigiri. Savor each item separately, or combine them for a burst of unreal flavors for which your taste buds will thank you.

 

ARANCINO RISTORANTE ITALIANO

PENNE ALL’ARRABBIATA CON GAMBERETTI
PENNE ALL’ARRABBIATA CON GAMBERETTI

Look no further than this intimate Italian restaurant in the heart of Waikiki to satisfy your cravings for lively flavors with an emphasis on Napoli style. Its dishes incorporate ingredients straight from Italy, including cheeses, meats and pastas, and many infuse locally caught seafood, as well as produce grown in Hawai‘i. But if you’re looking for something with some extra zest, try the Penne all’Arrabbiata con Gameretti that is accompanied by a distinctively peppy house-made tomato sauce created with garlic and chili pepper flakes. What sets this primo dish apart from others is that you get an extra zap of salty seafood flavor in the form of several snappy shrimp.