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Art Meets Taste at Basalt


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.


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.


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 for more information.

Flavors of the World



There’s a hidden gem tucked inside the Waikiki Resort Hotel that offers tasty traditional Korean cuisine. Try this authentic dish served in a sizzling stone pot filled with rice, seasoned vegetables, beef and an egg. Let it sit for a while to give your rice and veggies some extra snap and spice it up with gochujang sauce, made from red chilies. Mix everything together or savor each ingredient separately. Either way, it hits the right spot.


Go for the refreshing, handmade happy hour cocktails but stay for this delicious meal and the stunning scenery. The open-air restaurant at Queen Kapi‘olani Hotel has the most gorgeous and iconic perspective of Diamond Head and offers the epitome of American comfort food. The dish is cooked to exquisite perfection,
so much so that it tastes like your grandmother made it special for you and seasoned it with love.


There isn’t a dish at Búho that doesn’t perfectly represent the  reshest flavors of Mexico. This vegetarian dish is mind-blowingly delicious. It’s comprised of a rich blend of homemade ingredients wrapped neatly inside cooked local kale, including Mexican rice, black beans, rajas-onion mix, romaine lettuce, mango pico de gallo, guacamole, coconut lime rice and sour cream. Not only is this original dish one-of-a-kind in taste and presentation, it’s light and leaves your belly invigorated.


At Kaneko Hannosuke, one of many authentic Japanese restaurants in one space, this soulsatisfying bowl of delicate tempura consists of rice, fresh water anago (eel) from Japan, seafood kakiage (mixed seafood), a pair of generously-sized shrimp, a shishito pepper to give it kick and a piece of nori. The most unusual aspect of this bowl is that it’s accompanied with a soft-boiled egg tempura. Your taste buds will throw a party once you crack it open, drizzle on the “special sauce,” and mix the ingredients together.


Every dish at this rustic-chic restaurant at the International Market Place exemplifies the ethnic blend of cultures unique to Hawai‘i. An Asian-Pacific specialty, the fluffy fish is the star of this dish and sits on a bed of Korean rice and Chinese long beans. An ‘ono (delicious) sweet and spicy soy mustard butter sauce makes an exceptional companion, as well as the daikon (Japanese radish) salad and microgreens that provide extra tang for your tongue.

A Feast Fit for Kings


Food and Fun the Hawaiian Way

A lu‘au is a celebration of legendary cultural caliber. Attending this event provides an all-inclusive opportunity to feast on traditional food and delight in ancient.

These festive occasions have evolved over the past two centuries. Historically, strict rules were enforced and certain activities and food were kapu (forbidden) to everyone except ali‘i (royalty). Men and women dined separately and only members of the Hawaiian monarchy could feast on food such as kalua pork and bananas. The affairs were referred to as ‘aha‘aina or “meal gathering” and honored milestones, including war victories or canoe launchings.

Rules became more lenient after King Kamehameha II came into power. By the time King Kalakaua governed the Hawaiian Islands in the late 1800s, lu‘au was synonymous for food and fun. Kalakaua, also known as the “Merrie Monarch,” incorporated Hawaiian entertainment with the elaborate feasts and, while a lu‘au today might not fall under the same lavish category, it follows a similar model. Moreover, past traditions like sitting on the ground on woven hala leaves and eating with fingers gave way to dining with silverware on tables adorned with ti leaves and flowers.

Executive banquet chef Joseph “JJ” Reinhart.

Kama‘aina (Hawai‘i residents) hold lu‘au to commemorate special events like a baby’s first birthday or a high school graduation. Unless you know someone in Hawai‘i, however, you’ll more likely have to book a reservation with one of the many companies, including hotels, that offer these magical soirées.

Waikiki Starlight Lu‘au provides the perfect example of a South Pacific lu‘au. It’s held on a rooftop at the Hilton Hawaiian Village so you don’t have to drive an hour outside of the city to experience this open-air celebration. The gorgeous venue offers a bountiful buffet, as well as a mini one for keiki (children). An ample selection of local food is available to appease all diets, such as huli huli chicken, local greens, lomi lomi salmon made with diced onions and tomatoes, and haupia (coconut custard). This is also your chance to try poi made by pounding taro root into a paste thinned with water to create a pudding-like consistency.


Service of food at a lu‘au typically begins with a ceremony in which a pig that was cooked in an imu (underground oven) with hot coals is unearthed. This won’t be the case here but the kalua pork that is provided for tasting is just as juicy and offers insight into the ancient techniques of Hawaiian food preparation.

Executive banquet chef Joseph “JJ” Reinhart enjoys preparing the kalua pork, along with other ethnic food of the Islands, for as many as 550 people, five days a week.

“I get inspired from the amazing ingredients that are abundant around us and the many cultures that are present here,” he says.

But it’s not an easy task.

“You’ve got to be organized and ready to accept any spur-of-the-moment challenges,” he adds.

Reinhart, who was recently hired as Hilton Hawaiian Village’s new banquet chef, attended culinary school at Scottsdale Culinary Institute. He spent many years perfecting his craft working at establishments in California, as well as several in Honolulu, including five-and-a-half years at other Hilton Hawaiian Village eateries.

His famous feast is followed by entertainment by Tihati Productions featuring everything from elegant Hawaiian hula to passionate Polynesian displays of Samoan fire knife dancers and hip-popping Tahitian performers. Guests are taken on a journey through Polynesia called, “Voyage Across the South Seas” via song and dance. What really sets this show apart, however, is that the venue features a “stage in the round,” whereby the audience encircles the stage and has a maximum viewing opportunity. Be prepared to participate in conch shell blowing, tattoo demonstrations, wood carving and maybe even some dancing.

Besides the possibility of swaying your hips to the melodies, be sure to wear something comfortable. It’s rare for anyone to dress up in Hawai‘i so anything from aloha shirts and shorts for the men to sun dresses and a light jacket at night for the ladies is perfect.

If you’re concerned about sitting at large, banquet tables with strangers, don’t worry. With the abundant flow of mai tais (which, by the way, are not part of the ancient tradition), it won’t be long before you make new friends and revel in the fun time you’re having  together.

A lu‘au is an experience steeped in ancient culture and is unlike any other. The authentic festivity is sure to be the cherry on top of your Hawai‘i vacation sundae.



Hawaiian-Style Pulled Pork.


Traditional preparation of pork in Hawai‘i involves wrapping the meat in banana or ti leaves and steaming it in an imu or underground oven pulled with hot rocks. Today, the juicy delicacy that was once reserved for ali‘i (royalty) is primarily prepared by slow-roasting the pig in an oven and seasoning it with salt and liquid smoke to obtain the same tenderness and taste.






This premiere spot for local grinds offers an epic plate lunch served with all the traditional flavors. A heap of kalua pork, fried mahi-mahi and a choice of rice, potato mac salad or lomi tomato relish, are the edible stars. Add steamed chicken laulau wrapped in greens that falls apart to the touch for more melt-in-your-mouth goodness.




This dynamo deli sandwich is layered with a robust serving of kalua  pig and dressed to the nines with gourmet bacon, barbeque sauce and mayo on toasted sourdough bread. Sliced avocado and tomato provide an extra freshness to a meal that, overall, is a flawless blend of sweet and salty.



Pulled pork stacked between toasted taro buns is exactly what the doctor ordered for happy hour at the end of a long day spent basking in the sun. Pineapple barbeque sauce adds a sweet dimension to this savory pupu that’s divinely seasoned with fresh cilantro to add a sensational pop of zest.



This specialty pizza is crafted with superb red sauce and topped with bits of kalua pig, chunky pepperoni, and Italian and Portuguese sausages. Tomatoes, white and green onions, and chopped garlic lend even more flavor to each slice. The combo of seasonings provides just the right amount of spice to leave a pleasant tingle on your tongue.



This famed breakfast dish consists of two wheat English muffins topped with luscious kalua pork, locally sourced poached eggs and a hearty homemade hollandaise sauce with exquisite liliko‘i (passion fruit) butter. A side of crispy Okinawan sweet potato chunks and fresh, local greens make a well-rounded meal that’ll perk you up any time of day.

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.

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


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.


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.


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.


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.

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Tasty Meets Trendy at MAHINA & SUN’S


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.




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 for more information.

Not Ordering Beef is a Missed Steak


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.




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.


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.



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.


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.


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


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.






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.




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.




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.




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.




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.




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.

Cultural Cuisine


EDIBLE PLANTS made their way to the Hawaiian Islands courtesy of adventurous Polynesian voyagers.  These “canoe plants” provided the nourishment natives needed in order to survive on previously uninhabited land. Today, they are celebrated by contemporary Waikiki chefs who use them in their dishes.




Specializing in cultural cuisine that melds all of Hawai‘i’s ethnicities together, this rustic chic restaurant also incorporates native flavors into its menu items. The House Cured Pipikaula is served with poi, which is the pounded and baked or steamed root of kalo, or taro. Poi is one of Hawai‘i’s most celebrated edibles. In this case, it hails from Hanalei on Kaua‘i and is paired perfectly with the pipikaula—akin to beef jerky and marinated in shoyu with garlic, onions, pineapple juice, curing salt and liquid smoke to give it an extra zip. Served with a side of pickled ong choy, or water spinach, that’ll make your lips pleasantly pucker, this dish personifies local cuisine.




Aptly named, this restaurant serves breakfast items that taste like they were made in the Promised Land. No matter when you reach the restaurant’s Pearly Gates, breakfast items are available, such as Big Island Honey French Toast or a Sunny smoothie. The latter is made with the anti-inflammatory canoe plant, ‘olena (turmeric), and packed with a host of other good-for-you ingredients like organic carrots, ginger, oranges and mai‘a (bananas). For a more indulgent meal, try the French toast, created with locally made sweet bread and topped with vanilla beans and whipped cream, as well as chopped mai‘a. Papayas and pineapples—neither of which are actually canoe plants, add even more flare to this tropical treat.



Ulu Malasada ingeniously incorporates three of Hawai‘i’s well known ‘canoe plants.’

Market Grill Your mouth will rejoice with the delicious dessert ‘Ulu Malasada. Expertly crafted Portuguese-style donuts (malasadas), just the right size for popping in your mouth, are fried with Hawaiian’s beloved ‘ulu (breadfruit) rather than traditional dough. A hearty handful of these impeccably crisp on the outside and soft on the inside confections are served with two canoe plant dipping sauces: one a banana custard that creates a flawlessly sweet combo, and the other, one of the most popular desserts in Hawai‘i, called haupia, made with niu, or coconut. Blend all three of these confections together for a sensationally saccharine palate party.


M.A.C. 24/7


Raw fish salad, or poke, is a prized meal in Hawai‘i. When it’s served with house-made kalo chips, it’s all the more exquisite. Open 24 hours every day, this dining establishment at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Resort gives patrons an opportunity to try chips made with Hawai‘i’s most famous canoe plant, while, at the same time, sample a celebrated local dish. The ‘Ahi Poke Stack is crafted with fresh, melt in your- mouth ‘ahi, or tuna, and blended with ogo (seaweed), green onion, avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and sesame oil. The chips easily scoop up this divine blend of flavors and add a crispy element to the luscious flavor-filled poke.