Crackin’ Kitchen combines the flavors of traditional Cajun cuisine with much more than just a tropical twist. Where you might normally find Anaheim chilies, you’ll taste Hawaiian chilies instead, with Maui sweet onions, oyster sauce or cacao beans. While temptingly comparable Cajun eateries serve their seafood in a bag, Crackin’ Kitchen churns them out hot and fresh, with three unique signature sauces of different spicy or mild blends, “slapped down right at your table,” says Head Chef Jonathan Botello. “No bags to contain the mess. After all, what’s the fun in that?” We got to sit down with Chef Jonathan to get a taste of this unique, and never-beforeimagined, mind-boggling blend.
Mouths water at the sound of “wagyu,” the tender beef of Japanese cattle, most well known for its intense marbling. While this massive 32 oz. Tomahawk Wagyu Ribeye itself isn’t from a local farm, the all-local vegetable medley of heirloom carrots, beef fat braised hearts of palm, Ho Farms tomatoes, long beans, Alii Oyster mushrooms and sea asparagus, with a bundle of local rosemary and a bit of fleur de sel, is a morethan-willing compromise.
Goofy Cafe & Dine is the ultimate spot for a meal that’s local, organic and leaves you feeling better than when you arrived. You’ll never have to worry about foodie’s remorse when you dine here—not for brunch, lunch or dinner, all of which are excellent for both mind and body. Gone are the days where you order a salad to avoid a sinfully tasty meal. The Island Cobb Salad is the organic stuff of dreams, with every single ingredient harvested locally; you can actually see the difference before you taste it, and when you taste it, the addiction is instant. Created with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, King Oyster mushrooms, sweet potato, Kahuku corn from the North Shore of Oahu, Naked Cow Dairy and Creamery cheese from Waianae, and local farm hard-boiled eggs. You can even add local Shinsato Farm pork (yum!) or Kahuku shrimp, which both go great with the homemade Maui onion dressing. It’s hearty, healthy and even shareable, which will give you a great “excuse” to share your date’s entree as well. After all, fare is fair.
It makes sense that d.k Steak House would stand tall in the Waikiki foodscape since it was founded by prolific restaurateur Dave “D.K’ Kodama of Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar. Embracing the farm-to-table movement that is sweeping the islands, the menu at d.k. Steak House even notes items that are “farm-to-table” certified with a special symbol so you know which items are freshest.
We weren’t expecting a pork chop from a steak house, but when Chef Albert said it was from Oahu’s Shinsato Farm, we were sold. This local pork chop is vacuum sealed in a plastic bag, then slowly cooked in water at a low temperature. The taste of the local produce is evident even in the Hamakua Springs tomatoes and the Waialua asparagus, with herbed cauliflower puree, local cremini mushroom jus and charred Kahuku corn relish from Oahu’s North Shore. For an executive chef that prefers not to have his picture taken, Executive Chef Albert Balbas sure makes a pork chop sous vide worthy of some special attention.
For the health-conscious eater, ordering noodles often comes with a side of carb guilt, but not so with the Maui Island Dry Mein. Look at all those vegetables! The local greens steal the show with this dish, with the mein adding an element of comfort. Fresh noodles, baby bok choy and watercress, Hamakua mushrooms, fresh ginger, bean sprouts, bare cashews and organic cilantro, with a squeeze of lemon, give this dish a mouth-watering aroma that promises a hearty, guiltless meal—which it generously delivers. Executive Chef Jose Gonzalez-Maya admits the dry mein is even a clear top choice, especially since it affords his conscience the freedom to order his true favorite: the southern fried chicken. (Pro tip: order both!)
Talk about fresh ingredients prepared in an exquisite way; Hula Grill’s Executive Chef Matt Young introduced us to the Filet Mignon Tataki, a savory yet refreshing appetizer of Makaweli raised, 100% grass fed Kauai beef, paired with local sweet watermelon saturated with sweet lime juice.
With a dash of Hawaiian salt, the Filet Mignon Tataki is a sensational balance of savory and sweet, rich and refreshing exactly what you want after a few hours in the Hawaiian sun. The watermelon has a peculiar and addictive texture and flavor, having been vacuum sealed, compressed and expanded, absorbing the added liquid sugar and lime juice. It’s an adventurous pop of flavor for a richer watermelon. The local Makaweli steak is marinated in harissa chili, giving it a little spice that is swiftly cooled down by the compressed watermelon and fresh lime vinaigrette.
Just steps from sandy Waikiki beach, Hula Grill’s menu selections are a food-loving beachgoer’s dream come true, with creative island inspired selections like Coconut Seafood Chowder, Mac Nut Butter Shrimp and Scallops, and the Localicious salad, composed entirely of local greens, sea asparagus, hearts of palm and a housemade lime ginger miso vinaigrette. Everything is light, balanced, local and delicious. And don’t even get us started on those expertly crafted island cocktails.
Actually, what am I saying? Is it 3 p.m. yet? Time for happy hour at Hula Grill!
In a land where even seafood is imported and produce is shipped in bulk, Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar not only keeps it fresh and local—they do so in style. Few Waikiki restaurants make the short list for favorites-for-locals, but Sansei is one of them, setting the standard for contemporary sushi and innovative fusion seafood since the mid-90s. Both the dinner menu and the happy hour menu selections boast locally caught fish alongside expertly prepared vegetables that are transported from only as far away as neighboring Kauai. Executive Chef Jason Miyasaki’s top pick for favorite homegrown dish? The Pan-Seared Ahi; fresh tuna, hand picked at the morning fish market, crusted with bubu arare (crispy rice pellets) and served alongside choice, local sauteed baby bok choy and East Asia shimeji mushrooms, with microgreens and roasted cherry tomatoes, united by a sweet Thai chili coconut cream sauce. On an island where Asian fusion is ubiquitous, Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar is consistently voted one of the best.
RumFire is a frequented spot by residents who know their way around the Hawaii food scene. It has great food, happy hour pricing, ocean views, upbeat music, and, often, a line out the door on weekend nights. Basically, it’s the place to be. Every Honolulu resident knows how to get there.
That RumFire fame doesn’t phase Executive Chef Danny Chew, part of the culinary team at the Sheraton since 2010, who applies his diverse upbringing in the Hawaiian Islands to RumFire’s eclectic menu.
The Nam Khao isn’t a regular menu item—and you’d be hard pressed to find it elsewhere. Traditionally a bar food of Thailand, Chef Danny says it represents the local Hawaii culture; casual, social, flavorful and with its own traditions. Chef Danny’s version of this traditionally Thai dish has a richer flavor profile, with the Lao crispy rice packed into a ball with fish sauce, Thai chili, ginger, garlic, lemongrass and sugar, with a delightful presentation.
It’s just one of the many innovative, fresh-ingredient creations in RumFire’s ever-changing repertoire.