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!
Hula Grill Waikiki introduces their new Chef and the Aloha Friday lunch
Photography by Amber Schoniwitz
Hula Grill Waikiki offers the quintessential oceanfront experience along with excellent food, welcoming service, and fair prices. The vibe is family-friendly, but also “date night” worthy, and uniquely local. This may have something to do with the fact that the team at Hula Grill is serious about food sourcing; they have also been known to visit, volunteer, and donate to many small farms on the Island.
New to the culinary team is Executive Chef Matt Young, who has been with the parent company TS Restaurants for six years, and is familiar with its core values and goals. One of the primary tasks on Chef Young’s plate is introducing Hula Grill Waikiki’s first lunch offering, the Aloha Friday Hawaiian Luau Plate. As part of the only lunch service at the restaurant (it’s normally only open for breakfast, dinner, and weekend brunch), you can catch this new dish on Fridays, 12pm – 3pm. We took a minute to sit down and “talk story” with Chef Young to see what’s happening, and what we can look forward to at Hula Grill Waikiki.
WM: Congratulations on the launch of the new Aloha Friday Hawaiian Luau Plate. What makes this dish, and the day, so special?
MY: This is an opportunity for guests from out of town to try some traditional Hawaiian food right on the beach in the heart of Waikiki. It’s also a killer Hawaiian lunch on Fridays for locals working in Waikiki. There’s live music and hula dancers, even lei making lessons in front of the restaurant… it’s really a fun afternoon.
WM: Hula Grill has always been at the forefront of working with and showcasing local farmers, ranchers, and fisheries. What does this relationship mean to you as a chef?
MY: This is the number one priority for me when writing new menu items, or adjusting current recipes. Farm to table has recently become the popular “thing-to-do” over the last few years, but Hula Grill has been committed to it from the beginning because it’s important for our environment, community and economy. That is the backbone of our concept and we take it seriously. We recently started working with Makaweli Meat Company on Kauai, and are buying whole cows direct from their farm and using the whole animal for many applications in the restaurant. This is just an example of how we want to buy local and not create waste.
WM: What is your absolute favorite dish on the menu at Hula Grill?
MY: Oh man… tough question. We are known for our fresh fish and we always have nightly specials so the options are always changing. But I would say our Ahi dish right now is pretty great it’s served with coconut black rice, spicy hearts of palm and mustard miso sauce.
WM: Are there any other new plans in the works for Hula Grill in the near future?
MY: There are always new things on the horizon for us. We do a few special dinner pairings throughout the year featuring local brewers and artisans, with one in the works as we speak. Besides that, we are constantly introducing new dishes through three to four menu updates a year, which is a great way to give our return guests something new and exciting to try.