Honolulu Restaurants

Thanks to some friends of ours, we were introduced to a fabulous restaurant called Town in Honolulu. No photos of their delicious cooking, I’m sorry to say, but trust me, the food is wonderful. Their website is www.townkaimuki.com. Their motto is “Local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always.” All we can add is that the kitchen clearly takes pride and care in their cooking. We highly recommend it.
We did dine at Alan Wong’s (of course!) and had their classic tasting menu again (I know I should branch out, but the foie gras and pulled pig sandwich served with tomato soup is to die for, and it’s the only way I can get it).
So, we started out with the appetizer, which was a Chopped Ahi Sashimi and Avocado Salsa Stack stacked on a crispy won ton and served with a spicy aioli and wasabi soy (on the left) and the “Soup and Sandwich,” a chilled vine ripened Hamakua Springs tomato soup and a grilled mozzarella cheese, foie gras and kalua pig sandwich. Really, there was no need for the rest of the dinner after that.

Chopped Ahi Sashimi & Avocado Salsa Stack and "Soup & Sandwich"

Chopped Ahi Sashimi & Avocado Salsa Stack and “Soup & Sandwich”

The second course was a Butter Poached Kona Cold Lobster served with Keahole abalone, Eryngi mushrooms and green onion oil.

Butter Poached Cold Lobster

Butter Poached Cold Lobster

The third course was the Ginger Crusted Onaga (Long-Tail Red Snapper) served with a miso sesame vinaigreete, organic Hamakua mushrooms and Kahuku corn.

Ginger Crusted Onaga

Ginger Crusted Onaga

The main course was the Twice Cooked Short Rib, Soy Braised and Grilled “Kalbi” Style served with gingered shrimp and ko choo jang sauce.

Twice Cooked Short Rib

Twice Cooked Short Rib

And, finally, dessert, Waialua Chocolate “Crunch Bars,” consisting of layers of milk chocolate macadamia nut crunch and bittersweet chocolate mousse.

Chocolate Crunch Bars

Chocolate Crunch Bars

We also had dinner at Sushi Sasabune, a sushi restaurant where you eat off a set menu. You eat what they give you and how they tell you (if they say “no sauce,” you eat it with no sauce). The rumor is that you will be asked to leave if you flout their directions. I’m generally cantankerous enough that the attitude is a bit over-the-top for me, but there really is no attitude. The requests are phrased very politely, and the fish is so fresh (Japan quality fresh) and the dishes are so innovative that I just roll with the sushi (as it were).

We do try new restaurants, too, and in addition to Town, we went to Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas. The food here was also innovative and delicious. We opted to order only off the appetizer menu, although there are also entrees available. We started with a Duo of Contemporary Sushi (torched smoked cold Hamachi and miso glazed salmon).

Duo of Contemporary Sushi

Duo of Contemporary Sushi

Next was the Spicy Tuna, with konbu rice, homemade taegu, shiso, and tobiko.

Spicy Tuna

Spicy Tuna

Then was the Steamed Kurobuta Pork Belly with torched brie cheese, ginger, shiso, fresh WOW Farm tomato-scallion salad, nori wrapped msubi and “adobo sauce.”

Steamed Pork Belly

Steamed Pork Belly

After that was the Crispy Coriander Dusted Duck Leg served with Shantaku haricot vert, Chinese five spice pepper and soy star anise sauce.

Crispy Coriander Duck Leg

Crispy Coriander Duck Leg

And our final course (because we were bursting at the seams) was the Portuguese Sausage Potstickers served with wilted choi sum, sweet corn, kim chee foam and truffled ponzu sauce.

Portuguese Sausage Potstickers

Portuguese Sausage Potstickers

If we had to rank our dining experiences (and they were all delicious—you can’t go wrong with any of them), we would be forced to rank them in the following order: Alan Wong’s, Town, Sushi Sasabune, and Hiroshi.
And for more low brow dining, let’s not forget the International Marketplace (scheduled for demolition later this month). Where else you can find the world’s most delicious kim chee fried rice?

kimchee fried rice

kimchee fried rice

And that completes the restaurant reviews for the day. ☺

Alan Wong’s (a double helping)

In our latest visit to Honolulu, we were greedy enough to eat at Alan Wong’s twice during our trip.  The first meal was very good, but the second meal outdid itself.  At the second dinner, Jim and I ordered the classic tasting menu, which we could do without having the entire table required to order it.  (I understand the serving and pacing issues when only some at a table order the tasting menu, but it’s still a nice thing when a restaurant allows that flexibility.)

So, to summarize the meal, first, you have to start with the festive summer non-alcoholic drinks:

summer "cocktails"

At the first dinner, we tried an organic butter (which was much better tasting than the normal butter) and a lilikoi (passionfruit) shot.

assortment of butterslilikoi shot

For the classic tasting menu, we started off with a “soup and sandwich” consisting of a chilled tomato soup with a grilled cheese-and-kalua-pig sandwich.  It was amazing!  This was followed by an ahi sashimi and avocado salsa stack, which is also an appetizer on the main menu.  Yummy!

soup-and-sandwichahi & avocado stack

Our 13 year old ordered the Crazy Asian appetizer, which consists of Chinese roast duck and pork hash lumpia in a hoisin balsamic vinaigrette.  It doesn’t sound like those ingredients would work together, but they do!

crazy asian

Next on the classic tasting menu was a ginger-crusted snapper served with a miso sesame vinaigrette and a seafood lasagne.

ginger crusted snapperseafood lasgne

Entrees for the kids consisted of a “katsu curry” tilapia and a tenderloin steak (the photo shows only the remains of the steak, as it was consumed too quickly to get a presentation photo):

katsu curry tilapiaremains of the steak

The last non-dessert dish in the classic tasting menu is the twice cooked short rib, soy braised and grilled “kalbi” style:

twice cooked short rib

The classic tasting menu includes a dessert called the “mini coconut”–coconut sorbet served in a chocolate shell with tropical fruits and lilikoi sauce.  The other dessert served at the table was a pineapple shave ice.

mini coconutpineapple shave ice

We left the restaurant both times in a delightful food coma.  We can’t wait to eat there again the next time we go!

Our Hawaii Vacation

We just returned from a fabulous week in Honolulu where the skies were blue, the ocean  even bluer, and it was 80 degrees every day.  Oahu is our favorite island, mostly because we aren’t sit-on-the-beach kind of people, so there is more to do in Honolulu than anywhere else.  That’s not to say we didn’t sit on the beach and play in the pool a lot because we did.  The kids took surfing lessons every day, and we built sandcastles and spent time in the pool.  (We also did math homework and read from the school reading list, but that’s a topic for another day.)

view from the Halekulanisurfers


In addition to our usual visits to the Bishop Museum and the Honolulu Art Museum (formerly the Honolulu Academy of Arts), we paid a visit to Pearl Harbor.  Jim and I had been years ago, but this was the kids’ first visit.  The USS Arizona Memorial is moving enough to break your heart.  The tour of the aircraft carrier USS Missouri is amazing, both because of the sheer size of the ship and because of the role the ship played in history.  (Among other things, the deck of the Missouri is the place where the Japanese signed the surrender documents ending World War II.)  And the tour of the World War II submarine, the USS Bowfin, is not for the claustrophobic.

USS Arizona

USS Missouri

I was also fascinated at the number of Japanese tourists wending their way through the Pearl Harbor sites, as if they were visiting just another tourist spot.  But, perhaps, they were learning things they didn’t know, just as Americans do when visiting Hiroshima.  (It was still weird, however.)

We also ate our way through our vacation, dining at our favorite restaurant, Alan Wong’s, twice (more about the meals in a later blog post) and at our second favorite restaurant, Roy’s, twice as well.  This is in addition to the meals of ramen, sushi, and kimchee fried rice that we consumed.  (And let’s not forget the shave ice.)

If you’re interested in travel tips to Hawaii, you can mouse over the Travel section of my website and click on Hawaii for my Hawaii travel tome.

Alan Wong’s in Honolulu

I’ll be describing our lovely Christmas in Hawaii later, once I get some photos uploaded.  But I did want to talk about one of the best meals we had while we were there, at Alan Wong’s.  He does a lovely East-West Hawaii-style cuisine, and it was one of the best meals we’ve ever had.  Thanks to the app, Evernote Food, there are some nice photos of some of our dishes:

To the left is an appetizer called “Poki-Pines”–a riff off both the animal (porcupine) and the traditional Hawaiian dish, poke, made up of raw tuna and spices.  To the right is an appetizer called Korean “chicken salad” made of cubes of chicken done Asian style (with skin and cut directly off the bone) accompanied by kimchee.

Poki-PinesKorean "chicken salad"

For the main dishes, to the left is “tilapia jun,” done in the traditional Korean style with egg batter, to the right is short ribs with gingered shrimp, and at the bottom is steamed shrimp and clams with penne in a chili black bean sauce.

tilapia junshort ribs with gingered shrimpPenne with shrimp & clams in black bean sauce

We ordered dessert as well, but I have no beautiful photos of the desserts because we ate them before I remembered to take pictures!  Every dish was delicious, but my personal favorites were the poki-pines and the penne.  Reasonable minds can differ, however.