I’ve always enjoyed Hawaii – the Aloha Spirit of Love, the fusion of Native, Japanese and American cultures, the surfing vibe epitomised by an old hero of mine, Duke Kahanamoku, the mountains, the Halekulani, and the year round feeling of Fun, Freedom and Family.
But one thing that Honolulu has never really had is interesting food – it’s mainly been driven by high traffic, volume, fast and furious, big portions, steak burgers and ribs.
But all that’s changing. Two places to check out when you’re next in Honolulu (after a flight of local blonde beers at Duke’s and a mango habanero margarita on Tommy Bahama’s rooftop), drop into Ward Village and enjoy the best of the new Farm to Table Hawaiian cuisine at Merriman’s. Lively, whimsical, upbeat and brilliant food. Great crowd. Peter Merriman’s approach is ‘Throw a party every night’ – behind one of the best wine lists in town, innovative cocktails and unforgettable food using local ingredients, dirt fresh local salads, freshly caught fish and loads of imagination. I ate the best dish I’ve had anywhere this year – Tako (octopus) served ‘a la escargot’ – looking just like a dozen classic snails washed in cognac and garlic butter – with country bread to dip into the sauce. Visually escargots; in reality octopus. Brilliant. And a lobster pot pie with small kine farm mushrooms and a vermouth and corn crust.
Then, when you’re ready for another treat, head down to Chinatown to Senia. A new spot based on sharing and crossing paths – very similar to Simon Gault’s Giraffe in Auckland. A gathering place for great food. Casual, highest quality, fun crowd, and a terrific Chef’s Counter experience – the tasting menu served by the two Chef / Owners (Chris Kajioka and Anthony Rush from Thomas Keller’s NYC Per Se) at a counter for eight people splitting the dining room and the open kitchen. Pure, beautiful, seasonal ingredients – inspired presentations.
Aloha and Mahalo.