New No. 1: Honolulu Burger Co.

What happens when nightclub owners no longer love the nightlife? In the case of Ken Takahashi, they make burgers. Really good ones. I just got back from his Honolulu Burger Co. which opened six days ago, and I can comfortably say it’s the best burger in town. Continue reading “New No. 1: Honolulu Burger Co.”

Kaua’i Grill Part I: The gala dinner

Over the past decade, brand-name chefs who have gone global with their food, conquering new cities like culinary Alexanders, have been scrutinized—is it really possible to run an empire and retain the quality and innovation that made the name in the first place? Alain Ducasse, Nobu Matsuhisa, Gordon Ramsay, and, closer to home, Roy Yamaguchi, are some of the kitchen stars who have turned into meteor showers. Continue reading “Kaua’i Grill Part I: The gala dinner”

Dough boy

Alejandro Briceno and his wood-burning oven

This tweet from @kiawe_fire says it all: “Dough is not right today ,,, so I’m not serving pizza!!! Sorry ill b back 2morrow.” That’s the twalias of Alejandro Briceño, former Nobu Waikiki pastry chef turned pizzaiolo. Instead of deconstructing shave ice and performing chocolate alchemy for one of the world’s most prestigious celeb-chef chains (Briceño’s Nobu desserts were stellar), he’s now baking pies—the Neapolitan kind. And that kind is all about the dough, which he happens to make from Caputo flour—”la farina di Napoli”—imported from Italy, and known internationally as the flour to use to make pizza.

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Maui finds: Local-only bistro + gelateria

Justin Pardo at work in his Market Fresh Bistro kitchen.Last week I was in Makawao for a writers’ workshop with Rebecca Walker. She is a generous, serious teacher and she set a rigorous schedule for the group. She also knows her food. I went out for dinner one night. Rebecca recommended Market Fresh Bistro up the road from the Banyan Retreat Center where I was staying. “The chef worked at Union Square Cafe.” Say wot?

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Momo and dhal: Himalayan Kitchen

The opening of Himalayan Kitchen in March marked one more step in the sloooow diversification of Honolulu’s restaurant scene. In the cozy Kaimuki second-floor nook that was once Days of Aloha Cafe (I still miss their tuna sandwiches and homemade guava jam), Himalayan Kitchen serves a menu of Indian and Nepalese food—a first for O‘ahu.

Back in April I walked in, saw a familiar face and blurted, “Hey, didn’t you used to work at Bombay Restaurant?” Owner Suman Basnet said he did—he was one of the original servers when the restaurant opened in 2006. He left there to work in a relative’s restaurant—in Omaha, of all places. Jaipur Brewing Company (!). I wonder if Jun Kaneko eats there. Continue reading “Momo and dhal: Himalayan Kitchen”

Rob Schneider likes The Counter

Actor Rob Schneider causing a stir at The Counter.On my debut visit to The Counter, back in April (April 5 to be exact), Rob Schneider walked in to grab a giant bag o’ takeout, and the starstruck young things went nuts, with groups asking to have their photo taken with him. He amicably obliged. The guy behind the counter said Schneider owns a home nearby, as does Adam Sandler, and gets burgers to go pretty often. I didn’t know if counter boy was insinuating that Sandler comes in too. Continue reading “Rob Schneider likes The Counter”

Azure review: The beautiful room is not empty

azureLast month the Royal Hawaiian reopened with much fanfare. And a new restaurant. I never have high hopes for hotel restaurants here. The Sheraton fell flat with Twist and RumFire—their food is as lackluster as the settings are mesmerizing (there must be some sort of Demetri Martin equation there). But dinner at sister operation Azure last week? Boy did that quash my skepticism.

What was the Surf Room is now a grand, cool, all-white space, with the kind of head room you find in spots like 11 Madison Park—OK, maybe not that high, but just so phenomenally airy and with a real ceiling, not that Styrofoam stuff so many local rooms have to settle for. It immediately makes the list of best dining rooms on the island, along with spots like La Mer, Nobu Waikiki and Kaiwa (topic for a future blog post!). More after the jump. Continue reading “Azure review: The beautiful room is not empty”