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Finding a Bit of Greek Heaven for Sweethearts

Digest Foodie Fare

February 13, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

In Greek mythology, Eros, the god of love, caused uncontrollable passion in the hearts of his targets by wounding them with magically treated arrows.

  • Mix Souvlaki ($15.95), combination of chicken, lamb and shrimp, served with rice, salad and pita.
  • Greek Marina part-owner Tarek Guirguis.
  • Gyros ($12.95), a subtle blend of lean roasted beef and lamb sliced thin served with salad and pita.
  • Greek steak ($15.95), marinated beef steak served with rice, salad and pita.
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Modern-day mortals don’t need to go to such extremes to cast a spell over their sweethearts this Valentine’s Day; tomorrow’s special at Greek Marina has everything covered.

For one day only, the Koko Marina restaurant features a feast fit for Zeus, but at a price that even those who don’t live on Mount Olympus can afford.

Dinner costs $25 per person and includes two appetizers, an entree sampling platter and two heavenly desserts.

“We want to let them taste as many items from the menu that we can. That’s why we did two appetizers as well as fours kinds of entrees in one plate, plus Greek salad and pita bread,” says owner Tarek Guirguis.

The meal starts off with two of Greek Marina’s most requested mezedes: homemade Hommus, a creamy blend of garbanzo beans, tahini, fresh garlic, lemon and olive oil; and a generous portion of Baba Ghanouj, a baked eggplant dish mixed with tahini, lemon, garlic and cumin.

Next up is an assortment of Souvlaki, skewered meats and vegetables that are roasted over an open flame. The selection includes Chicken Souvlaki and Lamb Souvlaki, as well as full helpings of Greek Marina’s popular Lamb Rack and Gyros, a blend thinly sliced roasted beef and lamb.

A thick slice of Baklava, a sweet and flaky pastry made of layers of filo, nuts and honey, and Basbosa, what can only be described as a sweet cake flavored with rose water, make the perfect ending to a perfect Valentine’s meal for two.

Choose to eat inside under the romantic glow of the twinkling lights, or enjoy a starlight dinner al fresco at one of the outdoor tables.

On the Side

When Tarek Guirguis was searching for a place to open his newest restaurant venture six years ago, he had certain criteria in mind. The location, he says, needed to be easily accessible to both tourists and locals alike, and it wouldn’t hurt if the surroundings were reminiscent of a sunny seaside Greek village.

He found the ideal spot in Koko Marina Center and opened the casual eatery Greek Marina in 2005.

Situated literally steps from Hawaii Kai’s picturesque harbor and just minutes away from world-famous Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach, Greek Marina serves authentic Mediterranean fare that complements the area’s active lifestyle.

“Greek and Mediterranean food are famous for being very healthy,” says Guirguis.

A quick scan of the menu and it’s no wonder why. The majority of ingredients are fresh vegetables, hearty beans or lean cuts of lamb, chicken and beef roasted on a rotating spit, which allows most of the fat to drip off but keeps the meat juicy and tender.

And while you’ll find staples like Greek Steak ($15.95/$16.95), Gyros Chicken ($12.95/$13.95), Kalamari Steak ($13.95/$14.95) and small deep-fried fish called Marides ($7.95/$8.95), many Greek dishes such as Dolmades ($6.95/$7.95), Tabbouleh Salad ($5.95/$6.95) and Moussaka ($13.95/$14.95) are vegetarian due to the country’s large population of Christians, who regularly give up meat for Lent.

“In Greece, we use a lot of seafood, too,” adds Guirguis, who is a quarter Greek but was born and raised in nearby Alexandria, Egypt. “A lot of Greek people lived in Egypt for a long time, that’s why a lot of the food is exactly the same, just different names. For example, the souvlaki, in Egypt we call it shish kabob, the gyros we call shawerma. It’s exactly the same, but it’s different name.”

Guirguis moved to Hawaii in 1989 and today owns The Pyramids in Kaimuki and The Greek Corner on University Avenue. Greek Marina, he adds, is a co-partnership between himself and boyhood friend Nasser Rizk, whom he actually met in the fourth grade back in Egypt.

“When I came here I was 28 years old, and all my friends were back home, I didn’t have any close friends here. So when he moved out here, oh, I was so happy, I got one of my close friends back,” Guirguis says. “We’re still close friends and doing very good.”

So good, in fact, that Guirguis would like to open another restaurant on Oahu within the next five years.

“I’ve been in Hawaii for 21 years now and I love it,” he adds. “It’s a paradise, especially for me because I’m from Alexandria, which is right by the Mediterranean; I have to live right by the ocean.”

Greek Marina

  • Where
    • Koko Marina Center
    • 7192 Kalanianaole Highway E-126
    • Honolulu, HI 96825
  • Call
    • (808) 396-8441
  • Hours
    • 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    • Monday – Sunday
    •  
    • Dinner
    • 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Sunday – Thursday
    • 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Friday and Saturday