3660 Rises to the Occasion
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Tucked away in the heart of Kaimuki lies 3660 on the Rise, an award-winning restaurant highly regarded for its Euro-Island cuisine. In fact, the name denotes the location of the restaurant at 3660 Waialae Ave., on the corner of Waialae and Wilhelmina Rise, and it’s obvious that the establishment offers locals and visitors alike an elegant dining experience where everyone is treated like family.
Partners Russell Siu and Gale Ogawa opened the doors to this contemporary eatery in September 1992 with four banquet rooms added in 1999. Now with 3660 on the Rise’s 19th anniversary fast approaching later this month, Dining Out caught up with Siu, who also serves as executive chef, Ogawa and chef de cuisine Lydell Leong, who took us on an incredible journey from the restaurant’s inception to now. They also shared with us their common vision for the establishment and the secrets behind the exquisite menu that reflects captivating local flavors. And while the times may change, one thing’s for certain, 3660 keeps risin’ on up!
DO: Gale, what made you and Russell want to open the doors to 3660 on the Rise?
Ogawa: Russell and I just enjoy good food, we love to eat, and we thought that we had something to share with the people. Both of us have been in the restaurant business pretty much all our lives, so this was just the next step. Prior to this I was managing the Plaza Club in downtown and Russell was the executive chef.
DO: Now that the 19th anniversary of 3660 on the Rise is just around the corner (Sept. 22), what are your thoughts after all these years?
Ogawa: It really does seem like just yesterday that we opened, it doesn’t seem like 19 years ago.
We’ve made a lot of friends and we’ve seen many of our employees go from being young kids to parents themselves. Lydell, for instance, has been with us for 15 years and is now the father of two. We’ve experienced so much over the years we’ve been here through the Gulf War, 9/11. We feel like if we can continue to put out a good product and be consistent, then we can be successful.
DO: Chef Lydell, what has the journey been like over the past 15 years working here?
Leong: Well, I started working in the pantry and worked my way up to chef de cuisine, and it’s been a very rewarding experience to have worked my way up from the bottom. Chef Russ has been my mentor throughout the years, and he taught me to never give up and to be persistent even when frustrated that’s just the tip of the iceberg because every day is a learning experience for me.
DO: In honor of 3660 on the Rise’s 19th anniversary, a special menu of all-time favorites will be available Sept. 13-30 in the dining room. What can people expect?
Leong: We’re basically featuring all our signature items on this prix-fixe menu that are favorites of our loyal customers. It’s a great deal for only $36.60 per person.
Siu: All of these items have been on the menu since the restaurant opened, and that’s one reason why we chose them for our Favorites Dinner. Diners have a choice of Caesar Salad or Clam & Corn Chowder; New York Steak Alaea or Tempura Catfish with Ponzu Sauce or Chinese Steamed Fresh Snapper with a Chinese Black Bean Broth. Lastly they receive a duet of Harlequin Creme Brulee & Warm Chocolate Souffle Cake.
DO: That’s something definitely worth trying. The restaurant also is throwing a Birthday Bash Sept. 22 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the banquet room. What’s that all about?
Siu: The Birthday Bash is a fundraiser for the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Hawaii. Priced at $60 per person, we’ll be featuring an array of pupus, such as Grape Tomato Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Drizzle, Crispy Scallop Mousse, Mini Beef Wellington and more. All the pupus will be paired with wines sponsored by Southern Wine and Spirits.
DO: How would you describe the style of the food here?
Ogawa: We call it “Euro-Island” cuisine. “Island” because we utilize a lot of island flavors, and “Euro” because a lot of the techniques and sauces have a strong French influence. However, as far as the menu mix, I think it’s geared to what many local people look for it’s not too fancy and over-the-top, but it’s not simple it’s a great balance.
DO: Over the past 19 years of being in business, how has 3660 progressed with time?
Siu: Slowly but surely (laughs). We pretty much evolved our menu, remodeled our restaurant and added a banquet room accommodating 200 people. We do a lot of in-house catering and people can book parties, too.
Ogawa: Yes, I think the menus have evolved with the times different food trends, use of local products, techniques.
DO: What types of local products are utilized in the cuisine here?
Leong: We use as many local products as possible. For example, Wow tomatoes from the Big Island, Nalo Greens, local cucumbers and local beef. We get many of these items shipped in once a week.
DO: What makes 3660 stand out from other Pacific fusion restaurants around town?
Ogawa: We think of ourselves as a place where people can just stop by at any time, and it doesn’t have to be a special occasion. A lot of our staff has been with us for such a long time, so it really helps to create that family environment, and our customers have become like family as well.
We also offer special events here, including cooking classes taught every other month by Russell, and wine dinners. We come up with a newsletter every two to three months promoting our events and everything is posted on our website (3660.com).
DO: Chef Lydell, what would you say are some outstanding items on the menu?
Leong: Well, the Escargot En Croute ($11.95) features traditional French-style escargots with sautéed mushrooms and savory garlic butter, covered in a golden brown, flaky puff pastry. Then the Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly ($11.75) is another popular item here. We braise the belly whole for six to seven hours in some chicken stock flavored Asian-style with a tangerine peel, star anise and a bit of shoyu. It’s then fried to a crisp and served with caramelized Maui onions, natural pan juices and a grilled flatbread.
DO: The Shrimp and Scallop Duet is another favorite among seafood lovers, correct?
Leong: Yes, the Shrimp and Scallop Duet ($12.75) is a tasty dish of rock shrimp tempura served with an avocado Maui onion puree. To go along with the dish we also have a pan-seared jumbo scallop ravioli with Chinese black bean butter sauce.
DO: Delicious! What’s a unique item on the menu that customers might want to sink their teeth into?
Leong: Well, with the Fire Roasted Long Island Duck Breast ($25.50), we tried something a little different. We present a fried whole leg of duck confit with a Kau orange sauce. However, with this dish we’re utilizing a red rice cooked with chicken stock and some dried wild cherries.
DO: You offer many sweet endings here as well. What’s a standout dessert?
Leong: Well, chocoholics will love the Chocoholic’s Dream ($9). Our pastry chef Jillian Wong has created a trio of chocolate featuring chocolate funnel cake with chocolate sorbet, chocolate pot de crème and a double chocolate brownie with caramel ice cream.
DO: Chef Lydell, where do you find inspiration for these tantalizing creations?
Leong: Going through life every day and seeing things here and there and adapting it to our style, and utilizing what Chef Russ has taught me as far as technique and flavor.
DO: Are you folks consistently adding new items to the menu?
Leong: Yes, we try to change up the menu quarterly, and we all work together to decide on what we want to share with our customers. It’s great to receive feedback.
3660 on the Rise
- 3660 Waialae Ave.
- Honolulu, HI 96816
- Open Tuesday-Sunday 5:30-8:30p.m.