Feel at Home in the Islands at Ocean HouseCover Story Features
August 5, 2012
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel
Situated on the beautiful shores of Waikiki is Ocean House, where casual elegance, class-act customer service and world-renowned cuisine are right at your fingertips. Whether you’re out enjoying a meal with the family, or taking part in a romantic dinner for two, one thing’s for certain, each and every guest is always treated to unforgettable meals for breakfast and dinner, expertly prepared by executive chef Craig Yasaka.
Dining Out recently paid a visit to this premier establishment, and while soaking up the sun and breathtaking views of Diamond Head, we caught up with general manager David Nagaishi, who eagerly shared exactly what keeps Ocean House at the top of its game for the past 10 years.
DO: Ocean House, located oceanfront in Outrigger Reef on the Beach Hotel, opened its doors in April 2002, and this year marks its 10th anniversary. You’ve been here since the beginning. How has the restaurant progressed since then?
Nagaishi: It’s so neat because I’ve been able to watch the restaurant grow. We still have return customers who have dined with us since the beginning. I see a lot of people come through the doors, even celebrities such as Adam Sandler, princesses from Saudi Arabia and more. There are so many guests who travel to the Islands each year who make it a point to visit us, and that’s a huge compliment! And I love the local people who are such loyal patrons.
DO: What is the concept behind Ocean House and what can diners expect?
Nagaishi: Ocean House has a nice plantation feel, as if you were dining at a friend’s house. We offer a very nice and relaxed atmosphere — the ocean is just steps away and the sound of the waves crashing on shore is soothing. Our main goal is to make our guests feel as if they are at home. We serve island cuisine — we have a little of everything here. Our restaurant has definitely progressed cuisine-wise, but we still kept the authentic island feel. We’re always changing with the times, the seasons and the new trends.
DO: Upscale, casual dining is the main focus here. What are some signature items that diners love?
Nagaishi: Our Parmesan Crusted Opah ($34.50) is a mainstay. It features Hawaiian moon-fish, pan-seared with a light lemon caper butter cream sauce, and served with grilled Kahuku corn and sun-dried tomato polenta. Of course, the Ocean House specialty is Hawaiian Sea Salt Slow Roasted Premium Angus Prime Rib. Diners may choose from The Ocean Cut ($34.50), a heartier portion of juicy, tender beef; Lite Cut ($31.50), a smaller cut for a lighter appetite; The Alii Cut ($42.50), generous bone-in cut fir a king-size appetite; Pulehu Prime Rib ($36.50), grilled with garlic and fresh herbs; and Blackened Prime Rib ($36.50), pan-seared on an iron skillet with Cajun spices served with a sweet Creole sauce. All prime rib entrees are accompanied with traditional English peas, creamy horseradish and Maui onion mashed potatoes. People really love our Sizzling Ahi Carpaccio ($14.50) as well.
DO: In honor of its 10th anniversary, Ocean House is celebrating with some changes to its menu concept. Is that correct?
Nagaishi: Yes. As far as our anniversary, we have some new menu items, which are geared toward healthier trends. These new dishes offer a lot more vegetables and healthy grains, such as quinoa, polenta and others. Guests have been loving our Roasted Beets and Island Papaya Salad ($11.50). We also have nice gluten-free menu options that a lot of people are taking advantage of, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. A popular gluten-free creation is Vegetables and Saffron Quinoa Saute ($24.50), which consists of broccoli, snap peas, carrots, onions, squash, zucchini, mushrooms and asparagus sauteed in a light lemon, garlic and olive oil. It’s very tasty.
For our 10th anniversary we wanted to do something special, so we’ve added various new items to our menu, such as Hawaiian Sweet Bread Stuffed French Toast. Priced at $14, this favorite is filled with guava jam and topped with toasted coconut. Macadamia nut cream syrup completes this dish.
DO: Ocean House originally was known for its predominant seafood selection, but since then many hearty dishes have been brought to the table, especially for meat eaters. What are some relatively new entrees that carnivores can look forward to?
Nagaishi: Definitely our Grilled Veal Chop ($39.50). Veal is a filet with an attitude. We present you with a 12-ounce cut served with wild mushroom, Madeira demi, topped with avocado gremolata butter, tomato concasse, grilled hearts of zucchini and served with a risotto croquette. However, our seafood selection continues to be strong. In fact, our Ginger Green Onion Steamed Monchong ($32.50) is a hit. This island favorite is delicious, and served with yuzu chinoise sauce and a medley of stir-fried vegetables.
DO: Does the restaurant obtain any of its products locally?
Nagaishi: Yes, executive chef Craig Yasaka uses as much local produce as possible. We use a lot of local, line-caught seafood, and a lot of our vegetables are all grown here in the Islands.
DO: Are there any promotions or specials diners should be on the lookout for?
Nagaishi: Yes, for the entire month of August we have two specials going on. First, with the purchase of a breakfast entree you’ll receive a glass of fresh-squeezed grapefruit or orange juice on the house. Secondly, patrons will be treated with a complimentary Uncle Moki’s Chocolate Lava Flow Cake with the purchase of two entrees when you bring in the Dining Out ad on Page 23. This dessert is big enough to share and is one of our best-sellers.
DO: What are your hopes and dreams for Ocean House in the next 10 years?
Nagaishi: Simply put, we hope that the cuisine will keep improving, along with our service, and we hope our customers keep returning for more!
Outrigger Reef Hotel
2169 Kalia Road, Honolulu
7-11 a.m. (breakfast)
5-10 p.m. (dinner)