A Revolutionary Dining Experience at Top of WaikikiFeatures Order of the Day
October 14, 2012
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Leah Friel
In the hour it takes for Top of Waikiki to make a complete revolution, one can enjoy a wide range of delectable dishes that pair perfectly with the breathtaking panoramic views from atop the rotating restaurant and bar.
Executive chef John Neff brings more than 15 years of experience to the table as his eclectic menu features a blend of “world fusion” tastes that feature Asian influences and a host of locally grown produce.
“We try to include, as much as possible, local produce and ingredients,” Neff says. “It’s good for the economy, it’s good for Hawaii and I think it’s something the customers appreciate. When they see Kamuela tomatoes and Maui onions, they know that we’re trying to use local ingredients, and they’re in Hawaii for a reason.”
Day Boat Scallops ($17) offer diners an appetizing pair of rich and buttery scallops on a bed of Ewa sweet corn pudding and topped with braised pancetta and a tangy Kamuela tomato and Maui onion relish. “We’re using high quality scallops that are fresh, not frozen,” explains Neff. “Scallops and bacon go really well together, so we use the pancetta as our play on that idea. With the relish, we’re using fresh, local ingredients again to top off the dish.”
Neff features Kula butter lettuce in the Crab Louie Salad ($15), which also includes blue crab meat mixed with a spicy sriracha aioli that provides some “spice and creaminess,” grape tomatoes, avocado, asparagus and hard-boiled quail eggs. The refreshing salad is topped with a lemon herb vinaigrette that ties all the flavors together.
“I worked for a chef in San Francisco, and that’s a traditional dish from that area,” explains Neff when asked about the inspiration for the salad. “I changed the ingredients around to put a local take on what I’ve seen. Coming back to Hawaii where I grew up and incorporating what I’ve seen while working on the Mainland, that’s kind of my outlook on the menu and my style of cooking.”
Neff’s San Francisco influences also shine through in Cioppino with Linguine ($38), a hodgepodge of flavorful seafood enveloped in a roasted pepper and tomato broth, and served with garlic crostini. The dish, which got its inspiration from fishermen who would return home and make seafood stew composed of their fresh catches, features seared day boat scallops, shrimp, fresh island fish, calamari, mussels and crab.
Blue Moon Braised Pork Osso Buco ($33) features a hearty pork shank that is braised for two hours in Blue Moon beer until the moist and tender meat absorbs all the flavors. Neff utilizes the citrus accents in the beer, as he explains that pork and citrus flavors pair very well together, and serves the succulent meat with smoked bacon, lentils, apple confit, roasted baby carrots and an orange gremolata and pork jus sauce.
“I try and offer a different variety of menu items so customers can look forward to a variety of choices,” says Neff. “That’s my style.
I don’t want to stick to just Italian or French food. I want to take everything I’ve seen and learned and bring it all together. I include a lot of Asian influences on the menu, so both local diners and visitors from all walks of life can find something they want and are familiar with.”
Top of Waikiki
Waikiki Business Plaza
2270 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu
Open daily, 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.