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Step Up to the Plate

3660 On the Rise

By Alana Folen Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
February 3, 2013

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A CLOSER LOOK AT THIS WEEK’S HOUSE SPECIAL: TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA SALAD ($12)

There’s more to the Tomato and Mozzarella Salad at 3660 on the Rise than meets the eye. This relatively new starter made its debut on the restaurant’s menu about four months ago, and according to chef de cuisine Lydell Leong, this healthy salad has been a hit among dinner patrons, boasting an impressive culmination of flavor profiles that are pleasing to the palate.

As the dish’s sole creator, Leong believes it’s essential to highlight local ingredients, which he exquisitely intertwines into the salad with simple elegance.

Color is key when it comes to presentation, so, of course, vibrant red tomatoes are a focal point of the salad. Leong keeps it local utilizing fresh tomatoes from Wow Farm in Waimea on the Big Island.

Micro basil is a prominent component to the dish. Locally sourced, micro basil is basically tiny seedlings of herbs and greens, which provide the perfect taste. According to Leong, micro basil differs from mature basil because it doesn’t give off a strong, pungent aroma. “The taste of micro basil is perfect and sweet, which is why I can add a nice handful of it to the dish. It doesn’t outshine the other delicate flavors in the dish.”

While micro basil is delicious on its own, Leong has decided to toss it with a blend of Kona sea salt and truffle oil. Interesting fact about Kona sea salt is that it’s not your average table salt. In fact, it originates from sea water and has a pure and unadulterated taste. It also adds a bit of crunch and texture to the dish, as the granules are of various sizes.

A nice international twist to the salad is found in the proscuitto (salted and dry-cured ham leg) from Spain.

Cheese, please! Yet, this cheese is nothing like you’ve ever tasted before. It’s house-made truffled mozzarella — something that Leong created on his own. “I used to use plain mozzarella in a lot of my salads, but one day I was thinking why can’t we add things to it? So, I now add diced truffles to this cheese and it is a great enhancement to the salad.”

It’s all in the details: Balsamic reduction drizzle is heated in the oven with kiawe wood, which brings a smoky zest to life.

In addition, truffle oil elevates the dish to a whole new level with its earthy, floral essence that provides a depth to the salad that is incomparable. A little truffle oil goes a long way — a couple of drops is all you need.

This premier salad was made on a whim, according to Leong. “A local farmer came to me with micro basil and at that moment I happened to be stretching mozzarella cheese and also talking to a farmer on the Big Island about tomatoes. At that moment everything culminated together and resulted in this dish. It all fell right on to the plate.”

3660 On the Rise

3660 Waialae Ave., Honolulu
737.1177
Tuesday-Sunday, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Note: 3660 has four private dining rooms that can accommodate groups up to 200 people