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Tropics’ Revamped Menu Shoots to Thrill

By Kyle Galdeira Photos By Leah Friel
April 28, 2013

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Situated just a fork’s throw away from the picturesque golden sand and glittering waters of Waikiki Beach, Tropics Bar & Grill brings together extraordinary culinary inspirations with a relaxing open-air atmosphere and impeccable service.

Located on the ground level of Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort’s Alii Tower, Tropics Bar & Grill serves up panoramic views that complete a memorable experience geared toward appeasing all the senses. From nightly live Hawaiian music — including the melodious musings of Henry Kapono, Nohelani Cypriano and Acoustik Playground — to the iconic Friday fireworks show produced weekly by the resort, Tropics offers the complete dining and entertainment experience.

With gentle breezes passing through the open-air setting, and diners taking in the sights and sounds emanating from the glittering ocean and golden sands of iconic Waikiki Beach, it’s no wonder that the hit CBS drama Hawaii Five-0 has featured Tropics Bar & Grill multiple times in the television series.

To complement its recent $11 million renovation, Tropics is pleased to offer diners a revamped menu designed to enhance the experience at one of Oahu’s most popular beachfront locales. An emphasis on utilizing locally grown and produced ingredients has led to fresh takes on a host of island favorites.

“If it grows here locally, we try to get it,” says Kapo Kealoha, chef de cuisine at Tropics Bar & Grill, who notes that 70 to 75 percent of the new menu is crafted with local ingredients. “That’s a huge priority for me. Basically, the menu is a breakdown of what I like to eat, and what ingredients we can get locally. If I couldn’t get the items necessary to make the ragu for the chicken locally, then we wouldn’t have it. If I couldn’t get the apple bananas that we use in the French toast locally, then there wouldn’t be apple bananas in there. That shows the importance of building the menu with local products.”

Kealoha brings a wealth of experience to the kitchen, as the local boy has worked his way up the culinary ladder from dishwasher to some of the industry’s top posts at prestigious restaurants across the country. He recently introduced an updated breakfast menu, and will be rolling out great, new seasonal offerings for both lunch and dinner in May.

While visitors from around the world are treated to Kealoha’s creations as part of the spectacular resort’s many attractions, kamaaina are encouraged to make the short trip into Waikiki to enjoy the flavorful foray as well.

“Kamaaina will definitely find things that they like on this menu. Most of it includes items that I would eat,” Kealoha explains. “If I won’t eat it, it’s not going to go on the menu.”

Diners already have discovered Bananas Foster Stuffed French Toast ($17), a creative combination of caramelized banana and cream cheese stuffing, Hawaiian cane sugar caramel sauce, Big Island vanilla bean ice cream and a piece of macadamia nut brittle made fresh in-house.

“There’s nothing better than cake icing, ice cream and candy for breakfast,” says Kealoha, when explaining the distinct flavors in the unique French toast. “As you can see, diners go straight for the candy.”

Kalua Pork Hash & Eggs ($16) is another new breakfast offering making waves, as diners enjoy the local take on pork hash along with two eggs, Tropics breakfast potatoes, roasted tomato garnish and a side of toast. Those looking to start the day on a healthy note can turn to Healthy Start Platter ($22), an assortment of Farmers Market egg white frittata, fresh fruit cup, daily smoothie shooter and a choice of mini acai berry bowl or mini oatmeal.

Kona Crab & Corn Meal Tots ($10) are available as a brand-new appetizer on both the lunch and dinner menus. The bite-size fritters mirror the taste and texture of fresh crab cakes, and include sweet Kahuku corn along with pineapple ponzu and Hawaiian chili aioli dipping sauces.

Tropics Bar & Grill also reels in a unique take on a popular seafood staple with Bubu Arare & Aloha Lager Island Fish & Chips ($20, available at lunch and dinner). The dish features a fresh island catch coated with miniature rice crackers and battered with locally brewed Aloha Beer Company lager, along with malt vinegar, candied ginger remoulade and seasoned french fries.

Seafood lovers will also clamor for Seared Island Catch ($32, available at dinner) as the day’s fresh local fish is accompanied by sesame potato gnocchi, warm Kahuku sea asparagus salad and a Lehua honey butter sauce.

Another new dinner selection includes a savory swath of local flavors intertwined in Macadamia Nut Honey-Roasted Half Chicken ($29). The moist, juicy meat is presented beautifully with a roasted chicken jus, fingerling potato, Kahuku corn, Hamakua mushroom and edamame succotash.

Tropics Bar & Grill also features a vast “Made in Hawaii” Happy Hour menu available daily from 3 to 5 p.m., including a wide array of drink and food specials. From 16-ounce draft beers ($5.50) to Tropical Drinks ($8.50) like the Hawaii Five-0 and Kono Kalakaua Sunrise, diners will be “Booking ‘Em” with regularity.

Tropics Bar & Grill

HILTON HAWAIIAN VILLAGE WAIKIKI BEACH RESORT, ALII TOWER
2005 KALIA ROAD, HONOLULU
OPEN DAILY, 7 A.M.-10:30 P.M.
949-4321