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Wine and Dine in Country Comfort

By Alana Folen Photos By Leah Friel
July 28, 2013

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Pamper your palate at HASR Bistro when in the mood for superlative melt-in-your-mouth, country-style fare. Co-owner, wine purveyor and restaurateur, Terry Kakazu opened this restaurant on North Pauahi Street with award-winning executive chef Rodney Uyehara last October, and business has been booming ever since.

“We’re a country-style bistro that specializes in European-American cuisine with an ethnic twist. We offer comfort food made with passion,” says Kakazu, who’s always wanted to offer her guests quality, fine-dining favorites at affordable prices.

Dining Out recently spoiled ourselves with a visit to HASR Bistro, where Kakazu and Uyehara dished about the bistro’s positive impact on Hawaii’s dining scene.

DO: How did the partnership between you and Chef Rodney come about?

Kakazu: I’ve known Rodney for a while, and when he left the Beachhouse I mentioned to him that we should open a restaurant and that I was looking at a space in Downtown Honolulu. At first he was skeptical about opening a restaurant downtown, but now he’s a believer. We purchased this space, which was previously owned by Grand Cafe, and the rest is history.

DO: HASR Wine Co., which you also own, has been in business for almost eight years and is adjacent HASR Bistro. With the HASR name already branded and built, did HASR Wine Co. help to bring success to the restaurant?

Kakazu: Yes, all the “who’s who” in the community already knew of us because of HASR Wine Co. My store has at least 500 different labels of wine from around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Italy and France.

How-ever, we also specialize in California wines because I love Napa Valley, and we are able to obtain highly allocated wines from small boutique wineries.

HASR Bistro has the biggest wine cellar because you can go next door to purchase a bottle of wine and we don’t charge a corkage fee at the restaurant. Nowadays, the better wines are also more readily available. We have restaurant-only wines as well, but I recommend guests go next door for the best selections. We cater to a vast amount of wine dinners and pupu parties.

DO: Terry, how did your passion for fine wines come to be?

Kakazu: My interest in wines began almost two decades ago in 1989, but my husband introduced me to elite wines in 1996. Then, a friend of mine really opened up my eyes to finer wines that were nearly impossible to obtain. These were wines that others could only dream of.

DO: HASR is an acronym for Highly Allocated Spoiled Rotten. What’s the meaning behind that?

Kakazu: One day, I was told by some wine representatives that I was spoiled rotten because I had access to all of these highly allocated wines, so that’s how the acronym came to be. From there, I started a wine club called HASR Hawaii and we’d go on tours of Napa Valley every year. That led to HASR Wine Co. and now HASR Bistro.

DO: Chef, tell us about your culinary background. What are a few of the standout dishes at HASR Bistro?

Uyehara: I was trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and upon graduation I worked in New York City for three years before returning to Hawaii. My specialization is in American-French cuisine, and I incorporate a lot of European flavors with local ingredients that we have in Hawaii.

Our signature dishes at HASR Bistro are Harris Farm New York Strip ($32 dinner) served with stroganoff egg noodles and a peppercorn demi; Grilled Australian Lamb Rack ($36 dinner) with ratatouille and pomegranate sauce; and Braised Short Rib ($26 dinner), which also features pesto crusted bone marrow and Hamakua mushroom risotto.

Tuesday, we will unveil a new lunch item, Fresh Big Island Baby Spinach Gnocchi ($16) served on a bed of turkey Bolognese drizzled with a balsamic reduction and a hint of fresh herbs. Other lunch favorites include Maryland Crab Reuben Sandwich ($17) and “HB Burger” ($15). I like creating dishes with a lot of bold flavors behind it. It comes down to serving what our customers want.

Kakazu: Chef Rodney is the master of slow cooking and concocting great sauces.

DO: HASR Bistro has such a refreshing atmosphere. It’s a total escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown, correct?

Kakazu: Yes, when you’re enjoying a meal or a glass of wine at HASR Bistro, it doesn’t even feel like you’re downtown. Instead, it feels like you’re somewhere in Europe or Napa Valley. The atmosphere feels very romantic and comfortable — it’s a nice ambiance. We also have happy hour and featured entertainment that adds to the vibe. We have great local entertainers who perform in the courtyard, including TRK — The Rhythm Klub, Ben Vegas and Maila Gibson, Danny Couch, Pat “King” Koh Jazz Ensemble, Taste of Harmony, Roy Hamada and Adney Atabay and more. You can visit, hasrbistro.com for times and the complete lineup.

DO: Who is the clientele at HASR Bistro?

Kakazu: There are a lot of foodies these days, but I would say we mostly appeal to the young professionals and business professionals, along with families. We can seat 50 people in the dining room, 50 in the courtyard and 26 in the bistro room. We use the bistro room for private dinners.

DO: What’s in the works at HASR Bistro? What can diners look forward to?

Kakazu: We’re going to expand the restaurant and also make a lounge where people can enjoy appetizers and listen to great music. We’re changing the menu this week as well. We like to keep things fresh and revamp the menu every three months or so.

HASR Bistro

31 N. PAUAHI ST., HONOLULU
533-4277
OPEN MONDAY-SATURDAY, 10:30 A.M.-2:30 P.M. (LUNCH)
TUESDAY-SATURDAY, 2:30-4:30 P.M. (TAPAS)
TUESDAY-SATURDAY, 5-10 P.M. (DINNER)
HASRBISTRO.COM