HASR Surprises and Spoils with New EnhancementsCover Story Features
February 9, 2014
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel
HASR BISTRO has established quite a following since its inception in October 2012, and its loyal followers are well-aware of the backstory behind the restaurant’s unique name. In fact, “HASR” is an acronym for “Highly Allocated Spoiled Rotten,” a phrase that restaurateur, wine purveyor and co-owner Terry Kakazu established in 1989, shortly after her interest in wines began.
“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,” says Kakazu.
Now, both wine aficionados and food enthusiasts are in love with this North Pauahi Street establishment, which is mirrored after a Napa Valley country-style bistro renowned for its European-American fare accentuated by ethnic accents. And the wine? Well, the options are endless.
Kakazu also owns HASR Wine Co. (adjacent to HASR Bistro), which boasts at least 500 different labels of international wines. However, Kakazu notes that California wines are the shop’s specialty.
“HASR Bistro has the biggest wine cellar, and the best part is that we don’t charge a corkage fee at the restaurant. The best selections are right next door,” she says.
And with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, Cupid points his bow and arrow in the direction of the newest expansion to the eatery. Enter “Toppe of the Wine Shoppe,” a 3,500 square-foot multi-purpose room situated just above the restaurant.
“I originally designed (this room) for seminars, but it’s also functional for special events, such as graduation parties, wedding receptions, birthdays, business meetings and more,” says Kakazu of the spacious room equipped with a dance floor, wine storage facility and prep room perfect for preparing heavy pupus and buffet selections.
Starting at 6 p.m. Feb. 14, HASR’s Toppe of the Wine Shoppe celebrates the holiday of love with an all-you-can-eat dinner buffet and show (8-11 p.m.) featuring Music Hall of Fame’s Little Albert Maligmat, Lovenotes’ John Valentine and Rocky Fellers’ Eddie Maligmat, who will rock the house with electrifying dance tunes. The dinner buffet/show is priced at $65 per person, $50 for dinner only and $30 for show only (if you are dining downstairs in HASR Bistro’s dining room/courtyard — one entree per person minimum — show entry costs $20 per person).
Co-owner and executive chef Rodney Uyehara has created a stunning culinary line-up for the evening, including Bone-in Export Prime Rib, Bistro Stuffed Chicken Breast, Seafood Paella, Shrimp Spring Rolls, Chinatown Stir-fry Veggies, Garlic Cheesy Bread, Hamakua Mushroom Escargot, Banana Bread Pudding and Tiramisu Opera. According to Kakazu, this is a BYOB event, and all wine must be purchased from HASR Wine Co. Non-alcoholic beverages of iced tea and fruit punch will also be provided.
“This room is a musician’s playground, and we have a lot of plans in the works, including intimate dinner shows and late-night entertainment with local musicians, such as Ben & Maila, Danny Couch and Jeff Rasmussen,” explains Kakazu, who also points out the gigantic mural, hand-painted by local artist Sergio Garzon, that graces the entire wall.
“This mural represents what HASR Bistro is all about,” she says. “It depicts diners in the courtyard enjoying their meals while listening to great music and conversation. You’ll also notice Hawaiian and European influences in the mural, which took Sergio only six days to complete.”
With an expertise in American-French cuisine, Uyehara has a multitude of best-selling dishes under his belt. Customer favorites are Frenchy Onion Soup ($7 cup, $9 bowl) topped with a four-cheese blend of mozzarella, Gruyere, Parmesan and Swiss, and sprinkled with fresh thyme and basil; as well as Seafood Pan Roast ($28, dinner) with scallops, prawns, crab, calamari, mussels, clams and the catch of the day placed atop a bed of jasmine rice simmered in a chili saffron tomato cream broth.
“Our Braised Short Rib ($26, dinner) is another signature item at HASR Bistro,” Uyehara says, noting the succulent pesto-crusted bone marrow and Hamakua mushroom risotto that leaves diners in awe.
“A popular appetizer is Escargot ($15, dinner), which is our version of the classic dish, featuring loads of garlic and butter paired with warm, toasted baguettes that seep in all the flavor.”
And making a first-time appearance to HASR Bistro’s dinner menu is Steamed Vegetable Platter ($22), a healthy starter, which consists of Italian zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and baby bell peppers doused with a mouth-watering melted cheese blend of Gruyere, mozzarella and Parmesan.
“Customers were requesting for a healthy vegetarian dish,” notes Kakazu. “Our Steamed Vegetable platter is substantial, and it will definitely fill you up.”
Always setting itself apart from the masses, HASR Bistro follows the beat of its own drum, as Kakazu and Uyehara are always inspired to present their customers with something new and out of the box.
“We hope to have a grand opening party and jam session for Toppe of the Wine Shoppe next month. Currently, musicians Toma/Natto perform Fridays and Eric Kristian performs Saturdays, both from 9 to 11 p.m. This month, we have a great line-up of entertainers who will serenade our guests.
“We are also contemplating turning one of the rooms into a grocery/deli, where patrons can purchase meat, cheese, bread and condiments to make their own sandwich and enjoy an outdoor picnic on the balcony,” says Kakazu.
The best is yet to come at HASR Bistro, where diners are treated to top-tier service, fine wines and cuisine amid a charmingly rustic European setting.
31 N. Pauahi St., Honolulu
Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m (Lunch)
Tuesday-Saturday, 2:30-4:30 p.m. (Happy Hour)
Tuesday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m. (Dinner, Last Seating 9:30 p.m.)
Note: Reservations are required for Toppe of the Wine Shoppe. Call the restaurant for more information.