A Sprouting of Tomato Temptations
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You say “tomayto,” I say “tomahto” … Call it whatever you want, the fact of the matter is that tomatoes are wonderful! Just the other day my friends and I were having a serious discussion about food. The topic: Foods we can eat every single day, and never tire of. Such a simple, yet passionate subject that inflicted all kinds of cravings. With food on my mind all day, every day, I quickly blurted out my top three food obsessions — Pasta, pizza, chips and salsa, and tomato bisque soup.
“What’s with the tomato craze?” my friend asked. “What happened to the Rice Krispies treats, ice cream and Pop Tarts that you had to have every day?”
She had a point. I mean, I still crave those particular sweets like nobody’s business, but they don’t have the substance that my palate requires for a long-term kind of deal. Tomatoes, on the other hand, will fill that void, providing sustenance in a sweet and savory fashion.
As I sit here writing this column, pizza warms my stomach and traces of zesty tomato sauce are left on my fingers (You can guess what was for lunch!). My thoughts stir up delicious events from earlier this week when I dropped in at the following OYK restaurants where a sprouting of tomato bliss was on the menu.
Kissaten’s flagship location on Piikoi Street is a hot spot for all. Stop by the 24-hour eatery and you’ll find those on the go picking up a cup of coffee, college kids studying with laptops and books strewn across the tables, and families partaking in casual meals together.
The immediate draw for patrons is the fare, of course: Classic comfort food with a gourmet twist and nuances of Asian, European and island-inspired culinary influences. Kissaten also has opened its newest eatery at Waterfront Plaza, where indoor and outdoor seating, a full bar and a diverse menu usher in patrons day and night.
Since tomato is the name of the game this week, I can’t think of a better way to combat the humidity than with Tomato Watermelon Salad ($8.95), boasting fresh, local cherry tomatoes, chunks of juicy, seedless watermelon, Japanese cucumber sliced paper thin, shaved onions and chizo leaf. Creamy pieces of goat cheese add a smooth texture to the chunky salad that’s tossed with a homemade ume dressing.
The dressing pops with zest and pizzazz, while bite-size pieces of tomato and watermelon add sweet sensations to the dish.
Watermelon Salad keeps me cool, but — ahhh — Tomato Bisque is a nice reminder that fall is just weeks away! I love cozying up with my favorite soup, and Kissaten makes a marvelous Tomato Bisque. Priced at $5.95 (a la carte) or $4 with the purchase of a salad or sandwich, this bowl of hearty soup is my weakness. I’m indeed salivating just thinking about it. A restaurant favorite, Tomato Bisque features extravagant flavors derived from fresh Kamuela tomatoes, heavy whipping cream, and a special blend of herbs and spices, including basil and oregano. A drizzle of Kissaten’s basil oil and a dash of parmesan atop the decadent soup, and the dish is complete. One sip of Kissaten’s Tomato Bisque, and I’ve fallen for fall all over again.
500 Ala Moana Blvd.
3660 on the Rise
Take a moment to process these four beautiful words: Tomato and Mozzarella Salad. It just rolls off your tongue and the waterworks begin. Nope, not in the form of tears, but your mouth will water. Don’t fight the craving. Accept Tomato and Mozzarella Salad for what it is: the perfect way to say adieu to summer.
The man behind this invigorating salad is none other than chef de cuisine Lydell Leong, who takes what could be perceived as a simple dish and morphs it into a work of art. Accents of red pop from the plate, as vibrant tomatoes are a focal point of the salad. Leong prefers to source ingredients locally whenever possible, and has an affinity for Wow Farm tomatoes direct from Hawaii Island. specks of vibrant green hue are micro basil, or miniature seedlings of herbs and greens that are mild and sweet. Tossed in a blend of Kona sea salt and truffle oil, the micro basil complements the other components of the dish, such as proscuitto imported from Spain. These pieces of salted and dry-cured ham leg add a certain degree of savory to the dish, which I love.
“I used to use plain mozzarella in a lot of my salads, but I thought why not change it up a bit? So, I decided to add diced truffles,” explains Leong.
But there’s more to it than that. Being a culinary genius, Leong goes one step further: Balsamic reduction drizzle is heated in the oven with kiawe wood, resulting in a smoky, earthy essence that excites the appetite.
Priced at $12.50, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad is a beauty. It exudes simplicity and unadulterated taste.
3660 on the Rise
3660 Waialae Ave.