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Step Up to the Plate

Chef Chai

By Alana Folen Photos By Anthony Consillio
October 26, 2014

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TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THIS WEEK’S HOUSE SPECIAL: Oxtail a la Chai with Lemongrass Broth and Chinese Celery ($29 regular price, $15 during happy hour at the bar)

You could say that for celebrity chef Chai Chaowasaree, his passion for cooking was instilled in him from an early age. Growing up in Bangkok, Thailand, his parents (both restaurateurs) were an integral part of the culinary world, preparing authentic Thai dishes from scratch. So it’s only fitting that Chaowasaree, now an award-winning chef and owner of Chef Chai at Pacifica Honolulu, is attuned to create edible works of art, from comfort food to contemporary fare, with eclectic nuances.

You’ll find this soup on the menu for $29, but snag a seat at the bar during happy hour (4-6 p.m. and 9-11 p.m.), and enjoy a regular-sized bowl for just $15. Your choice of brown or white rice also accompanies the meal.

“This dish originated from one of my family’s recipes. I remember the first time I tried oxtail. At first I was very hesitant, and then realized how good it actually was. It quickly became one of my favorites. I grew up eating this dish all the time,” recalls chef Chai Chaowasaree.

“Oxtail soup is common in Hawaii, but you’ll notice that our version stands out. It’s a lot more flavorful. I promise you, this soup will cure hangovers and sickness. Chinese celery also will help lower blood pressure,” he says.

Flavor is everything, and the soup’s all-natural beef broth is unlike any other. According to Chef, Chinese celery and garangal (Thai ginger) give the broth a unique flavor. Hints of lemongrass provide acidic accents to the overall taste, and morsels of garlic and Thai chili pepper zest give way to the richness and zing incorporated in the broth.

Good things come to those who wait. This holds true, as the oxtails are slow-cooked for two to three hours until perfectly tender. Expect the meat to melt in your mouth.

Chef Chai

Pacifica Honolulu
1009 Kapiolani Blvd.
585-0011
Nightly, 4-11 p.m. (Happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m.)