Sarento’s at the Top of the “I”Digest Step Up to the Plate
May 31, 2015
Story By: Lynsey Beth Futa | Photos by: Anthony Consillo
An elevator whisks patrons straight to the top of Ilikai Hotel, where the window-lined restaurant Sarento’s at the Top of the “I” resides, showcasing stunning landscapes of Diamond Head and Waikiki. There, you can’t help but feel on top of the world, and if the view isn’t enough to wow you, the food certainly will. Under new direction from executive chef Edmund Kwok, the elevated restaurant presents Italian food accented with local inspirations. Favorites include Double Pork Chop, featuring Hamakua mushroom sauce, and Australian Rack of Lamb, plated with a generous foundation of Molokai sweet potato mash. When Chef Ed first looked over the menu, he switched out the original fish dish for his own Fresh Catch of the Day, which exhibits his innovative cooking and focuses on local produce.
The fish — based on what is fresh and available that day — usually alternates between monchong and mahi mahi. It is lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, and pan-fried.
Squid ink gnocchi is added to the same pan as the fish, plump and reminiscent of fresh ocean water from the ink. The gnocchi, which are traditional in Italian cooking, take on a new dynamic: Although they are black in color and almost frightening in appearance, these dumplings are fluffy, delicate and delicious.
Brown butter is incorporated into the dish, along with fried sage and crispy Pancetta bits.
Chard, similar to kale or collard greens, is fried with chili and white wine until its pink stems are tender enough to enjoy.
To add that next level of flavor and texture, a Shishito pepper is flash-fried until barely blistered, adding sweetness and crunch. Also added to the dish are fried sage leaves.
Catering to local tastes, Chef Ed uses herbs and vegetables from Ululoa Nursery. He reminds diners to look at the specials being offered, as these dishes boast the most fresh local ingredients, and therefore constantly are changing. Also, be on the lookout for a revamped menu that will be sure to still please the regulars — who have been enjoying Sarento’s food for years — but also will incorporate a fresh take on Italian cuisine.
Sarento’s at the Top of the “I”
1777 Ala Moana Blvd.
Dinner: 5:30-9 p.m.
Bar hours: 5-10:30 p.m.