Award-winning menu continues to gain recognitionColumns Lite Bites
July 19, 2015
Story By: Yu Shing Ting | Photos by: Missy Romero
Named one of the hottest restaurants in Hawaii by Zagat, Chef Chai offers exquisite Asian fusion cuisine in an elegant, modern and contemporary setting. From the stylish interior and exterior designs to the quality food and service, owner and chef Chai Chaowasaree tends to every detail of his restaurant, assuring a truly exceptional dining experience from beginning to end.
Located on the ground level of Pacifica Honolulu across from Neal Blaisdell Center, Chef Chai opened a little more than two years ago and serves dinner from 4 to 11 p.m. nightly. Even with his hectic schedule, Chaowasaree makes it a point to be at his many off-site catering events (averaging four to five per week) and at his restaurants. He also is executive chef for Hawaiian Airlines.
At Chef Chai, Chaowasaree encourages guests to take advantage of the happy hour specials (daily from 4 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to closing). “It’s such a good deal to me,” he says. “It’s the same portion size (as the regular menu) and domestic beer is only $3.”
The happy hour menu features some of the chef’s most popular dishes, such as Kataifi and Macadamia Nut Jumbo Black Tiger Prawns with Organic Baby Greens ($13 regular, $7 happy hour). “It’s our signature item from when we started (Singha Thai restaurant) 25 years ago,” notes Chaowasaree, who celebrates his 30th year in Hawaii next month. “That dish won many awards. When we did Taste of Honolulu 20 years ago, it won the People’s Choice award and we sold 22 percent of the whole event.
“The presentation itself is very stunning, and the dish offers a good texture. Also, when you bite into it, you really taste the shrimp, and we drizzle it with a little bit of a pineapple vinaigrette.”
Another must-try is Seafood Tortellini with Lobster Sauce, Sauteed Corn and Edamame ($15 regular, $8 happy hour). Inside each tortellini is a mix of minced shrimp, scallop and lobster, seasoned with a hint of sesame oil, salt and pepper. Served with a perfect blend of sauteed fresh Aloun Farms sweet corn, edamame and lobster sauce, it’s no wonder this rich and flavorful dish is a customer favorite.
On the lighter side, the Gravlax Salmon Roulade with Cream Cheese and Crab Meat on Cucumber Chips ($14 regular, $7 happy hour) is a nice, refreshing option.
Chef Chai’s diverse menu also includes many gluten-free and vegan dishes, and in an effort to serve healthier food, the eatery does not use butter. It also has private rooms that seat up to 28 people and offers convenient valet parking.
1009 Kapiolani Blvd.
Daily, 4-11 p.m.