Hoku’s Debuts Whole New World Of Flavors
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When dining at Hoku’s at The Kahala Hotel & Resort, it’s easy to be enchanted by the entire restaurant — from its décor, to the view, to its menu. It’s almost as if you’re transported to a far-away place where everything is, in a word, perfect. That’s exactly the ambiance newly appointed chef de cuisine Hiroshi Inoue was going for when he unveiled Hoku’s new menu items Sept. 2.
The totality of the menu aspires to take patrons around the world, so to speak, with dishes that have hints of Asian and Mediterranean inspirations. Aside from its global allure, the menu also features an array of different dining options that include fish, poultry, bison, pork and Wagyu beef dishes that are inspired by the changing seasons.
The Hamachi Poke Shot ($22) is a dish dear to Inoue’s heart. “I wanted to feature something that tipped our hats to the country of Japan, where I was born and raised,” he explains. Fresh hamachi that hails from the Land of the Rising Sun is paired with avocado, ogo, crispy ginger, truffle oil and ponzu. One of the most amazing features of his concoction is its seeming ability to sashay through flavors and textures all in a single bite. The truffle ponzu vinaigrette starts the mouthful off with robust flavor, which wanes as the ginger and avocado meld to create a smooth finish.
Hoku’s Black Sesame & Pepper Crusted Rare Ahi Steak (market price) definitely is one of the highlights from its new menu. “There’s no other place that offers the best, high-quality ahi than in Hawaii,” Inoue expresses. His take on the fish, known and loved in the state, is that of elegance and class. Varying consistencies appear with each bite, ranging from the crunchy sesame pepper crust to the velvety quality of the rare, red ahi it encapsulates. To enhance the ahi’s flavor, dressed along the plate is a grilled tomato and red wine-basil jus, which adds a touch of sourness and dryness to complement the supple fish.
Grilled Guinea Hen Breast ($40) is the perfect plate for those wanting to see the full extent of Inoue’s skill and background. To ensure complete food safety, each gibier poultry is cooked sous vide-style at a minimum of 138 degrees Fahrenheit before being grilled. Inoue’s process means each tender morsel is filled with a full-bodied flavor not normally associated with chickens and other poultry.
Inoue’s decision to include a Grilled Bison Ribeye ($62, 7 ounces) on the menu is perfect for those yearning for a dish reminiscent of nature.
“They can see that I was very inspired by the hunting season and the wild meats of the world,” he explains.
While at first glance it seems like a simple dish — sporting roasted eggplant, tomato, rosemary, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil — there is a hidden depth of rustic flavors to the protein-rich meat that expresses familiarity and homeliness, while at the same time exuding a feeling of all things exotic and intriguing.
For fans of Hoku’s classic items, look forward to seeing Ahi Poke Musubi ($20), Seafood Tower ($80 small, $160 large) and Whole Fish Hoku’s-Style (market price) still on the menu.
“I want to preserve Hoku’s signature style that has become famous around the world,” Inoue begins, “but at the same time, offer something new throughout the year to better serve the needs of our guests, so that they always have something new to look forward to when they visit us.”
The Kahala Hotel & Resort
5000 Kahala Ave., Kahala
Dinner: Wednesday-Sunday, 5:30-10 p.m.;
Sunday brunch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.;
Closed Monday and Tuesday