Chefs Collaborate To Offer World of CuisineCover Story Features
February 2, 2016
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
Under Halekulani’s legendary roof, there’s a whole realm of culinary options for every dining need, and it’s housed in first-class dining venues with pristine settings and cuisine. And thanks to the cohesive team of knowledgeable chefs who make the hotel’s culinary world go round, locals and tourists alike are treated to unmatched — and unforgettable — dining experiences, any time of day.
Executive chef Vikram Garg leads an impressive kitchen staff that pulls together to create modern and global fare showcasing high-quality, local and seasonal ingredients. The hotel proudly uses 100 percent local Kamuela tomatoes and island-grown cucumbers and lettuce throughout its eateries. “The main focus of the culinary (team) at Halekulani is the freshness of the ingredients. We don’t have can openers in our kitchen; of 20 walk-in coolers, we have one which is a freezer. Everything we focus on is fresh, seasonal and what we can source locally first,” explains Garg, who has been with the hotel for seven and a half years.
The restaurants at the hotel — such as La Mer, Orchids and House Without a Key — build upon this foundation of seasonal, local products by transforming them into different culinary experiences. Central to making this happen is the chefs’ integrative and collaborative approach, as they work together, rotate throughout the hotel and reinvent menu items seasonally. Garg also emphasizes that many customizable dining choices are available at Halekulani, including banquet menus for special events.
Here, these fantastic captains of the kitchen take Dining Out on a delicious journey through the hotel’s eateries:
FINE DINING, ANY WAY YOU LIKE IT
With a base of clientele from around the world, Halekulani caters to its diverse patrons with a range of fine-dining options, from ultra-chic to casually elegant spots.
Open for dinner only, La Mer is a destination restaurant perfect for those seeking a truly exquisite and unique meal. Chef de cuisine Alexandre Trancher always can be found perfecting dishes such as Crevette Rafraichi, Sauce Epicee au Curcuma, Gelee de Concombre (part of Degustation Tasting Menu, $110 three courses, $145 four courses), by delicately placing garnishes atop salt-and-sugar cured shrimp with cucumber gelee and cucumber-turmeric sauce. La Mer’s neo-classic French menu presents a modern take on cuisine rooted in the French tradition, and the flavors are just as beautiful as the presentations — as is evident in Mont-Blanc au Beurre de Cacahuètes Consommé de Framboise et Hibiscus, Glace de Mûres dessert (also from the Degustation Tasting Menu), which is pictured on this week’s cover. “One of the most important ingredients in pastry is the egg, and so it’s like a tribute to it,” says Halekulani pastry chef Mark Freischmidt, when describing the creative dish.
As guests transition to spacious Orchids on the ground floor, located oceanside with stunning views of Waikiki Beach, they can enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea service and a popular Sunday brunch frequented by kamaaina. The refined dining space is known for its succulent seafood and steaks, as well as hearty favorites like Veal Chop ($54). Sous chefs Robin Abad and Eric Oto introduce this grilled specialty with Braised Hamakua Mushrooms, English Peas and an appetizing local touch of Soy-Sherry Glaze.
Halekulani is home to many rich legacies, including the live Hawaiian music and hula performances patrons enjoy at House Without a Key. “We’re known for our live entertainment. It’s more of a casual dining (spot), but with a nice flair to it so it’s a little more elaborate,” describes sous chef Chris Chinen. He recommends trying Today’s Fish: Kitchen’s Creation Highlighting Fresh Island Fish ($32), a popular choice that the chefs regularly — and passionately — switch up the recipe to.
The Banqueting staff also is equipped to give large parties the special events they desire, and works hard to customize menus that will be ideal for each group’s needs. Sous chef Shaden Sato’s Konbu Cured Onaga is exemplary of the attention to detail that makes these banqueting menus special, regardless of the number of people they are serving. The onaga itself is wonderfully firm and bursts with umami flavor, bright chimichurri sauce, tempura flakes and chia seeds.
RELAXING WITH DELICIOUS FARE
Customers may take it easy at The Veranda with a host of high-tea offerings, including Halekulani’s Classic Afternoon Tea ($36). The full set features heavenly tea sandwiches, freshly baked currant scones and sweet treats created by Freischmidt and other pastry experts. Aiming to emphasize natural flavors, he says, “we try to make the menu fun and whimsical.” What can be more fanciful than an espresso-Kahlua syrup pipette in a tiramisu profiterole? To go along with these scrumptious gems, pots of fine tea await diners, as do matcha specialties served exclusively at The Veranda.
Halekulani even has visitors covered when it comes to nightcaps and pupus. Enjoy a cocktail and fresh bite of Mediterranean Bento ($24), blending Eastern and Western touches with olives, baba ghanoush made with local eggplants, Naked Cow Dairy feta, local-tomato chutney and more, all served in a classic bento box.
Across the board, from La Mer to Lewers Lounge, Chef Vikram shares that it all comes down to quality, seasonality, value and the methods of preparation to make Halekulani the dining oasis it is.
2199 Kalia Road, Waikiki
Dining reservations: 923-2311