New Dining Menus Light Up At The Kahala

Cover Story Features

February 15, 2016

Story By: Ali Resich |

Chef de cuisine Hiroshi Inoue and executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi with a slew of Hoku's new menu items

Chef de cuisine Hiroshi Inoue and executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi with a slew of Hoku’s new menu items

Just as some stars in the night sky shine brighter than others, Hoku’s at The Kahala Hotel & Resort outshines the competition in Oahu’s dining scene, like a shooting star amazing diners from near and afar with its top-tier, fine-dining experience. As the signature restaurant continues to move and evolve across the culinary cosmos with seasonal offerings, it is sure to glisten with its brand new menu, which will alight Feb. 17.

Maine Lobster Salad “Haupia” ($32)

Maine Lobster Salad “Haupia” ($32)

Across all of The Kahala’s distinct dining venues, globally inspired cuisine and fresh island ingredients are emphasized, under the direction of executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi. Hoku’s builds on this foundation by offering a contemporary approach to Pacific Rim cuisine, complete with Mediterranean and Asian influences. The elegant eatery, which offers stunning ocean views and a tranquil setting, also focuses its attention on seasonality, creating a new, first-rate menu every three months.

Pan Seared Prime Beef Tenderloin ($59; 5 ounces)

Pan Seared Prime Beef Tenderloin ($59; 5 ounces)

Hoku’s chef de cuisine Hiroshi Inoue is the creative mastermind behind the menu to debut this Wednesday. The chef brings a diverse background to his current role at the hotel, as he was raised in Osaka, Japan, and has trained with French and Italian chefs, and worked internationally over the last 20 years. Hirabayashi says that in the time that Inoue has been with The Kahala since last May, he’s been able to tie together these varying influences while also seamlessly adding Hawaiian and Pacific ingredients and techniques to the mix.

Big Island Chocolate Mousse (special dessert available when ordered in advance)

Big Island Chocolate Mousse (special dessert available when ordered in advance)

Inoue’s new menu showcases just that, with a particular focus on Hawaiian touches. Foie Gras “Laulau” ($32) for instance, brings the balance of rich foie gras and a butternut squash base together in taro leaves. Inoue packs some extra punch into the dish with texturally exciting macadamia nuts and port-braised raisins. The chef de cuisine also uses island-based ingredients like haupia to dress up his Maine Lobster Salad “Haupia” ($32), prepared with Madras curry cauliflower and Kona coffee vinaigrette.

New appetizer "Hawaiian Tree" Ahi Cube Piedmont Style ($22), with fresh early spring vegetables and anchovy-garlic bagna cauda sauce.

New appetizer “Hawaiian Tree” Ahi Cube Piedmont Style ($22), with fresh early spring vegetables and anchovy-garlic bagna cauda sauce.

“Like all our new menus that we do, it’s all based on the season and availability, locally and also around the world,” adds Hirabayashi.

The well-rounded menu touches on everything from seafood to steaks, all presented in modern, fanciful presentations. The Mediterranean and Asian influences Hoku’s is known for shine through in Pan Seared Prime Beef Tenderloin ($59; 5 ounces), served with miso-accented Bolognese tucked into colorful zucchini. Meanwhile, Grilled Bone-In Prime Beef Rib Eye ($168; serves three) brings the wow factor, as this 3-pound show-stopper is great for sharing and carved tableside. The meat gets its tenderness and even cook from the sous-vide process, while its caramelized sear comes from the grill.

Patrons can try a thoughtfully curated mix of Hoku’s creations in three set menus at different price points — prix fixe, tasting and degustation menus — with wine pairings.

Throughout five decades of success, The Kahala Hotel & Resort has remained popular not only as a destination for hotel guests — many repeat guests, at that — but also with loyal kamaaina patrons. It’s no surprise, then, that Hoku’s often has customers coming back again and again for its Ahi Musubi, Seafood Tower and more, as well as the refreshed offerings. “Because we change the menu once every three months based on seasonality, we invite everyone to come back and make sure they’re on the rotation so they can try all the new items,” says director of food and beverage Michele Brumblay.

‘NOSH’ THE NIGHT AWAY

Hoku’s isn’t The Kahala Hotel & Resort’s only dining venue with new, delicious bites to look forward to. The Veranda, a breezy space of leisure, will introduce Flights of Fancy Social Hour March 1, with monthly flights of wine and spirits ($25 per person, per flight) paired with mezze platters.

During March, the wine selection will feature Master Sommelier-selected sips from California’s Central Coast, while the spirit list will highlight three craft-infused vodkas. Various Nosh Platters ($25-$35 each; serves three) will be available, including a Meat Sampler with pipikaula, Parma ham and more.

According to executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi, Flights of Fancy is the perfect way to pau hana. “It fits the ambiance here. In the early evening, it’s so beautiful out here (on The Veranda), and you can get a nice glass of wine and some pupus,” he says.

The Kahala Hotel & Resort

5000 Kahala Ave., Honolulu
Dining reservations: 739-8760

HOKU’S HOURS: Wednesday-Sunday, 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday Brunch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.;As of Feb. 21, Tuesday-Saturday, 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday Brunch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

THE VERANDA HOURS: Daily, Afternoon Tea, 2-5:30 p.m. Cocktails and pupus, 5:30-10 p.m. Cocktail service, 2 p.m.-midnight

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