The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
Sometimes it’s easy to take the simplest foodie pleasures for granted — things like bread, for example. It’s one of the most basic staples of our diets, yet it often gets pushed into the shadows of the ingredients it supplements. And if you think about it, bread should be in the spotlight, since a slice of it can make or break a sandwich, and what would manapua, pizza, stuffing or bread pudding be without their doughy components?
Let’s just forget about our carb-free diets for a moment and appreciate the grain-based good that’s one of the earliest forms of food enjoyed by mankind. Ono, You Know has uncovered some delightful bites that would not be the same without the fresh-from-the-oven slices that go into them — and we’ll tip our bakers hats to the chefs who make them.
Mac 24/7 Bar & Restaurant
As food and beverage coordinator Mark Turina puts it, you’ll find comfort food that’s reinvented in a way that appeals to gourmets and foodies at the 24-hour hotspot MAC 24/7 Bar & Restaurant. The venue also utilizes local ingredients and fresh products as much as possible, making for some fantastic fare.
When executive chef James Aptakin had an exciting concept in mind for a pulled pork sandwich, the recipe was riding on finding just the right piece of bread to perfect the dish. But when he couldn’t find a good source to provide the more unique type of roll he was looking for, the chef knew it was time to gather his kitchen team and pastry chef, and come up with a recipe themselves.
“Bread, to me, is very important, especially if it comes out of the oven, baked fresh daily … so together we said, ‘Why don’t we make this in house?'” explains the chef.
The result was a honey jalapeno cheddar roll that hugs the Barbecue Kalua Pork Sandwich ($15). It goes perfectly with the kiawe-smoked sofrito pulled pork, as well as colorful pickled onions that cut the richness and bring bright acidity to the dish.
The light and fluffy roll nicely contrasts the hearty pork, and its shiny gloss comes from island honey used in the recipe. “We’re trying to keep something very local in the dish, and what’s more local than making your own bread?” says Aptakin.
The pastry chef makes an assortment of fresh pastries daily, and whatever doesn’t sell, doesn’t go to waste. “We’re taking these yummy pastries that we make in house, and now they go into our Portuguese Bread Pudding ($9) that has Okinawan sweet potato in it.”
Not surprisingly, this piece of heaven on a plate is dessert fare at its best. “And who doesn’t love a maple-bourbon glaze with toasted marshmallows, taking you back to your nostalgic childhood?” adds Aptakin.
On a side note, MAC 24/7 is now taking reservations for its Mother’s Day buffet.
MAC 24/7 Bar & Restaurant
Hilton Waikiki Beach 2500 Kuhio Ave., Waikiki
Nestled within cozy Kaneohe, Zia’s Caffe is known as the quintessential family restaurant to get great Italian-inspired comfort food served up from the heart.
If you’re like me, and you love diving into the loaf of bread presented at the start of meals, be sure to request Zia’s complimentary — and mouthwatering — French-style house bread, served with yummy black olive pesto.
You might just fill up on this stuff, but that’s OK because the restaurant’s bread is fresh as can be and delivered daily by nearby mom-and-pop business Agnes Portuguese Bake Shop, located in Kailua.
The same soul-warming bread is used in the eatery’s scrumptious Panzanella Salad ($14.75). The name of the dish translates to “bread salad” in Italian, so fittingly, it features giant croutons that are lightly toasted. Now, I know croutons usually are accessories in a salad, but these bad boys take center stage. They’re supplemented by fresh greens and tomatoes, and the whole mix is tossed in a sweet red-wine vinaigrette.
“It’s one of our more popular lunch salads, and if you’re looking for something light for dinner, that would be a good choice,” says executive chef Jesse Kila. “It comes with chicken, and like (many other dishes), if customers want, they can substitute fish and shrimp for an additional charge, or not have chicken at all.”
Chef Jesse also notes that Zia’s bread is great for dipping into one of the new appetizers, a baked goat cheese dip. And a sip of wine from the recently revamped vino list would just go perfectly with all of the above. Also, don’t forget to stop in during the weekend, when the eatery serves up a yummy breakfast menu.
45-620 Kamehameha Hwy., Kaneohe