The Most Versatile Dining Spot In TownCover Story Features
September 4, 2016
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: LAWRENCE T ABUDLO
The buzz about Bakery & Table Honolulu, the intriguing new dining spot made up of one part bakery and one part restaurant, has been steadily growing since its soft opening in March. In that time, the eatery, which was brought to Hawaii from Japan by its parent company Advanced Fresh Concepts (AFC), has been listening to customer feedback and tweaking its recipe for giving patrons an exceptional dining experience. Now, as it celebrates its grand opening today, Bakery & Table is ready to officially bring its multi-faceted offerings out of the oven.
Dining Out recently sat down with the eatery’s talented team of chefs and restaurant professionals to get a sneak peek at its delectable future.
RENOWNED ISLAND CHEF JOINS TEAM
You may know Douglas Lum as a prominent chef who has pioneered upscale island-fusion cuisine over the past couple of decades, or you may recognize him as the former head chef of award-winning restaurant Mariposa. After going on a brief hiatus from the culinary world, Lum is now back in action as Bakery & Table’s new executive chef.
Since joining the team a month ago, Lum already has spiced up the lunch and dinner menus with a plethora of elegant additions that incorporate ingredients reflective of Hawaii. “We already use a lot of local products — it’s a huge emphasis for us — and I’ve reached out to some purveyors to start bringing in more local ingredients,” he says.
Thus far, his introductions to the dinner menu stand out, including Seared Catch of the Day (market price; pictured on cover). The dish garners oohs and aahs right off the bat for its bright yellow kabayaki butter sauce made naturally from steeping corn on the cob in cream enhanced with egg yolk. The fresh-fish entree — featuring opah when we stopped by — draws in taste buds with a harmonious blend of flavors: smoky bacon, sweet corn and the umami goodness of mushrooms, all in a Hauula tomato ragout.
Another of Lum’s dynamite dinner options is Pan Seared Angus Rib Eye ($36), which gets its earthy richness not only from the juicy steak, but also from Alii oyster mushrooms, fresh thyme and red-wine veal demi glace.
The small-plates portion of the dinner menu tantalizes with Sous Vide Pork Belly ($13), which is braised for 18 hours, immersed in its own flavor-inducing fat, and then slowly finished in the oven — talk about tenderness! “It comes out super, super succulent and decadent,” describes Lum. “And with the white wine bordelaise (sauce), spinach and mushrooms, you get a lot of sumptuousness.”
FRESHLY BAKED TO PERFECTION
Supplementing the eatery’s lunch and dinner menus is a blossoming bakery located on the lower level of the two-story venue, which sells Japanese-style breads, pastries, cakes, tarts and more. Best-selling Curry Pan, a crispy bun filled with creamy yet spiced beef curry and half of a hard-boiled egg, is sold in quantities of more than 100 per day.
The Bakery & Table brand is rooted in the history of founding executive bakery chef Mitsuo Kishimoto, who in the 1930s led the confectionery and bakery section of Akakura Kanko Hotel, the pioneer of Japanese mountain resorts. Today, the bakery’s goods exemplify classic Japanese refinement in presentation and taste, and the operation remains dedicated to high-quality standards; the flour, for instance, is specially formulated for Bakery & Table recipes and brought to the Hawaii location from Japan.
Still, there is plenty of room for creativity and local influences in the freshly baked items. Blueberry Cream Cheese Bagel ($3) offers a fanciful triangular-shaped doughy treat, while Mango Brioche Tart ($3.50) showcases custard prepared with Waimanalo eggs.
Bakery chief chef Kaori Endo perfects these recipes, and like many of the pastry chefs, she brings her expertise straight from Japan. Patrons can taste the authenticity in traditional products such as Yudane White Loaf ($12), a Japanese bread that is made using the water roux baking method to achieve a moist and fluffy interior. As restaurant manager Royce Arakaki explains, “The Japanese recipes really set us apart. They’re not too sweet and they’re more delicate in flavor.”
THE BEST OF THE OCEAN
Chef Yui Taninaka invites guests to sit back and relax at the raw bar located on Bakery & Table’s open-air terrace, where he oversees a rotating selection of the best in fresh, seasonal seafood. Customers can add selections from the seafood bar to their dinner experiences, or simply enjoy some prime ocean-inspired pupus while sipping on a cocktail.
“The chef wants to let the ingredients speak for themselves,” explains Arakaki. “If you have good seafood, there’s no need to mask it.”
In addition to fresh favorites like Goose Point oysters, Taninaka’s impressive menu of appetizers includes Seared Tuna Poke Tartar ($12). Sesame sauce lends its classic flavor to this tower of avocado and raw tuna — which is lightly seared around the edges — but it’s the addition of truffle that makes for a complex flavor profile. B&T Ceviche ($8.50) also gets a tasty twist, as Taninaka’s fresh assortment of seafood is marinated in both classic Latin-style lime juice and cutting-edge Japanese vinegar. “The mixture of those cultures gives a brand new taste that’s very refreshing. Customers love it,” he says.
Bakery & Table is sure to find success on its delicious path ahead, thanks in part to its resort-style feel that diners can enjoy in the heart of Honolulu — without needing to drive long distances or battle traffic.
“The ambiance is so pretty here that you’ll forget you’re in Honolulu, especially when that sun sets and our fire feature lights up (on the outdoor lanai). It’s quite magical, actually,” says Arakaki, adding that the multi-story, indoor-outdoor venue has a wide range of seating areas ideal for parties and events.
Throughout September, Bakery & Table will offer specials to celebrate its grand opening, and in December, it plans to open a second location in the iconic Crouching Lion Inn in Kaaawa, which also will cater to banquet-style events. The bakery also hopes to start selling its breads in local supermarkets.
As you can see, there’s plenty to look forward to at Bakery & Table.
Bakery & Table
938 Piikoi St., Honolulu
(at the corner of Piikoi and King streets)
Bakery: daily, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; lunch weekdays, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; brunch Saturday-Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner: nightly, 5:30-9 p.m.
Note: Bakery & Table has two separate parking lots accessible on King and Piikoi streets. Free self-parking is available in the King Street lot during the day daily, and in both the King and Piikoi lots during dinner on week-days. Valet parking ($3 flat rate) is offered in the Piikoi lot during lunch daily, and in both lots for dinner Friday-Sunday.