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Cover Story

At Wisp, It’s TIme to Dine

By Kyle Galdeira Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
April 30, 2017

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Co-owner and general manager Lani Nakamura showcases an array of Wisp’s Hawaii Regional Cuisine specialties.

AS LOCAL DINERS continue to seek out new dining options, Wisp Restaurant & Lounge offers a fresh experience with delicious food and beverage options just minutes from the base of Diamond Head – away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki.

Located in the Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head hotel (formerly home to Park and Diamond Head Grill restaurants), Wisp opened in November and offers a collection of Hawaii Regional Cuisine coupled with stellar beverages and cocktails. Wisp Restaurant & Lounge is situated along the calmer, quiet stretch of Waikiki and features brand-new furniture within a clean, energized atmosphere — not to mention a panoramic view of Diamond Head.

“Our menu is built around contemporary Hawaii Regional Cuisine with an emphasis on small plates and Asian influences,” says Lani Nakamura, who serves as general manager and co-owner of Wisp along with co-owner Jon Ishimi.

Big Island Kampachi ($14)

Nakamura worked as a criminal defense attorney prior to entering the restaurant business, and calls the prospect of opening and operating Wisp “an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. It was something I couldn’t pass up. I love to eat, and love food, so the goal is to share that passion with our guests.”

The diverse menu is laden with local favorites, including Big Island Kampachi ($14) with a hearty portion of the delicious yellowtail fish accompanied by white shoyu, fennel, sweet onion, shiso and flowering coriander.

Blistered Shishito Peppers ($8) is a popular vegetarian option at Wisp, as the sweet, East Asian variety of chili pepper is roasted to offer a smoky, salty flavor coupled with a tasty Aji Amarillo sauce. Those following a vegan diet are in luck with Shiitake Mushroom Tom Yum Soup ($9), which features rice noodles in a rich-yet-smooth broth composed of grilled shiitake mushrooms, kaffir lime wedges, chilies and lemongrass.

Blistered Shishito Peppers ($8)

“We’re constantly looking to update the menu based on customer feedback,” Nakamura says. “We’ve had lots of requests for vegetarian and vegan options, so we’ve added those options for guests.”

Wisp offers happy hour specials from 4 to 7 p.m. and again from 9:30 p.m. to midnight. The stellar deals include specially priced food choices as well as discounted beer, wine and cocktails. Live entertainment is also offered at Wisp on most nights to complete the experience.

Shiitake Mushroom Tom Yum Soup ($9)

Ample street parking is available on Kalakaua Avenue and around Kapiolani Park, and valet parking is also offered at the hotel.

TAKE A SIGNATURE SIP

In addition to a stellar food menu, Wisp also offers an expansive bar with a full complement of hand-crafted cocktails. Wisp Lychee Martini ($10) is a customer favorite and is built with Kai Lychee Vodka, lychee syrup, lychee juice, sweet-and-sour mix, a splash of grenadine and lychee boba. The friendly service staff and bartenders also recommend Wisp Mai Tai ($10), a fresh take on the classic tropical libation.

Wisp Restaurant & Lounge

Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head
2885 Kalakaua Ave., Waikiki
791-5163
wisphawaii.com
Open daily, breakfast: 6-10 a.m., dinner: 4-10 p.m.; happy hour: 4-7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. to midnight; the lounge is open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.