Where Dad Wants To DineCover Story Features
May 28, 2017
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
On Father’s Day weekend, some of Hawaii’s luckiest dads will enjoy a spectacular all-you-can-eat feast at Chef Chai.
If you’re fortunate enough to be one of those dads, you might want to devise a game plan. Eat sparsely a few days before your reservation. Step up your workout in anticipation. Study the menu carefully. And consider a few strategic tips from celebrity chef Chai Chaowasaree himself.
Will you begin your feast with a bottomless Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail?
“They’re like baby lobsters,” says Chef Chai, iconic owner of the restaurant, as he offers suggestions for hungry fathers (and their families). “The prawns are already peeled and cleaned so you can just eat them.” What a delicious opening play!
Or perhaps you’d like to start with a big platter of Fresh Oysters On Ice with Spicy Lemon Grass Garlic Mignonette? The gorgeous Kumamoto oysters are usually $3 apiece, but at Chef Chai’s Father’s Day Buffet, you can fill your plate to your heart’s content. “This one’s for the oyster lovers. I see them take a dozen at a time!” he says, chuckling at the image.
You could skip the surf and go straight for the turf: Mongolian Style Lamb Chops with Brandy Demi-glace. “They’re marinated with hoisin, sesame sauce and brandy, which makes them tender and juicy, and they’re served with a merlot demi-glace,” says the chef. The usual cost for a pair of these succulent chops is $46, but on Father’s Day, why stop at just two?
Chef Chai’s twice-annual buffet is an undisputed winner, and it’s become a beloved tradition in some families. A full 40 percent of the guests who came for Mother’s Day earlier this month have already made reservations to return for Father’s Day, the chef says. There’s not a single “filler” dish among the offerings, he adds. “Every dish could be an entree by itself. There’s something for everyone.”
The Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs with Kabocha Pumpkins, for example, seem designed to please both the youngest and most sophisticated palates. “Most restaurants will just braise with a mirepoix, but we add five spice for an Asian twist on this classic,” says Chef Chai.
If you’re still thinking about the eatery’s unbeatable seafood, try Miso Seabass with Kabayaki Sauce and Miso Cream. “This is a very special fish,” he confides. “The skin caramelizes thanks to the sugar in the miso, and it’s moist and tender inside.” Normally this dish is priced at $40 for an 8-ounce fillet. But it’s Father’s Day! Go ahead, have another helping.
Finally, every successful dining strategy should end with a sweet celebration. Desserts will include delectable treats like Chocolate Marble Cheesecake Cups with Fresh Raspberry, Waialua Chocolate Crunch Bars, Peanut Butter Opera Cakes, and French Macarons, plus a variety of fresh fruits.
The price for Chef Chai’s all-you-can-eat Father’s Day buffet is $79 (half-price for children 12 and under). Dinner seatings on Saturday and Sunday evenings are at 4:30 and 7 p.m.; seatings for Sunday brunch are from 9 to 9:30 a.m. and again at noon.
Oh, What a Night!
Chef Chai’s is the perfect gathering spot before events at the Blaisdell and other shows. Chai’s nightly happy hour features half-price appetizers, $3 beers, $4 wines and $5 Ketel One cocktails from 4 to 6 p.m. There’s also a $40 four-course prix fixe Early Bird dinner with seating from 4 to 5 p.m.
Full Moon, Full Belly
Don’t miss Chef Chai’s next Full Moon Concert June 9, featuring Robert Cazimero and Halau Na Kamalei ($75 per person). A lovely four-course dinner will be served at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7:15. In Chai’s intimate main dining room, every seat is close to the performers. Reservations for this monthly event are strongly recommended.
One hot summer weekend in 2000, Chef Chai and his staﬀ served up 12,000 Kataifi-crusted black tiger prawns and 6,000 Alaskan king crab cakes at Taste of Honolulu, the now-defunct fundraising event that delighted kamaaina and visitors for 15 years. Over the three-day event, Chai collected a record 72,000 scrip and earned $18,000 for Easter Seals Hawaii.
1009 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu
Nightly, 4-11 p.m.