Basking In Bisque
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Warm, creamy and sumptuous to the tongue, bisques have everything we need for instant satisfaction.
A little goes a long way with these rich, thick soups, which are said to have originated in 17th century Europe. Historically a shellfish-based soup — cooked with the aromatic shells themselves — early bisques offered a way to squeeze out every last ounce of flavor from fresh seafood of the day, and in turn transformed leftovers into something luxurious.
These days, the term bisque has been adapted to include a wide range of creamy soups, many of which do not contain the typical seafood base. Purists may scoff at this pull away from tradition, but I see it more as a flavorful evolution that opens up the dish to a wider range of foodies. Put simply, the more, the merrier, when it comes to bisques, so we might as well start scooping them up!
A VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY BISQUE
In January, Honolulu’s dining scene became even more mouthwatering thanks to the addition of Yellow Cab Pizza Co. and its — you guessed it — New York-inspired pies.
As a pizza fanatic, it’s not shocking that I’ve enjoyed every delectable slice I’ve tried at the eatery thus far, but what does pleasantly surprise me is the fact that I’ve fallen in love with another gem on the menu — Tomato Bisque ($3.95).
Creamy yet light, and with a nice, chunky consistency that gives this soup an edge, the aromatic bisque pairs perfectly with any of Yellow Cab’s pizzas — and it’s just the right portion to ensure you don’t fill up before wolfing down a handful of slices. Tomato Bisque is one of a handful of soups of the day — look out for the Lobster Bisque as well! — so be sure to call ahead to see if it’s available when you plan to try it.
One thing I love about this soup is that it’s great for vegetarian diners. And if those patrons are looking for a vegetarian pizza to order alongside it, look no further than the Garden Special ($8.95 for 10-inch, $11.95 for 14-inch, $15.95 for 18-inch). This meat-free pie is piled high with black olives, mushrooms, onions and bell peppers. Additionally, fresh pieces of tomato on each of the medium-thick slices complement the tomato-filled bisque. Also good to note: Garden Special is emblematic of what sets Yellow Cab pizzas apart. That, my friends, is the abundance of toppings that go right to the edge of the pies.
End your meal on a sweet note with the new Apple Caramel Crisp featuring chunks of apple on a thin crust topped with cinnamon and caramel sauce. Also be on the lookout for Yellow Cab’s full line of espresso coffee. Lastly, coming up Fourth of July, buy any 14-inch pizza or larger and get a free Apple Caramel Crisp (July 4 only).
Yellow Cab Pizza Co.
801 Dillingham Blvd., Honolulu
THE ‘STAGE’ IS SET FOR QUALITY FARE
Bisques of the lobster variety are among the most classic, and at Stage Restaurant in Honolulu Design Center, executive chef Ron de Guzman takes extra care to present a sublime version of this soup prepared with locally sourced seafood.
Kona Lobster Bisque ($13), in fact, is representative of de Guzman’s contemporary fusion cuisine that always comes spiffied up with island inspirations. In the bisque, he utilizes Big Island lobster, which, connoisseurs will agree, is known to have a cleaner, milder flavor than their Maine counterparts.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the lobster flavor is any less prominent in this bisque.
It actually comes through nice and strong thanks to the chef’s cooking process. True to traditional form, de Guzman sautees the seafood first, then adds tomato, mirepoix and other seasonings before mixing it all into a lavish pour of cream. His secret touch, however, is using whole lobster heads — and a lot of them — to get that richly infused lobster essence into the bisque.
“The best flavor comes from the head, so that’s what we use for the soup,” he says.
De Guzman also uses saffron as a secret weapon to round out the bisque and to give it that gorgeous orange glow. And after reducing it to a thick consistency, it is just a dream to consume.
“We make it really creamy. It’s nice and thick; it could almost be a sauce,” describes the chef.
Come into Stage for this and more Tuesday through Saturday evenings. And don’t forget to ask your server about the latest dishes on the menu, as de Guzman constantly is evolving his selection.
Honolulu Design Center
1250 Kapiolani Blvd., Second Floor, Honolulu