Falling For Lilikoi
The term “leaving a sour taste in one’s mouth” usually describes something undesirable, but the tangy zing of fresh lilikoi is here to turn that definition upside down.
Nature hit it out of the park when creating the sweetly sour goodness of passion fruit, and though there are many varieties of this ripe, tropical masterpiece around the world, it’s the golden ones found here in Hawaii, with their yellow pulp and crunchy black seeds, that forever hold a place in our hearts.
Synonymous with the Islands, lilikoi makes its way into a plethora of local treats, from shave ice syrups and malasada fillings to fresh juices and cocktails. So in honor of this tart treasure, Ono You Know is highlighting some of Oahu’s best passion-fruit desserts.
At The Kahala Hotel & Resort, lilikoi is incorporated into the culinary program across the hotel, whether it be on the dessert menu at Hoku’s or in the sweets spread on Plumeria Beach House’s buffet.
“Lilikoi is indispensable to what we do,” says Michael Moorhouse, the hotel’s executive pastry chef. “It is one of our staple ingredients and flavors that we use because it is amazing; it’s really bracing and acidy and incredibly flavorful, and you could almost interchange it with a lot of citrus fruits, so we love it.”
Moorhouse did just that, in fact, when creating his Passion Fruit Tart ($14), currently featured on Hoku’s dessert menu. After trying a citrus cake at a famous French restaurant a few years back, he decided to make his own version using lilikoi instead. The “untraditional tart,” as he calls it, features a speculoos cookie-butter-esque pastry base to highlight a light yet creamy lilikoi cremeux custard.
“The cremeux is made from fresh passion-fruit juice that we get from the Big Island,” explains Moorhouse.
The crisp, spiced pastry base plays off the citrus beautifully in this dessert, while a ring of white chocolate makes each bite suave. For extra freshness, fresh raspberry and mint garnishes do the trick. Last, but not least, a glaze-like drizzle of caramelized lilikoi sauce accentuates our star ingredient.
Trust me, you’ll want to make sure you try this dessert before it leaves Hoku’s menu at the end of the month. And while you’re there, don’t hesitate to ask about the special four-course Peruvian menu, presented in collaboration with guest chef Dustin Koerner of Portland, Oregon’s critically acclaimed Andina restaurant, which is available until July 31.
Hoku’s The Kahala Hotel & Resort
5000 Kahala Ave.
Kahala Dining reservations: 739-8760
3660 ON THE RISE
Since opening 3660 on the Rise in 1992, executive chef Russell Siu has helped put Hawaii on the culinary map for his innovative fusions of Euro-Island flavors. Lesser known, however, is the fact that he also excels in the realm of desserts — a rarity in the chef world — having served as an executive pastry chef earlier in his career.
Thus, we have Siu to thank for many favorites on 3660’s dessert menu, including Lilikoi Creamsicle Tart ($10). The frosty treat presents a graham-cracker crust spotted with macadamia-nut brittle and topped with a well-balanced mix of vanilla bean semifreddo and lilikoi sorbet — all made in-house. Giving a nice crunch to the soft, cool sorbet are crisp, airy crumbles of pavlova-like mac-nut meringue accented with fresh strawberries.
On a recent trip to the eatery, chef de cuisine Lydell Leong introduced me to this sweet ending, pointing out that the lilikoi sorbet — oh, so refreshing during summer, I might add — is made with real-fruit puree. Additionally, it’s not overly sweetened, so as to allow the fruit’s naturally sharp flavor to shine through.
“Lilikoi is tart, and you want it to be like that,” says Leong. “It’s a unique type of acid and it has a very unique flavor that you can’t replace with anything else.”
In addition to doing one of Hawaii’s signature fruits justice, 3660 on the Rise reminds readers to try its weekday happy hour and bar menu Tuesday to Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The selection offers drink specials that are perfect for pairing with grilled duck confit quesadilla and other pupus. On those same days, the eatery also offers a three-course weekday menu ($57) that comes with soup or Caesar salad; a small portion of beef tender-loin; a choice of a small portion of butterfish or a 4-ounce lobster tail; and sorbet of the day.
3660 on the Rise
3660 Waialae Ave., Kaimuki