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Melon on my mind

Ono, You Know

April 22, 2018

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

The editor is overjoyed at the sight — and taste — of Hy’s Prosciutto Di Parma with Melon ($18).

There’s a whole wide world of melons out there — just think: more than 50 types of watermelon alone are in existence — which means us foodies have a lot of eating to do when it comes to exploring each one of these wondrous fruits!

We all know the sweet, juicy joys of biting into fresh, cold chunks of honeydew or cantaloupe on a hot day, but an exotic mix of ambrosia, French Charentais and winter melons, just to name a few, also make diets colorful across the globe.

Here at home, there are a few varieties that reign supreme and check all the boxes, whether you’re looking for a healthy super-food or a sweet, fruity daydream.

So let’s meander through these merry melon muses:

HY’S STEAK HOUSE

Personally, my favorite way to enjoy melon is when it’s wrapped in prosciutto; there’s something about that sweet-salty combo I just can’t get enough of. So where’s the best place to find the classic pupu? None other than your go-to local steak house, of course.

Order Prosciutto Di Parma with Melon alongside Hy’s Ae Kai wine ($60 for the bottle).

Hy’s serves up an ever-lovely Prosciutto Di Parma with Melon ($18) that’s flavorful yet light, so it won’t get in the way of your hearty steak dinner. Sous chef Kekoa Date confirms that the prosciutto is sourced from Parma, Italy — known to be among the best cured-pork producers in the world. As for the seasonal cantaloupe, he describes, it is reviewed daily by executive chef Justin Inagaki and his team, so it’s only served when it meets the restaurant’s high standards for sweetness.

Manager and sommelier Jonah Galase recommends trying this appetizer alongside a glass of Hy’s exclusive Ae Kai ($15 glass, $60 bottle) white wine — produced by local winemaker Kaena Wine Co., based out of Santa Barbara, California. According to Galase, it’s crisp and refreshing as far as chardonnays go, while its green-apple notes play off the cantaloupe in the dish. Ae Kai also is blended with Viognier grapes, which gives it a “round-mouth feel that holds up to the prosciutto,” he adds.

After one sip, you’ll want to stick around for more of Hy’s offerings. The restaurant recently unveiled a Platinum Menu for two ($130 per person), highlighting wagyu tomahawk bone-in ribeye, among other fine bites.

The special menu also comes with a gourmet truffle gift set.

Venture to the bar and lounge area from 5 to 7 p.m. daily and splendor in “The Bar” menu, complete with craft cocktails and the chefs’ creative pupus, such as Hamachi Kama and Mini Wellingtons. Last, but not least, ask about the Mother’s Day brunch buffet, one of many holiday buffets Hy’s is now offering throughout the year.

ASIAN MIX

Many local diners are crazy about what I like to call the most intriguing type of melon around — and certainly the most unique in flavor. I’m talking about bitter melon, my friends, which tastes exactly as it sounds and is featured prominently in cuisine across Asia.

Asian Mix offers up classic Beef with Bitter Melon ($9.95) sprinkled with bell peppers.

In Okinawa, Japan, for instance, the green, bumpy-skinned fruit-vegetable is known as goya and is associated with good health and longevity, due to its high phytonutrient content.

When dining on bitter melon locally, I like to go to Asian Mix on Beretania Street, where the kitchen crew knows just how to balance out its sharp flavor.

As owner Daniel Leung will tell you, it all starts with picking the right melon. “We always look for one that’s not too skinny. The skinnier it is, the drier and more bitter it will be. The one that looks a little more full in size and more watery actually tastes better to local people,” he explains.

Once the right product is chosen, Leung’s team whips up his popular Beef with Bitter Melon ($9.95). The melon is first boiled to take off the pungent edge, but it retains a nice crunch in the completed dish. Leung says customers may request softer or crunchier bitter melon, and they can also add spice if they’d like. They can even change the protein to chicken, pork or shrimp (additional fees may apply).

One thing that stays the same in this Southern Chinese-style recipe, however, is the black bean sauce, which adds a powerful pop of flavor and just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the bitter bites.

Entrees like this one seem to be serving the eatery well, as Leung confirms that Asian Mix “keeps getting busier and busier.” Customers also are taking advantage of the affordable and fresh catering options, while the takeout spot remains popular for your lunchtime fix of Chinese and local-style comfort foods, including roasted meats.

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