Reel in Superb Seafood at Wai‘olu Ocean CuisineCover Story
April 8, 2018
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
By retooling its menu to offer the freshest seafood selections and infusing the delectable dishes with local flavors, Waiolu Ocean Cuisine has created an inviting family-friendly destination complete with a picture-postcard view of Waikiki Beach.
Situated in the Trump International Hotel Waikiki on the bustling Waikiki Beach Walk, the restaurant features an open-air dining concept with a casual-yet-sophisticated vibe, complete with comfortable seating and plenty of space to enjoy the stellar menu items. Waiolu Ocean Cuisine also features an expansive, full bar — book-ended by high-definition televisions — complete with beer, wine, spirits, specialty cocktails and even sake.
The menu at Waiolu Ocean Cuisine is laden with the freshest, locally sourced seafood, and when local options aren’t available, the restaurant’s culinary team imports top-quality selections from around the Pacific Rim. Executive chef Shoji Namatame and his culinary team revamped the restaurant’s menu late last year to showcase multiple varieties of seafood, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Since November, we changed from a focus on tapas (appetizers and smaller portions) to showcase the great seafood choices available in Hawaii, and we try to use local options whenever possible,” Namatame says. “Our guests view Hawaii as a seafood destination, so we’re able to feature the freshest choices prepared in the local style that really makes our menu unique.”
To start one’s meal, reach for Rainbow Ceviche ($16), a tasty blend of citrus-cured catch of the day, onions, jalapenos, cilantro, cucumbers, carrots and bell peppers. Namatame recommends adding a side order of Nasi Goreng ($12) as the Malaysian-style seafood fried rice dish pairs perfectly with one’s favorite entree choice.
On the lighter side, Heart of Palm & Shrimp Salad ($22) is a beautifully presented, locally sourced blend of Maunawili greens, watermelon radish and poached Pacific tiger shrimp in a tangy lime cilantro dressing.
Kona Abalone ($18) is a local favorite as the rich and hearty delicacy is brought in fresh from Hawaii Island and prepared to order, whether guests prefer the 1/4-pound portion of shellfish sauteed with garlic shoyu butter or grilled with shoyu and sake. Additional shellfish choices include Penn Cove Black Mussels or Manila Clams ($12 apiece for a half-pound portion), which can be prepared steamed, Mediterranean-style with white wine, garlic and butter; or fricassee with tomato, garlic, cream and butter.
“At a lot of restaurants, items are prepared one way: how the chef wants to do it. However, Chef Namatame makes it possible for guests to choose the style in which they prefer the seafood be prepared, and you don’t see that very often,” explains John Hoffman, director of food and beverage at Trump International Hotel Waikiki. “We offer items and great value for the entire family, and while our main focus is on seafood, we also offer everything from steak to chicken and lamb.”
Namatame recommends Moi ($28), a flaky white Pacific threadfin that can be steamed to perfection Chinese-style with cilantro, ginger, green onion and shoyu. Guests also may choose to have the tender, delicious fish prepared on the grill, or made crispy with a ponzu and lemon sauce.
The restaurant also features a fresh sushi bar, which is open from 5 p.m. to closing. In addition to incredible flavor and value provided at Waiolu Ocean Cuisine, guests also are treated to complimentary four-hour valet parking with validation — a rarity in Waikiki.
It’s Happy (Hour) Time
With both Sunset (3-6 p.m.) and Late Night (9-11 p.m.) Happy Hour available daily, Waiolu Ocean Cuisine offers incredible value for guests on some of its most popular food and beverage options. Sunset Inspired Liquid Artistry Cocktails are available during Happy Hour for just $9, including the Lemongrass Collins and Pineapple Express, while draft beer is just $4 per glass and featured wines of the day are available for $6 per glass. Select items from the kitchen also are discounted, including Poke of the Day ($10), Nachos ($10), Crispy Thai Chicken Wings ($10) and even oysters, sushi and other seafood selections are specially priced. The Sunset Happy Hour serves as a perfect launching pad for a memorable evening out in Waikiki.