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Chef lifts Il Lupino to a new culinary level

A La Carte

June 17, 2018

Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Pan Roasted Opakapaka ($40)

Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar recently welcomed executive chef Adam Kekahuna to the team, and diners continue to sing him praises with each culinary creation that rolls out of the kitchen.

The restaurant, which bears the childhood nickname of owner Wolfgang Zwiener, offers stellar customer service, authentic Italian cuisine and an astounding wine collection within a sophisticated, yet inviting atmosphere at Royal Hawaiian Center.

Kekahuna joined Il Lupino in January after returning home from Portland, Oregon, where he operated four restaurants and a catering company within the past two decades, and even served as Iron Chef Portland in 2005. Prior to that, the skilled chef worked as the executive chef at multiple well-established restaurants on Oahu and Maui, and now he is excited to “settle down” here at home with his family and new culinary team.

Executive Chef Adam Kekahuna

“As far as my approach, it’s about elevating the dining experience to ensure we hone in on the natural ingredients, while creating dishes with locally sourced, sustainable products and really focusing on those flavor profiles,” says Kekahuna.

During lunch and dinner service today, Il Lupino is featuring a special Father’s Day menu available from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Kekahuna recommends Charred Asparagus & Prosciutto ($16) to start, and in his efforts to successfully pair foods and flavor profiles, this dish includes truffle oil, pecorino cheese and herbed bread crumbs, and it’s topped with a sunny-side-up fried egg.

Charred Asparagus & Prosciutto ($16)

Pan Roasted Opakapaka ($40) lets the fresh, locally caught white fish shine, while being cooked to perfection alongside fried Brussels sprouts and pancetta (salty notes), sweet onion, baby carrots, a passion fruit reduction with aged balsamic pearls (sweet notes) and a refreshing pesto spinach coulis.

“You really get the saltiness from the meat, and the sweet from the passion reduction, so I really try to touch all areas of the diners’ palate — and that really comes through with this dish,” explains Kekahuna. “I’m a dad myself, so I thought, ‘What would I like to eat for Father’s Day?'”

Additional Father’s Day-inspired selections include a “JJ’s Sticky” baby back ribs prepared in mango barbecue sauce — it’s named after Kekahuna’s daughter.

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