Diving Into a World of Tomatoes

Columns Ono, You Know

January 7, 2012

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Now that the new year is officially under way, how many of you are sticking to those New Year’s resolutions? It’s easier said than done, so I commend all of you who are exhibiting pure dedication to that annual list. Mind you, I have made a list of my own I’m trying to abide by, but let’s see how long that lasts, shall we?

For starters, I want to enjoy working out. Honestly, I dread dragging myself on that treadmill, or running a mile or two around my neighborhood — it’s pure torture, so I never do it. Visits to the gym are a no-go, and with a job like mine, where all I do is eat, unfortunately exercise is a must!

To go along with my goal of starting up an exercise regimen, I’m also on a quest to eat healthy.

With that said, this week I figure why not start off the year by focusing on a food I love, and on top of that, has a multitude of health benefits? Enter into the world of tomatoes, which have been known to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower hypertension, and contain numerous antioxidants which combat various types of cancer.

“Tomayto, tomahto,” whatever you wish to call it, is considered to be both a vegetable and a fruit, and is an integral mainstay in global cuisine. So, wait no longer, come along with me, as we experience the allure of tomatoes at the following Ono, You Know establishments! Perhaps you may even want to join 3660 on the Rise executive chef Russell Siu, Jan. 18, as he conducts a Tomato Harvest Italian Style cooking class (call 737.1177).

Kissaten Coffee Bar

  • The editor expresses her love for tomatoes while enjoying Kissaten Coffee Bar's Tomato Bisque soup.
  • Kissaten Coffee Bar's Tomato Bisque soup ($5)
Image of

When you need a quick pick-me-up and yearning for a cup of joe, Kissaten has exactly what you need. Open 24 hours, seven days a week, this coffee bar on Piikoi Street never disappoints. With morning, afternoon, evening and late-night menus, and a full coffee bar, with teas and hot chocolate to boot, Kissaten is heaven sent.

And while I’m not much of a coffee addict — give me one shot of espresso and I may never know sleep again — I will admit that I am whole-heartedly addicted to Kissaten’s Tomato Bisque Soup. Noted as a top seller, a bowl of this hearty soup is a must-have at any time of the day or night. Curl up on the couch or take a seat at the coffee bar, this tomato bisque soup is the perfect date. Priced at $5, the soup is full of zest with every sip.

“Customers love our tomato bisque soup,” says co-owner Neysa Taba. “I would say we sell close to 50 bowls of this soup per day, and it’s always very popular.”

All this may be because this hot bowl of goodness features just the right amount of tomato, cream and spices, while a drizzle of basil oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese give it a finishing touch.

“We always use fresh, local tomatoes when we can — and it makes a big difference in the quality and taste of the soup,” Taba adds.

Tomato Bisque Soup has always been my weakness, and I’m happy to know that it’s available whenever a craving strikes. Yet, since I have a relatively large appetite, my order of choice would have to be the Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Tomato Bisque Combo ($9), and may I add, Kissaten’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich is winners!

“The concept of our restaurant is to offer local comfort food with a gourmet twist — everything has some sort of local, Japanese, Italian or French influence,” Taba explains. “We’re always adding specials to our menu.”

No doubt about it, Kissaten’s Tomato Bisque Soup has success written all over it!

Kissaten Coffee Bar
88 Piikoi St.
View the Map

Anytime Cafe

  • Anytime Cafe's Caprese Spaghettini ($9.50)
  • Anytime Cafe owner Cindy Wong
Image of

I love my pasta — spaghetti, linguine or fettucine smothered in a succulent marinara sauce makes me one happy gal! Always on the search for great pasta, you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon Anytime Cafe’s Caprese Spaghettini some time ago. With one bite of this incredible pasta me and my taste buds were whisked right back to Italy, where I have enjoyed some of the best pasta in my life. So, the fact that I put Anytime Cafe’s Caprese Spaghettini right up there with pastas devoured in Rome and Positano is saying a lot, but it’s the truth.

“Our spaghetti and risotto are imported from Italy, so everything is served in the traditional Italian style,” owner Cindy Wong explains, reaffirming my belief.

The Caprese Spaghettini ($9.50) features sauteed fresh tomato and basil tossed with fresh mozzarella cheese in homemade tomato sauce. Pure excellence!

Now, the key to superb pasta lies in the texture of the noodles and the flavor of the sauce. I prefer my pasta al dente and with just the right amount of sauce — not too overwhelming, but enough to stand out on its own. And guess what? The chefs here at Anytime Cafe have got this exact cooking technique down to a science. No exaggeration intended, but I can guarantee that I will never tire of Anytime Cafe or its tomato lover’s perfect pasta dish. So, the next time you find yourself at Anytime Cafe in Market City Shopping Center, make it simple and treat yourself to the eatery’s Caprese Spaghettini, and request an order of toasty garlic bread at that — you’ll need it to soak up every last bit of sauce!

Anytime Cafe
Market City Shopping Center
2919 Kapiolani Blvd. #218
View the Map

Stage Restaurant

  • Stage Restaurant's executive chef Ron de Guzman with Hamakua Springs Tomato Salad.
  • Stage Restaurant's Hamakua Springs Tomato Salad ($11)
Image of

The spotlight shines on Stage Restaurant, a chic and modern establishment, located on the second floor of the Honolulu Design Center, that gives way to a state-of-the-art interior complete with statement lighting, stylish hues, eclectic furnishings and remarkable artwork. And executive chef Ron de Guzman wastes no time in upping the ante with his exquisite contemporary Asian-American cuisine.

“We try our best to use local ingredients as often as we can,” says de Guzman who has been working for the restaurant for the past five years.

A tomato lover himself, de Guzman was eager to present me with a creation all his own — Hamakua Springs Tomato Salad ($11). “I love tomatoes so I wanted to incorporate a tomato dish into the menu.” he explains.

This Stage signature appetizer features fresh Hamakua tomatoes intermixed with a symphony of feta cheese, croutons, haricot vert, red onions and chives, tossed in a savory red wine vinaigrette. It’s divine!

Served during dinnertime only, de Guzman says this salad is Greek-inspired and a good go-to healthy option when trying to stick to those New Year’s resolutions.

Stage Restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and Monday through Saturday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. for dinner. Closed Sundays.

Stage Restaurant
Honolulu Design Center
1250 Kapiolani Blvd.
View the Map

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best