Relaxing With Risotto

Columns Ono, You Know

September 9, 2012

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

Happy Sunday, Ono readers! We’ve all heard the ever-popular saying, “Good things come to those who wait.” So this week, we’re taking our time and kickin’ it with risotto! As a girl who’s part Italian and a total rice fanatic at that, risotto could quite possibly be the best starch creation on the planet!

It’s not hard to make this Italian rice dish that goes well with just about everything, but you must devote the time in preparing it. Trust me, there are no shortcuts here. I’ve always wondered, what is it about risotto that gives it that perfect consistency? In fact, even when drowned in the richest sauce, it doesn’t become mushy. I guess you could say the secret lies in the grain. The grains of Arborio rice are short and stubby and absorb liquid without becoming gluey — instead, creamy is what we aim for when it comes to risotto. During this 20-minute procedure, the rice is stirred constantly, until it has reached the perfect point of softness.

In this day and age, time is of the essence, and sometimes we just don’t have the time to whip up an excellent risotto for the entire family. That’s why we lift our hats off to the following Ono, You Know establishments who do the work for us. Lucky for us, all we have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy each and every bite of this rockin’ risotto! Ahhh … comfort food at its best.

Stage Restaurant

Taking front and center, the spotlight shines on Stage Restaurant, a contemporary dining establishment located on the second floor of Honolulu Design Center.

Stage Restaurant captivates patrons with its state-of-the-art interior complete with statement lighting, stylish hues, eclectic furnishings and remarkable artwork. And executive chef Ron de Guzman is a pro when it comes to perfecting the craft of contemporary Asian-American cuisine.

“We like to put a spin on things, and we like to utilize local ingredients when we can,” he says.

And to emphasize this fact, de Guzman puts a unique twist on your typical beef curry and rice. Enter Hayashi Rice. Served at dinnertime only, Hayashi Rice ($28 full-size, $18 half-size) showcases mouth-watering risotto and beef short ribs garnished with crispy shallots and caramelized onions submerged in a special sauce and green onion puree.

“Usually, with beef curry and rice, white rice is used, but to differentiate our dish from the rest, we incorporate risotto,” de Guzman explains. “It’s a popular dish and it’s not spicy.”

The meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender and the risotto soaks in all the flavors of the Hayashi Rice, making it absolutely divine!

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.

So, the next time hunger calls, bring your A-game and dine to impress at Stage.

Stage Restaurant
Honolulu Design Center
1250 Kapiolani Blvd.

Kit n Kitchen

The best of both worlds collide at Kit n Kitchen on University Avenue, as owners and husband-and-wife team of Kit and May Yiu expertly blend together the finest of both European and Asian flavors. Kit n Kitchen sure has its fans, myself being one of them, and diners are enthralled by the artistic decor and vibrant bursts of colors that encompass the restaurant, not to mention the temptingly rich cuisine.

Pastas, chimichurri creations, Bowl of a Button appetizer — where was I to even begin? Well, lucky for me, Kit made my decision easy and led my appetite to the wide selection of risotto dishes that grace the menu.

“We started serving risotto about two to three years ago upon customers’ requests,” Kit recalls. “Risotto is an Italian rice, and it’s very different from ordinary rice that you put in the rice cooker — it’s very flavorful! We have a wide selection of risotto.”

Topping my list is Burgundy Beef Risotto ($13.95), featuring a tasty array of tender beef doused with a savory tomato Burgundy sauce and nestled on a bed of risotto. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese is added for a finishing touch.

“A lot of customers also like our Seared Scallop Spinach Risotto,” Kit states. Priced at $14.95, this risotto is rockin’ with seared scallops cooked to perfection accompanied by a bed of fresh spinach in a creamy white sauce.

Rosa Lamb Risotto ($14.95), Seafood Risotto ($13.95), Chicken Jambalaya Risotto ($13.95), Mix Mushroom Risotto ($13.95) and Grilled Chicken Mushroom Risotto ($12.95) round out the list.

And for all of you night owls, Kit n Kitchen now satisfies all of your cravings until midnight.

Kit n Kitchen
Varsity Center
1010 University Ave.

Anytime Cafe

Anytime Cafe should be called “Everything Cafe,” as this place has it all! Located in Market City Shopping Center, this quaint establishment caters to your every whim. And if risotto is what you’re after, Anytime Cafe has a handful of risotto entrees, which are definitely worth raving about.

Owners Ken and Cindy Wong say Shrimp Risotto ($12.95) ranks among the top, as it presents you with creamy risotto topped with succulent morsels of shrimp and bay shrimp simmered in a pink tomato broth comprised of both a cream and tomato base. Delicious! Calling all calamari connoisseurs, you’ll fall for Calamari Risotto ($10.50), Italian risotto rice and calamari simmered in a light tomato broth.

Now, if seafood isn’t your thing, take a bite out of my personal favorite, Pork Chop Risotto. Priced at $12.95, this classic dish draws in appetites with pan-fried, seasoned pork chops and mixed vegetables over risotto in a light tomato broth. It’s the definition of comfort food! Anytime Cafe wins over vegetarians as well with its Vegetable Risotto ($10.50) and Mushroom Risotto ($10.50).

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

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Hawaii's Best