Beach Bar Takes a Fresh Approach to DiningCover Story Features
October 21, 2012
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel
Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa has been the prime example of Hawaiian hospitality since it opened its doors in 1901. Regarded as “First Lady of Waikiki,” this historic landmark welcomes visitors and kamaaina alike back to yesteryear with its first-class amenities and top-notch customer service.
As you roam the property, you’ll come across hints of Hawaii’s history steeped in contemporary settings. Take Beach Bar for instance. Founded in the early 1950s and situated on the premier oceanfront stretch of Waikiki Beach, this courtyard bar is nestled beneath the historic banyan tree with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. As the original beachside bar in Waikiki, Beach Bar encourages guests to sit back and relax while indulging in refreshing tropical drinks and casual, local-inspired cuisine.
Norman Soderberg serves as executive chef at Beach Bar and confirms the notion that his culinary creations go way beyond the realm of your typical “bar food.”
“What inspires me most is just wanting to serve great food to our patrons, not just deep-fried bar food that everyone thinks of,” says Soderberg, who has been with Moana Surfrider for the past five years. “Here at Beach Bar we’re really emphasizing healthy and fresh. We’re trying to incorporate a lot of superfoods, such as avocado, into our dishes.”
A new-and-improved menu debuted recently, which according to Soderberg, means a plethora of local ingredients and the freshest of fish.
“We’re trying to go green, and it’s important that we take advantage of what we have here at home. We rely on local farms, such as Nalo Farms and Ho Farms, among others, for our fresh ingredients. We even source our watercress from Kunia,” he states, noting that the new menu has been a work in progress.
Stellar items off the menu are easy to come by. Whether you’re in the mood for a mouth-watering Grilled Chicken, Pesto Aioli Flatbread Pizza ($16) topped with Nalo arugula, or Island Fish Tacos ($16), featuring a fresh island catch, cabbage, cilantro and a chipotle citrus yogurt wrapped in a grilled flour tortilla, Beach Bar presents you with some of the best in local fare.
“No question about it, our signature, top-selling dish is Ahi Poke Nachos ($19),” Soderberg says. “I’ve sold thousands of these.”
Far from your ordinary nachos, Soderberg’s No. 1 creation presents you with a mountain of crispy won ton chips topped with savory fresh island ahi, morsels of avocado, Maui onion, bonito flakes and sprinkles of nori drizzled with sriracha aioli and sweet kabayaki.
“This is a definite crowd pleaser and the bonito flakes give way to a smoky fish taste, which people love,” he exclaims.
Beach Bar’s Thai Cobb Salad ($18) is ideal for the health conscious as it boasts grilled marinated chicken, apple-wood-smoked bacon, local cucumbers, sweet and spicy peanuts, and rice noodles atop a bed of fresh Nalo greens splashed with a zestful Thai dressing.
“One of our newer dishes is Loco Moco ($18). It’s been doing well considering it’s new,” Soderberg says of this hearty feast, which consists of an 8-ounce beef patty decked out with loco moco must-haves, including sweet onion, poached egg and roasted garlic infused with a red wine demi.
“We plan to change up the menu seasonally and add new items as we see fit,” he adds. “You have to stay inspired. As a chef, you have to keep on creating or else you’ll be left behind.”
Open daily for lunch and dinner, Beach Bar certainly draws in the crowds, and while breakfast isn’t available here, Soderberg also has created a mesmerizing breakfast spread across the way at the snack bar, where early risers are treated to a continental breakfast showcasing hot sandwiches, parfaits, acai bowls, fresh-pressed juices and more.
“Beach Bar is the perfect place for the family after a swim in the ocean or the pool. Despite the fact that this is a ‘bar,’ we’re very kid-friendly and have menus especially for them,” Soderberg says.
“During the day, Beach Bar gives off a laid-back, local contemporary feel, and then at night it’s more sophisticated with an upbeat jazz vibe. There’s always live entertainment going on.”
Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa
2365 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu
Open daily, 10:30 a.m.-midnight
(last call for drinks is at 11:30 p.m. and food service goes to 10 p.m.)