Praising Portobello!

Columns Ono, You Know

March 3, 2013

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

On a mission to eat as healthy as possible without relinquishing flavor and taste, I’ve been scouting out guilt-free fare that is neither bland nor boring. Yes, there is a plethora of salad options to choose from, as well as fruit medleys, but what if I’m craving something with substance? Something meaty, something that will leave me satisfied for hours on end? Where do I turn? Well, the answer is found in the portobello mushroom. This versatile, large Crimini mushroom is tender and meaty in texture, with a delicate flavor profile to match. Whether sauteed, oven roasted or grilled, portobello mushrooms can be incorporated into a myriad of fare. For a chef, portobello mushrooms are a playground for culinary artistic stylings.

So, this week, Ono readers, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of the one and only portobello mushroom, as it takes the throne and shines in the limelight of these amazing dishes found at the following Ono, You Know establishments.

Brasserie Du Vin

Transport yourself to a quaint hot spot that much resembles a charming restaurant or cafe you would stumble upon in Europe. Enter Brasserie Du Vin. Located across from the historic Hawaii Theatre, this premier, pet-friendly restaurant features a full indoor bar and seating area, in addition to a serene outdoor patio where patrons can take time to enjoy French-inspired appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and desserts. Then comes the wine! Brasserie Du Vin will send you to vino heaven with its more than 225 wine selections available by the glass or bottle.

Chef Marco Elder’s cuisine is undoubtedly some of the best I’ve ever tried, and his Grilled Portobello ($11) deserves eternal praise. Seemingly simple, Grilled Portobello features a grand portobello mushroom that is tender beyond compare, and stacked with melted mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions, tomato, arugula, avocado and sauce vert on a freshly baked, homemade flaky croissant.

“Grilled Portobello is a great substitute for a burger,” Elder says. “It’s a highly requested lunch-only item and comes with mixed greens, fries, house-made chips or our soup du jour.”

Clearly this sandwich is my top pick here at Brasserie Du Vin, because there’s nothing better than eating deliciously healthy.

Brasserie Du Vin
1115 Bethel St.

Big City Diner

Go big or go home, and here at Big City Diner, going big is the only option. BCD, as the restaurant is affectionately called, opened its doors more than a decade ago. And any food enthusiast will tell you that BCD is the place to be no matter what you’re craving. An absolutely amazing and healthy stir-fry with tofu? Check. Or how about a Fire-Roasted Portobello Mushroom Salad? Check. Begging for a burger? Well now, there’s no need to even question that one.

But since I have the onos for anything portobello, the Fire-Roasted Portobello Mushroom Salad it is! Priced at $10.99, this king of salads features savory porto-bellos cooked to perfection and sliced on a bed of organic greens, chopped romaine, diced Roma tomatoes and sweet red onions, topped with BIG croutons, imported Parmesan cheese, red onion rings and a zest of fresh lemon. Ancho-Chile dressing is a winning accompaniment to the dish and gives it that extra burst of flair that we all love.

Then, if your appetite calls for something more, then you must try Big City Diner’s Grilled Tequila Chicken and Porto-bello Mushroom Stack ($12.99 lunch, $15.99 dinner), a top-notch dish featuring herb-marinated chicken breast topped with the eatery’s special tequila cream sauce and layered with grilled portobello mushroom and Jack cheese on a bed of fresh sauteed spinach. As one of my personal favorites, I will tell you that it only takes one bite to be hooked for life.

BCD provides a fun dining experience for the whole family, and with five locations islandwide, including establishments in Kailua, Ward, Waipio and Pearlridge, as well as Kaimuki, you can always get your portobello fix. I think it’s time to upgrade your palate to BCD status!

Big City Diner Pearlridge (and various locations)
98-211 Pali Momi St.


Having your way with portobello comes easy at Hukilau in Executive Centre in the heart of downtown Honolulu. Categorized as an upscale Hawaiian plate lunch-style eatery, Hukilau always finds a way to put its own spin on its mouth-watering fare. Take the restaurant’s lunch favorite Katsu-Style Portobello Mushroom Sandwich ($12). As a popular vegetarian option, beloved by carnivores as well, this sandwich is extraordinary and guilt-free. According to Hukilau executive chef Jason Takemura, the foundation of the sandwich lies in a meaty portobello mushroom roasted in a balsamic marinade with olive oil and rosemary, and then breaded panko-style. Brie cheese, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, butter lettuce and tomatoes complete the fillings, which are nestled between two Kaiser rolls with a sun-dried tomato aioli spread. Finally, your choice of a side of fries, sweet potato fries, garlic fries or ‘Nalo green salad take this sandwich over the top.

“We actually had this item on the menu from the beginning,” Takemura says. “Every time I tried to take it off the menu I’d end up having to put it back on.

“Everyone has their regular balsamic or grilled portobello mushrooms, so I wanted to do something different and put a local twist on it, so I made it katsu-style.”

Executive Centre
1088 Bishop St.

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best