A Home Away From HomeCover Story Features
March 10, 2013
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel
There’s no place like home, and for the last decade, Ocean House in Outrigger Reef on the Beach hotel in Waikiki has been welcoming kamaaina and visitors alike to its homey oasis, where guests are encouraged to soak in picturesque oceanfront views and breathtaking sunsets while reveling in avant-garde cuisine centered around premier ingredients and immaculate presentation.
Most recently, Dining Out paid a visit to the restaurant and caught up with general manager David Nagaishi, where in between bites of delicious Home-Style Croissant Bread Pudding, we learned the contributing factors to the restaurant’s flourishing success.
DO: After a full day of exploring Waikiki with sunshine and surf, a top-notch dinner awaits at Ocean House. For a first-timer, describe the ambiance and your top picks off the menu.
Nagaishi: Here at Ocean House, we’re all about casual elegance within a plantation-style atmosphere. As soon as you walk through the doors, we want you to feel relaxed — have a seat, enjoy your meal and listen to the music of the waves crashing ashore, as we’re situated directly on the beach.
As for my top recommendations for a first-time diner, I would say to definitely start with our Sizzling Ahi Carpaccio ($14.50), an appetizer which melts in your mouth and is sprinkled with Hawaiian salt and togarashi, and laced with sizzling sesame and peanut oil. Maui onions, radish sprouts and a bit of Hawaiian chili sauce also accompany the dish.
Then, I’d recommend our Ocean House Salad ($7.50). A namesake, this salad features organic greens with our minted guava vinaigrette. For the best part — our entrees — we’re known for our Hawaiian Sea Salt Slow Roasted Premium Angus Prime Rib (prices vary), in addition to our Grilled Veal Chop ($39.50), a 12-ounce cut served with wild mushroom Madeira demi topped with avocado gremolata butter, tomato concasse, grilled hearts of zucchini and risotto croquette. If you’re feeling like fish, I’d recommend our Parmesan Crusted Opah ($34.50). It features Hawaiian Moonfish, pan-seared with a light lemon caper butter cream sauce, and served with grilled Kahuku corn and sun-dried tomato polenta. Save room for dessert, because you have to try Uncle Moki’s Chocolate Lava Flow Cake.
DO: Ocean House is moving toward a healthier dining approach, correct?
Nagaishi: Yes. People have been gravitating toward the more healthier side of dining. Not necessarily taking away from flavor, but instead putting more emphasis on the nutritional value of a dish. As a result, we’ve been working with a lot more vegetables and healthier starches. But if you just want to eat and don’t care about your calories, we’ve got great food for that, as well. For example, if you want to indulge in seafood, go for our Seafood Linguine ($36.50), which presents sauteed lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams, fish and Pen Cove mussels in a lobster mushroom cream sauce over linguine topped with shredded Parmesan cheese. And go all out with our Home Style Croissant Bread Pudding ($9), with macadamia nuts and rum raisins served with a scoop of sweet vanilla bean ice cream.
DO: That sounds immensely appetizing! Does the restaurant support local in regard to its seafood?
Nagaishi: Of course! Most of the local seafood that we obtain is fish, such as opah, mahi mahi, snapper and monchong, which are delivered fresh every day.
DO: Executive chef Aurelio Garcia came on board late last year. What has he brought to the table since then?
Nagaishi: With 34 years of culinary experience, Chef Aurelio has been improving the presentation of our dishes, and we’ve been working on a new menu that we hope to debut this summer. Chef Aurelio has been currently showcasing his specials and perfecting some Easter specials that we’re very excited about.
DO: There are always enticing specials offered here. Tell us about these Easter specials that guests can look forward to at Ocean House.
Nagaishi: For breakfast, we will offer Hukilau Fried Rice ($17.95), Hawaiian-style fried rice with lobster, scallops, shrimp, bacon and green onions served with two eggs any style. Grilled Mahi Mahi and Eggs ($16.95) also will be available, served with white rice and your choice of buttermilk or nine-grain toast. For our dinner crowd, our featured appetizer is Kalua Lamb Ravioli ($14.50), with macadamia nut and sun-dried tomato in a pesto cream sauce. For an Easter entree, we’ll have Hukilau Stew ($37.50), with lobster, shrimp, scallops, mahi mahi, clams and mussels simmered with Kamuela tomatoes and ‘Nalo herbs served with Ciabatta garlic toast. Dessert consists of Steamed Kabocha Pumpkin ($10.50) filled with lemongrass chocolate haupia custard. You can have the complete Easter dinner for $57.
Outrigger Reef Hotel
2169 Kalia Road, Honolulu
Breakfast 7 – 11 a.m.
Dinner 5 – 10 p.m. daily