Silence the Clamoring for Clams

Columns Ono, You Know

June 30, 2013

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

Growing up with a father who’s a New Jersey native, I’ve spent many summers and Christmases in the Garden State visiting family. My father also is Italian, so, of course, every get-together always revolves around food! It’s the best! My grandmother cooks up homemade spaghetti and meat-balls, and my uncle even puts bets on how much food I can eat. However, he seems to underestimate the enormity of my appetite, so I always walk away with an extra 20 bucks in my pocket. Cha-ching!

Anyway, besides the authentic Italian grinds, New Jersey is the place to be for clams. In fact, it’s believed that New York and New Jersey harvest millions of pounds of hard clams a year. If you’re a clam connoisseur like myself, than this, my friends, is the jackpot! There’s nothing like a summer in New Jersey hitting up the clam bars.

But, Ono readers, lucky for me, once you take this island girl out of N.J., the serious clam eating continues here at home as well. Don’t fret, here at the following Ono, You Know hot spots, you can silence your clamoring for clams, because these restaurants represent with purely decadent clam creations. Let’s eat!

53 By The Sea

We all deserve to feel like royalty now and again, and 53 By The Sea is your palace. Step through the ceiling-high double doors, and stunning views of Diamond Head amid an elegantly vast dining room awaits. A grand staircase, crystal chandelier and a slew of other elaborate furnishings are superlative accents to the avant-garde dining experience that pays tribute to “New American Cuisine,” with an emphasis on local ingredients. Executive chef Thomas Ho’s distinct cooking style is French-rooted, so, it’s only fitting to find French culinary stylings as the basis of every dish.

Always conceptualizing new and exotic dishes, Ho’s menu boasts creations that are almost too exquisite to eat. And on my most recent visit to the restaurant, 53 By The Sea delivered big time with an off-the-menu item that is only available upon request. As soon as I was seated, an edible indulgence of Clam Risotto with Lemon ($26) was presented before me.

Manila clams are sauteed to perfection in white wine, garlic and a splash of lemon juice. The clams are then plated and paired with a savory risotto infused with more white wine and a zest of lemon juice. Simply amazing!

Pop the clam out of its shell and into your mouth, go in for a forkful of risotto, and your palate has never been happier. Thank you, 53 By The Sea, for letting me in on this not-so-secret clam creation.

53 By The Sea
53 Ahui St.

HASR Bistro

In the heart of Downtown Honolulu, you’ll find a bistro that is home to some of the most superior wines from around the world, many of which are “highly allocated,” and after wine distributors told co-owner Terry Kakazu that she was “spoiled rotten” because she was able to obtain these bottles of what could be considered liquid gold, Kakazu decided to turn the phrase “Highly Allocated, Spoiled Rotten” into an acronym, and HASR Bistro was born.

A wine purveyor and restaurateur, Kakazu, along with executive chef and co-owner, Rodney Uyehara, molded the North Pauahi Street restaurant into a country-style European-American bistro that offers a fine-dining experience at affordable prices. Dine indoors in the dining room or at the spacious bar area, or choose to be seated at an outdoor table in the courtyard.

And a great way to begin any meal at HASR Bistro is with Soaker Clams. Priced at $21, this dinnertime appetizer is for those who choose to dine with decadence. I say this because this premier starter features tender clams doused in a garlic butter broth with pancetta or bacon, tomatoes and baby arugula. While the clams steal the show, the garlic Parmesan bread served with the dish is a force to be reckoned with as well. Any food enthusiast will tell you that these slices of heaven are ideal for dunking in the broth. In fact, you might want to order an additional side of bread because, trust me, you’ll need it — this saucy broth is to die for! Spoil yourself silly at HASR Bistro.

HASR Bistro
31 N. Pauahi St.

Seafood Village Chinese Cuisine

Tucked away on the lower level of Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa is Seafood Village Chinese Cuisine, a world of wonder for the seafood aficionado. For the past 20 years, the establishment has been specializing in Hong Kong-style cuisine that appeals to locals and visitors from across the globe.

Executive chef and Hong Kong native So Shu Chen oftentimes uses seafood, such as clams, as his canvas to create delicious works of art, including Clams with Black Bean Sauce ($17.95) and Clams with Ginger and Onion ($17.95).

The underlying foundation for both dishes lies in jumbo-size Manila clams from the Pacific Northwest that are delivered live to the restaurant daily. Wok sauteed, the clams are either bathed in a savory black bean sauce, composed of oyster sauce, fermented beans, garlic and onion, and finished off with slivers of onion, red bell peppers and more garlic, or a ginger and onion sauce, consisting of a light chicken stock gravy seasoned with salt and pepper, and accentuated with strong flavors of ginger and green onions.

“Clams with Black Bean Sauce is more popular of the two and has been on the menu for a while now,” says manager Johnson Ma.

The clams hit the spot, but that is to be expected from Seafood Village, a favorite of A-lists guests, including President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Seafood Village Chinese Cuisine
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa
2424 Kalakaua Ave. #103

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