Chef Chai in the sky

Columns Veg'n Out

July 6, 2014

Story By: Andy Beth Miller | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Back in graduate school, my favorite course was English Literature, and one of the plays we studied that especially captured my heart was A Midsummer Night’s Dream by none other than good ole’ Bill Shakespeare.

Perhaps I fancied it so much because of the quick British wit and ballsy, no-holds-barred humor that lined its pages — aside from the obvious reason, because — hello! What girl doesn’t dream of being a fairy in King Oberon’s secret forest of enchantment?

And while a ticket to a sixteenth century story-book dream isn’t quite within reach, a tastebud awakening at Oahu’s Chef Chai restaurant is a very real trip you want to take.

Once upon a (first) time at Chef Chai, the little fairy (or prince) in you will wonder at its whimsical yet classy décor. Setting a celestial scene, the stunning Honolulu establishment’s luminescent lighting makes you feel like you are sup-ping beneath a sky-high, chimerical starscape. Crystal light fixtures emit an incandescent glow, as patrons are ushered into Chef Chai’s stylish dining room — a modern and sophisticated space fit for any fairytale (or romantic rendezvous for two).

“To set ourselves apart from our original restaurant at Aloha Tower, we wanted to offer something different,” explains master chef Chai Chaowasaree. “Our decor is contemporary and modern, just like our food.”

And it’s true — while its ambiance is sure to inspire, that’s not the only thing this eatery ignites. With flavors and spices infused with Asian flair, Chaowasaree sets appetites ablaze as well. In fact, guests can also now appreciate healthier food options, as its menu offers many vegetarian and gluten-free items. Here is just a sample of some entrees heating things up at Chef Chai this week:

Poached Pear and Rainbow Vegetables Salad with Raspberry Guava Vinaigrette ($12) is a kaleidoscope of color, showcasing crudites of cauliflower, tomato and cucumber alongside creamy Goat Cheese and crunchy Candied Walnuts.

Hamakua Mushroom and Black Truffle Risotto with Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce ($12) brings together the best of nature’s bounty. Risotto, cooked then crisped to crunchy “cake” perfection, is infused by the most heavenly hint of Hamakua and Black Truffle mushrooms before being paired with a fresh and zesty Tomato Basil Sauce.

Vegetable Terrine with Green Curry Sauce ($25) is a spicy and soulful concoction made with layered purple Okinawan Sweet Potato, Asparagus, Porto-bello Mushroom, Roasted Bell Pepper, Aloun Farms ‘Ewa Sweet Onions and Pumpkin. “This is one of my favorite dishes,” exclaims Chaowasaree. “It’s very colorful, pretty and comes with a flavorful curry sauce.”

Chaowasaree goes on to explain his “picture-perfect” perspective about plating, “People eat with their eyes, palate and all their senses — that’s why food presentation is very important.” “We love it when guests take pictures of their food and share with their friends on social media.”

So happily ever after you dine, On Facebook, on Twitter, even on Vine Point, shoot and share Oh, tag with flair! #datenightChefChai #betyouwishyouwerethere

Contact Andy Beth Miller at diningout@staradvertiser.com

Chef Chai

Pacifica Honolulu
1009 Kapiolani Blvd.
Nightly, 4-11 p.m.
Note: Reservations are recommended.

Honolulu, HI 96814

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