Osso Buco, oh so nice!

Columns Ono, You Know

September 14, 2014

Story By: Alana Folen |

Obviously, my job revolves around food, so if I were to disclose an essential fact about myself, here it is: I’m as carnivorous as a carnivore gets. Sorry, vegetarians, I’m a sucker for meat. I’d take a hearty slab of ribeye or tomahawk over fish or chicken (I’d have to think twice about fried chicken, though) any day. Now, by no means do I want to “beef” with anyone over this.

Would I agree to the term “meat snob”? Perhaps. But that’s only because I just like what I like.

Anything that even comes close to making me doubt a succulent, juicy steak has to be amazing — literally life changing. And here she is: osso buco, an Italian dish traditionally served with veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine and broth. The modern day — and more popular — recipe includes tomatoes, carrots, celery and onions. The sauce? Oh yeah, the saucy component of osso buco is crucial. The sauce must be rustic and savory, while still au naturel. The meat and sauce cannot be separate entities — they must be one. That all comes down to patience and braisin’, baby.

This week I wondered, is it too much to ask for osso buco that’s the real deal (not veal)? I don’t think so, because the following OYK eateries captured the essence of osso buco perfectly, while playing it up with their signature touch.

Chef Chai

Fine dining fare without the fuss is exactly what you’ll get at Chef Chai at Pacifica Honolulu on Kapiolani Boulevard. Celebrity chef Chai Chaowasaree opened the restaurant in March 2013, presenting guests with nutritious takes on innovative culinary masterpieces. According to Chaowasaree, the majority of offerings are low in fat and sans butter; in their place is a myriad of aromatic herbs, olive oil, coconut milk, vegetables, and lean meats and seafood.

Chaowasaree’s love affair with food began at an early age. His parents owned a restaurant in Bangkok, and to this day, the chef finds inspiration from his family’s personal recipes.

Chef Chai's Asian Style Braised Kurobuta Pork Shank ($37) L. FRIEL PHOTO

Chef Chai’s Asian Style Braised Kurobuta Pork Shank ($37) L. FRIEL PHOTO

“Asian Style Braised Kurobuta Pork Shank is derived from one of my parents’ recipes, which won many awards in Bangkok,” Chaowasaree explains.

Priced at $37, the entree features pork shank slow-braised in Chinese cinnamon, cloves, star anise, licorice root, dried Chinese shiitake mushroom, onion, celery, garlic, carrots, leek, veal stock and red wine. The result? Fork-tender meat accompanied by steamed white rice or steamed coconut milk and ginger brown rice.

“Osso buco is an Italian braised veal shank that incorporates tomato and veal stock,” explains Chaowasaree. “Asian Style Braised Kurobuta Pork Shank is my own interpretation of osso buco. Kurobuta pork shank replaces veal. Kurobuta pork is the highest quality pork — just as prestigious as Kobe beef. It’s very rich and flavorful.”

Chef Chai
Pacifica Honolulu
1009 Kapiolani Blvd.

Kahai Street Kitchen

The marriage of gourmet quality cuisine and the typical plate lunch concept is not what you automatically would assume is a match made in heaven. But stop right there. Kahai Street Kitchen dispels this ignorant belief. For owner Nao Iwata and head chef David Yamamoto, incorporating the ease and convenience of a plate lunch with exquisite, avant-garde menu options is their forte.

Kahai Street's Braised Boneless Short Ribs Osso Buco Style ($9.95) ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTO

Kahai Street’s Braised Boneless Short Ribs Osso Buco Style ($9.95) ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTO

This gem of a restaurant is located on the corner of Kahai and Kalihi streets, and is used to filling a multitude of orders, as it caters corporate events, weddings and parties.

A Kahai Street Kitchen signature is Boneless Short Ribs Osso Buco Style ($9.95), a mouthwatering presentation of seared short ribs braised with carrots, celery, onions, diced tomatoes, bay leaf, and chicken and beef stock.

“We braise the meat for two-and-a-half to three hours, remove the fat, slice it and strain all the natural juices, of which we use to make a special sauce,” says Iwata.

Imbued with a plethora of flavors, the sauce smothers each piece of meat, creating a hearty and rustic osso buco-inspired appeal. As with all Kahai Street creations, the plate lunch comes complete with rice and your choice of macaroni or tossed salad.

Kahai Street Kitchen
237 Kalihi St.

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