An exciting new venture for Chef ChaiAli Carte Columns
February 8, 2015
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
For decades, chef Chai Chaowasaree has slow cooked his reputation within the Islands’ restaurant industry to perfection, maintaining his roles as one of today’s most prominent figures in Hawaii Regional Cuisine as well as the executive chef for Hawaiian Airlines, among a long list of career accomplishments.
In 2013, Chaowasaree opened Chef Chai on Kapiolani Boulevard, dishing out clean, healthy Asian fusion cuisine with an emphasis on Thai flavors that locals have embraced ever since. Now, with the December opening of Chai’s Waikiki Cafe and Market, the chef is adding a brand new recipe to his career cookbook that caters to kamaaina and visitors alike.
Located across from Hilton Hawaiian Village on Ala Moana Boulevard, Chai’s Waikiki Cafe and Market presents an ideal venue to stop into for a convenient — and delectable — bite on the go, as well as a host of Chef Chai’s new line of items.
Chaowasaree’s goodies showcase the diverse range of fresh, natural and enticing edibles the Islands have to offer. From raw, organic and 100 percent pure Manoa honey to his own blends of Kona and Waialua coffees, the selection not only gives tourists authentic items to take home, but also offers residents a way to appreciate the best in local ingredients.
“Since we’re in Hawaii, we want to make something that really represents Hawaii,” shares Chaowasaree.
The new line also provides a refreshing alternative to standard macadamia nut gift packages. Mouth-watering Golden Pineapple Cake Bars ($25 for 10 pieces; $14 for six) were inspired by Chaowasaree’s mother’s recipe for Chinese-style cakes made with 100 percent fresh fruit. “You can taste the real pineapple,” he says. Unexpected delights such as dehydrated Hawaiian Dried Fruit and Coconut Sesame Wafer Rolls also present fresh takes on true island flavors.
Shopping for Chef Chai products along the eatery’s floor-to-ceiling shelves can stir up quite an appetite. Luckily, an array of local favorites is ready to be devoured — from sizzling Hawaiian BBQ Chicken with Pineapple Salsa ($12) to Hawaiian Saimin ($10) with a rich, flavorful dashi broth, roasted pork and thick noodles.
According to Chaowasaree, the menu offers locals in the area a nearby place to go to for high-quality island comfort food, while also sharing the good stuff with tourists. “As a visitor, when you come to Hawaii, you want to know what local people eat,” explains the chef.
Kobe Beef Loco Moco ($14) is another specialty, prepared with house-made Kobe patties, steamed rice, sunny side up eggs, a hearty beef and turkey gravy and a gourmet sprinkling of crispy local onions on top.
For Chai’s Waikiki Cafe and Market, this is just the beginning. The chef plans to unveil many new offerings in the future, including Champagne and plate lunch pairings.
Chai’s Waikiki Cafe and Market
Canterbury Place building
1910 Ala Moana Blvd.
Daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Note: Parking structure entrance located on Ena Road.