New chef puts modern twist on top-of-the-line cuisine

Columns Lite Bites

February 15, 2015

Story By: Yu Shing Ting |

Sarento’s at the Top of the Ilikai welcomes a new executive chef to its team. Edmond Kwok, a local boy who grew up in the restaurant business and has more than 15 years of culinary experience, started just a few weeks ago but has already brought much excitement to the kitchen, and has made noticeable improvements to some existing dishes on the menu.

“I look forward to using local products on our menu as much as possible, including fresh, quality produce, meats and seafood,” says Kwock, whose long resume includes sous chef at Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk. “Sarento’s is an established restaurant with classic menu offerings, so with respect to that I would like to modernize those dishes just a little, but keep the same flavors.

“My father and grandfather had owned their restaurant in Waialae — Kwok’s Chop Suey — and that is where I got my work ethic from. I like taking classic dishes, recognizable flavor profiles and modernizing them a bit. Most importantly, (I like a) balance of flavors.”

Known for its award-winning Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, paired with stunning panoramic views of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach, as well as exceptional service, Sarento’s has been an all-around favorite for locals and visitors alike for the past two decades. It’s especially popular for special occasions and holidays, such as birthdays, anniversaries and romantic dinner dates.

But the restaurant also has become a hot spot for its bar and lounge menu, particularly during happy hour, which takes place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. daily and all evening on Wednesdays. There also is a Speakeasy Special available during happy hours Sunday through Thursday, offering 40 percent off any one menu item with the purchase of any specialty or featured cocktail (bar seating only). The Speakeasy Special launched about a year ago, and has been a great way for guests to try some of Sarento’s classic favorites at a great price.

Among the must-try dishes is the Osso Buco ($44), which has been a Sarento’s signature from the very beginning. It’s an old-country recipe featuring fork-tender braised veal shank, saffron risotto and citrus gremolata.

For Small Plates, try Frutti Di Mare Sausage ($12) consisting of grilled local seafood sausage made of smoked salmon mousse, spiny lobster, tiger prawn, diver scallop and fresh fish, and served over a flavorful lilikoi mustard.

As for the Bar & Lounge Menu, the Filet Mignon Meatball Slider ($6) is highly recommended because it’s the same signature meatball served in Sarento’s main course Filet Mignon Meatballs pasta. Available individually as a small plate, the gourmet Filet Mignon Meatball Slider is full of flavor with a tasty combination of pomodoro, gorgonzola aioli and crispy Maui onions.

Located on the 30th floor of Ilikai Hotel, with its own private glass elevator, Sarento’s continues to define the ultimate in fine-dining with first-class service, high-quality food and exclusive views. Guests also can enjoy live music daily, and kamaaina (with ID) can valet free at the Ilikai.

Sarento’s at the Top of the Ilikai

1777 Ala Moana Blvd.
Bar opens at 5 p.m., Dining room opens at 5:30 p.m. daily

Honolulu, HI 96815

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Hawaii's Best