A Place to Eat for EveryoneFeatures Order of the Day
March 1, 2015
Story By: Lindsey Appleton | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
After a long day at work, sometimes the last thing you want to do is spend quality couch-time cooking a meal. That’s when Willu Diaz comes to the rescue. Chef and “dishwasher,” as he modestly titles himself, Diaz owns, operates, cooks and serves at his restaurant: A Place to Eat.
“I wanted a restaurant that resonated with everyone,” explains Diaz. “The name suggests that you draw your own conclusions about it. I’m all about the food, so that’s what’s important, that you’re coming here to eat.”
Diaz’s menu of entrees consists of only 10 items; however, while the dishes and options are simple, the flavors are anything but plain. Sink your teeth into Sweet Bun Sliders ($10). These bitesized sliders consist of house-made Angus beef patties, which are served with house-cut sweet potato fries garnished with salt and parsley.
“I was taught that meals should contain 10 items or less,” says Diaz. “Not everyone is a sommelier, but everyone appreciates good, quality food. It’s a privilege to go out to eat, so I want to serve my customers comfort food at a reasonable price.”
Diaz uses local and organic products, always bought fresh daily, to put together his layered yet simple, gourmet and yet casual meals. Experience this marriage of comfort and culinary art in Adobo Sea Scallops ($12). Sauteed with mushrooms, garlic and soy sauce in a gravy-like adobo sauce, the peppery scallops are served with steamed white rice, which soaks up the creamy, savory and rich sauce.
“The origin of the Adobo Sea Scallops is Filipino and Spanish,” explains Diaz. “But I remove the vinegar aspect of it and introduce Chablis white wine, so it still has the same acidity, but the sweetness of the Chablis complements the mildness of the scallops.”
Finish your meal with the towering Oreo Brownie-wich ($7.50). This ice cream sandwich made with thick brownies is large enough to share, but so delicious you won’t want to. Diaz enjoys challenging himself as a chef and offering a dynamic restaurant experience.
“I have an open kitchen. So if you ask, then you can come sit at the table inside the kitchen and talk with me while I cook,” he says. “I call it the Chef’s Display. I was taught that to become an efficient cook, you need be able to handle distractions. Cooking has become second nature to me.”
Along with the Chef’s Display, Diaz hosts a special dining experience called the Chef’s Table, where Diaz creates a special menu for the participants. To attend these events, you must be a member of A Place to Eat. Membership is granted to patrons who have dined at A Place to Eat at least 20 times, and you can sign up for the Chef’s Table once it’s announced. Diaz also offers cooking classes for individuals, couples or groups ($60 per person; $100 per couple). Patrons also can vote on what the weekly special will be by putting a tip in a split-cup jar.
“The jar with the most tips wins, and that decides what the special will be for the next week,” says Diaz. “Last week it was Loco Benny — a Loco Moco Eggs Benedict combination — and this week it’s between Mongolian Lamb and Tazzo. I like to experiment, try new dishes and have fun with the food.”
A Place to Eat
1035 University Ave., Honolulu
Monday-Friday, 11 a.m – 2 p.m.; 5 p.m. – midnight
Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m. – midnight (restaurant closes sporadically)
Cooking classes: Monday-Friday, 3-5 p.m.