Climbing the ranks of fine dining

Columns Foodie Fare

May 31, 2015

Story By: Christina O Connor | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Just five years ago, David Lukela was working his way up the ranks in the science field. As a lab tech at Hawaii Center for AIDS, he spent his days doing medical research and soon was promoted to lab supervisor.

But he yearned for something more and, on a whim, enrolled in culinary classes at Kapiolani Community College.

“I’ve always had an interest in food since I was young,” Lukela recalls, explaining that his family has been putting him to work on the grill since he was a kid, “and I decided to pursue culinary arts.”

From there, his rise in the culinary world has been meteoric — first beginning at Sheraton Waikiki, and then Nobu. When Vintage Cave opened up, he managed to snag a position on the “hot-app” station, eventually working his way up to sous chef.

These days, Lukela can be found at the helm of Beachhouse at the Moana in the Moana Surfrider hotel. Beachhouse is noted for its high quality steaks, such as the 18 ounce Bone In Ribeye ($67), which features certified Angus beef cooked to excellence.

Beachhouse also has garnered attention for its creative takes on island ingredients and flavors. Take Kim Chee Brussels ($11), for example, which features Brussels sprouts that are fried and tossed with a kim chee sauce and sesame seeds.

Then there’s Local Beet and Tomato Salad ($15), which is stocked with roasted beets, Ho Farm tomatoes, arugula, herbed goat cheese and macadamia nuts — all topped with a black garlic vinaigrette. “The beets are roasted with thyme and garlic … (and) chive, honey and lemon zest are mixed with Surfing goat cheese,” Lukela explains.

While there certainly are endless dining options in Waikiki, Lukela has a long list that sets Beachhouse apart: “We have a stunning ambiance matched with vibrant island-inspired cuisine, an extensive wine list and warm service.”

And there’s more to come. Beachhouse currently is in the process of revamping its lunch menu, as well as making a few changes to its dinner menu. Plus, wine bar Vintage 1901 is now open, featuring signature wine and island-inspired tapas.

Beachhouse at the Moana

Moana Surfrider,
a Westin Resort & Spa
2365 Kalakaua Ave., Waikiki


5:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96815

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best