Where cuisine tastes as good as it looks

Digest Eat This

May 19, 2015

Story By: Andy Beth Miller | Photos by: NATHALIE WALKER

An elegant world away from the whirlwind pace of pedestrian Honolulu, Chef Chai transports its patrons through the magic of taste, featuring five-star cuisine and a style-savvy ambiance that exudes effortless chic.

Ever the gracious host, owner and chef Chai Chaowasaree welcomed Dining Out into his upscale establishment with a kind hug and welcoming smile — the best pre-meal appetizers a diner could wish for. As we wait for the food, Chaowasaree shares his approach to culinary creation.

“I love to experiment with different textures and flavors,” he explains. “It’s all about balance for me — sweetness, salt, acidity, crispiness, creaminess.”

Appetites yearning for a real-life sampling of this enjoy Miso Chilean Sea Bass with Pickled Vegetables ($36), a dish that hits its mark. Chaowasaree describes it as being “similar to miso butterfish, yet much more superior.” Hepoints to his choice of pickled vegetables, which “really act as a palate cleanser and are a great accompaniment to the richness of the Omega-infused fish.”

Sauteed Escargot and Prawns with Hamakua Mushrooms, Roasted Garlic and Chili Sauce ($15) is served next. A far cry from the traditional bathed-inhollandaise dish, Chaowasaree describes his version as being “simply sautéed with a little bit of chili ginger sauce (asian fusion- style) and a touch of cream.”

The chef also explains his choice of pairing, noting that the dish is served with prawns to add some texture.

As much a sculpture of art as it is an edible masterpiece, Stuffed Baked Quail with Portobello Mushroom, Sundried Tomato and Foie Gras ($19) stuns. Starting with deboned quail stuffed with sautéed mushroom, tomato and foie gras, Chaowasaree wraps prosciutto around the quail before encasing the creation with a layer of potato string. He then quick-fries and bakes the whole thing to achieve the perfect crispness. Set atop mashed pumpkin, this dish is almost too pretty to consume.

As we stroll completely satisfied to the exit, Chaowasaree reminds us of the exciting evolution his Waikiki location will soon undergo, focusing on Hawaiian fusion regional cuisine and incorporating an upscale dinner menu with all-natural cocktails, as well as tempting tapas alongside his signature dishes.

Chef Chai

1009 Kapiolani Blvd.


Daily, 4-11 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96814

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