High-quality food with a tip-top view

Columns Foodie Fare

June 28, 2015

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

With a name like Sarento’s At The Top of the “I,” located at the Ilikai Hotel, you go in there expecting a good view. But nothing really can prepare you for the breathtaking panorama overlooking the ocean on one side, and into the mountains on the other.

So, what better setting to indulge in dishes such as Sweet Tiger Prawn Scampi ($32)? It features sizable prawns alongside Hamakua mushrooms, locally grown cherry tomatoes and sundried tomatoes, all accented with white wine, garlic, basil and garlic butter cream, and served over linguine.

Just a few months ago, Sarento’s welcomed a new executive chef, Edmond Kwok, who already is working on putting his own touch into the menu. While the original menu was more focused on classic Italian influences, Kwok is looking to bring local flavors to the restaurant while maintaining its roots.

“I want to do more local, but I don’t want to stray away from the food Sarento’s is known for,” he explains. “I want to find that balance between local flair and classic Italian.”

One dish he already has revised is Double Pork Chop ($32), which features a 10-ounce pork chop crusted with Mozzarella and polenta, and bathed in Hamakua mushroom sauce. It’s served with goat cheese basil mashed potatoes and slightly crispy Brussels sprouts.

“Real simple. Real delicious,” Kwok says of the dish.

Both entrees provide hearty portions, but there’s always room for dessert. Sarento’s tempting list of sweets includes Bananas Two Ways ($12), which comes with banana pudding and banana lumpia. The lumpia is accented with macadamia nuts and caramel sauce, while the pudding comes with fresh banana slices and is garnished with mint.

Sarento’s comes from a strong lineage: Its owner Aaron Placourakis also has been behind a string of notable local restaurants throughout the years, including Nick’s Fishmarket.

Kwok joined the team just a few months ago, bringing with him years of experience. He studied at the Gros Bonnet Culinary Academy of Honolulu, and later, the Western Culinary Institute in Oregon. Locally, prior to joining Sarento’s, he also worked at W Bistro, Fresh Cafe, Alan Wong’s and Nobu Waikiki.

In the next few months, expect to see a revamped menu.

Sarento’s at the Top of the Ilikai

Ilikai Hotel
1777 Ala Moana Blvd.
Daily, 5:30-10 p.m.; bar opens at 5 p.m. nightly

Honolulu, HI 96815

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