Let’s Toast To A Tasty New Year!

Ono, You Know

December 24, 2017

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: MARK GALACGAC

It’s hard to believe that the year is coming to a close already, but the thought of all the exciting opportunities and joyous memories that 2018 has in store for us is reason enough to keep the merriment of the holiday season continuing right on into 2018.

Now, from a foodie’s perspective, I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year than with a shiny, sparkling and glamorous feast that will set the tone for a fabulous future. But if you haven’t made plans yet, there’s no need to worry. There’s still time to make reservations for you and your family, and to aid in the process I’ve outlined some of the best New Year’s offerings around town.

In the meantime, all of us here at Dining Out hope that you’ve had a most joyous season thus far, and to those celebrating Christmas, may your holiday be merry, bright and full of delicious flavors.


Celebrating the end of the year is a great time to dress up, go out and treat yourself to something special. And with its high-end approach to Asian fusion dining, Chef Chai is the perfect place to indulge in all the razzle dazzle that should come along with counting down to midnight.

Join the upscale restaurant for its New Year’s Eve dinner Dec. 31, which comes complete with some bubbly surprises.

Chef Chai’s elegant dining space

Guest may order a la carte from the holiday menu, or enjoy a set menu for the evening (prices vary by entree selection). Start with appetizers such as Foie Gras Chawanmushi (savory custard) or Fresh Kumamoto Oysters with lemon grass garlic mignonette. The main dishes, in classic Chef Chai fashion, offer everything from wagyu steak and lamb chops to sea bass and vegetarian options, all decked out with gourmet preparations.

Celebrity chef and owner Chai Chaowasaree says that among the dinner highlights will be Chorizo Stuffed Lobster accompanied by brandy lobster reduction and Hamakua mushroom and truffle risotto. This splendid specialty is priced at $69 a la carte, or $89 for a set menu with a choice of appetizer and dessert.

The New Year’s menu at Chef Chai will offer many celebratory bites, including luxurious lobster. PHOTOS COURTESY CHEF CHAI

“New Year’s is about having a fun party and getting together with good friends, and there is no exception at Chef Chai. And what better way to celebrate than with Champagne?” says Chaowasaree. “We are pairing each course of the meal with Champagne, from Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin to Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon.”

Guests may order individual glasses to accompany their meal, or go for the full-course pairing ($85), which includes a glass each of the two aforementioned Champagne options, as well as a sip of Saracco Moscato d’Asti (a sparkling wine) with dessert.

Call 585-0011 for reservations.


For those seeking to welcome 2018 with the flavors of home, you can’t go wrong at Pagoda Floating Restaurant, where the best in local favorites fill up the buffet spread on a daily basis and satisfy generations of island diners.

Claw your way over to the Alaskan snow crab legs on Pagoda’s buffet.

The iconic eatery will be kicking off the year with a kamaaina-friendly celebration Jan. 1 during its brunch (9 a.m.-2 p.m.) and dinner (5-9:30 p.m.) buffets, which are priced at $55.95 for adults and $25.95 for keiki.

Both the brunch and dinner spreads will showcase an array of pupus, including a salad bar, poke, fresh oysters and more; sizzling entrees such as roasted prime rib, steamed Alaskan snow crab legs and grilled chicken piccata, among many others; and tons of assorted cakes, pies, bread pudding and more sweet treats.

Pagoda’s New Year’s Day brunch and dinner buffets take place Jan 1.

Additionally, the brunch buffet will stand out for its warm Belgian waffles, while the dinner spread will offer mouthwatering sashimi.

Across the board, Pagoda is dressing up its festivities with a host of traditional Japanese New Year’s fare. The buffets will heat up with auspicious ozoni soup with mochi to savor, as well as customary namasu, kuromame, nishime and kamaboko. As an extra treat, zenzai and mochi also will enhance the dessert table.

What makes a New Year’s celebration at Pagoda even better is the enchanting atmosphere created by the koi ponds and gardens surrounding the iconic eatery — making it a true hidden oasis within the hustle and bustle of Honolulu. Additionally, as restaurant manager Tracy Yadao describes, “We try to keep the prices reasonable for the locals, and we prepare a lot of homestyle, local cooking for them.”

Call 948-8354 for reservations.

Honolulu, HI 96814

Honolulu, HI 96814

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