Waves Of FlavorCover Story
July 22, 2018
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
It’s 4:30 p.m. on a Friday and you find yourself in Kaimuki after a long week. The drive home isn’t a bit appealing, so you decide to meet with friends for pau hana at The Surfing Pig, one of the newest hot spots on Waialae Avenue.
Within minutes you’re seated at The Surfing Pig’s gleaming, white-tiled bar placing your order for a half-dozen small plates whose descriptions make you salivate. You’ve heard great things about this restaurant, and you’re happy to learn that small plates and signature cocktails are discounted during happy hour.
Soon your friendly bartender comes over, bearing a tray whose contents mostly are covered by a cloche, a bell-shaped glass cover. He dramatically whips the cloche away. In a cloud of fragrant smoke, your cocktail is revealed. It’s The Smoking Pig ($12), and it’s one of Honolulu’s most exciting new signature drinks.
Created with house-made, bacon-infused bourbon and fresh orange juice, the beverage is The Surfing Pig’s interpretation of a traditional Old Fashioned. Savory, sweet, and smoky all at the same time, the spectacular cocktail is reason enough to visit the hip eatery.
“The drink is topped with crispy bacon and (is) smoke-infused to enhance the flavors,” says Anna Piergallini, director of sales and marketing. “It’s provided quite the photo op during people’s dining experiences.”
Although its presentation isn’t quite as dramatic as that of The Smoking Pig, the L.A. ($10) is every bit as delicious. A blend of vodka, Razzmatazz (a raspberry liqueur) and pineapple juice, this sophisticated beverage is as refreshing as mid-summer trade winds.
Along with drinks, the appetizers begin to arrive, with each somehow tastier than the last. Everybody in your group grabs a slice of Flatbread Pizza ($12), topped with garlic oil, bourbon onions, braised mushrooms, Fresno chili peppers, cheese and kalua pig from Kono’s, The Surfing Pig’s sister restaurant. With three locations (in Haleiwa, Kapahulu and Kailua), Kono’s award-winning 12-hour slow-roasted kalua pig is featured in several of the plates here at the restaurant.
The first bite of Smokey Cheesy Mac with Porchetta ($12) elicits moans of pleasure from everybody in your group. With ziti tossed in a house-made Gouda cheese sauce, this creamy delight is topped with crispy breadcrumbs and crunchy porchetta. It’s simply fantastic.
Besides the tantalizing drinks and appetizers, The Surfing Pig rolls out tasty entrees like Tenderloin Medallions ($36). As you’ll discover with happiness, the beautifully seasoned medallions are served with a velvety red wine reduction, accompanied by garlic potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Indeed, everything you taste here is unique, interesting and complex — and these extraordinary plates soon will be available beyond dinner hours. “We’re currently working on crafting several menus, including brunch, lunch and the exclusive Chef’s Table experience,” notes Piergallini. “We’re very excited to stir up and add to the Kaimuki brunch scene.”
With all of the eatery’s offerings presented in a fun atmosphere, you surely will leave with a smile on your face.
Man With A Plan
Responsible for The Surfing Pig’s cheerfully eclectic design, owner Stan Glander believes that “life begins outside of your comfort zone.” The Hawaii native grew up on the mainland and made a successful career in the restaurant and hospitality business before returning to Hawaii to launch Kono’s, purveyors of Oahu’s legendary award-winning kalua pig. The whimsical painted pig hoof prints on the walls at The Surfing Pig are echoed at all three Kono’s locations.
The Surfing Pig’s menu includes an entree, Brick Chicken, which sometimes elicits curious chuckles from guests. According to the item description, the dish is “lightly seasoned airline chicken pressed and pan fried to perfection.” What on earth is airline chicken? Also known as a statler chicken breast, airline chicken simply is a boneless breast with the first joint of the wing still attached. In the early days of air travel, chicken was often served this way during in-flight meals.