Esteemed chef rolling out stellar goodiesA La Carte
September 2, 2018
Story By: Yu Shing Ting | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
Chef Chai Chaowasaree, known for his award-winning Hawaii regional cuisine, celebrates 30 years of the restaurant business in Hawaii next month.
Since opening his first restaurant in Waikiki in 1988, the Thai-born chef has built a global following for his innovative culinary masterpieces featuring fresh local ingredients fused with exotic flavors of Asia and the island’s diverse ethnic culture, along with his signature outstanding presentation.
Throughout the years, he’s opened multiple restaurants on Oahu, but has just one location now — Chef Chai at Pacifica Honolulu (across from Neal S. Blais-dell Center on Kapiolani Boulevard). The restaurant opened about five years ago and has become a favorite for pau hana, date night or a fun evening with family and friends. Serving dinner only, it features a spacious dining room with a modern, elegant setting, and top-notch service.
For a great value, guests can enjoy an Early Bird four-course menu ($42, seating between 4 and 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday) highlighting some of Chef Chai’s most popular dishes. Entree choices include Pan-Roasted All-Natural Chicken with Hamakua Mushroom and Hennessy Cognac Green Peppercorn Sauce ($35 a la carte), Vegetable Terrine with Green Curry Sauce ($28 a la carte) and Deconstructed Grilled Beef Tenderloin Wellington ($49 a la carte).
Chef Chai also recently brought back its product line of Pineapple Cake, Chocolate Mochi Cookies and Salted Honey Pecans — great for gift giving or to take home. The restaurant also continues to offer its private Kona Coffee blend, including 100-percent Kona Coffee ($22), 100-percent Kona Pea-berry Coffee ($25) or Kona Roast Volcanic Roast coffee blend, roasted with vanilla and macadamia nut ($9).
“We work with a roaster to create our special private blend,” notes Chaowasaree. “It’s the same coffee we serve in the restaurant and people are always asking for it.”
Pineapple Cake ($12 for a box of five, $20 for a box of 10), which looks similar to Taiwan’s iconic pastry, is made in Hawaii using 100-percent local pineapples. “It’s my mom’s recipe,” says Chaowasaree, “and many people say it’s better than the ones in Taiwan.”
As for the Chocolate Mochi Cookies ($10), it’s not the typical round and chewy cookies you might expect. Instead, it’s made with mochiko flour, rectangular in shape, and thin and crispy.
“The recipe is from my friend BethAn of Nori’s Saimin and Snacks in Hilo,” shares Chaowasaree, adding that it also has macadamia nuts and is gluten-free. “She’s known for her mochi cookie and mochi cake.”
Salted Honey Pecans ($15) is a recipe from Chaowasaree’s sister, and is made with a little bit of brown sugar, honey and maple syrup. “You can use it for salads or put on top of ice cream or eat it by itself,” says Chaowasaree. “When I take it home, I can’t stop eating it.
“I think these items are a legacy of my family. My mom was a chef and I grew up in the restaurant business. That’s how we all learned to cook — from my parents.”
Mention Dining Out when you dine in at Chef Chai and receive a box of Pineapple Cakes.