Local Mo’ BettaOno, You Know
October 7, 2018
Story By: Ellise Kakazu | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
Locals always support locals that do well. Whether one is a star athlete like Marcus Mariota making waves on a national level or a Grammy-Award winning musician like Bruno Mars, the people of Hawaii go all out to show their love for island natives.
While I am all for the men and women in bright lights, I believe the same aloha should be directed to those keeping our families fed and land sustainable. Farmers often malama the aina without much applaud or recognition, so I think it’s time to give them some because it is much deserved.
We may not get the chance to meet Hawaii’s producers face-to-face, but one way to show them we care is by purchasing the fruits of their labor.
So next time you are at the market, reach for local produce like Manoa lettuce, Kahuku watermelon or Big Island beef. And when dining out, look for restaurants that weave fresh, island-grown vegetables, fruits and meat into their menus.
Giving you a head start, I decided to highlight a couple of dining destinations that do just that.
THE ‘REAL’ DEAL
If you have lived on island for more than two years and have never been to Brick Fire Tavern, you are missing out big time.
Opening its doors in 2016, Brick Fire Tavern has made itself known as the go-to place for authentic pizza Napoletana — the restaurant currently is the only Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) certified spot on Oahu, meaning this place is legit. “Our VPN certification means every batch of dough, every swirl of tomato sauce, every slice of perfectly cooked pizza from our paddle to your plate is authentic Napoletana,” states Brick Fire Tavern’s website.
In addition to bringing a taste of Italy to Hawaii, Brick Fire Tavern prides itself on using fresh, local ingredients to create its pies. Owner Matthew Resich notes the restaurant’s herbs and pork is sourced from Waianae, tomatoes come from the Big Island and greens are brought in from Maui. Brick Fire Tavern uses local produce “whenever possible,” he adds.
“Our mission is to serve Napoli-inspired but locally crafted dishes, while upholding the traditions of craft Neapolitan pizza,” says Resich.
Customers can find all types of pies on Brick Fire’s menu, from classic Margherita to something completely out-of-the-box like The “Real” Hawaiian ($19), which is a 12-inch pizza featuring a unique papaya and pureed kalo sauce, local kalua pork roasted in luau leaves, house-pulled mozzarella and a refreshing watercress lomi tomato salad.
According to Resich, everything on this Hawaiian pizza is locally sourced except for the dough (flour comes from Italy) and cheese (from Wisconsin).
“True Hawaiian pizza should be fresh and local, and that’s what we strive to deliver,” he adds. “When you eat it (The “Real” Hawaiian), you think you are at a luau. It’s really delicious. It’s a plate lunch converted into a pizza.”
So next time you are in the mood for some authentic Hawaiian and Neapolitan pizza, and want to support local, take a trip to Brick Fire Tavern in Chinatown. The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and offers happy hour specials 3-6 p.m.
ALOHA FRIDAY GRINDS
Pagoda Floating Restaurant is known for its onolicious buffets. In fact, Pagoda is one of the few dining destinations in Honolulu that offers extensive buffets daily.
Feeding hungry kamaaina and visitors from morning to night, the restaurant always is packed with food. But just because there’s an abundance of delicious eats at Pagoda, it doesn’t mean the restaurant sacrifices quality over quantity.
According to general manager John Teruya, Pagoda Floating Restaurant’s current mission is to promote sustainability and healthy eating by incorporating as much local ingredients into its offerings.
For example, Pagoda now uses local-grown pork that contains no added antibiotics or hormones to create its beloved kalua pig and lau lau. Additionally, Teruya notes some of Pagoda’s beef specials feature grass-fed, homegrown beef.
“(Pagoda wants to) work with more local products that are sustainable,” says Teruya.
If you want to get a taste of the restaurant’s aforementioned pork items, plan to visit on Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. to revel in Pagoda’s Aloha Friday Hawaiian Lunch Buffet.
The Aloha Friday Hawaiian Buffet reasonably priced at $18.95 for adults, $16 for seniors (ages 60 and older) and $7.95 for children (ages 5-8) features tried-and-true favorites like lau lau and kalua pig, as well as lomi salmon, poke, poi, beef stew, chicken long rice and pulehu chicken. Restaurant manager Tracy Yadao notes visitors also can find delicious desserts, such as house-made Okinawan sweet potato pie, haupia and Punaluu sweet bread topped with a yummy glaze on the buffet line.
“You can’t beat that price for all the local home-style Hawaiian food,” notes Yadao.
If you can’t make Pagoda’s Hawaiian buffet (only available on Fridays), do not worry, as the other buffets available throughout the week are just as satisfying.
After eating to your heart’s content, a kanak attack (extreme tiredness one feels after eating a good meal) surely will follow. So just sit back, relax and gaze upon Pagoda’s iconic fishpond filled with beautifully colored koi, moi, ulua, papio and barracuda, and in no time, you will be saying hana hou!
Before I go, I want to extend a huge shaka and mahalo nui loa to all the restaurants and farmers giving foodies like me the opportunity to eat local — you guys are da best!