Step Up to the Plate

November 11, 2018

Story By: Elima Pangorang | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO


There’s a new health craze of the moringa tree taking over the culinary world.

However, while it may be picking up speed around the country, many local residents might already know this crop, commonly used in Filipino fare, called “kalamungay,” or just “malunggay.”

Even if you are familiar with the leaves — used in dishes like chicken malunggay soup and mung beans — local renowned chef de cuisine, Eric Oto, of Kahala Hotel & Resort’s Hoku’s restaurant has tastefully put his own twist in implementing this “super food” in Kona Kampachi Carpaccio. It’s just one part of the eatery’s delectable new menu, among other palate pleasing items.

Hoku’s menu still breaks off into four categories simply known as the Fisherman, Farmer, Navigator and Voyager. Within each are fresh ideas that deliciously tantalize taste buds.

Oto is especially excited to introduce Local Fisherman’s Trio that, in addition to kampachi tartare and ama ebi, presents an indulgent, one-of-a-kind bite named, “pokesada.”

“I call it that because it’s spicy ahi that’s in a bread dough and then deep fried (like a malasada),” says the chef. “At first, people are like ‘What? That’s so weird,’ but when people eat it, it’s actually pretty good!”

Other options he points out are Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Salad, Mustard Crusted Kurobuta Pork Chop, Nori Butter Crusted Day Boat Scallop, Maine Lobster Carbonara and Mediterranean Spiced Half Chicken.

Part of Oto’s movement as chef de cuisine at Hoku’s is integrating locally sourced products found in each plate — some make up the entire dish and others have select ingredients.

Of special mention, he shares a recent connection with Kunoa Cattle Company.

“All of their cattle are 100 percent local and pasture-raised, meaning they’re not stuck in a pen. They said be careful when using the word ‘grass-fed’ because it could mean that a cow is still stuck in the pen, but fed grass pellets and claimed as grass-fed beef. But this one, they actually do free-range pastured beef,” he explains.

So for quality, freshness and exquisite eats while dining in an elevated, intimate atmosphere, be sure to make Hoku’s your next stop for an unforgettable meal.

Local is best

The moringa leaves are from David Wong who grows them at Mountain View farm in Waianae. Chef de cuisine of Hoku’s Eric Oto mentions Wong also sells it in powder-form, in capsules, which make up the green dust sprinkling the plate.

Just right

The kampachi from Kona, Big Island are thinly sliced then plated and topped with garnish from Ululoa Nursery and Mari’s Garden. Oto notes the added ingredients are subtle so as to preserve the integrity of the fish.

A refreshing bite

Moringa and alaea salts, moringa chimichurri, Maui onion, a hint of Fresno chile with a little bit of lemon zest and olive oil make up the added flavor in this dish.

Tickle me green

The moringa plant offers a plethora of health benefits. It can lower blood sugar and cholesterol, reduce inflammation and acts as a prime source for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Honolulu, HI 96816

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best