Eatery seamlessly balances ingredients and flavorsA La Carte
March 10, 2019
Story By: Don Robbins | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
Waioli Grill and Cafe on Kapahulu Avenue delights customers with its innovative spin on Japanese food. The restaurant starts as a healthy cafe in the afternoon and transforms into a cozy bistro at night.
Healthy lunches are served ichiju sansai style — meaning one soup and three sides — which creates a custom culinary experience for the eater. During dinner, the bistro offers wonderful seasonal items, teppanyaki style meats, fresh fish and more.
This establishment boasts a relaxed ambiance, which provides understated elegance. Among its features are light-colored wooden tables, plants along the wall and comfortable, cushioned booths with a modern design.
The restaurant offers a newly established happy hour Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. Pupus on the happy hour menu include items such as Chicken Namban, Agedashi Tofu, Tsukemono and other delicious items.
“All the items are a great deal,” notes Seiya Nakano, general manager.
The restaurant’s head chef has more than 20 years experience with Japanese cuisine, including teppanyaki style, which uses a griddle to cook meat and other foods. In addition, the chef knows how to take a large chunk of meat and carefully clean and prepare it for guests, Nakano shares.
Nakano also says that while many people primarily think of seafood and sushi when it comes to Japanese food, the meal choices at Waioli Grill and Cafe are more balanced, and they are excellent whether they include meat, seafood or other ingredients.
Some of the many flavorful items on Waioli Grill and Cafe’s dinner menu include duck, shrimp and tofu dishes. For example, there is the eatery’s version of Roasted Duck Breast ($18). This dish features carefully roasted slices of duck breast meat, with roasted green onion, yuzu and pepper.
Waioli Grill’s head chef has a great deal of experience preparing meat dishes, so he is able to cook the duck slices to perfection, leaving them a bit pink on the inside but crispy on the outside, Nakano notes. Ingredients within this dish are sauteed with duck-infused oil, which absorbs all the good flavors from the meat. Pairing green onion with duck is a delicious flavor combination popular in Japanese cuisine.
Another option for dinner is Kauai Shrimp Tempura ($16). This menu item consists of a medley of lightly fried tempura items, including shrimp, Brussels sprout, trumpet mushroom, pumpkin, zucchini and green onion.
Tofu Salad ($10) is an aesthetically pleasing creation. It features an artfully arranged bowl of endives, silken tofu, watercress, lotus leaf chips and nori, which are all seasoned with a house-special sesame oil dressing, dashi and vinegar.
There are so many fresh, inviting dishes available at Waioli Grill and Cafe that it has become many foodies’ favorite culinary destination in Honolulu.
Walk-ins are definitely welcome, although reservations are highly recommended.