Powerhouse of FlavorCover Story
February 9, 2020
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
With a sustainable, farm-to-table approach applied throughout its alluring menu, Halekulani Bakery & Restaurant continues to attract diners.
The eatery, which couples an expansive bakery with a full-service restaurant, opened last October on the ground level of Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani; it represents the ﬁrst Halekulani-branded food-and-beverage outlet.
Chef de cuisine Aaron Furuto leads the pack, and has been part of the Halekulani team since 2005. Furuto explains that he coordinates with Tatsuhiro Kaneshiro, head baker for Halekulani from the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo and executive pastry chef Mark Freischmidt, who oversees the entire bread and dessert array for Halekulani and Halepuna.
“I try to use fresh farm-totable ingredients and add a local flair throughout the menu, and a lot of visitors and locals are drawn to our items because there are so many fresh products involved,” Furuto says. “As the sister company of the Halekulani, we carry that level of quality and service in a casual, approachable environment.”
The bakery and restaurant’s housemade breads elevate the dining experience. For instance, the restaurant has a vast repertoire that includes a pineapple jalapeno brioche that really packs multiple ﬂavor punches.
“With the fact that we have a bakery, it is important because it gives (us the) ability to add more depth in ﬂavor,” Freischmidt says.
Guests are encouraged to check out the superb lunch offerings within a contemporary boutique setting available daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. HB&R Burger ($22) features a half-pound Kunoa Cattle Co. Prime burger, lettuce, Kamuela tomato, red onions and pepper jack cheese. Additionally, there is maple bacon prepared in house with cracked pepper and chipotle garlic aioli. It is all squeezed between toasted taro brioche. This local favorite balances sweet and savory notes and is served with house-made potato wedge fries that are steamed then double fried for a crunchy exterior and ﬂuffy interior. Tonkatsu Sandwich ($22) includes panko-crusted center-cut pork tenderloin prepared in a house-made sauce between soft Japanese white bread. It is then coupled with Napa cabbage slaw and Asian dressing, or fries.
Kona Lobster Roll ($25) includes rich Kona Maine lobster paired with dill, tarragon, spicy aioli and Japanese sweet mayonnaise on a bacon brioche roll.
“The savoriness of the bacon, sweetness of the roll and the freshness of the lobster just comes together really well, I got lucky,” says Furuto when recalling his menu creation process that includes plenty of experimentation with sous chef Lenny Tokoro.
Halekulani Banh Mi ($22) is the restaurant’s take on the classic Vietnamese sandwich. In this, soy-braised Two Lady Farms local pork belly is accompanied by green papaya salad to add another element of freshness to the dish, which is served on toasted French bread along with a spicy cilantro dressing.
Cioppino ($32) is a seafood lover’s paradise as the “fisherman’s stew” is composed of Kauai shrimp, clams and mussels. Also in the batch is a catch of the day, which provides a buttery note to the stew along with saffron and tomatoes.
Set a Course for Valentine’s Day Dining
Just in time for Valentine’s Day on Friday, Halekulani Bakery & Restaurant is offering a special menu to help guests celebrate the momentous occasion. Th e Valentine’s Day Course Menu is available for $65 per person and starts off with Kualoa Oysters with cucumber, lime and Hawaiian chili pepper granita.
The next course features a salad composed of Hirabara mix greens, Sumida Farm Watercress with strawberry, mozzarella pearls and Balsamic vinaigrette.
Diners are then treated to an entree of Beef Wellington with cherry Port wine sauce and roasted seasonal vegetables.
The delicious meal wraps up with Strawberry and Lilikoi Frasier for dessert.
For more information, and to make reservations, visit halepuna.com or call 931-6673.