Appreciate these alluring appetizersA La Carte
March 15, 2020
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
For a truly convivial happy hour in handsome surroundings with some of the tastiest pupus in town, head for Chef Chai at Pacifica Honolulu.
A master of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, legendary chef/owner Chai Chaowasaree offers a satisfying menu of appetizers each day from 4 to 6 p.m. in his restaurant’s lounge area.
Domestic beers are offered for $3, imports for $4, house wines and cocktails for $5, and cosmo, lychee and apple martinis for just $8.
Chaowasaree is delighted to report that Fresh Oysters on Ice with Lemongrass Garlic Mignonette ($10 for six pieces) features seafood raised on Oahu’s Kualoa Ranch.
“In the past we used Kumamoto oysters,” he explains. “The Kualoa oysters are medium-sized with a bigger cup than the Kumamoto, so the meat is a bit larger. It’s very creamy and sweet, not salty at all.”
A half-dozen are presented with the special lemongrass mixture, made with lemon juice, chili, garlic and fish sauce.
“People always tell us they’re the best oysters they’ve ever had,” Chaowasaree reports with pride.
Chef Chai’s new Hamakua Mushroom and Black Trufﬂe Risotto Cakes with Tomato Coulis ($10) are colorful and refreshing, a lovely vegetarian dish.
Similar to crab cakes, they’re fragrant with garlic, shallots, leeks, Hamakua mushrooms, truffles, Parmesan and fresh herbs, pan-fried and served over fresh tomato coulis.
When Chaowasaree talks about his Spicy Suicidal Chicken Wings ($8), it’s with a little chuckle and a bit of a warning. At the heart of his recipe is the piquant sauce, made with sambal chili, Thai chili pepper, honey and vinegar.
“After the wings are cooked, we toss them in the sauce, then coat them in crushed peanuts and cilantro,” says the chef.
The fiery wings are served with sweet, slightly tangy, Granny Smith apple coleslaw.
“It cuts the heat,” Chaowasaree says. “The wings are very spicy. If you don’t like spice, ask for the sauce on the side!”