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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Duke’s Lane Market & Eatery

Restaurant Insider

August 23, 2020

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: MARK GALACGAC

ANNE LEE speaks with Basalt executive chef KEITH “STEEL” KONG and ABC Stores CEO PAUL KOSASA

Basalt and Duke’s Lane Market & Eatery celebrate three years in Hawaii, and I had the chance to sit down with Paul Kosasa, CEO of ABC Stores (which owns Basalt and Duke’s Lane Market & Eatery), and Keith “Steel” Kong, executive chef of Basalt.

I learned that ABC doesn’t mean “All Blocks Covered” or “Aloha Brings Customers,” which is the best they’ve heard to date. It actually doesn’t stand for anything. However, it’s been a segue into creating an open-air dining establishment and food hall/market in the heart of Waikiki.

AL: What do you think Basalt and Duke’s Lane brings to the Hawaii food scene?

KK: It brings an ability to offer lots of different things. We have had whiskey dinners, sake dinners, all the way down to traditional prime rib. Every recipe might have a little twist, a little signature. Everything is consistent and tastes right. I have a group of talented chefs that work alongside me: chef de cuisine Gary Matsumoto, sous chef Juan Wong and sous chef Maelani Iokepa. W\e are all born and raised here, and we want to cherish and honor everything we offer with aloha through our dishes to our customers, whether they are locals or visitors. We are fortunate, as we have had a local following.

Hawaiian Flatbread Pizza ($12.99)

AL: What does Basalt mean?

PK: It means volcanic rock. We wanted to tie in the concept of local food and morph cosmopolitan with international global. Hawaii is a huge melting pot, and the different types of ethnicities that make up Hawaii is what is incorporated in our menu.

AL: What other dining options are here at Duke’s Lane?

KK: Spitfire is the overall name of our casual eatery component, where you order your food, and grab a table or take it out. We are offering two new menu items at Spitfire. Hawaiian Flatbread Pizza ($12.99) includes a BBQ sauce base with kalua pork and roasted Maui pineapples topped with green onions and chicharrón. Lechon ($12.99), is a popular Filipino dish made with pork belly seasoned with salt, pepper, freshly chopped garlic and stuffed with lemongrass.

For the Basalt menu, we have Miso Black Cod ($29); Crispy Quinoa Shrimp ($14); and the third-anniversary Charcoal Macaron Trio ($10) dessert special in raspberry, mango and black sesame flavors. We are also known for our Charcoal Buttermilk Pancakes ($13) with guava-strawberry sauce, whipped cream and mixed fresh berries.

Mochi Malassadas ($1.49 each; prepackaged bags, $4.50 for three)

For Duke’s Lane & Market, popular items include Mochi Malassadas ($1.49 each) in plain, ube and mango flavors, as well as pre-packaged bags of mochi malassadas in Oreo or matcha are $4.50 for three; and Il Gelato Double Scoop Medium with Mango & Dragon Fruit ($6.49). Two signature drinks (both $4.99) are: Waikiki Sunset (blueberry, pomegranate, mango and butterfly tea) and Signature Milk Tea with Boba. Our bestselling item is the Herb Crusted Prime Rib ($27). We start serving it at 3 p.m. until it sells out!

AL: How has COVID-19 impacted your restaurant?

PK: This is the mother of all economic depressions.

Never have we seen anything this bad. Being able to have a plan is what we will get us through this; letting locals know that we have been here since day one and will be here. We haven’t closed, and we have been offering great food at great prices. When you are dining here, you are supporting a local business, which means you are supporting our suppliers that are also local businesses.

KK: We have a Duke’s Lane drive-thru curbside pickup. (place orders online at basaltwaikiki.hrpos.heartland.us/menu). For guests that dine in, we recommend reservations and the maximum is five guests per party. You can sign up for our email newsletter or check our website for weekly specials.

Expect drinks that are both pretty and tasty.

AL: What are your favorites?

PK: The Miso Cod is very good. I also like the Prime Rib, Chicken Adobo Wings, Ahi Poke, everything is good.

KK: Spicy Kampachi Poke. It’s not like any other poke you can get.

AL: Anything else you want to share?

PK: The best thing about developing Basalt and Duke’s Lane is redeveloping Kuhio Avenue. We want to make sure that our fellow restaurants also hang in there. Support your local establishments!

Crispy Quinoa Shrimp ($14)

KK: This is a casual restaurant with delicious food, where you can come in with your shorts and slippers, and kids and have a great meal in a comfortable setting. There’s validated parking at Hyatt Centric. We also offer daily drink specials: Manhattan Monday, Tequila Tuesday, Whiskey Wednesday, Tiki Thursday. Our happy hour is 3-5 p.m. daily.

I am so happy to see my team grow, and I like seeing our guests come in and enjoy themselves. This is rewarding; this is why I chose this path.

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