Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: MW Restaurant and Artizen by MWRestaurant Insider
March 21, 2021
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
ANNE LEE speaks with MW Restaurant and Artizen by MW chefs/owners MICHELLE KARR~UEOKA and WADE UEOKA
After closing its doors at Hawaii State Art Museum last August, Artizen by MW just reopened at Velocity Honolulu on Feb. 13 — and valet service is available for diners! This week, chefs/owners Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka talk about the move and what to expect on the menu.
AL: What’s new at Artizen by MW?
M&W: During the pandemic, we changed MW over to takeout and developed a very efficient program. That is what we reincarnated into the Artizen space on the ground floor at Velocity. Our save-it-for-later (frozen line of foods) and our popular Bubu Arare Crusted Chicken Sandwich are things that we kept on the menu, as well as dinner options that we didn’t offer at the original Artizen location downtown. We created new menu items over the year, and kept the bestsellers and customer favorites.
AL: What is the concept behind Artizen?
M&W: Elegance in a more casual atmosphere and quality food showcasing local farmers. It still has that MW feel, but it’s a simpler concept.
AL: Now that you are open for dine-in, and MW Restaurant is scheduled to open in April, what can guests expect during their dining experience?
M&W:We learned so many things during the pandemic. We knew what would work well with our customers and carried those takeout meals over to our current menu. The location that we are in is perfect for residents living in the surrounding condos to be able to come and grab-and-go. We offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as beer and wine offerings. We are excited to offer weekend brunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., dine-in or takeout. We change the brunch menu weekly, and it’s updated on our website by Monday.
AL: What are some best-selling items and customer favorites?
M&W: For our Bubu Arare Crusted Chicken Sandwich ($16), we use the crispy rice balls as the crust and furikake mayo, thinly sliced onions, some cucumber sunomono, drizzle garlic soy sauce, and serve it on Michelle’s homemade mochi bun.
We also have the Ahi Dip ($10) served with a bag of won ton chips, and the Salmon Ikura Bowl ($14) served with local vegetable banchan and furikake.
The pastries we are featuring are the Tiramisu Bomb ($6) that is covered in Kau coffee with marscapone mousse. Also, our Rainbow Cake ($6), Butterscotch Banana Pudding ($6, served in a jar that you get to keep) and MW Valrhona Buttermilk Chocolate Cake ($6).
The Artizen Cookies ($7, six cookies) are very similar to grandma’s cookies, minus the nuts. We are also featuring Kula Strawberry Haupia Cheesecake ($6) and Blueberry Yuzu Scone ($3.50).
All the baked goods and desserts change weekly.
AL: What are new menu items available at MW and Artizen?
M&W: We kept the items that sold the best on our menu — it is basically the MW pandemic menu that is now available at Artizen. And, Wade will be launching an Arabiki footlong corn dog on the menu soon, so stay tuned.
AL: Tell me more about happy hour.
M&W: Our happy hour will be coming back sometime in May at MW Restaurant, with elevated bites, like a Wagyu Spam Musubi that we did for Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. This menu will incorporate more of Wade’s bar/comfort food items.
AL: What can people expect for libations?
M&W: We have a mixologist/ beverage director Jen Len, who is also a sommelier. She has made some amazing signature cocktails that will be available at MW. One is called Tangerine Dream ($14). It’s a sparkly bubbly cocktail with tangerine, Ho Farms cucumber, gin, St. Germain and prosecco.
The Georgia O’Keefe ($14) is a resemblance of the artist, topped with edible flowers, Corazon Blanco Tequila, serrano chili-infused mescal, a hibiscus honey, and a touch of muddled pineapple and lime.
Beet of Our Drum ($14) is golden beet-infused Haku Vodka. The golden beets are from MA‘O Organic Farms, with a little bit of absinthe and a 10-year Madeira, with a touch of honey and lemon, and splash of soda.
AL: What has been the most challenging thing you have faced in your career?
M&W: For Michelle, it’s been keeping up with the demand of the Chocolate Cake! We always want to keep learning and offer new experiences, without challenges or obstacles, you are not challenging yourself, we wouldn’t be able to grow and learn. That’s how we keep consistently evolving and staying relevant to our customers.
AL: Anything else you’d like to share?
M&W: We are so fortunate. When you share the same vision and goals with partners, there is renewed energy, and it’s about the collaboration. We are excited to share our new space with our customers; it’s a rebirth.