Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Off The Wall Craft Beer & WineRestaurant Insider
July 11, 2021
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
ANNE LEE speaks with Off The Wall Craft Beer & Wine executive chef JOSE REYES
Chef Jose Reyes has brought his Latin American-style cuisine to Off The Wall Craft Beer & Wine. With a modern twist on Peruvian, Mexican and French styles, his take on the menu is unique to Hawaii. I had the pleasure of dining with him and learning about his culture, passion and how he elevated this establishment’s menu into more than just a place for great craft beer.
AL: Tell me a little bit of your history and how you came to work at Off The Wall Craft Beer & Wine.
JR: I am originally from Puerto Rico. My wife is Filipino and her family lives here. We wanted to come to Hawaii and have been here for two years. Interestingly enough, when I met the owners of Off The Wall, I was thinking of moving my family out of Hawaii due to the uncertainty of what the pandemic created. There was a position opened for executive chef and I applied. When I met with the owners, it was like I belonged here. They loved my food and we have very similar cultural backgrounds. I have always wanted to be a chef since I was a little kid, and I am living my dream.
AL: Tell me about your style of cuisine and what you have added to the menu here.
JR: The menu items are a blend of Puerto Rican influence and what I have learned through the years. I didn’t start changing the menu right away. I was looking at how each dish was being made and if it was executed in the right way. I modified things that needed to be changed. Then, I added specials and watched the response from our customers: what was selling and what people liked. I wanted to learn the palate of our customer base, and that is what we are still doing now. Off The Wall is known for the craft beer selection, and we have seen customers that come in for the food that do not even drink.
AL: What is your inspiration for these dishes?
JR: There are many great chefs that we follow. There is a Mexican chef, Enrique Olvera; he is known for creating Mexican dishes in a fine-dining platform. There is a well-known chef Gastón Acurio, who actually brought Peruvian food to the world. I am a big fan of a French chef and restaurateur Joël Robuchon, may he rest in peace.
AL: What are the bestselling items and customer favorites?
JR: Beef Empanadas ($11); three pieces made with Spanish-spiced Big Island beef, potatoes, Spanish olives, onions, chimichurri and a side of citrus coleslaw.
Shrimp alo Macho ($18) topped with Peruvian yellow pepper sauce, sweet potato, tomato-yuzu relish and chili oil.
Mussels Ala Chalaca ($12), featuring five New Zealand green mussels with aji amarillo, yuzu tobiko and heart of palm.
The Off The Wall NY Strip Steak ($22) is beer-aged, topped with herbed butter and served with poblano au gratin potatoes.
Our Chocolate Mousse Lollipops ($10) melt in your mouth, and we add a side of salted caramel for dipping.
AL: What is your favorite food item to make?
JR: One of my favorite items to make, that I do not make too often as its very labor intensive, is pasteles.
AL: What do you see for the future of the restaurant industry?
JR: In my culture, every day is a celebration; it doesn’t have to be a holiday. Restaurants are able to provide a place to socialize with friends, loved ones and colleagues, and you will see more and more restaurants reopening. Also, with the demand for outdoor seating, we provide that option for customers.
AL: Tell me about your Sunday brunch.
JR: We have a Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a special menu. We have items such as waffle churros made with mochiko batter, doused in cinnamon sugar, served with dulce de leche whipped cream and caramel sauce; breakfast empanadas made with bacon, egg, cheese and salsa verde; brunch burger with guacamole, topped with housemade chorizo, smoked
Gouda cheese and a sunny side-up egg. And we have huevos rancheros.
AL: Anything else you’d like to share?
JR: This has been a learning experience. I get to create a menu with my style of cuisine. We are also looking to possibly expand and make it bigger.
You will hear a lot of laughter in the restaurant. Tommy and Jota, our owners, say that my laugh is infectious — you will always hear us laughing.