Dream teamCover Story
July 25, 2021
Story By: Lianne Bidal Thompson | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
When Halepuna Waikiki was in the infancy of its planning process, it was decided to add a touch of its sister property, Halekulani, to the destination. The result: Halekulani Bakery & Restaurant, the hotel’s first branded entity outside of Halekulani.
“We envisioned creating an outlet that would center around our one-of-a-kind pastries and exquisite baked goods,” states Bonnie Bise, public relations manager for Halekulani and Halepuna Waikiki.
“With our baked goods, we could hone in our bread pairings with specialty sandwiches, and the concept eventually transformed into a separate plan for a bakery/ café, in addition to a casual restaurant with an emphasis on local, indigenous foods.”
The eatery is helmed by an impressive culinary team comprising executive pastry chef Mark Freischmidt who has led the team at Halekulani for the past 11 years and head baker Tatsuhiro Kaneshiro, whose tenure at Imperial Hotel in Tokyo has afforded him top-notch culinary bonafides.
“Another key team member is chef de cuisine Aaron Furuto, who has roots both on Oahu and Hawaii Island. He currently leads the restaurant’s culinary team after previously working at Halekulani’s Orchid Restaurant,” Bise adds.
The vision is clearly paying off. Kamaaina and visitors have found fast favorites in the Pan au Chocolat ($5) and two newer items: the Salted Caramel Croissant ($5) and the Pabana Croissant ($5). Patrons are encouraged to find their own favorites among the bakery’s classic offerings of croissants, cinnamon rolls and of course, the freshly baked breads and baguettes.
The bakery’s takeout menu has also been expanded to include signature lunch items including the Halekulani Banh Mi with Soy Braised Pork Belly, Papaya Salad, Spice Cilantro Sauce on a French Bread ($18), Grilled Jidori Chicken with Apples, Pickled Onions, Brie and Roasted Garlic Aioli on Sourdough ($18) and the Kauai Shrimp Salad with Mango Vinaigrette ($16).
A beautiful and delicious best-seller is the Warabi & Opai Salad with Soy Vinaigrette ($16). Presented like an intricate lei on the plate, this dish is an example of Furuto’s prowess with elevating island dishes.
“(The salad) was an inspiration by chef Aaron’s grandmother, (it) includes local warabi (fiddlehead fern), opai (dried shrimp), local greens and whole farm tomatoes,” Bise explains.
“Chef de cuisine Aaron Furuto has mentioned that in Hawaii, we are fortunate to have such a vast assortment of locally grown items — from beef, poultry, seafood, vegetables and fruits. We are able to select the freshest ingredients here in our own backyard and help support local communities.”
Halekulani Bakery & Restaurant is open for takeout from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily. Reservations are not taken at this time, however, there is outside seating for patrons and validation is provided for customers for the first hour.