Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: QuioraRestaurant Insider
June 19, 2022
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
ANNE LEE speaks with G.Lion Group Hawaii executive chef ERIC OTO
Eric Oto joined the culinary team at G. Lion Hawaii (the management group behind Hy’s Steak House, La Vie and Quiora) as executive chef this past May. He brings a multitude of skill sets he has mastered through his tenures in fine-dining resorts on Oahu. I jokingly refer to him as the luxury resort chef, but his humble roots and upbringing by his father is what inspired his appreciation for cooking.
From a young age, his dad taught him how to fish, garden and not to waste anything you take from nature, thus bringing an authentic farm-to-table approach to the menus offered at Quiora, LaVie, and The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach.
Chef Eric has recently introduced some new options to the Quiora menu, and invites Dining Out readers to head down to the restaurant to try them.
AL: How long have you been in the restaurant industry?
EO: I have been in this industry since I was 19, so 20 years now. I originally wanted to be a marine biologist, but my passion for fishing really brought me on to this career path. I enrolled into the culinary program at Leeward Community College. After I graduated, I interned with Sam Choy, then started at Halekulani when I was 20. I then was part of the opening culinary team at Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. Prior to joining G. Lion Hawaii, I was the chef de cuisine at The Kahala Hotel & Resort.
AL: What do you want to bring to the menu?
EO: My goal is to elevate the dining experience, being mindful where we source from, making sure that what we are getting is sourced in a way that we believe in, and keeping the identity to what Quiora is with Italian influence. When guests are traveling from all over the world, I want to be able to provide them with dishes that you can’t get anywhere else, to really highlight our local products, whether it is Hamakua mushrooms or locally sourced beef. I want to also incorporate local protein that has no antibiotics, steroids or growth hormones, such as pork from MountainView Farms. Not only does it taste good, but it’s also good for you. As a chef, I believe that we have a responsibility.We are literally the doctors that are prescribing what you eat when you order from our restaurants.
AL: Tell me more about some of the new dishes.
EO:We are offering a three-course prix fixe business lunch ($25). You start with a Tuscan Bean Soup (salad can be substituted upon request) and a choice of three different mains. The first is the classic Quiora Spaghetti, made with homemade pasta, and a tomato, onion, garlic and Parmesan sauce. Second is the Kaimuki Breadshop Panino. Our La Vie chef de cuisine, Patrick, has a great relationship with this bakery, and we are fortunate to be one of the restaurants that they sell their bread to. The third option is the fresh Catch of the Day. The meal ends with a homemade Balsamic-Strawberry Cheesecake.
The Kauai Shrimp & Lobster Ravioli ($39) will be new to the menu starting in July.You can order this as an upcharge for the prix fixe business lunch entrée for an additional $15. I wanted to incorporate something citrusy for the sauce, and a limoncello cocktail came to mind. I needed to choose something with a high proof, to extract the oils and lemon zest, and okolehao, an old Hawaiian moonshine, incorporates old Hawaii into this dish.
The Garlic Mushroom Medley ($14) is made with king oyster (aka Hamakua), alii, shimeji and maitake mushrooms, sautéed in garlic and herbs, splashed with sherry vinegar, and accompanied with a Sweet Land Farm chevre goat cheese and house ricotta spread.
At our sister restaurant, La Vie, Patrick will be doing a new tasting menu starting June 22. It’s a five-course tasting menu ($159) consisting of our favorite dishes that highlight local ingredients with French delicacies. Two of the items highlighted include the caviar and abalone course, featuring Kaluga caviar and Kona abalone, blanched, shaved thin and paired with ogo and local leeks. Then, Ispahan (a pink raspberry macaron cake), for dessert.
AL: For someone that hasn’t been to Quiora before, describe the experience that guests can expect.
EO: We’re excited to have the Hilton bringing fireworks on Fridays back. The open-air view at Quiora offers unobstructed views of the fireworks, ocean and Waikiki. It’s really beautiful.
It’s a casual comfortable setting, with live music offered 6:30-9:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays (call us for schedule, as it’s subject to change).You can dress up and have a girls’ night out, or come right from the pool in your coverup and have a great meal.
The food is elevated and priced very reasonably, and we offer complimentary valet service.
AL: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
EO:We will be doing wine dinners that incorporate a local product. We highlight the great things local farmers offer, what local fisherman catch. I want guests to be able to try everything. Sometimes when the portions are too big, and you’re on a date night, you order two dishes and you’re full. I want to be mindful by putting appetizers on the menu that are shareable, but you can order more to try.