Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Stage restaurant

Restaurant Insider

August 21, 2022

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

ANNE LEE speaks with Honolulu Design Center creative director JULIA SØRENSEN SHAW

Stage restaurant offers a beverage-focused tasting experience every second Thursday of the month. Traditionally, these tastings feature wine, but the month of September is the Kubota sake tasting from Asahi-Shuzo Sake Brewing in Japan — there will also be a sake specialist from Japan to pour the different sake offerings.

Hamachi Sashimi with Asian Slaw, Spicy Ponzu

When executive chef Ron de Guzman prepares the menu, his intention is to have the featured beverage shine. This tasting menu consists of seven courses with one-of-a-kind Kubota sakes you cannot get anywhere else. I asked creative director Julia Sørensen Shaw to join me with chef de Guzman to sample the dishes and learn more about what’s new and exciting at Honolulu Design Center.

AL: What is your role here at Honolulu Design Center?

JSS: My role is kind of a bit of everything. My husband and I moved back to Hawaii about four years ago, not having a specific role in mind. We are both artists; I’m an artist and he is a photographer. By watching my father, Thomas Sørensen, in his everyday role in the company, we figured out how we could elevate things even more with our creative backgrounds. We have a very unique property, curated art, award-winning restaurants and a huge furniture showroom. We took photographs of every piece that we have and incorporated this inventory into our website, making this a more accessible e-commerce platform for customers to be able to shop online. Most of the art you see here that we have for sale, we curate and make.

Misoyaki Grilled New York Striploin

On the food and beverage side, I’ve come to find that not as many people have been to our Stage Restaurant, and when they do come to dine, the consistent feedback is, “This is the best-kept secret!” It is a fine-dining establishment and a great place to come to enjoy exquisite cuisine prepared by award-winning chefs in a unique atmosphere. Amuse is our wine bar and we serve lighter fare, perfect for pupus with your friends after work. We have over 80 different wines on tap and handcrafted cocktails.

AL: Tasting Thursday ($100 per person) is Sept. 8 featuring Kubota sakes. Can you tell me more about this series?

“Ochazuke” Big Glory Bay Salmon with Furikake Risotto, Hariharizuke

JSS: Tasting Thursday is a tasting experience based on the different wine selections selected by top sommeliers paired with delicious family-style tapas prepared by our executive chef Ron de Guzman. In this case, for the Sept. 8 event, the sakes were selected first and then chef curated the menu around these beverages. There will be a sake specialist coming from Japan to elevate this experience. This is a great way to meet and learn with some of the most knowledgeable people out there and try the food.

If there is a certain variety that interests your palate, there will be an opportunity to purchase these special sakes that evening. If you go to our website, and click on inhouse events, we update the information on what the next series will be and other events that may be happening.

Fried Shishito Peppers with Spicy Mayo, Katsuoboshi

AL: What will be on the menu?

RD: I created the dishes that would pair well with the sake, so more Japanese-influenced dishes. The seven courses are:

• Hamachi Sashimi with Asian Slaw, Spicy Ponzu

• Fried Shishito Peppers with Spicy Mayo, Katsuoboshi

Soy Braised Pork with Soy Mustard Scallions

• Mentaiko Toast with Housemade French Bread; this is something we regularly have on our menu

• Spicy Ahi with Won Ton Chip Avocado Puree, Kabayaki, Tobiko

• “Ochazuke” Big Glory Bay Salmon with Furikake Risotto, Hariharizuke

Mentaiko Toast with Housemade French Bread

• Soy Braised Pork with Soy Mustard Scallions

• Misoyaki Grilled New York Striploin

Spicy Ahi with Won Ton Chip Avocado Puree, Kabayaki, Tobiko

AL: What do you see for the future of your restaurants?

JSS: With the pandemic, there were changes that we had to implement and now that we are able to have events, such as our Tasting Thursday, we couldn’t be able to do it without our amazing hard-working staff. We recently changed our menu, which makes it more family style. This makes it easier for our guests to try more than one dish. You order your protein, then side veggies, etc. Every night we offer two specials that are not on the menu; these are curated by chef Ron and what ingredients are available to him that are unique.

We are going to start a local art-inspired curated dinner series and the first one is scheduled for October (exact date TBD), during which three local sculptors will be sharing their pieces of art placed on each table and describe the uniqueness of each piece that will also be available for purchase. At the end of the dinner, there will be a performance aspect to the evening; it will be a ticketed dinner and show.

1250 Kapiolani Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814

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