Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Hoku’s

Restaurant Insider

October 30, 2022

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Anne Lee, and The Kahala Hotel & Resort executive chef Jonathan Mizukami and commercial director Lyle Uehara

ANNE LEE speaks with The Kahala Hotel & Resort executive chef JONATHAN MIZUKAMI

There are exciting things happening at The Kahala Hotel & Resort. Executive chef Jonathan Mizukami added a few new touches to the tasting menus at Hoku’s, and there’s the Huakai Chef Series, during which some of the best chefs in the world are invited to collaborate with him on a one-of-a-kind dinner. And, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, chef Jonathan also talks about the coveted Kahala turkey to-go box.

Fish and poi (part of the eight-course grand tasting menu, $200)

AL: Can you tell us more about the Huakai Chef Series ($350)?

JM: The word “huakai” in Hawaiian means “to travel, voyage.” My goal was to bring the best chefs to Hawaii that many of us may not have access to. I have been fortunate to have worked with the best in the industry all over the world, and these are the chefs that I have invited to collaborate on a menu for our guests.

Coconut oil-poached Keahole lobster (part of the eight-course grand tasting menu, $200)

Saturday, Nov. 12, is our first dinner with chef Mathew Peters. He and I were both sous chefs at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry, and he left such a great impression on me. He then went on to be the executive sous chef at Per Se New York. What makes him even more exceptional is that he was the only American to win gold at the Bocuse d’Or, which is the most difficult culinary competition in the world. It’s a big deal to have someone of his stature to be a part of this dinner, not only for our guests but also for our culinary team to see the different techniques.

This menu has six courses; some are individually prepared and there’s one we collaborate on, a throwback to the style of how we worked together at The French Laundry using sourced ingredients that are available.

Smoked Hudson Valley Foie Gras (part of the four-course tasting menu, $124, $15 extra)

Chef Mathew wanted to work with aged tuna, so he made the Aged Hawaiian Big Eye Tuna course. It’s fun for him to come to a different place and use local ingredients. When chefs travel to different places, they become inspired and the ingredients become part of their repertoire. He is also bringing a taste of where he is from (Austin, Texas) to us with a chicken dish created from a milk-fed heritage chicken, which makes the bird fatter. The Poulard En Brioche course features True Bird Farm’s milk-fed chicken that’s wrapped in brioche and dipped in lye.

Alba White Truffles with hand-cut angel hair pasta (part of the four-course tasting menu, $124, $90 extra)

For the full menu and reservations, go to opentable.com or call 808-739-8760.

AL: What is new with Hoku’s tasting menus?

JM: For the four-course tasting menu ($124), here are the some of the dishes we are featuring:

• Starters: Smoked Hudson Valley Foi Gras ($15 extra) is made with roasted Maui Gold pineapple, Kahaluu coconut chutney, toasted macadamia nuts and Laie vanilla jus. This is served tableside and the presentation is unbelievable.

Grilled Japanese A-5 Wagyu (part of the four-course tasting menu, $124, $82 extra)

• Appetizer: Alba White Truffles with hand-cut angel hair pasta ($90 extra) comes with Mountain View Farms moringa, Parmigiano-Reggian and 4 grams of shaved Alba white truffles.

• Entrée: Grilled Japanese A-5 Wagyu ($82 extra), featuring Kula romaine, Ho Farms tomatoes, spinach panade and bone marrow vinaigrette.

The eight-course grand tasting menu ($200) is selected by me. It has fish and poi, Regiis ova caviar, smoked marlin, scallion salad and jellied Hamamura tomatoes, to name a handful. There’s also coconut oil-poached Keahole lobster with car rots from Oprah’s farm and fresh coconut cream. A vegetable grand tasting menu is also available. Wine and elevated wine pairings are available for an additional charge.

AL: Truffle is seasonal but a large part of the dishes you make. Tell me the uniqueness of each truffle.

JM: Our truffles are provided by the same source as The French Laundry. I enjoy using truffles in dishes as it’s a true essence of fine dining, luxury and indulgence.

Right now, the alba white truffle is in season until December, and these are hard to come by. The aroma of the white truffle is intoxicating. White truffles, which are the most expensive, are not used in cooking as the aroma will disappear. Instead, you shave this on to the dish and enjoy the aroma.

Then there are the black truffles. Perigord black truffle from France and Australian black truffles are the best. When you cut these two open, the center is black and the taste is very strong. These you are able to cook with. Then there is a Burgundy truffle and the summer truffle, which are both black on the outside, but when you cut them open, it’s light on the inside. The texture is more bumpy and not as strong in flavor.

AL: What makes The Kahala’s Thanksgiving turkey to-go ($550) unique?

JM: It’s a fresh free-range, non-GMO turkey that serves six to eight. It also has my family’s Portuguese stuffing recipe that’s been passed down for generations. There’s a green bean casserole with truffle, garlic mashed potatoes, salad with lemongrass vinaigrette, pumpkin bread pudding with anglaise sauce, coconut shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate, butterrolls,lavash and more. You also receive a special gift of the homemade spice to enjoy. They sell out so preorder online at kahalaresort.com.

Honolulu, HI 96816

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best