An ocean of flavors

Cover Story

October 1, 2023

Story By: Dining Out Team | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Waiolu Ocean Cuisine executive chef Yoshi Ohata

Waiolu Ocean View Lounge first opened in 2009, highlighting Pacific-inspired cuisine with modern-style plating. It served tapas in a family-style setting. In recent years, the concept has been reimagined and the name has changed to Waiolu Ocean Cuisine. The restaurant now features fresh seafood enhanced with local ingredients.

The October special is a four-course Lobster Tasting Menu ($105), which features Black Bean Lobster Ravioli, Popcorn Lobster Salad, Lobster Risotto and Orange-Lilikoi Bread Pudding. To enhance the experience, a sake flight pairing is also available for $30.

Maine Lobster Risotto and Tristan Cold Water Lobster Tail, part of the Lobster Tasting Menu ($105)

Executive chef Yoshi Ohata and assistant director of food and beverage Edlyn Watabayashi share with Dining Out what Waiolu Ocean Cuisine has to offer guests.

DO: Are there any elements that make Waiolu Ocean Cuisine stand out?

EW: Sophisticated, open-air dining in a Forbes five-star hotel with unpretentious service and a fantastic view of Friday night fireworks. We like to think we are Waikiki’s best-kept secret.

Waiolu Ocean Cuisine interior

DO: Are there any unique items on the menu?

YO : Our Kona Kampachi “Ochazuke” ($42) is a play on a traditional Japanese comfort dish. The kampachi is pan-fried and served on a jalapeño risotto cake with aromatic maitake mushrooms, charred greens and garnished with micro mizuna. It is accompanied with a seafood broth that is poured into the dish just before serving.

Kona Kampachi ($42)

DO: Do you have any favorite ingredients or styles of cooking that you have incorporated into the restaurant’s cuisine?

YO: On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, we expand our sushi offerings with fish and seasonal items flown in from Japan’s Toyosu Fish Market. These include fish like toro (fatty bluefin tuna), and my favorite: akamutsu (blackthroat seaperch).

Popcorn Lobster Salad

DO: What are some of your bestselling dishes?

EW: One of the dishes is Miso-Roasted Black Cod ($40), featuring a yuzu miso glaze, bok choy, pickled onions, wasabi mashed potatoes and a ginger scallion pesto. There is also the Seared Hokkaido Sea Scallops ($43) with black rice alongside snap peas, hon shimeji mushrooms, coconut curry, lime and pickled chiles. Finally, the Rise of the Phoenix Roll ($31), which includes red crab, smoked salmon, ahi, hamachi, avocado, yuzu aioli, aji amarillo and a kabayaki sauce.

Orange-Lilikoi Bread Pudding

DO: What should guests know before visiting?

EW: We are open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays through Sunday. We are closed on Mondays.

Black Bean Lobster Ravioli

We have a Sunset Hour menu available from 4 to 6 p.m. and live music on Sundays from 5 to 7 p.m. Reservations are recommended for dinner, especially on Fridays. We offer complimentary four-hour valet parking with validation from the restaurant.

223 Saratoga Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best