X

Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Chef Chai

Restaurant Insider

December 17, 2023

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

Chef Chai blends Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Filipino influences with French cooking techniques

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with friends and loved ones, and one of the special places to celebrate is Chef Chai at Pacifica.

Owner and executive chef Chai Chaowasaree is known for his award-winning island fusion, which blends Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Filipino influences with French cooking techniques.

In addition to his exceptional menu, Chaowasaree offers unique options for holiday gatherings.

On Dec. 21-22, Amy Hanaialii (ABOVE) will perform at Chef Chai at Pacifica, where her wine (RIGHT) will be served. Photos courtesy Chai Chaowasaree

I met with him to learn more about his holiday promotions and special events, including a wine dinner with Amy Hanaialii.

AL: Your gift card promo would make great stocking stuffers. What are the details?

CC: Our gift cards are perfect for your loved ones, especially now with our promotion: Buy $100 in gift cards and you’ll receive an additional $20 gift card for free.

Our gift cards have no expiration, so you can use them anytime. You can order online for an electronic gift card — the code is “CHAI23” — or come to the restaurant during business hours for the physical plastic gift card.

AL: Could you accommodate holiday parties during the day?

CC: Our Early Bird Menu with the special tasting menu is the best deal in town: five different appetizers plus your choice of an entree and dessert for only $55 (normally $75).

Our private room, also perfect for a party, can seat up to 26 guests, but there is a minimum of $1,800 to be spent on food and beverages.

We also have a special tasting menu created for our private room at $95 per person. We can accommodate large gatherings, minimum 70 guests. Call for details, and if we have the date available, we are happy to accommodate.

AL: Anything special for the holidays?

CC: We are offering a special set menu only for Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 — similar to our private-room menu — at $99 per person. Seatings are at 5 and 7:30 p.m. A credit card is required upon making the reservation, and a seven-day cancellation notice is required. It includes your choice of first course, an extensive list of entrees and a wide array of desserts.

AL: What is the fondest memory you have of the holidays?

CC: I enjoy preparing the restaurant for the holidays. Every year, I try to make it different, similar to my floral arrangements in my restaurant. I have had my restaurants for over 30 years and I still love to see guests leaving the restaurant so happy and hear how much they love the food and how beautiful our Christmas decorations are. I see many familiar faces, and everyone is like family.

AL: There have been some wonderful wine-pairing dinners this year. Will you be offering more in 2024?

CC: Yes. Our monthly wine dinner is a must for food and wine lovers. Each month we feature some of the best wines.

This month we want to support local and feature Amy Hanaialii’s Palehua brand. Enjoy a tasting menu with her award-winning wines, complete with an evening performance by Amy herself for two nights only — Dec. 20-21. Cost is $195 for food, wines and the show. There are only a few seats available, so call now to reserve your seat!

AL: What about your popular Full Moon Concert with Robert Cazimero?

CC: Due to popular demand, this event always tends to sell out and is such a treat for our guests. Robert, being the generous person that he is, will be featuring this event every first and third Sunday of each month. The same menu will be offered and the cost is $99 per person.

AL: Anything else you want to share?

CC: Another year has come to an end, and I want to thank you and wish everyone a very merry Christmas. We wouldn’t be here with the support of our local clients. Please do not forget to support your local restaurants, it’s been very challenging for many of us.

Be good, be safe, be happy and, most importantly, be grateful.

Ilima Awards
Hawaii's Best