Page 4 - Dining Out - June 20, 2021
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The latest — and always exciting — endeavor to come out of local chef and restaurateur Chai Chaowasa- ree’s creative mind is KALO: Hawaiian Food by Chai’s, a local-centric fine dining experi- ence found at Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach. It opened back in May in Spada Bar & Restaurant’s previous spot and, according to Chaowasaree, a line was out the door before advertising their debut.
“Everyone says, ‘I can’t believe this ... This is genius because we have no Hawaiian food in Waikiki,’ ” Chaowasaree says. “We just thought we’d just try it out first, but on day one, there was a long line — so we’re doing great. We can’t believe it.”
At the heart of the restaurant are intentions
to do Hawaiian food right. For the most part, the entire menu — which features classics like Ahi Limu Poke (locally caught ahi, ogo seaweed, onion and Hawaiian sea salt) for $15 and Beef Stew (slow-cooked beef with potatoes, carrots and tomatoes), also for $15 — features cuisine we all know and love in the way it was intended to be made.
“I think one thing people always know about us is that we always respect the food to its culture,” says Chaowasaree. “We are not just doing this for commercial reasons. If we’re doing Hawaiian food, we want to make sure we represent Hawaiian people well. Local people know, for us, it’s all about quality. When you walk into Chef Chai’s, you see beautiful decor, nice silverware and great service. It’s the same
thing when you walk into KALO — but it has a Hawaiian feel; we used a lot of Hawaiian art on the walls and it’s also made with a rich wood. It has a lot of elements in there to make it feel Hawaiian, but modern, warm and welcoming.”
Chaowasaree adds that, although the food is created conventionally, how it’s served is anything but.
“Most of the time, when you go to a Ha- waiian food restaurant, it’s cafeteria-style in plastic containers, like plate lunches, but we present it differently.We use china, silverware and glasses, so we elevated Hawaiian cuisine and made it more high-end.”
On the small plates menu, expect Kalua Pork ($15) and Laulau ($15) — which features kalua pork and fish wrapped in a luau leaf — as well
Sous chef Keala Perreira- Layman, owner and chef Chai Chaowasaree, and chef de cuisine Brandon Boyd welcome visitors and locals alike to KALO: Hawaiian Food by Chai’s in Waikiki.
as quintessential sides like Lomi Salmon ($8) and Poi ($8).
Of the most popular — and highly rec- ommended from the chef himself — is the Short Ribs Pipikaula ($22), which is essen- tially a marinated and dried Hawaiian-style beef jerky.
“We use big short ribs, almost an inch thick, and we dry-age it,” notes Chaowasaree. “When you bite into it, it’s so flavorful.”
Meanwhile, his main entrées include the best of the best: a Hawaiian Signature Sampler ($45), which comprises pipikaula, kalua pork, ahi poke, chicken long rice, lomi salmon, poi and steamed rice; as well as Hawaiian Style BBQ Chicken ($35), served with fresh pineap- ple relish and steamed coconut-ginger rice.
  4 / Dining Out / June 20-26, 2021

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