Hawaii Cheese Dishes
Ooey, Gooey Cheese: It stretches, it bubbles, it tantalizes you with warm, salty flavors. You know you can’t deny yourself the melting goodness of cheese. We found the 18 most irresistible cheese dishes in town. Here’s where to indulge.
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By Devany Vickery-Davidson, Lois Ann Ell, John Heckathorn, Tiffany Hill, Christine Hitt, Michael Keany, Kathryn Drury Wagner and Shannon Wianecki
An ooey gooey cheese dish at a Japanese restaurant? While it’s a rarity, look no further than Shokudo for its mouthwatering Mochi Cheese Gratin ($7.45). Bite-size mochi cubes are enveloped in mozzarella—lightly browned in the oven—and bathed in a light soy dashi broth. The dish is topped with green onion and nori. “This is one of my favorites—enjoy,” said the server as he placed the dish before us. We couldn’t agree more: It’s hard to tell where the mozzarella begins and the mochi ends. Ala Moana Pacific Center, 1585 Kapiolani Blvd., 941-3701, shokudojapanese.com.
The name says it all: beer-battered blue cheese-stuffed olives. These treats from the BLT Steak cocktail lounge are served warm and triple tangy. There’s the crunchy beer batter on the outside, the bite of big Spanish green olives, and the earthy undertones of the oozy, melted blue cheese. To top it all off, you can dip them in a spicy aioli. A generous portion is only $5 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily. Move over, fried mozzarella sticks, the world’s greatest cheesy bar snack has arrived. Inside the Trump International Hotel Waikiki, 223 Saratoga Road, 683-7440.
Rumfire has taken the basic quesadilla and upgraded it, local-style. Its seared kalua pulled-pork quesadilla ($12) begins with an improbable amount of kalua pork shoulder, smothered in a generous portion of pepper jack cheese, topped off with caramelized onions and jalapeños, and then toasted until it’s crusty on the outside and melty inside. Rumfire serves this with barbecue sauce, a fresh tomato salsa and fresh guacamole. If you’re sharing with others, we recommend getting the jump on your friends by skipping the first two toppings and just piling your slices with guac. The pork, warm pepper jack and creamy avocado combination makes for a heavenly mouthful. Inside the Sheraton Waikiki, 2255 Kalakaua Ave., 922-4422, rumfirewaikiki.com.
It’s in the appetizer portion of the menu, but Mariposa’s Blue Crab Grilled Cheese Stack ($12) is such a generous serving, you could make a light meal out of it. Big hunks of sweet crab marry well with the creamy, melted cheese, and a side dish of spinach-and-artichoke mustard, almost hummuslike in consistency, only adds to the sophistication. Should you feel bad enjoying such a rich, creamy dish, the petite pile of salad greens can assuage your guilt. Inside of Neiman Marcus, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., 951-3420, neimanmarcushawaii.com.
Formaggio Wine Bar
It was a wet, chilly night when we ducked into Formaggio, but we weren’t shivering for long—the classic French onion soup gratinée ($7.99) we ordered arrived at the table looking like a little bubbling cauldron, literally covered with Gruyere cheese. This is wonderfully comforting stuff—one of the best onion soups we’ve tasted, and the rich broth keeps the cheese melty until the last bite. At our server’s suggestion, we paired the gratinée with a glass of 2007 Bodega Lurton pinot gris from Argentina, and, by the time we scraped the last of the cheese from the dish, we didn’t care if it rained all night. 2919 Kapiolani Blvd., 739-7719, formaggio808.com.