Hale ‘Aina Happenings: What’s New with Hawai‘i Restaurants in April 2014
This month: Nobu Waikiki, Monkeypod Kitchen, Cactus and Vintage Cave.
Lomi lomi wasabi salmon at Nobu Waikīkī.
There’s a new chef at Nobu Waikīkī—Matt Raso, who comes from Nobu Dallas. He’s introduced some truly luxe and decadent dishes, such as Hokkaido scallops served alongside kiawe-smoked foie gras, and Alaskan king crab leg roasted with a black truffle crust. Not to be outdone, head sushi chef Yoshio Ono, who helped open Nobu Waikīkī in 2007, has some new items, too: an onaga sashimi topped with a cucumber shiso salsa and lomi lomi wasabi salmon (above). Pair the food with bartender Kenny Lum’s new drinks, such as the Sour Monk, a frothy Chartreuse and pineapple cocktail.
Monkeypod Kitchen at Ko Olina debuts a weekend brunch menu that includes huevos rancheros, house made cinnamon rolls, pancakes, and of course, Bloody Mary’s and mimosas made with fresh-squeezed juices. To cap it off: half-price Champagne, cava and prosecco on Sundays! Because “if you order Champagne, you know how to have fun,” says beverage manager Jason Vendrell.
Saturday and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., monkeypodkitchen.com
This weekend, Cactus Bistro celebrates Cinco de Mayo and its second anniversary. The three day celebration serves enchiladas with kiawe-smoked mushrooms and nopales (cactus paddles harvested around the block); pork shoulder braised in a Oaxacan mole rojo, served with hominy puree; and fish roasted in banana leaves. There will be tequila flights and cocktails developed by Manny Hinojosa, who reps Corzo Tequila. On making the two-year mark, chef/owner John Memering says, “This has been anything but easy! … Have you ever tried to get a ‘townie’ over to Kailua on a Saturday night? I also knew that the concept and cuisine were tough ones … When we opened, people just didn’t get what we were trying to accomplish. Because we don't make nachos or serve really spicy food.” But he says he refuses to “dumb down” the food, and so far, it’s paying off.
Cinco de Mayo and birthday celebration at Cactus, May 2–5, cactusbistro.com
Chris Kajioka, a James Beard semifinalist who’s been garnering lots of national and local attention as the chef of Vintage Cave, is leaving the blank-check restaurant this summer. He’s leaving to spend more time with his newborn son and wife, as well as travel to stage (intern) at various restaurants, including Rustic Canyon, helmed by Jeremy Fox. Sometime down the line, he says he’d like to open his “dream restaurant,” a chef’s counter that allows him more interaction with diners. Apparently, it’s going to take four chefs to replace him, but Vintage Cave isn’t releasing the chef names yet. “I'm extremely humbled and grateful for the opportunity I was given, for the staff and Mr. Sekiguchi,” Kajioka says. “I’m excited to take some time, get inspired again and work on a restaurant I have been dreaming about for a long time.”