Martin Wyss and Remembering the Maile Room




Martin Wyss and Wayne Hirabayashi for the upcoming "Hoku's Remembers the Maile Room"

"Oh, now I'm more for show than for cooking," says Martin Wyss, beloved for the Swiss Inn, which he opened in 1982 and closed almost 20 years later. Before that, he opened the Maile Restaurant in the Kahala Hilton. As part of the Kahala's 50th anniversary festivities, the hotel is bringing Wyss back for a "Hoku's Remembers the Maile Room" event on Friday, April 4, and Saturday, April 5.

But Wyss says a heart attack, stroke and open heart surgery have put his cooking days behind him. "They put me in charge of three items," he says, "but they're doing all the work. I kind of feel bad about it."

Still, it means he gets to catch up with old friends, and, even if he's not as hands-on as he used to be, the celebration menu will carry the Maile Restaurant influence. Here's the six-course menu:

  • Tomato gelee "cannelloni" with Dungeness crab and sauce aurore
  • Terrine of foie gras and truffle, beef jelly, citrus and toast points
  • Marinated salmon confit with fennel cream and poached quail egg
  • Keahole Maine Lobster Thermidor, Hamakua mushroom and asparagus
  • Grilled sirloin, lemongrass butter, beef jus
  • Crepes Suzette, frozen chocolate ganache, Grand Marnier, grapefruit ice cream

It's priced at $196.40 per person (for the year the Kahala opened) and includes wine pairings.

Wyss' legacy and classic dishes also live on at Cafe Hibiscus … in Portland. Wyss' daughter, Jennie, used to work as a nurse and would make the Swiss Inn's popular salad dressing for her co-workers. She kept getting bigger and bigger spaces to make it until, "as a byproduct, she has a restaurant now," Wyss says. "It was just by accident. I told her she was stupid—what she makes in one day as a nurse is what she makes in the restaurant in a month. But she seems to like it." Cafe Hibiscus took its menu from the Swiss Inn, with potato rosti and spaetzle, but this isn't the same Swiss Inn from Niu Valley—this one also serves vegan dishes and sandwiches. How Portland.

But don't try going to Cafe Hibiscus for the first two weeks of April. Jennie is in Hawaii now, visiting her parents, and may even turn up at the Kahala dinner.

$196.40, Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5 at Hoku's. Call 739-8760 for reservations.

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