8 Delicious Lychee Dishes You Must Try Now Before Lychee Season is Over
Catch these fresh local concoctions in Honolulu.
This year’s especially generous lychee season inspired some amazing creations. And there’s still time to enjoy a variety of desserts, pastries and cocktails featuring this delicious local fruit. We’ve compiled a roundup to showcase a few of our lychee favorites around town, whether in fresh or liquid form.
1. Foie Gras Snow, The Pig and The Lady, $14
Photos: James Charisma
Is it an appetizer? Is it a dessert? This Frankenstein’s monster of flavor combining foie gras, fresh lychee, Thai basil, coconut and more can only be found at The Pig and The Lady. It’s terrifying to imagine anyone else attempting this delicious madness. Then add Haw flakes, the Chinese street candy red discs that come in little rolls of red discs, and top it off with foie gras “snow” shavings over the entire plate.
It’s a messy-looking dish, but the flavors are carefully balanced and nothing gets lost. The foie gras is salty and strong but, by dusting it over the plate rather than offering it in large pieces, it doesn’t become overpowering. The soft and juicy lychee plays well against the crunchy cooked coconut crumbles. Tough like granola, it acts as a speed bump, forcing you to slow down while eating and to savor the dish. The sweet Thai basil becomes the cherry on top. Lychee season or not, this dish should not be missed.
83 N. King St., 585-8255, thepigandthelady.com
2. Lychee Infused Martini, Doraku, $10 ($6 Happy Hour)
At Doraku Sushi in Waikīkī’s Royal Hawaiian Center, lychee is best experienced in cocktail form, with this signature Lychee infused martini. A bartender at Doraku reveals the hidden ingredient behind its “secret lychee puree” used for the martini: simply fresh lychee, which is exactly what it should be. Filled with lychee pulp, which creates a consistency similar to homemade orange juice, Doraku’s martini is strong on lychee and strong on the vodka—New Amsterdam is the well choice, but can be swapped with higher shelf selections. A solid way to start a night out on the town in Waikīkī; swing by for happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. to enjoy this cocktail for nearly half-off the price.
2233 Kalākaua Ave., #304, 922-3323, dorakusushi.com
3. Lychee Sorbetto, Restaurant Epic, $5
Served in a big goblet, Restaurant Epic’s lychee sorbetto is a generous mound of silky smooth sorbet filled with small squares of dried and diced lychee. The consistency is so creamy and thick, it feels more like frozen yogurt than traditional light sorbet, but this dessert isn’t dense. It’s also paired well with a sliced strawberry and mint leaves. Unfortunately, Epic’s sorbetto isn’t made in-house, but it’s the perfect complement to its lunch or dinner selections, and priced at a very reasonable $5.
1131 Nu‘uanu Ave., 587-7877, restaurantepichawaii.com
4, 5 and 6. Assorted Pastries, Fendu Boulangerie, $1–$5
Patisserie Fendu Boulangerie in Mānoa creates an assortment of pastries and bite-size dessert offerings built around a variety of fruits, including lychee. Owner and head chef Niel Koep’s popular lychee streusel danish is a favorite among customers; a twist on the original Danish recipe, Koep swaps in fresh lychee instead of the traditional apricots, and bakes the fruit with European-style Danish dough, light vanilla pastry cream and almond cream.
Fendu Boulangerie’s lychee caramel flan, introduced a few years ago, is also a hit: caramel creme infused with lychee in a small dish, topped with watermelon, kiwi and blueberry. For such a small fruit, lychee packs quite a powerful flavor; flan lovers be warned that the fruit dominates the caramel, rendering this dessert less like flan and more like a lychee custard. But don’t get us wrong: It’s still delicious.
Lychee is now also available in jelly form as one of Koep’s Pâté de Fruit, bite-sized jelly preserves sanded with crystallized sugar, created from pure fruit puree that has been heated, thickened with gelatin and cut into one-inch cubes.
2752 Woodlawn Drive, #5-119, Mānoa Marketplace, 988-4310, bakerieshonolulu.com
7 and 8. Lychee Déclinaison, Chef Mavro, $25
Part chef, part scientist George Mavrothalassitis, or simply “Chef Mavro” at his eponymous restaurant in Mō’ili‘ili, is always exploring new culinary territory with a constantly changing menu of multicourse meals according to the freshest ingredients that particular season. As the dessert finale to this summer’s menu, Mavro unveiled a lychee extravaganza: three expressions of the fruit combined for an unbelievable dish. This Lychee Déclinaison included fresh lychee, lychee sorbet and a lychee and hibiscus gelée, served with coconut foam and coconut pastilles, with white chocolate crèmeux, small pistachios, fennel accent and hibiscus reduction.
Chef Mavro’s Lychee Martini.
The dessert feels like a food adventure. Textures and temperatures vary from the unbelievably light and chilly, such as the airy coconut foam; to the more substantial chocolate crèmeux, similar to yogurt or heavy whipping cream; to the fresh lychee and gelée, jellylike squares and pieces of fresh fruit. Sweet, tangy and salty, the carefully arranged dessert mixes together after a few bites, but the flavors support one another well. With so many takes on lychee packed into one single dessert, this author expected to burn out quickly on the fruit, but the balance, quantity and preparation of ingredients was spot-on. Mavro has done it again.
This dessert is excellent as-is, but comes with an optional wine pairing: Maculan, 2013 Dindarello, Veneto, a full-bodied moscato with strong citrus elements, orange blossom and a solid companion to the lychee dessert.
And if you’re still thirsty for more, don’t miss one of Chef Mavro’s martinis–available in mango or lychee for the season, prepared with Grey Goose and a hint of St. Germain liqueur. Because if this list proves anything, it’s that although the summer season may be coming to a close, we could always go for a little more lychee.
1969 S. King St., 944-4714, chefmavro.com
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