10 New Pau Hana Bites to Share at SKY Waikīkī
From lobster roll sliders to a bar salad that’s actually worth getting before the storm hits.
Yellowtail Ceviche at sky Waikīkī
photos: Katrina Valcourt
As Hurricane Lane closes in on the Islands, feel like you need a drink? SKY Waikīkī makes it easy to unwind after work, with signature cocktails (and mocktails!) so you can toast 20 stories above the city, just before you hunker down in your bunkers with cans of Spam. (Plus, parking is a cinch.)
This summer, Lance Kosaka, executive chef at SKY and Top of Waikīkī, and his team of kitchen and front-of-house staff debuted 10 new menu items to make you stay just a little bit longer. At a recent media sampling, we tried them all—except for dessert, which we’ll come back for.
Lobster roll sliders
Kosaka says the idea was to take dishes that are generally popular and interpret them in a unique way. So instead of shrimp scampi, you’ll find spicy garlic shrimp ($36); instead of a lobster roll, you get lobster roll sliders featuring Kona Cold lobster on King’s Hawaiian bread ($36). The yellowtail ceviche ($19), served sashimi style, uses a soy-sesame-ginger-garlic sauce instead of ponzu. And the king crab, along with shishito peppers and lotus root, is fried in a tempura batter and comes with a spicy-sweet chili aioli and kabayaki mayo ($39).
If you’re into seafood, these are all great choices, especially the lobster roll sliders. Kona Cold Lobsters is located on the Big Island and raises Maine lobster in nutrient-rich water from the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i, an alternative-energy company. The lobster chunks are flavorful and moist, enriched by soft and buttery King’s Hawaiian rolls. I could eat six of these, but there are only three per order.
I was excited about the Hokkaido scallops ($22), but they tasted too fishy for my liking, despite an intriguing Champagne-yuzu foam and sweet pea purée.
Caprese Grilled Cheese sandwich
My favorite of the new offerings was the caprese grilled cheese sandwich ($15), with house-made country bread, mozzarella, tomato, basil pesto and balsamic onions. It comes with a subtly spicy tomato sauce that I wish came in a bowl—I’d rather eat it like soup than a dip, which would make this a filling meal on its own.
But these dishes are meant to be shared, Kosaka says—which is why they’re called “social bites” on the menu—so prepare to order a few and figure out how to best split the buttermilk biscuit that comes with the crispy chicken wings ($16). One of our dining partners said he wanted to crawl inside it and eat his way out, it was that good. The wings are fine, double-fried and crispy, but it’s the house-made jalapeño jam that makes them worth ordering. I also really enjoyed the Grande short rib fajitas ($39), marinated with a spicy “K Pop” sauce and served with sautéed zucchini, squash and onion. Careful how much gochujang you slather on those tortillas—the flavor can overpower the meat and you’ll be chugging the rest of your drink to soothe the burn. Lesson learned.
And finally: I never order a salad when I go out—I get bored after a few bites of lettuce—but the citrus salad here ($16) is so full of bright, complementary flavors that each bite is something different, united by a light yuzu-ginger vinaigrette. “Sassy Greens” from MA‘O Farms, shaved fennel, orange, blood orange, pomegranate and mint combat all of the other fried dishes you probably just ate, so save this for last. You’ll feel better about yourself on the way home.
2270 Kalākaua Ave., 19th Floor, open 5 to 11 p.m. weekdays, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, closed Mondays, validated parking in the Waikīkī Business Plaza and Waikīkī Shopping Plaza, (808) 979-7590, skywaikiki.com