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The Pearl Restaurant, Leeward Community College's Big Surprise


The Pearl Restaurant at Leeward Community College is open to the public, at bargain prices.

Betty Shimabukuro

How this for some of this week's menu items?  Slow sesame poached salmon and scallops with arugula, roasted shallot and asparagus custard.   Torchon of rabbit and house-smoked bacon with creamy tagliatelle.  Warm Amaretto sabayon with fresh berries in an orange and almond tuile, with Tahitian vanilla ice cream.

Sound like the menu of a high-end Island restaurant?  Yes and no.  It's the food prepared by students in Culinary 223: Contemporary Cuisine, taught by Ian Riseley at Leeward Community College.

But it is a restaurant.  LCC has The Pearl, a good-looking 90-seat eatery tucked into its Pearl City campus, with windows overlooking the West Loch of Pearl Harbor.  The food is prepared by one class, and served by another, the students in Culinary 160: Dining Room Management.

It's open to the public, at lunch, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  And it's a bargain: appetizers at $5-6, entrees at $12-15, desserts at $5.  "It's the best deal in town," says Riseley.

Pearl StudentsRiseley (pictured here with his students) previously cooked at Halekulani, the Ritz-Carlton at Mauna Lani and at Niblick in Ko Olina.  "Is this like running a commercial restaurant?" we asked.

"Tougher," he says.  "We change menus every two weeks and the students rotate every week.  I have to have eyes in the back of my head.  It's challenging, but the students keep you young."

You'll need reservations for The Pearl, especially for next week's Spring Buffet lunches, priced at $21. 

The buffets at The Pearl are especially popular, so you may even want to the think ahead to the Easter Buffet, Apr. 27-29.

Additionally: If you're a supporter of culinary education, you may wish to attend LCC's Culinary Arts Scholarship Brunch on Sunday, Feb. 20, 7:30-11:30 a.m. 

Not strictly a Pearl Event, this brunch draws as many as 1,400 people to the LCC campus, where there will be entertainment, crafts booths, omelet stations and such fare as Kuahiwi Ranch beef with Ewa Sweet Onion gravy and Kalua pig and green onion hash.  $14 admission, and the money goes to fund scholarships to the LCC culinary program for local high-schoolers.  You may be funding the Alan Wongs of the future.

The Pearl, Leeward Community College, 96-045 Ala Ike Street, Pearl City, (808) 455-0475, or click here.

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