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Alan Wong Farmers Dinner with Richard Ha, Jan. 26


Visionary Big Island farmer Richard Ha will see his tomatoes featured in Alan Wong's Farmers Dinner, Jan. 26.

Courtesy Hamakua Springs

"I'm looking forward to coming over," says Richard Ha.  "You never know what Alan is going to do with our products."

Ha is the visionary farmer of the Hamakua Coast.  In addition to 450 acres of bananas, he raises vine-ripened and heirloom tomatoes, plus lettuces, green onions, watercress, garlic, bell peppers, cucumbers and melons, all grown hydroponically, under shade tents and not in energy-consuming greenhouses. It's an approach he calls "low-cost high tech."

In addition to saving sustainable ag, Ha would like to save the world.  He recently joined a group that's hoping to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries, envisioning a future where everyone on Oahu drives electric cars powered by Big Island geothermal energy.

But it's Ha's produce, which Alan Wong discovered in 1995, that's the focus of next Wednesday's, Jan. 26, Farmers dinner at Wong's King Street eatery.

Ha is flying over with his wife June.  Attending these dinners are an important experience for a farmer, he says.  "When you see your product in a restaurant, you realize your responsibility doesn't stop at the loading dock.  It reaches onto the plate.  Seeing that inspires farmers to reach higher and higher."

Wong's five courses are aimed at the locavore.  Big Island abalone and smoked North Shore tilapia with sea asparagus.  Kona lobster with Nozawa corn.  Onaga baked with yellow tomato confit made by Jeanne Vana of Big Wave Tomato. Even carrot cake with North Shore carrots.

The meat course is something Wong puckishly calls "Beef Tomato."  It's probably not the lunch truck version.  It calls for beef strip loin from Kuahiwi Ranch in Kau coupled with Richard Ha's beefsteak tomatoes, with a little jalapeño tomato sauce thrown in for good measure.

"Alan puts things together in unexpected ways," says Ha.  "I'm interested to see what that's like."

If you're interested as well, the five-course prix fixe menu is $80, $110 with wine pairings.  The regular a la carte menu will not be available that evening.

Alan Wong's Honolulu, 1857 S. King St., 808-949-2526 or alanwongs.com.

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