New: Mexican-Style Fries, S’mores Kouign Amann and More at La Tour Café
The casual eatery unveils new summer dishes at all of its five locations.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox
When the first La Tour Café opened on Nimitz Highway in 2011, it was billed as a casual eatery that served tasty French-inspired fare with Vietnamese touches. It featured easy to-go foods: ham and Gruyere panini sandwiches with roasted tomatoes on house-made sourdough, braised pork banh mi with pickled carrots and daikon, freshly baked flatbread pizzas topped with simple ingredients.
And, of course, there are those French macarons and kouign amann.
SEE ALSO: First Taste: La Tour Café, Honolulu
Every quarter La Tour’s corporate chef, Christopher Gee, creates a few new dishes to change up the menu—and this summer the items are definitely a departure from the café’s usual lineup. In a good way.
SEE ALSO: What Really Goes On At La Tour Bakehouse
Starting this week, La Tour’s five locations (Iwilei, ʻĀina Haina, Pearl City, Kapolei, Kāneʻohe) offers four new dishes: elote fries, summer watermelon salad, mahimahi Caesar salad and a Korean barbecue flatbread pizza with jackfruit.
Let’s start with the dish everyone at a recent media tasting raved about. The elote fries ($9.90) combines two of my favorite things: Mexican street corn and fries, smothered in a cotija and sour cream sauce with jalapeños, cotija cheese, red onions, fresh cilantro and crispy garlic. It’s eat-with-your-hands messy and delicious, one dish we’ll definitely add to the addendum of our list of favorite fries from the June issue of HONOLULU Magazine.
The flatbread pizza ($13.10) was a surprise to me. It’s entirely vegan—yes, no cheese—and substitutes pieces of the protein-packed jackfruit for “meat.” It works because the shredded bits of fruit actually resemble chicken or pork, and since it’s brined, pan-fried and tossed in a tangy Korean barbecue sauce, you can’t really taste it. (Jackfruit’s not for everyone.) The pizza is also topped with mushrooms, avocado, red onion, tsukemono and sesame crunch for texture. Gee added the flatbread pizza because of growing requests for vegan, vegetarian and paleo dishes. Trust me, you won’t miss the meat or cheese on this flatbread.
The watermelon salad ($12.90) is a refreshing mix of local greens, chunks of watermelon, cotija cheese, grape tomatoes, red onions and cucumbers, tossed in a vinaigrette made with black vinegar, an intensely dark and nuttier vinegar popular in East Asia. It balanced the sweetness of the watermelon and tomatoes and added a nice complexity to the salad.
There are no leafy greens in the mahimahi Caesar salad ($16.90). Instead, Gee uses crunchy pea shoots and haricot verts to create the “bed of greens” on which the pan-fried fish lies. There are a lot of textures and layers in this dish, from enoki mushrooms to sunflower seeds, and the inclusion of the mahimahi makes this a very filling meal. Another reason to try it? Portions from the sales of this dish will benefit Leadership in Disabilities & Achievement of Hawai‘i, a nonprofit founded by parents to help children with disabilities.
La Tour Café offers monthly specials on its popular macarons and kouign amann, and this month’s flavors are perfect for summer.
The s’mores kouign amann is exactly what it sounds like: a flaky pastry filled with gooey chocolate and topped with marshmallow cream that’s torched. It really captures that campfire vibe. The macaron flavor is apple pie, fitting for this Fourth of July weekend.
Various locations, latourcafe.com
Bring the family down to the Best of Honolulu Festival July 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Honolulu Hale civic grounds. Eat at ‘ono food booths, shop local designers in the marketplace and bring the family to the keiki zone for face painting, balloon animals, rides, games and more. For more information, visit honolulumagazine.com/bestofhonolulu.