New: SHOR at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki



The seafood tower at the Hyatt Waikiki's new SHOR restaurant. Lobster, crab, oysters, bliss.

John Heckathorn

As we reported in February, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki is in the throes of a $20-million renovation, mainly to its third floor restaurants.

The first, SHOR, had its grand opening last night. The concept is simple. One of six in the Hyatt chain, SHOR is, well, a steak and seafood grill. 

Still, it's a solid contemporary version, with pleasant outdoor seating along the Hyatt's third floor lanai (below left). Framed in the picture window of the bar are the palm trees along Waikiki Beach.

The opening was quite a party. Champagne flowed, and Southern Wine & Spirits' Chandra Lam (below right) was shaking up lilikoi mojitos. 

Hotel general manager David Lewin gave an ebullient speech of welcome. "We're getting there," he said, pointing to the construction wall across the lanai, where Ciao Mein is now being turned into a PacRim/sushi restaurant called Japengo, finished (I'd guess) by this fall.

The night, however, belonged to SHOR. The kitchen began to send out iced seafood towers ($60): lobster tail, crab claws, mussels, Fanny Bay, Steller Bay, Miyagi and Kumamoto oysters. Plus, little side dishes of crab meat, poke and ceviche with mussels and calamari.

I could have quit right there, but of course, we were just getting started.

Next was a warm watermelon and yellow tomato salad with feta from Maui's Surfing Goat Dairy. 

Followed by the main event: stuff off the grill.

SHOR, of course, has fish (monchong that night) and steak (a tender filet mignon). But tipped off by executive sous chef Jeff Szombaty, I ordered the chicken. "We really worked on it, to make it something special," he says.

Oh yeah. The roasted half chicken is the least expensive entree on the menu ($28) but it's rubbed with Espelette peppers, a mild red chili that's the foundation of Basque cuisine. "It tastes somewhere between chili pepper and pimento," says Szombaty.

The gimmick at SHOR is that you can choose your own seasoning for any of the entrees (12 choices) and sauce (eight choices). Since the kitchen was turning out dinner for 150 invited guests, it did the choosing for the opening dinner.

The chicken (below left) was hit with espresso-flavored salt and rested atop a spicy mango barbecue sauce. It just sang in your mouth, crispy and spicy on the outside, moist on the inside.

And it came with a mini cast iron casserole of truffled mac-and-cheese! 

"Nine cheeses," said Szombaty. "Sharp and extra-sharp cheddar, Muenster, Parmesan, Gruyere, Pecorino, Swiss."  He pretended not to remember the last one, but finally admitted: "Velveeta.  We didn't want to do it, but it just didn't taste right without it."

Was this good?  The friends at my table, who'd overlooked the chicken in favor of more upscale entrees, took one look and pleaded for a casserole of their own, since, after one bite, I was disinclined to share. 

"Mmmmm, truffles," said one friend, when hers arrived.

There was dessert (also after-dinner drinks and cigars) in the newly refurbished Regency Club. After all this, including both Peju merlot and Talbott chardonnay with dinner, I could barely indulge. I resisted almost everything, but succumbed to a scoop of buttered popcorn ice cream. If you go, order it.

SHOR is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, 2424 Kalakaua Ave., 237-6145, www.shorgrill.com
 

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