Eating Local with the Heeia Pier General Store & Deli
Continuing on my post about the Kanu Eat Local Challenge on Tuesday, I wanted to write about the quiet, small Island food renaissance going on. Daniel Anthony of Mana Ai shares the kalo gospel throughout the islands, and his pai ai (hand-pounded kalo) is showing up on menus all over town.
Now it’s at the little shack at the end of Heeia Pier that is giving new meaning to the term “Hawaiian regional cuisine.” Using locally grown produce—some of it from a neighboring kalo loi and Paepae o Heeia Fishpond, chef Mark Noguchi creates simple, flavorful plate lunches that are at once familiar and innovative.
The Culinary Institute of America grad is a Chef Mavro alumnus, and when he applies his knowledge and skill to humble ingredients and dishes, the result is a burst of flavor and color in his “hash” of corned brisket (Big Island-raised of course), kalo, palula (sweet potato leaves) and tomatoes (also from the Big Island), pictured above.
“I get a big charge out of it, it’s really going back to making do with what you have,” Noguchi says. “Today, with FedEx, chefs can get whatever we want. Here, it’s, ‘What do we have?’ It’s a challenge to make do with a limited number of ingredients.”
Since opening Heeia Pier General Store & Deli in May, Noguchi says everything has changed. “It’s like when you dance hula and you have to go and pick your own ti—you become hyper aware of your surroundings.” He’s now hyper aware of the provenance of everything that goes into his food.
When he needed a binder for his ahi hash, instead of using flour, he turned to kalo. “I steamed it, diced it, dried it, and created a sort of powder. The dish is now 100 percent local,” he says with pride.
Heeia Pier General Store & Deli, 46-499 Kamehameha Hwy; 235-2192; heeiapier.com.