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First Look: Stripsteak Waikīkī

Acclaimed chef Michael Mina opens his first restaurant in Hawai‘i at the International Market Place—and it lives up to the hype.


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Editor’s Note: This is one of the restaurants participating in the 11th Annual Restaurant Week Hawai‘i. For seven days, you can take advantage of special dishes, menus, promotions and discounts to showcase local chefs, farms and more with proceeds supporting the Culinary Institute of the Pacific. This year, the event is dedicated to Conrad Nonaka, CIPʻs director who was the driving force behind the programʻs expansion and a key supporter of the local restaurant and food industry. Nonaka died in June at the age of 68. 
 
Click here to read this restaurantʻs menu for the event and more information about Restaurant Week. 

 

New to the menu at Stripsteak Waikīkī are small plates, including the “Instant Bacon” (left), a Kurobuta pork belly topped with a tempura oyster. And there are plenty of seafood dishes, too, including scallops with Kaua‘i shrimp in a spicy red curry sauce.
Photos: Aaron Yoshino

 

Chef Michael Mina loves Hawai‘i.

 

Since first visiting O‘ahu 20 years ago, he started vacationing here with his family around four times a year, calling the Islands the “one place where I can unwind in a day. There’s really no reason to go anywhere else.”

 

He loves the food, he loves the people, he loves everything about the place.

 

So naturally, the James Beard award-winning chef, with more than 20 concept restaurants around the country, has always wanted to open a restaurant here. While he’s gotten close, it’s never worked out.

 

Until now.

 

Mina opened Stripsteak Waikīkī last week at the newly renovated International Market Place, his third and latest Stripsteak restaurant.

 

While it boasts the usual Mina characteristics—refined technique, impeccable service, high-quality ingredients—the Waikīkī one, helmed by Mina Group veteran executive chef Benjamin Jenkins, is a slight variation on the original concept. It’s still a steakhouse but with local flavors, smaller plates and healthier options. If this concept works, the other two Stripsteaks may see a change, too.

 

“I feel this is the trend of steakhouses,” Mina says.

 

Executive chef Benjamin Jenkins, left, with acclaimed chef Michael Mina at the new Stripsteak Waikīkī at the International Market Place. Jenkins, a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, first joined Mina’s team more than 15 years ago as a cook at Aqua in San Francisco.

 

And it’s a gorgeous steakhouse, situated on the third floor—the Grand Lānai—right outside the iconic, 160-year-old banyan tree. The 8,600-square-foot space offers both indoor and outdoor seating for up to 300 guests total with a lunch and dinner menu that features a bevy of local ingredients and, of course, quality steaks.

 

Just browsing the menu takes time. There are so many items, from substantial seafood towers that feed up to six people to hand-rolled makimono rolls with spicy tuna, yuzu salmon and shrimp tempura.

 

The small plates are a new addition to the steakhouse. There’s blistered shishito peppers ($12), found on many izakaya menus here but not like this: These come with watermelon carpaccio—just like it sounds—slivers of espelette pepper and daikon sprouts. The chilled lobster tacos ($21)—there are three to an order—feature bites of lobster with Maui Gold pineapple and a delicate avocado cream. And the “Instant Bacon” ($20) has already become a popular dish; the Kurobuta pork belly is topped with a tempura oyster and served in a dome that, when it’s opened tableside, releases hickory smoke. It’s a talker.

 

These lobster tacos feature Maui Gold pineapple and avocado cream—a refreshing and tasty start to the main meal.

 

A sampling of some of the raw dishes served at Stripsteak Waikīkī, including Ken’s Roll (top) with shrimp tempura, avocado, spicy ‘ahi, togarashi and eel sauce; fresh sashimi; and Michael’s ‘ahi tuna poke, with Asian pear and pine nuts.

 

One of the fun sides are these Tokyo Tots, tater tots topped with nori, bonito flakes and a yuzu sauce.

 

A stellar side, the creamed corn has a nice heat from jalapeño peppers.

 

The menu features the Mina musts—Michael’s Kona lobster pot pie ($95) and Japanese A5 striploin wagyu ($34 per ounce)—that are real splurges. But there are simpler—and cheaper—dishes, too, including the lemongrass-poached local fish with soba noodles and Ho Farms long beans ($38), free-range chicken with Okinawan potatoes and a Hau‘ula tomato curry sauce ($29) and Angus beef cuts that range in price from $44 for a 10-ounce prime flat iron steak to $69 for a 16-ounce bone-in New York strip.

 

Save room for dessert, trust us. The Dole Whip Float ($12)—Mina’s homage to the classic pineapple soft-serve—features pineapple sorbet with a nice balance of sweet and tart, tempered by yogurt sherbet and small yuzu macarons.

 

Stripsteak Waikīkī, International Market Place, 2330 Kalākaua Ave., 800-3094, stripsteakwaikiki.com.

 

Join us for a starlight soirée celebrating the culinary stars of this year’s Hale ‘Aina Awards! Dine on dishes from 12 top restaurants while sipping on cocktails and enjoying amazing entertainment, all under the stars at the luxurious Royal Hawaiian Hotel. For more information, click here.

 

READ MORE STORIES BY CATHERINE TOTH FOX

 

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