Why You Should Try Paris Hawai‘i’s Debut Menu Before October
Paris Hawai‘i’s debut prix-fixe menu, and its price, will likely change in the next few weeks.
Tarte Au Liliko‘i is one of three desserts offered as an ending to Paris Hawai‘i’s current prix-fixe menu.
Photos: Jennifer Mennella Fields
Dinner at Paris Hawai‘i isn’t just a meal, it’s an experience. Sitting at the chef’s counter you get a full view into the kitchen as Chef Yuya Yamanaka slices tako, sears fish and smokes meat as his team of sous chefs intricately plates the dishes you are about to eat. Right now, diners can try a prix-fixe eight-course tasting menu consisting of, as the name of the restaurant implies, local ingredients cooked with traditional French techniques.
Yamanaka grew up in Hokkaido, Japan, attended the Tsuji Gakuen Cooking and Confectionery College in Osaka then moved to Paris where he was a sous chef at Clown Bar. Andrew Habarer, the general manager at Paris Hawai‘i, tells me that while cooking in the city of lights, Yamanaka was actively recruited by Zetton Inc.—the restaurant group behind Heavenly, Goofy Café & Dine, Aloha Table and Zigu in Honolulu. It was the warm weather and surf that enticed Yamanaka to make the move, Habarer adds.
And sourcing ingredients from the Islands is a key part of the chef’s cooking.
“From a flavor and quality perspective, we benefit but the community also benefits,” says Habarer.
the hawaiian espresso
A prime example of this is the first course called Hawaiian Espresso. Kahuku corn is mixed with three simple ingredients: milk, water and salt. Boiled cornhusks and espresso create the foam that tops the beverage. Designed as a palette cleanser, each sip of chilled soup delivers an intense corn flavor—it tastes like nothing else is in your cup.
The second course is a single piece of Kaua‘i shrimp cooked sous vide that’s placed over an egg aioli and topped with house-made garlic butter. Seaweed dust sprinkled over the aioli gives the impression that the shrimp is lying on a bed of coral. The main notes are shrimp, garlic and butter, the ideal trio in this dish.
A piece of tako served with a dollop of house-made ricotta, homegrown basil and a slice of avocado lay the foundation for the next course. A tomato consommé is poured over, so each bite tastes like a play on a caprese salad.
PARIS ‘Ahi Poke
The next plate is what the chef considers the epitome of the taste and vision of Paris Hawai‘i. Titled Paris ‘Ahi Poke, it combines staples from French and Hawaiian cuisines: beef tartare and ‘ahi poke. Big Island beef that’s been slightly smoked and sprinkled with kukui powder sits on a layer of ‘ahi that is all served over a poached egg and lemon olive oil emulsion. Although this wasn’t my favorite dish, the meat did deliver an intense smoky flavor and the ‘ahi was high quality with a light taste of soy sauce.
Opah with Mānoa Lettuce and little neck clam
Next is sake-seared opah, which comes draped in steamed, seared and smoked Mānoa lettuce on a turnip leaf purée finished with lime juice. The lettuce has been smoked, adding a deeper flavor offset by the citrus and herbal element of the turnip leaf.
Maui Onion Soup
The Maui onion soup follows. There is no actual broth added; the water is extracted from pressure-cooked onions creating a deeply flavorful dish. It’s paired with a petite Parmesan and gruyère pastry. Drop it into the soup to melt the cheese inside.
My favorite dish of the evening was the chicken Pithivier, a traditional French dish of chicken wrapped in pastry. Paris Hawai‘i uses J. Ludovico Farm chicken accompanied by a sweet potato espuma —think sweet potato whipped cream—and a sherry vinegar stew sauce. The pastry was crisp and buttery, and layers of minced dark meat lined the pastry, infusing the chunks of white meat, so the filling was juicy, flavorful and memorable.
Big Island Beef with Sea Asparagus
The last course is a piece of Big Island beef that’s been cooked over kīawe wood and then grilled to finish. The steak is seasoned with salt, pepper and butter; this allows the smokiness from the wood to shine through. It’s perfectly cooked with a crispy char on the outside. The dish is paired with sea asparagus, which adds salty element.
At the beginning of the meal you have the option to select a dessert for an additional fee. I selected the Tarte Au Liliko‘i ($10), which featured liliko‘i custard topped with lemon meringue on one side and pure liliko‘i on the other (photo at top). It was tart, sweet and the perfect pairing of Hawai‘i and Paris to end the meal.
Yamanaka eventually plans to rotate the menu weekly. He’s had the current menu available since the restaurant opened in late August and expects that it will be available for a few more weeks. This eight-course menu costs $75 before tax, tip and accompaniments such as wine, beer or tea pairings which, like dessert, are offered at an additional cost. After the preview stage, the price is expected to be between $90 and $100. Currently, pūpū and cocktails are also available and Paris Hawai‘i hopes to eventually offer an à la carte menu.
Dinner is offered for 5:30 and 8 p.m. seatings; each can hold 26 guests. Pūpū and cocktails are available from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the bar.
Paris Hawai‘i, 413 Seaside Ave., 2F. Phone reservations are accepted between 3 and 11 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. (808) 212-9282, paris-hawaii.us