New Restaurants Open on Oahu
New Releases: We check out three new restaurants, two big time, one better.
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For instance, how about fennel panna cotta with pickled slices of fennel stem and screaming green fennel puree? Or smoked white fish with purslane, a salty-sour green that’s usually considered a weed here, though it’s eaten around the world. Ozawa trades for it at artist Gaye Chan’s “Eating in Public” collective store.
Hardly the same old, same old.
Even things that seem familiar get a twist. The most mainstream dish on the menu is a meatball the size of a softball, made with Shinsato pork and Hawaiian red veal, stuffed with melted mozzarella, sauced with a thick tomato ragu that gets its wake-up-your-mouth from crushed red pepper oil and Korean chili threads.
Or even better, the “Buffalo” clams. Usually, you find clams steamed in white wine. These clam get cooked in beer, just beer, plus crispy bits of grilled duck confit, which add texture as well as meatiness.
Why “Buffalo?” Because the beer broth is hit with Frank’s Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce, which gave the original Buffalo chicken wings their addictive appeal.
One of my dining companions and I fought over the last of clams, chasing bits of confit around the bowl, complaining about how spicy it all was, and then immediately dipping in for the next bite. “There should be a law,” she said. “From now on, all bars should stop serving chicken wings and serve this instead.”
Not wild enough for you? How about this? Take a classic Bolognese sauce, veal, pork, a little pig’s ear because we are all head-to-toe diners these days. Add the spicy components of curry—star anise, cinnamon—and a restrained amount of Madras curry powder. Serve it with pappardelle and top it with fried curry leaves.
Yes, there is such a thing as curry leaves. They are leaves from a small tree that grows, among other subtropical places, at Mao Farms in Waianae.
You can have mahimahi, but the dish is really about Mao Farms organic carrots, a smoked paprika carrot puree with fingerling potatoes and a carrot mostarda, an Italian accompaniment usually made with candied fruit and a mustard syrup. Carrots are sweet enough to do the trick.
You can also have Hawaiian Red Veal, an inexpensive cut called veal breast, which explains how Prima can do a veal entrée for $23. Veal breast can be tough; it takes 24 hours of sous vide cooking to render it as tender as Prima serves it, with a slightly sweet Marsala sauce, mushrooms and Mao Farms famous kale, which in this preparation actually tastes good.