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2009 Hale Aina Awards

Welcome to our 25th anniversary Hale Aina Awards, Hawaii’s oldest, most prestigious dining awards. In the following pages, you’ll meet this year’s winners, as voted by the subscribers of HONOLULU Magazine.


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Enjoy a fresh salmon tartare with crispy taro chips and a lemon dill cream sauce from Chai's Island Bistro.

Photo by: Linny Morris

 


Chef Yves Garnier of La Mer, winner of four Hale Aina Awards this year.

Photo by: Monte Costa

La Mer

• Best Hotel Restaurant, Silver
• Best Romantic Restaurant, Silver
• Best Service, Silver
• Best Ambiance, Finalist

For $160 a person at La Mer, you want perfection. According to its general manager Stephen Oyadomari, that’s what you get. “The ambiance is wonderful, we have constant training for our servers to provide excellent service and the food is trendy and exotic,” says Oyadomari. Exotic indeed. Yves Garnier, the chef de cuisine for 13 years, recently started cooking with iberico bellota ham, an acorn-fed pig from Spain. Spain only began exporting it this April, and La Mer is the only restaurant in Hawaii to serve it. 

“Chef Garnier’s dishes have become more and more experimental,” says Oyadomari, adding that the menu changes four times a year. “[They’re] not old school French dishes with heavy creams and sauces. He’s a neoclassical chef.”

 


Goran Streng's sauteed moi on tomato fennel coulis and ratatouille is a must-try dinner entree.

Photo by: Alex Viarnes


 

Tango

• Best New Oahu Restaurant, Gold

“Tango is a place where you can come and eat once a week, not just a special-occasion place,” says Goran Streng, the chef and owner. He attributes good food, easy access and no-hassle parking—adjacent to the Ward P.F. Chang’s in the Hokua tower— to the success of his restaurant, which won the Best New Oahu Restaurant, Gold. Tango serves an almost 100 percent local clientele, says Streng. “We get many repeat customers and ladies who lunch.” 

Location helps, but the real strength of Tango is Streng, who brings to the table Finnish culinary training and has worked at the Third Floor in the old Hawaiian Regent, Halekulani and the Ritz-Carlton Mauna Lani. Streng plans to expand beyond his regular dishes— such as grilled pesto-glazed salmon for lunch, or an 8-ounce plank steak with herb butter, cooked on a cedar plank, for dinner—to incorporate more fresh greens and fruit, and, for dinner, all new dishes with curry. He also hopes to start monthly wine dinners.
   

Related articles:

A Complete list of 2009 Hale Aina Award winners
25 Years of Hale Aina
2009 Hale Aina Awards photo gallery

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