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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• Best Bistro/New American cuisine, Gold
• Little Restaurant You Love, Gold
• Best Oahu Restaurant, Silver
Living up to its name, the restaurant’s owner and executive chef Alan Takasaki says he’s working on new bistro-style dishes, such as Colorado lamb meatball spaghetti, Kobe beef ravioli and beef stew with red wine. “We want to add items that are a little more accessible…and something you come here a lot for,” says Takasaki, who opened Le Bistro seven years ago. Keeping in check with the tight economy, dishes will be friendlier on the wallet, too. “We’re in the same boat as everyone else, but we’re happy with the support of our customers.” That’s something that his customers, mostly East Oahu regulars, can get excited about.
Hamura’s Saimin Stand
• Best Kauai Restaurant, Silver
It all started in 1951, when Aiko and Charlie Hamura opened a saimin stand in a former Army barrack. The fourth-generation noodle shop is still going strong with the Hamuras’ great-grandchild, Nick Barcial, the current co-owner. Barcial has been working in the noodle shop for as long as he can remember. “It’s pretty much been the same all these years,” he says.
He must be doing something right, because the shop won several esteemed awards. But to the Hamura clan, pleasing long-time customers is most rewarding. “It used to be only locals [who ate here],” says Barcial. “But now we get a lot of tourists through word of mouth.”
The most popular dish? The special saimin, says Barcial, with vegetables, luncheon meat, roast pork and, of course, fresh noodles made in his great grandmother’s house before dawn. For Oahuans, it’s the wonton mein. “Most places on Oahu don’t make that,” he adds. Barcial also pumps out 40 to 50 lilikoi chiffon pies a day for dessert.