Edit ModuleShow Tags

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.


(page 3 of 4)

Philip Wang tries to use as many local ingredients as possible, such as the scallops with tamarind-flavored creamed corn and asparagus at Merriman's Kapalua.

Photo by: Ryan Siphers

Merriman’s Kapalua

• Best New Neighbor Island Restaurant, Gold

Philip Wang, the executive chef of the new Merriman’s on Maui, always marvels at what the farmers deliver to the kitchen door. “Mother Nature is the artist,” he says. “I’m just the craftsman.” Wang, new to the Islands, appreciates the abundance of local ingredients. “I’m from Northern California, the ground zero for produce, and I’m surprised at the amount of local ingredients [we use],” he says rattling off a long list of Hawaii favorites such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, avocadoes, corn, baby turnips and fresh fish. 

Recently refining the winter menu, Wang reveals that the restaurant wants to cure its own salami and sausages and hang them in the wine room. Wang and Peter Merriman also are looking into incorporating farm tours, similar to the popular farm-to-table tour and dinner done at the Big Island restaurant. “We are ingredient-driven, top to bottom,” he says.


Formaggio Wine Bar

• Best Wine Program, Gold

Photo by: David Croxford


Those who think wine tasting is an esoteric experience should try Formaggio Wine Bar, where it’s about learning new things, enjoying good company and drinking great wine. “We make wine very approachable,” says Wes Zane, restaurateur and owner of the downtown and Kailua Formaggio. “We try to make it fun.” More than 50 wines are available, including 2-ounce tastes. However, the wine list constantly changes. “We have blackboard specials offering wines that [many customers] wouldn’t ordinarily be able to taste.” 

Forty bottles of mostly reds are stored with a cruvinete wine preservation system, which replaces oxygen with nitrogen inside the bottles. Among them is the Australian Shiraz, one of the most popular wines right now, says Zane. For those who want to learn more, master sommelier Roberto Viernes offers a monthly class. Of course, wine without food would only be half the fun; Formaggio also serves pizzas and paninis, ranging in price from $9.95 to $14.95.

Related articles:

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

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular Stories

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Subscribe to Honolulu

Honolulu Magazine May 2018
Edit ModuleShow Tags



Colin Nishida, Beloved Chef and Restaurateur, Leaves a Culinary Legacy

Colin Nishida

An entire community remembers the owner of Side Street Inn.


Closing of Popular Lanikai Pillbox Hike Delayed Until Further Notice

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

The state asks for public input as it works to repair the old concrete observation stations on the trail, commonly known as “pillboxes.”


First Look: Panda Dimsum in Kalihi

Panda Dim Sum

Frogs, hedgehogs and bees, oh my! This spot dishes up cute, Instagrammable dumplings.


Kaimukī Gets da Shop, a New Kind of Bookstore and Event Space

Da Shop

It takes guts to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the days of instant online gratification, but in da Shop, local publisher Bess Press has found a way to allow fickle/loyal readers to have their cake and eat it, too.


20 Great O‘ahu Hikes

Explore 20 great adventures that offer beautiful vistas, waterfalls and more.



Edit ModuleShow Tags