Kakaako's newest pop-up venue: Taste

Now Playing: Taste, a pop-up venue, isn’t a restaurant itself, but a host to new concepts.


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Kaneohe hee salad with taro stems and smoked meat, by Mark Noguchi of Pili Hawaii and Taste.

photo: courtesy taste

Hamburger from Quinten Frye’s Cocina.

Photo: Rae Huo

Previous Engagements at Taste

Zaratez  Mexicatessen

Taste was a benchmark in the evolution of Zaratez Mexicatessen. Once an underground food business that made prearranged sidewalk burrito drops like drug deals, it graduated to a food truck, then a farmers-market vendor. During its run at Taste, Zaratez’s Taqueria Tuesdays became the most popular weekday event. Next stop? A fixed location on King Street that’s set to open this month. “Taste made me faster, more consistent … and it was a good chance to run my menu in a brick-and-mortar kitchen,” says Paul Zarate.
 

Petit Suisse Crepes

It turned out that Kakaako did not want to eat crepes for lunch. Petit Suisse Crepes flopped. But the story may have a happy ending yet. Since leaving Taste, it has rebranded to Holy Crepe! and relocated to a permanent cart on Kapahulu, where it gets much more traffic.
 

Boom Musubi

An EMT with no experience in commercial kitchens, Danny Lee set out to make a better musubi. Think of them as Spam musubis a la mode: Spam and rice topped with mochiko chicken and teriyaki soba noodles or grilled salmon and crumbled Tostitos. In the beginning, it took Lee 40 minutes to complete orders. By the end, less than 15. “We got to learn how the food industry works, what we need to do to make better food faster,” says Lee. By the time you read this, Boom Musubi expects to have its truck parked in the burgeoning Kapahulu food pod.

 

Current Features at Taste

Cocina

Salt chef and co-owner Quinten Frye digs into his Tex-Mex roots and serves up a refined take on braised brisket barbacoa tacos, chicken mole tortas (sandwiches) on housemade bread, and entomatadas, like enchiladas in a tomato-based savory sauce. Chefs, colleagues and food bloggers turned out on Cocina’s opening day, lending the hum of excitement that accompanies a new restaurant debut or movie premiere.
 

Miso and Ale

A cheeky pop-up that occupies spaces from Kailua to Kaimukī, Miso and Ale commits to a weekly schedule at Taste, offering “quickies” on your lunch hour, such as a chicken adobo meatball sandwich, Kowloon nuggets and fries, and candied pecan bacon bread pudding. Miso and Ale draws inspiration from any and everywhere: flavors from the south are tucked into a curried cornmeal catfish bao, proving Miso and Ale’s ability to think outside the bao.

From left to right: Nights at Taste; Onda Pasta's pasta.
 

Andrea Onetti of Onda Pasta.

Onda Pasta

Onda Pasta draws a crowd that reminisces about country dinners in Italy while lingering over bottles of wine (Taste is BYOB). It offers freshly made pastas with sauces such as a long-simmered beef ragu, local mushrooms, and version of amatriciana with bacon and tomato. Don’t forget dessert: light-as-air chocolate mousse.
 

Ono to go

If you want to try Ono to Go’s grilled plate lunches, you’re going to have to get there early. Some days, Ono to Go starts the lunch service with 40 pre-orders for its grilled short ribs, brown sugar chicken and Chinese-style opakapaka.

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