2019 Hale ‘Aina Award Winners: Senia Wins Gold for Hawai‘i’s Best Tasting Menu and Silver for O‘ahu’s Best Restaurant
Left to right: Rhubarb sorbet with coriander parfait; kampachi with pickled tomatoes, radish, jalapeño oil and tomato water; ginger-crusted sea bass with roasted sunchokes and sunchoke chips; bone marrow with fried parsley, beef cheek marmalade, Hawaiian sweet rolls and a selection of salts.
Octopus. Hamachi. Heart of palm. Every dish on Senia’s tasting menu is listed as a single, intriguing ingredient. It’s served one night and could be gone the next. And we love it.
When Senia opened in 2017, chefs Chris Kajioka and Anthony Rush offered the eight-seat chef’s counter tasting menu four times a week. They sold out. So, this summer, they expanded to six times a week. All six nights still sell out.
“We have some people who have their same reservation every month,” Kajioka says. “It’s become a big focal point of the restaurant, which is awesome because people are essentially just letting us cook for them.”
A kampachi and tomatillo dish.
The courses are always surprising, always intricate, driven by what the best ingredients are that day, whether it is strawberry guava foraged off a trail, or kampachi paired with pickled tomatoes in jalapeño oil and tomato water, followed by Mimi Mendoza’s well-finessed, and almost too beautiful to eat, desserts.
“People ask us all the time, ‘How do you come up with your ideas?’ It’s like, what do you do for work? How do you do that?” Rush says as an answer. “This is what we do. So, this is all I’ve ever done.”
Experimentation continues on the à la carte menu. Only three dishes have stayed the same since Senia opened: the poke cracker, charred cabbage, and bone marrow, which is served in a ceramic bone with an assortment of salts housed in a custom monkeypod board.
SEE ALSO: Is Restaurant Senia Worth the Hype?