148 Restaurants Will Feature Dishes With Local Ingredients During Localicious

Local ingredients will be showcased on the menus of 148 restaurants statewide, with proceeds benefiting ag education.
Chef Roy Yamaguchi served U-10 sea scallops with ume honey, blistered Kahuku corn and Maui onion pohole fern poke at the launch event last night at ChefZone for Localicious Hawai‘i, a monthlong campaign that highlights restaurants that support local agriculture. Yamaguchi’s restaurants, Roy’s Restaurants and Eating House 1849, are participating this year.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox


You have to eat.


So why not eat and support local agriculture?


That’s the goal behind the annual Localicious Hawai‘i campaign, a monthlong culinary event that highlights restaurants that source locally while raising money for agriculture education in schools. The program starts on March 1. (HONOLULU Magazine is a silver sponsor of this event.)


This year—the campaign’s third—148 restaurants across the state will offer a special dish during the entire month of March. For every dish ordered, the participating restaurant will donate $1 to the Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation’s Veggie U program, a national nonprofit that supplies classrooms with garden kits. Each kit will encourage students to develop an appreciation for growing food while teaching them about math, science, health and language arts. Currently, 113 fourth-grade classrooms in Hawai‘i public schools have garden kits and curriculum received through the Localicious Hawai‘i campaign.


James Beard Award-winning chef Alan Wong came up with the idea to link the Localicious Hawai‘i campaign with the Ohio-based Veggie U program. He remembers being a fourth grader at Kīpapa Elementary School when the band from Wahiawā Intermediate performed at his school. It left such an impression on him, when he got to seventh grade, he chose band over art.


“I chose band because I saw it,” says Wong, the chairman of the Localicious campaign. “Hopefully, kids [who participate in Veggie U] are made more aware of how things grow … and, in seventh grade, they’ll enroll in ag and become future farmers.”


Russell Hata, chairman, president and CEO of ChefZone, and chef Alan Wong at last night’s launch event. ChefZone is a sponsor of Localicious Hawai‘i and wong is the chair of the campaign.


Participating restaurants that raise at least $500 will be eligible to adopt a fourth-grade classroom. The goal for the program this year is to raise $50,000. Last year the campaign drew nearly $44,000.


Hula Grill Waikīkī adopted five classrooms last year, and chef Matt Young has seen the value in the life lessons Veggie U has provided to these students.


“Each time we visit with the kids,” Young says, “we try to educate them on how important it is to support our local farmers and our economy.”


Veteran farmer Dean Okimoto explains the importance of supporting local agriculture and exposing kids to farming at last night’s launch event. 


That’s never been more important than now, says Dean Okimoto, Hawai‘i Agriculture Foundation board chair and veteran farmer. The impending closure of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. sugar operations on Maui this year, which will result in the layoff of hundreds of workers, is yet another loss to the state’s agriculture industry. The idea of sustainability is really starting to hit home, he says.


“It is even more critical today to support local farmers, fishermen and ranches,” Okimoto says. “People need to start looking at what agriculture brings to this state and, if they want more sustainability, they must really start committing to buying and supporting local ag production.”


Okimoto adds that 85 percent of all farms in Hawai‘i cover two acres or less, and more than half of them won’t survive without support from restaurants and consumers.


“Without agriculture,” he says, “I don’t know how a society survives.”


Most of the participating establishments are on O‘ahu, but there are some on Hawai‘i Island, Maui and Kaua‘i, too. Among them are are 12th Ave Grill, Alan Wong’s Honolulu, Grondin French-Latin Kitchen, Kaimukī Superette, EAT Honolulu, The Pig & The Lady, Orchids, MW Restaurant, Side Street Inn, BREW’d craft pub, Honolulu Beerworks, Koko Head Café and Hōkū’s on O‘ahu; Moon and Turtle, Merriman’s Waimea and The Three Fat Pigs on Hawai‘i Island; Migrant Maui, Ka‘ana Kitchen at Andaz Maui and Kō on Maui; Gaylord’s and Eating House 1849 on Kaua‘i; and all Zippy’s locations across the state.


A sample of Localicious dishes includes a seafood flan with Kaua‘i shrimp, Kona abalone and local eggs from MW Restaurant; a Nalo Farms salad with Kahuku sea asparagus, sweet ‘Ewa onions, hearts of palm, Ho Farms tomatoes and a miso-lime vinaigrette from Hula Grill Waikīkī; and the popular lūʻau stew from Mission Social Hall & Café, made with freshly caught fish seared tataki-style on crispy-fried pa‘i‘ai with sliced grape tomatoes, hōʻiʻo ferns and limu.


For a complete list of this year’s participating restaurants, click here. Call ahead to confirm specific dishes as menu selections may change throughout the month.


March 1 to 31, participating restaurants across the state, localicioushawaii.com, hawaiiagfoundation.org, veggieu.org