Chris Kajioka: Last Days at Vintage Cave, Last Pop Up and Future Restaurant

Photo: Olivier Koning

July 31 is Chris Kajioka’s last dinner at Vintage Cave before Jonathan Mizukami takes over the kitchen. Mizukami comes straight from The French Laundry, where he’s been working for the last ten years and is currently a sous chef.

There are still reservations available at the Vintage Cave for Kajioka’s final two weeks, but you can also taste his food at his last pop-up at MW restaurant, which will be a collaboration dinner with chefs Mark Noguchi, Sheldon Simeon, Chris Sy, Michelle Karr Ueoka and Wade Ueoka.

Then, after this month, the next time you’ll see Kajioka is at the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, and after that, hopefully at his own restaurant. “Originally, I was going to take some time off,” he says, “and then a lot of people called and said, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ So I’m going to jump on with [the investor] I’m going to work with.”

He’s been busy scouting spots for his upcoming restaurant. Currently, he has his heart set on a 2,000 square foot space (he’s not giving more details, though, until he officially signs the lease). There, he hopes to integrate the kitchen with the dining room, to offer a tasting menu at the chef’s counter, and then serve more casual, family-style fare for the rest of the tables, similar to what he’s been offering at his MW pop-ups, hearty plates that have included everything from flatbread to ribs to a beef tongue torchon (the latter part of the “summer barbecue” dinner—what, your barbecue doesn’t always include a torchon?). 

“I’m kind of over fine dining,” he says. “It’s not what I like to eat when I go out. I want to cook food that everybody likes to eat and what I like to eat on my day off.”

Don’t expect this restaurant to open anytime soon, though. First, Kajioka’s going to spend some time in LA with chef Jeremy Fox of Rustic Canyon Wine Bar, then will help his mentor Mourad Lahlou of Aziza open a new restaurant in San Francisco.

$150 collab dinner July 29 with Chris Kajioka, Mark Noguchi, Sheldon Simeon, Chris Sy, Michelle Karr Ueoka and Wade Ueoka at MW Restaurant. Call 955-6505 for reservations.