Fish & Rice is worth braving Pālama Supermarket’s parking lot.
Find Ceviche and Brigadeiros on the New Menu at Off The Wall in Kaka‘ako
A new chef has expanded the Latin-focused menu with new and heartier fare.
Off The Wall is known for its pay-as-you-go wall of local beers, now accessible via a plastic key that helps you pull the taps without touching them. But the real upgrades are on its food menu. New chef Lane Yasuda has transformed the tapas-style bar menu into more of a gastropub experience, drawing on influences from South and Central America, where owners Tommy Kloosterboer and Jota Munoz are from.
Regulars will wonder about the fate of the best-selling beef empanadas ($11)—they’re still there, now filled with Big Island beef. What’s new is the ʻahi ceviche ($14), made with fresh lime juice, jalapeño, cilantro, red onion, cucumber and tomato topped with a roasted pineapple salsa. The ceviche has, bright, clean flavors, but you’ll be most addicted to the accompanying Okinawan sweet potato chips, which are made fresh in-house.
The new smoked guava pork bowl ($12) is popular, especially at lunch. It’s smoked pork belly tossed with chipotle guava glaze and pickled red onions on a bed of hapa rice, a contemporary twist on a local favorite.
The New York strip steak ($20) goes great with beer or wine, and is easy to pick on while you’re talking story. Oh yeah, and it’s delicious! The meat is cooked just so it’s tender, and the roasted garlic poblano aioli is a tasty, savory sauce. It’s not too spicy at all. And the slaw adds texture while helping you feel like you’re being healthy.
One of my personal favorites is the Off The Wall Burger ($16), which features Kualoa Ranch beef topped with smoked gouda, poblano, red onions, bacon, lettuce, tomato and bravas sauce (a spicy Spanish condiment, like creamy ketchup) all inside a sweet brioche bun. Every bite is moist, savory and cheesy. And the papas bravas are basically Spanish thick-cut fries, which are oddly addicting. In Spain, potatoes are cut up and served with that bravas sauce as pūpū, or tapas, but this interpretation works well.
Off The Wall’s Patagonian short ribs ($18) are cooked sous vide, which makes them melt-in-your-mouth tender. The ribs are piled atop roasted garlic mashed potatoes, then drizzled with chimichurri sauce, which—along with the blistered cherry tomatoes—balances out the flavors.
I saved this for last because I know people don’t think salads are very sexy. But one of the things I’m addicted to is the new quinoa salad ($13). I love the texture that the quinoa adds to what might otherwise be a basic salad, and the cilantro lime dressing magically pulls all the flavors together. Then every so often, you get the added surprise of the lightly crunchy candied walnuts. I liked it so much that I took a whole salad home for myself … yes, that’s how good it is.
Desserts include Brazilian pave (pronounced pah-vey, $12). Think of it as tiramisu’s sexier younger sister—layers of lady fingers with vanilla custard and strawberries, topped with whipped cream and sliced almonds. It’s light and just sweet enough to signal your taste buds that it’s the end of the meal. Brigadeiros ($10), considered the national truffle of Brazil, are made with cocoa powder, condensed milk and butter, all rolled in chocolate sprinkles. Yasuda rolls his in assorted nuts and serves them with raspberry coulis. These are great for the chocolate lover; I appreciated them even more because I tried to make them many years ago and found them to be too much work for the novice home cook. Leave the work (and the mess) to the pros!
Off The Wall is located in Ward Village’s South Shore Market, so you can park in the same building as TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Takeout is an option for both food and drinks; indoor and outdoor seating is available.
1170 Auahi St., (808) 593-2337, @otwhawaii