Hale ‘Aina Happenings: What’s New With Hawai‘i Restaurants in January 2018

New farm-to-glass cocktails at Bar Leather Apron, Senia hosts collab dinner with Seattle’s Canlis and M.A.C. 24/7 debuts new pancakes for January.
The Taketsuru Mash, a new farm-to-glass drink at Bar Leather Apron.
Photo: Catherine Toth Fox

New Farm–Fresh Cocktails at Bar Leather Apron

When Bar Leather Apron opened two years ago, it proved people would pay $16 for high-quality handcrafted cocktails—and without a full dinner.


SEE ALSO: First Look: Bar Leather Apron


“We’ve been busy,” says Justin Park, head bartender and co-owner, as he gets the bar ready for service this week.


This past November, Park introduced three new cocktails to the menu, all inspired by produce from local farms, namely Mari’s Gardens. The Taketsuru Smash ($16), for example, features micro red and green shiso from the farm, combined with Nikka Taketsuru pure malt whisky, yuzu, fresh lemon and club soda. It’s a cross between a classic smash and a highball—but with a farm-fresh twist.


And, in true Park fashion, he finishes the cocktail with an aromatic spritz of shiso water he made himself. So you can smell it while you drink it, he explains.


The other drinks on the farm-to-glass menu are the Mari’s Garden ($16), with Fords gin, fresh watermelon and cucumber juices, yuzu, celery bitters and club soda; and Farmhouse ($16), with Fords gin, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, mint, fresh lime and cucumber juices, and bergamot orange bitters.


The menu was inspired by a need for microgreens, which Park usually got at the wholesale club ChefZone. Instead, he drove to Mari’s Gardens in Mililani. It was the first time he visited the 18-acre hydroponics and aquaponics operation, and he was blown away. Now he goes twice a week, picking up whatever’s available and creating cocktails around that.


SEE ALSO: Yes, ChefZone is Open to the Public


“The idea behind the menu is to feature the produce,” Park says.


And, if you’re curious about the food menu, Bar Leather Apron serves a cheddar and salami plate ($12), nametake mushroom bruschetta with a truffle balsamic drizzle ($10), smoked salmon spread on rosemary crostini ($10) and a fire-roasted eggplant dip ($8)—all showcasing local ingredients.


745 Fort St., #127A, (808) 524-0808, barleatherapron.com


Canlis Collab Dinner at Senia on Saturday

What are the chances that about 10 staffers from the Seattle landmark restaurant Canlis—including the executive chef, the James Beard-award winning wine and spirits director, and mother of the owners—would all be in Hawai‘i this week?


Well, for some reason, it happened, and the result is a collaborative dinner at Senia this Saturday.


SEE ALSO: Is Restaurant Senia Worth the Hype?


Brady Williams, Canlis’ executive chef, has created an exciting dinner menu with Senia’s Chris Kajioka, filled with twists on Canlis classics including a grilled cabbage “Pierre”—a play on the restaurant’s popular Steak Pierre—and bone marrow toast.


“It’s our foods with heavy nods to Canlis of the past,” explains Williams, who’s on O‘ahu with his wife. (His aunt, uncle and cousins live here.) “We’re always looking forward but constantly checking in the rearview mirror. [The restaurant] is going into its 68th year, and it’s important to respect where you come from and respect your heritage.”


Take the classic seafood amandine. Williams and Kajioka are taking that old-school dish and using Big Island abalone and swapping in miso made with hazelnuts, making it more modern and place-based.


This dinner also brings home Nelson Daquip, the restaurant’s director of wine and spirits who helped Canlis win the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Program last May. The Hawai‘i native, who left Alan Wong’s Honolulu 15 years ago to pursue a career in Seattle, will be pouring at Saturday’s dinner. Williams himself was nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year.


“It’s really a homecoming for him,” Williams says. “Our families will all be there. It’s going to a lot of fun.”


Cost is $125 per person, 75 N. King St., (808) 200-5412, restaurantsenia.com


Pork Adobo Contest Winner Debuts on Mahina & Sun’s Menu

The three finalists in the pork adobo recipe contest in October 2017.
Photos: Courtesy of Aqua-Aston Hospitality


In honor of Filipino-American Heritage Month and the Family Ingredients episode with Hawai‘i chefs Ed Kenney and Sheldon Simeon, Mahina & Sun’s held a pork adobo cook-off, with the winning dish to be served at Kenney’s Waikīkī restaurant.


That dish—called the pork adobo bowl ($17)—is now on the lunch menu. It was selected by a panel of judges that included Simeon and Kenney. It features pork adobo, avocado, pickled mushrooms, sesame kale and crispy onions over hapa rice or organic greens.


Simeon, in the middle, judging the pork adobo dishes. The winning dish is on the lunch menu at Mahina & Sun’s now.


“We are a melting pot of cultural traditions and experiences and we want to make sure the food reflects that in our menu,” Kenney says. “Local people know great adobo and we wanted to find the best.”


The Family Ingredients episode with Simeon aired in October 2017 and can be viewed here.


412 Lewers St., (808) 924-5810, mahinaandsuns.com


Agu Ramen Bistro Adds Vegan Ramen

Agu Ramen Bistro introduces two new vegan ramen dishes.
Photo: Courtesy of Agu Ramen Bistro


New to the menu are two vegan offerings, crafted as a collaboration between Agu chef-owner Higashi “Teddy” Uehara and Vegan Hills’ chef-owner Megumi Odin.


The Kyushu-rooted Hakata ramen, which is normally served with a rich and creamy pork-based broth, now features one derived from almond milk and creamy miso. And the Sichuan tan tan ramen, known for its spiciness, will also have almond milk at its base, infused with chilies and tahini. Both bowls are $15.


Multiple locations, aguramen.com


Eating House 1849 in Kapolei Celebrating With Plantation-Style Fun

Eating House 1849 at Kapolei Commons is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a Plantation Pāʻina on Sunday, Jan. 28.


The event, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will include food and drink stations, lauhala weaving, Gyotaku printmaking, local farmers market booths, live music, and cupcake and cookie decorating.


On the plantation-inspired menu are hamachi takaki, poke, house-cured pipi kaula, pancit lumpia, Korean vegetable pancakes and more.


Cost is $40 for adults (includes two drink tickets), $20 for teenagers, $10 for children 12 and under. For tickets and info, call (808) 447-1849 or visit royyamaguchi.com.


New Pancake Parfait at M.A.C. 24/7


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Blow your new year’s diets on a new pancake dish at M.A.C. 24/7.


The Pancake Parfait is a seasonal short stack layered with granola, raisins, dried cranberries, sliced bananas, vanilla yogurt and whipped cream. It’s topped with fresh mint leaves and strawberries. Cost is $15 and available in January only.


2500 Kūhiō Ave., (808) 921-5564, mac247waikiki.com


Salt Bar Crawl Set for Jan. 20

The first Salt Bar Crawl of 2018 will feature California-based Firestone Walker Brewing Co.


Starting at 5 p.m. on Jan. 20, the crawl will meander through Salt at Kaka‘ako, with The Boiling Crab, Pitch Sports Bar and Hale ‘Aina winners Moku Kitchen and Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room all serving specially selected brews.


SEE ALSO: 6 Places That Are Making Kaka‘ako the New Foodie Destination


There will also be live entertainment by Kevin Okimoto and DJ Romeo Valentine.


691 ‘Auahi St., saltatkakaako.com