Hale ‘Aina Happenings: What’s New with Hawai‘i Restaurants in January 2021

A special vegan dish, a new dinner menu at a favorite neighborhood restaurant, what you’ll eat at our third exclusive Hale ‘Aina dinner, reopenings and a Valentine’s Day dinner to book now.


12th Ave Grill & DeliCafé Starts Dinner Service

12th Ave Grill Dinner Servicekabocha Gnocchi Photo 12th Ave Grill

Kabocha gnocchi. Photo: 12th Ave Grill & DeliCafé



From the moment this neighborhood institution reopened with new chef Mauro Gramuglia at its helm, we’ve been curious to see what he would add to the dinner menu. Now we know. The newly named 12th Ave Grill & DeliCafé launched its new menu right before the holidays with Gramuglia’s hand-cut pastas, house-made burrata and terrine at the center. For those of us with nostalgic memories of battling for the few happy hour counter seats in 12th Ave Grill’s original location, where Koko Head Café sits now, there is still baked mac ’n’ cheese, the smoked ‘ahi spread and lamb burger. But now, a scallop crudo and sacher torte make for intriguing additions. And, as Frolic’s Kelli Shiroma Braiotta would say, oh those fries! Night owls beware, dinner service ends at 8:30 p.m. or earlier.


Dinner service is 5–8 pm. Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday; 5–8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. DeliCafé hours are 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. 1120 12th Ave., (808) 732-9469, 12thavegrill.com, @12thavegrill


SEE ALSO: Kaimukī’s New Sandwich Café Has a Familiar Name


Senia and Bar Leather Apron Collab Valentine’s Day Takeaway

There’s already a serious buzz about Senia’s takeaway boxes and for Valentine’s Day, the stylish dine-at-home set will be paired with cocktails by Bar Leather Apron. Sales for the Feb. 14 boxes open on Thursday, Jan. 14, and fair warning, we bet this special offering from two Hale ‘Aina winners will sell out quickly. During checkout, if you can find pastry chef extraordinaire Mimi Mendoza’s bake-at-home cinnamon rolls, grab them before they sell out. And if you can’t wait until February to get a taste, Senia’s first takeaway for 2021 includes a bake-at-home smoked salmon en croûte while Bar Leather Apron is offering three cocktails for curbside pickup including a gin, St. Germain, lemon rooibos tea, grapefruit, yuzu and orange bitters concoction called Flowers For You.


Valentine’s Day Takeaway will be available through Senia’s website. 75 N. King St., (808) 200-5412, restaurantsenia.com, @restaurantsenia


Tane Vegan Izakaya’s Veganuary Dish

Anyone else recovering from holiday comfort-eating indulgence? Just me? The you-won’t-miss-the-meat izakaya added a mushroom risotto to its menu. Available until Jan. 31, the dish features croquettes made with squash and eryngii mushrooms, created by plant-based food company Sophie’s Kitchen, on a mushroom-and-ramen dashi risotto. While you’re there, ask about the riceless, oil- and gluten-free roll we spotted on Instagram. Like almost every other dish at one of our newest Hale ʻAina winners, it has us intrigued.


2065 S. Beretania St., (808) 888-7678, tanevegan.com, @tanevegan


SEE ALSO: First Look: Tane Vegan Izakaya Serves Vegan Sushi Ramen


La Cucina Ristorante Italiano Reopens


Trenette norcina (left) and vongole pasta (right). Photo: Martha Cheng



After months closed, the tiny restaurant with comforting Italian dishes is reopening this week. When we checked, the Open Table link was still down on La Cucina’s website so you will need to email lacucinaitaliano@yahoo.com to get a table. And, if you need a suggestion—the family-run restaurant only has a single post on its Instagram account—Frolic writer Eric Baranda named the Rigatoni Modern as one of his favorite dishes of 2019.


725 Kapiʻolani Blvd., C12, (808) 593-2626, lacuchinahawaii.com, @lacucinahonolulu


Exclusive Hale ʻAina Dinner at Pai Honolulu

Honolulu Magazine Hale Aina Pai Honolulu

Photo: Steve Czerniak



You had us at the chef’s cornbread with honey miso butter. Seriously. At a rare pau hana with friends recently, this was one dish we did not share and it’s just the start of our third exclusive dinner with our Hale ‘Aina winners on Sunday, Jan. 24. Chef Kevin Lee’s menu also includes chilled lobster and bay scallops with yuzu ikura, ginger vinaigrette, whipped ricotta, cherry tomato and lobster chips and his take on a comforting bowl of congee with truffle, escargot and pickled grapes. Tickets are available for tables for two or four and wine pairings are available. Seats for the one-night-only event are very limited.


Starting at $170 for two people. Seatings are available at 5 and 7:30 p.m. 55 Merchant St. Buy tickets at hnltix.com


Other Hale ʻAina Headlines:


See our full list of 2020 Hale ‘Aina winners here and buy our current Hale ʻAina issue to find out how our Restaurateurs of the Year turned a restaurant into a community hub, why our readers pick for Best New Restaurant actually expanded its menu during a pandemic, tips for looking legit next time you get Korean barbecue (hint, get lettuce) and more about Hawai‘i’s best restaurants.