HONOLULU Small Bites: 10 Happenings Worth Buzzing About in February 2018

Here’s a quick-bite guide to the latest foodie news around the Islands.
Learn everything you want to know about carrots at an upcoming field day put on by UH this month.
Photo: Courtesy of Jensen Uyeda


Local chefs get noticed by the James Beard Foundation, Zippy’s serves vegetarian ramen and The Modern Honolulu goes strawless. Here is some of the buzziest food news this week:


1. Hawaiʻi represents on this year’s list of James Beard Awards semifinalists

Bar Leather Apron owners Justin Park and Tom Park are among the Hawai‘i chefs and restaurants named as semifinalists in the 2018 James Beard Foundation Awards.
Photo: Courtesy of John Hook


Seven Hawaiʻi chefs and restaurants have been named semifinalists in the prestigious 2018 James Beard Foundation Awards, selected from among more than 20,000 entries in 21 categories. Finalists will be announced on March 14.


Chefs Chris Kajioka (Senia) and Ed Kenney (Town, Mud Hen Water, Kaimukī Superette and Mahina & Sun’s) are named in the category of best chef in the western region, which includes California and Nevada.


Bar Leather Apron in Downtown earned a nod in the outstanding bar program category, the only Hawai‘i bar to make this list among national nominees.


Maru Sushi, the iconic Michelin-starred sushi bar from Sapporo that opened on Kalākaua Avenue last year, is a semifinalist in the best new restaurant category. Also named semifinalists are George Kanemitsu of Moloka‘i’s Kanemitsu Bakery as outstanding baker, Vino Italian Tapas & Wine Bar as outstanding wine program and Mama’s Fish House on Maui as outstanding restaurant alongside Canlis (Seattle), Momofuku Noodle Bar (New York City) and Quince (San Francisco).


For a full list of nominees, visit jamesbeard.org/awards.


2. Zippy’s offers a Lent menu with spicy vegetarian ramen through March

Photo: Courtesy of Zippy’s


From now through March 30, Zippy’s is offering vegetarian specials for those celebrating Lent—or just looking to eat a little healthier in the new year.


The lineup includes a new spicy vegetarian ramen ($7.95 at the counter, $9.15 in the restaurant), with a creamy kotteri-style vegetable-based broth. The toppings include cabbage, green onions and chili strands that add a little kick.


Other nonmeat options available are a plate of fried tofu topped with a soy-based Korean sauce ($7.75 at the counter, $8.90 in the restaurant) and a tomato-based vegetarian spaghetti with garlic bread ($7.75 at the counter, $8.90 in the restaurant).




3. Yauatcha Waikīkī offers special dishes for Chinese New Year


A post shared by Yauatcha Waikiki (@yauatchawaikiki) on

Need some good luck in the new year—and prefer to eat it?


SEE ALSO:  8 Lucky Chinese New Year Foods to Celebrate the Year of the Dog in 2018


Now through March 4, Yauatcha Waikīkī is offering a special Chinese New Year menu with dishes believed to bring good fortune. There’s a salted egg yolk custard sesame ball (representing togetherness), a steamed Dover sole roll (symbolizing financial prosperity), prawns in lime sauce (for good luck) and a petit gâteau with soy-caramel mousse and mandarin confit (also for good luck). The restaurant is also offering limited edition macarons in vanilla orchid, the lucky flower for 2018, and raspberry-Szechuan-pepper in a vibrant red color to represent Chinese New Year.


2330 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 739-9318, yauatcha.com/waikiki


4. New Nondairy Options at Ben & Jerry’s

Photo: Courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s


Ben & Jerry’s, with locations at Ward Village and Windward Mall, is now serving two dairy-free flavors sure to satisfy the cravings of any lactose-intolerant ice cream lover. (We feel your pain.)


SEE ALSO: 5 Desserts Fit For a Dairy-Free Diet in Honolulu


The Caramel Almond Brittle uses almond milk as its creamy base and combines that with crunchy bits of almond brittle and salted caramel swirls. The P.B. & Cookies also uses an almond milk base that tastes like vanilla ice cream blended with chocolate sandwich cookies and crunchy peanut butter. The shop also serves dairy-free sorbet, too.


The nondairy options are the same price as the other flavors: $4.49 for a kid-size scoop, $5.79 for a small and $6.99 for a large in either a cup or cone.




5. Chef Mavro Earns the AAA Five Diamond Award Again

Photo: Courtesy of Chef Mavro


For the 10th year in a row, Chef Mavro has earned the AAA Five Diamond Award. It remains the only independently owned restaurant in Hawaiʻi to earn this top award and one of two overall. In the last 12 months, only 68 restaurants have earnd this rating in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.


“This rewards our whole team equally in that AAA evaluates food, service and ambiance,” says George Mavrothalassitis, chef/owner of Chef Mavro. “Our shared concern—I would say obsession—is producing the highest quality experience for each guest.”


1969 S. King St., (808) 944-4714, chefmavro.com


6. Agu Express in Kalihi Serves More than Just Ramen

Photo: Courtesy of Agu Express


Agu Ramen Bistro has opened an express version of its trendy noodle shops, serving more than just bowls of ramen.


Agu Express in Kalihi—the seventh Hawaiʻi location for the ramen chain—is serving plate lunches, too, along with its popular noodles and side dishes. Every day the shop, which focuses more on takeout service, will offer a different plate lunch: beef stew on Mondays (pictured), shoyu chicken on Tuesdays, baked spaghetti on Wednesdays, oxtail curry on Thursdays, hamburger steak on Fridays and chicken long rice on Saturdays. (The shop is closed on Sunday.) Fried chicken and fried noodles will be served daily, too.


This location will also serve as the chain’s central kitchen, preparing the broth for the other Agu restaurants.


2300 N. King St., aguramen.com


7. Honolulu Beerworks Releases Hawai’i‘s First Zero-IBU Session IPA


Honolulu Beerworks is unveiling its first seasonal can release, Surf Session IPA, on Feb. 24—but with zero IBU.


What does that mean? IBU, or International Bitterness Units, measures the concentration of isohumulones (a bittering compound) in beer. American IPAs tend to be very hop-forward, with a bitterness level up to 70 IBUs. (A more malt-dominant English brown ale may have only 20 IBUs.) So an IPA with zero IBUs is interesting and somewhat controversial: Isn’t the bitterness what defines an IPA? But that’s another blog.


Honolulu Beerworks managed to craft zero-IBU IPAs, starting with its South Pacific Style IPA Galaxy, which was so well received, owner Geoff Seideman says, he decided to move forward with the Surf Session IPA. This IPA is described as a hazy IPA with citrus and passion fruit notes. With no IBUs, the brewery says, the overt bitterness of the typical IPA is gone and the hop flavors shine.


The release party for the Surf Session IPA is from 11 a.m. to midnight Feb. 24 at the Kaka‘ako brewery.


328 Cooke St., (808) 589-2337, honolulubeerworks.com


8. Mahina & Sun’s Launches New $7 Drink Specials


Seven time-tested, classic cocktails are the focus of a new drink menu at Mahina & Sun’s.


Old-school cocktails including the Manhattan and the Moscow Mule will be $7 each on the new “7 For 7” menu available from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m. daily at the Waikīkī restaurant. The collection was designed as a nod to the stylish drinks that helped shaped the cocktail revolution—all with a local twist, of course. Craft beer and wine options will also be available.


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


9. The Modern Honolulu Goes Strawless


In an effort to reduce the number of plastic drinking straws thrown away every day in the U.S.—the number is estimated to be 500 million—The Modern Honolulu has switched to biodegradable paper straws available upon request. In 2017, the hotel used more than 612,000 plastic straws. The Modern is one of a growing number of local businesses moving away from plastic straws, which contribute to ocean pollution.


1775 Ala Moana Blvd., (808) 943-5800, themodernhonolulu.com


10. Learn About All Things Carrots at Carrot-Centric Field Day on Feb. 28

Photo: Courtesy of Jensen Uyeda


UH’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources holds field days where people can learn about a particular crop—sugar cane, chickpea, cauliflower—with information on how to grow it and what to do with it.


This month’s field day will focus 24 different varieties of carrots, with information on sustainable pest management and the vegetable’s nutritional benefits. Culinary students from Kapi‘olani Community College will be serving dishes they created with these carrot varieties, too.


The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Poamoho Research Station in Wailalua.


The field day is open to the public with an admission of $5 to cover the costs of the food samples. Seating is limited. Reserve your spot here.


Brunch like you mean it at HONOLULU Magazine’s BrunchFest presented by American Savings Bank on Sunday, March 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Salt at Our Kaka‘ako. Embrace the relaxed Sunday Funday vibe with seven local chefs, live entertainment, lawn games and a photo booth during this unique dining experience. Tickets on sale now. Click here.