Maui-Raised Alana Kysar Shines a Spotlight on Local Hawai‘i Food in Her New Cookbook
“Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai‘i,” written by Kula-raised Alana Kysar, debuted in late March.
From New York to San Francisco, there’s a renewed love affair with Hawai‘i. Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka of MW Restaurant recently opened Trailblazer Tavern in San Francisco, and O‘ahu’s Ravi Kapur’s Liholiho Yacht Club has consistently been named one of the best restaurants in the same city. Noreetuh in New York, opened by Honolulu native Chung Chow, serves five different musubis, from corned beef tongue to pork jowl, plus lū‘au leaf tortellini. Kaua‘i’s Wailua Shave Ice has taken its bowls to San Diego and Portland. And poke, of course, has jumped oceans and landed as far away as Madrid and Paris. There are more restaurants inspired by Hawai‘i than ever before—and we’re talking true Hawai‘i, not a tikified, pineapple-and-ham version—but still, there’s something missing: a cookbook with a national reach compiling all of Hawai‘i’s favorite local foods. Until now.
Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai‘i, published by Ten Speed Press and written by Kula-raised Alana Kysar, debuted in late March. It’s a gorgeous book with recipes including everything from pohole salad to Portuguese bean soup to meat jun to liliko‘i chiffon pie.
While many locals probably have their own recipes for some of the dishes, it’s likely that everyone will still find delightful surprises, such as the kūlolo bars and a mai tai recipe by Justin Park of Bar Leather Apron. Kysar, who currently lives in Los Angeles, says, “I wrote this book for locals and Mainlanders alike. I wanted to share the recipes to my favorite local Hawai‘i foods and make them as accessible as possible for both Hawai‘i residents and anyone else in the world. I’d love for local people to have a book of recipes that they can turn into their own. And for Mainlanders, well, I’d love for them to learn more about local Hawai‘i cuisine while falling in love with the Islands.”
Kysar spent about two years coordinating all the photography for Williams Sonoma’s website. In 2015, she started her own site, fixfeastflair.com, sharing a range of recipes, but discovered that people gravitated toward the local Hawai‘i ones. That was the seed that would develop into Aloha Kitchen. She also took most of the food photographs, while local friends Brooke Dombroski shot the scenery photos and Jordan Higa illustrated the book. The result is a beautiful ode to local Hawai‘i food, what Kysar calls “a large piece of the heart and soul of the Islands.”
Ten Speed Press, $30, alohakitchencookbook.com