Category Archives: Restaurants

A Taste of Senia — One of the Most Anticipated Restaurants in Honolulu

Chefs ChrisKajioka, Mimi Mendoza and Anthony Rush of the soon-to-open Senia restaurant.

Chefs Chris Kajioka, Mimi Mendoza and Anthony Rush of the soon-to-open Senia restaurant.

 

Senia is arguably one of the most hotly anticipated restaurants to open in Honolulu this year.

And I had the opportunity to get a divine preview taste — in San Francisco, of all places.

Transporting a taste of the islands to the city by the Bay makes perfect sense when you realize that Co-Executive Chef Chris Kajioka has strong ties to the Bay Area. He worked at the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco under the tutelage of Ron Siegel, as well as at Thomas Keller’s Per Se. He also cooked at San Francisco’s Aziza, and helped open its sister restaurant, Mourad.

It was at Per Se that he met his British-born Co-Executive Chef Anthony Rush, who also had worked at the French Laundry. Not to mention, Senia’s pastry chef, Mimi Mendoza, just left that position at Chez T.J. in Mountain View. Moreover, one of Senia’s main investors lives in San Francisco.

Hearts of palm draped over Maui venison tartare.

Hearts of palm draped over Maui venison tartare.

So while Senia is being constructed in Honolulu’s Chinatown, right next door to the popular Pig & The Lady, the chefs took the time to host an invitation-only pop-up dinner at the Naked Kitchen in the Mission District. The private event space is inside a Victorian whose first floor has been transformed into a souped-up professional kitchen with long tables spanning through the dining room and living room.

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A Celebration of Wine and Food At Adega — San Jose’s First Michelin-Starred Restaurant

Chefs David Costa and Jessica Carreira of San Jose's first Michelin starred restaurant, Adega.

Chefs David Costa and Jessica Carreira of San Jose’s first Michelin starred restaurant, Adega.

 

Last Thursday, a mere two days after Adega scored the first Michelin star in all of San Jose, the vibe was still celebratory and one of complete shock.

Co-owner Carlos Carreira recounted that after they got the early morning phone call with the announcement, his daughter, Pastry Chef Jessica Carreira, who along with her fiance Chef David Costa, oversee the kitchen, were so dumbfounded that they thought it might have been a prank call.

Carlos Carreira assured her it couldn’t have been. But he also thought to himself, “What did we just do?”

Merely make history by becoming the first restaurant in San Jose to score a coveted Michelin star, and only the second Portuguese restaurant in the United States to garner such acclaim (following New York’s Aldea).

Adega takes its wine very seriously.

Adega takes its wine very seriously.

The intimate dining room.

The intimate dining room.

Art on the walls.

Art on the walls.

All this for a restaurant that only opened last year, in the frill-free, working-class neighborhood known as Little Portugal.

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Chowing Down at Honolulu’s Mahina & Sun’s and The Pig & The Lady

Chef Ed Kenney sporting the world's craziest mug at Mahaina & Sun's.

Chef Ed Kenney holding the world’s craziest mug at Mahaina & Sun’s.

Chef Ed Kenney’s New Mahina & Sun’s

OAHU, HAWAII — Chef Ed Kenney never in his wildest dreams thought he’d have a restaurant on Waikiki Beach.

The touristy scene just wasn’t his particular cup of tea. After all, his other restaurants — Town, Kaimuki Superette, and Mud Hen Water — are all mere steps from one other in the quieter, residential neighborhood of Kaimuki.

But when Aqua-Aston Hospitality got the idea for revamping an old motel in Waikiki, they wooed him for a year until he finally agreed to open Mahina & Sun’s there in the Surfjack Hotel.

When he first saw the property, it was deja vu. Kenney chuckled, remembering that he once was a regular at a punk rock club that was on the premises.

The social media-sensation of a swimming pool.

The social media-sensation of a swimming pool.

The fun artwork.

The fun artwork.

Movies pool-side at night.

Movies pool-side at night.

Call it fate. But Kenney’s forward-thinking, Hawaiian farm-to-table cuisine seems right at home in this super cool and funky fun space.

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A Visit to Koko Head Cafe, Tin Roof, and the Huge Shirokiya Village Walk

Breakfast is served -- by Chef Lee Anne Wong at her Koko Head Cafe.

Breakfast is served — by Chef Lee Anne Wong at her Koko Head Cafe.

Honolulu’s Koko Head Cafe

OAHU, HAWAII — Even if you think you’re not a breakfast person, you will be after eating at Chef Lee Anne Wong’s Koko Head Cafe.

The down-home Hawaiian diner entices from the get-go, as I found when I was invited in as a guest two weeks ago.

Three years ago, the former “Top Chef” contestant made the big move to Hawaii from New York, after falling for a local farmer.

Shortly afterward, she opened her lively joint that serves only breakfast and brunch.

Whether you favor sweet or savory, you’re sure to find something to enjoy.

Fruit-topped bruschetta.

Fruit-topped bruschetta.

Each day, there is a different dumpling offered.

Each day, there is a different dumpling offered.

For us, that meant Breakfast Bruschetta ($6) — toasted bread slathered with macadamia yogurt and garnished with fresh tropical fruit. I’d eat this every morning quite happily.

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Take Five With Chefs Graham Elliot, Lincoln Carson, Michelle Karr-Ueoka, and Rory Hermann

Chef Graham Elliot, who is hilarious. Note the shirt.

Chef Graham Elliot, who is hilarious. Note the shirt.

 

MAUI, HAWAII — This year’s Maui portion of the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival featured an impressive line-up of illustrious chefs.

I had a chance to sit down with four of them last week: Graham Elliott who’s become one of the most recognizable faces, thanks to his stints judging “MasterChef” and “Top Chef”; Rory Hermann, director of culinary operations for Sprout Restaurant Group in Los Angeles, which includes Otium, Bestia, Republique, Barrel & Ashes, and the Rose Cafe; Lincoln Carson, one of the nation’s premier pastry chefs who worked for eight years with the Michael Mina Group, and now has his own Lincoln Heavy Industries Pastry & Hospitality Consulting company in Los Angeles; and Pastry Chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka, who owns MW Restaurant in Honolulu with her husband, Wade Ueoka.

They were all part of the festival’s “A Chef’s Paradise. The walk-around evening repast, held on the lawn at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, featured cocktails, wines, and creative bites.

The chefs talked about their favorite Hawaiian ingredients, their guilty pleasures, and more. Carson and Karr-Ueoka also confirmed that they will be partnering with Michael Mina to open specialty food boutiques in his The Street, a gourmet food hall, in the newly transformed International Market Place in Honolulu. Look for The Street to open sometime in the first half of 2017. It will join Mina’s StripSteak, which opened its doors there earlier this summer.

Elliot's dish of Hawaiian Kajiki (blue marlin) crudo with toasted coconut, Maui lilikoi, and whipped avocado.

Elliot’s dish of Hawaiian Kajiki (blue marlin) crudo with toasted coconut, Maui lilikoi, and whipped avocado.

Graham Elliot

Q: What’s it been like for you to be on all of these TV cooking competition shows?

A: It’s super fun. I get to be myself on them. I want to educate people about cooking. If you have a contestant on “MasterChef,” the worst thing you can do is s–t on them about making something awful. Instead, I try to tell them how it could be better.

Q: Your favorite Hawaiian ingredient?

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