Our last days to "dine out" in Hawai'i were our Xmas eve and day where we overnighted in Honolulu as our final stop in Hawaii in Kona included a full day tour with no chance for any fun food or dining.
We met a friend from DC who was born in Hawai'i and had moved back last year at SURF N TURF TACOS a couple of blocks from his house in the shadow of Diamond Head at 3045 Montsarrat Avenue (they also have a Waikiki location). This is take out fast food at its best with each item made to order with super fresh ingredients.
Burritos, nachos and more can be had here and while Sam went for the basic Cheese Quesadilla (it comes with nacho chips and salsa) we went local with the Spicy Sesame Poke Taco filled with divine fresh sushi grade fish and the Korean Kalbi Taco with wonderful charred and seasoned beef with kimchi! This is a spot not to miss.
For dinner the four of us headed to one of Hawaii's top rated spots, HIROSHI Eurasion Tapas where the food and service reign supreme. On Xmas eve at 7pm the place was heaving and it never let up during the more than three hours we enjoyed there. Kalen, our server, was helpful and gave us great ideas to start. We ordered almost everything as we could not decide.
Housemade Rice Crackers arrived with a Nori/Supadani(seaweed)/Pickled Wasabi Dip which was mayo-based and irresistible.
Samuel wanted the Portuguese Sausage Potstickers with wilted Choi Sum, sweet corn, kim chee foam and truffled ponzu sauce. You can see from the start, these are not your standard Asian tapas, but a miraculous fusion of ingredients which is indeed what Hawai'i is all about! Will went nuts about his Hitacho Nest White Ale from Japan (as he should have at $15/bottle) and Josh and I adored the Dassai Junmai Daiginjo sake that was smooth and refreshing.
We went on to other tapas which included:
Marinated Hawaiian Kampachi(yellowtail) "En Papillote" which had the fish in a phyllo pastry with shitakes, tomato concasse and truffle butter with chili pepper water-konbu broth.
Miso Yaki Butterfish with Wilted Nalo Tatsoi & Lime-Ume(plum, but not sweet) gelees on baby bok choy. This fish was indeed like butter and so amazingly flavorful, as every fish and dish here exploded with amazing tastes in every bite.
Steamed Shinsato Pork Belly has a torched brie cheese slice with ginger, shiso, tomato-scallion salad, musubi (rice) & "adobo sauce" that was crispy loaded with flavor and not fatty at all.
Sizzlin' Hamachi Carpaccio is the fish at its purest with only ginger, tomato, Mrs. Cheng's tofu & truffled ponzu. I wanted to move in forever.
We saw one more tapas at the next table and since we had not ordered any main courses, we gave in to the Sous Vide of Kona Cold Lobster with Squid Ink Pasta, tobiko, shiso, Shintaku Haricot Verts & red japaleno which was superb. Thick juicy lobster tail from just miles away in an amazing preparation that did not ruin the texture of the meat in the leas.
Chuck, the sommelier at this time had arrived and we mentioned we were having this last tapas as well as two main courses and he immediately suggested a Jermann "Red Angel on the Moonlight" 2009 Pinot Noir from Veneto, Italy. The wine list was huge, impressive and reasonable to boot and I told him so. While he was proud, he told me to tell the manager, Cheryl, who turned out to be his wife and they were the co-owners. We all had a good laugh and they laughed as well as Chuck, Cheryl and Kalen all did such a superb job constantly all evening. The wine was divine to boot.
While we made our way through all the tapas Sam gobbled up a Vintage Natural Meats New York Steak which was an excellent cut of grain-fed, no hormone beef with seasonal veggies (crunchy sea slated zucchini & haricot verts), potato au gratin and a teriyaki butter sauce that was divine, but Sam insisted the steak was so well seasoned and tasty it was indeed not needed. The meat was exactly medium rare as ordered but with a sublime seared crunchy edge.
Our two main courses were a Pan Roasted Duck Breast with Curried Cauliflower, Shintaku Haricot Verts, Yellow Mustard "air", bacon orzo and sweet soy reduction and was a wonderful Asian fusion take on the little bird we adore so much.
The hit was the Panko Crusted Mekajiki which is a local swordfish that is rare and apparently only caught for use by restaurants by one skilled fisherman. It is not available everyday and Kalen had to make sure the fish had arrived. Luckily it did.
It is a softer version of the swordfish than we know and less like the "steaks" we get at home. It is cooked with roasted Shitakes, Zucchini, Fresh Thyme, Thai Basil & Roasted Garlic Soy Butter Sauce. We were all in 7th heaven.
Well, we were quite full but Sam had to have the Chocolate Cake OOZE with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Chocolate Sauce and we decided to split two other desserts:
Haupia (Coconut) Lemongrass Creme Brulee with Raspberry Sorbet was a nice take on the traditional dish, but it was the MACNUT "POG" Cheesecake that blew us away.
I like cheesecake, but try to avoid it for the most. Don't skip this as "POG" is a local abbreviation for passion fruit/orange/guava combo. Add this to macadamia nuts in the cake and serve it with Liliko'i(passion fruit)-orange coulis, Dulce di Leche Ice Cream & Guava Foam and you undoubtedly have the best dessert in all Hawai'i.
What a fantastic evening had by all as we rolled back to the ship and headed south.
Incidentally our next day lunch was at a food truck on the northeast shore of Oahu--go to any of these and don't miss the local freshwater garlic smothered shrimp for a treat!
Our next port is Kiribati (Fanning Island), but we hear there is no plumbing or electricity, so I gather the dining choices are slim! See you next in French Polynesia.