Posts Tagged ‘Hawaii cuisine’

Photo courtesy of PRIMA Hawaii

A part of my job in travel public relations I enjoy is the ability to bring the excitement of Hawaii to cities across North America. This month, my client the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau is supporting one of Oahu’s hottest and newest restaurants, PRIMA, which is “popping up” at Iorio restaurant on Monday, August 20 at 6:30 p.m.. It’s a great opportunity to bring a new taste of Hawaii to Portland and share the story of the exciting culinary evolution taking place in the Hawaiian Islands.

Rising star chefs and co-owners Lindsey Ozawa and Alejandro “Aker” Briceno, along with chef de cuisine Kevin Lee, of PRIMA will offer an eight-course modern American menu honoring Hawaii’s ethic diversity, while featuring handmade pasta and creative preparations using the freshest fish, beef, and produce from the Aloha State and Portland area. This is the first time Iorio owners Chris Thompson and Hilary Benson are opening up their establishment for such an event. The menu (subject to change) looks like this:

Smoked Fish
Avocado Puree, Heart of Palm, Purslane, Olive Oil

Coppa di Testa “Adobo”
Green Mango, Peanut, Radish, Patis, and “Fried Rice”

Oregon Mushroom, Snow Peas, Hijiki, Bamboo Shoot, Hijiki, foie gras butter

“Panang” Curry Clams and Dungeness Crab
Dried Shrimp, Potato, Lime, Chili, Ikan Bilis

Venison Sausage
Celery root puree, Mango Mostarda, Brussel Sprouts

Ricotta Mousse, Almond Cake Powder, Lime Butter, Financier Chip, Apricot Sorbet


Petit Fours

Chefs Alejandro “Aker” Briceno (far left) and Lindsey Ozawa (far right) of PRIMA celebrate the opening of The Whole Ox Butcher and Deli chef/owner Robert McGee in Kakaako.

The chefs will be joined by Dave Power, owner of The Feral Pig on Kauai and one of Hawaii’s most respected bartenders, who will offer a selection of craft cocktails that will pair nicely with the menu. Power’s “from scratch” approach to cocktails using the freshest local ingredients, homemade bitters, and other creative influences has put him among the elite of Hawaii’s bartending scene.

Dave Power (right) and me exploring Menehune Ditch and Makaweli Poi Factory earlier this year. BTW, this dude’s cocktails are pretty amazing.

Since opening in September 2011, PRIMA quickly asserted itself as one of Oahu’s top restaurants with its casual ambiance, commitment to sourcing the best quality ingredients from Hawaii and around the world, and approachable food that is familiar to the average diner, yet innovative in flavor combinations, technical preparation, and artistic plating that real “foodies” can appreciate. Ozawa and Briceno have cooked in some of the top kitchens across the country, including the award-winning Nobu Waikiki. They are also co-owners of V Lounge, a destination for some of the best kiawe-fired pizzas in Hawaii, and previously operated Melt, a popular food truck serving gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches that closed last year. Lee left his position as sous chef at New York’s Dovetail restaurant to join the PRIMA kitchen last year. There’s definitely firepower and talent here.

There will be one-seating only, so space is limited. Cost is $65 per person, plus gratuity. Cocktails and beverages are additional. For reservations, call Iorio at 503-445-4716.

This promises to be a great evening of delicious food and inspiring stories that will have diners leaving with a fresh, new perspective on Hawaii cuisine. I hope to see you there!

PRIMA Hawaii “Pop Up” at Iorio
Monday, August 20, 2012 | 6:30 p.m.
Cost: $65/person, plus gratuity. Cocktails and beverages extra.
912 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, OR 97214
Phone: 503-445-4716


“Dad, my favorite tonight was the spaghetti…it was so delicious!,” exclaimed Ensen, my 5-year-old son, following our family dinner at PRIMA in Kailua this past Friday. This statement came after he devoured two slices of heavenly prosciutto rucola pizza which I thought for sure was going to be his choice of the night. But I should have anticipated this answer since he ate close to half the bowl himself. And after having this twice now at PRIMA, I don’t blame him. It’s one of my favorite dishes on the menu.

Why? For one, porky guanciale never hurts to be included in any dish as far as I’m concerned. But the perfectly cooked pasta tossed in a rich and flavorful tomato sauce with a little red onions and guanciale (did I already mention this?) is the kind of dish that wraps its arms…err…noodles around you and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s “broke da mout,” elevated Italian comfort food with a local twist that one can enjoy in a casual setting while wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and slippers. A great neighborhood spot for a quality meal where you can bring the kids (our 2-year-old Avery enjoyed as well) and have a great experience.

Built by chefs/owners Alejandro “Aker” Briceno and Lindsey Ozawa, PRIMA has been getting a lot of well deserved attention since it opened last September. Yes, they source most of their ingredients locally. Yes, they take pride in working with local farmers and ranchers. But the main priority of the team, including Chef de Cuisine Kevin Lee, is putting delicious, creative, and well-executed food on the table for customers to enjoy. And they do that exceptionally well with handmade pastas and ravioli, arguably the best kiawed fire pizzas on on the island, via their treatment of vegetables like Brussels spouts and broccoli, and what I consider “mad-scientist” approach to their flavors of sorbetto and gelato. Here’s a few other dishes from our meal that night.

Tandoori Pear – yogurt, grapefruit, cilantro, mint

Spicy Poke Bowl Soup – congee, spicy ahi and tako

Monchong – local vegetables

Roasted Brocolli – prosciutto, bordelaise

So, the next time you’re in Kailua town, consider stopping at PRIMA Kailua for dinner. They’re located in the strip mall off Hekili Street that’s also home to Big City Diner, Foodland, and Baskin-Robbins. As their website suggests, it is quite “A Dining Experience!”

108 Hekili Street, #108 (next to Baskin-Robbins)
Kailua, HI 96734
Phone: 808-888-8933
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 5-10 p.m.
Follow them on Twitter and Facebook
Make reservations on OpenTable 

Update 7/29/12:
Got confirmation from former He’eia Kea Pier General Store and Deli Chef Mark Noguchi  that the pier will be featured on the Monday, August 6 episode of DDD.

Update 7/30/12:
Saw Camille Komine, chef/owner of Camille’s on Wheels, post to Facebook that she’ll be featured on the Monday, July 30 episode of DDD titled “Coast to Coast Chow. There’s also a viewing party at The Grove in Kailua at 7 p.m. Get out and support!!

I was excited to read in Erika Engle’s column (Honolulu Star-Advertiser) today that Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri will be featuring Oahu’s Jawaiian Irie Jerk Restaurant in tonight’s episode “Dynamic Dishes.” Not because of the food since I’ve never been there. But because I’m a fan of the show with a soft spot for seeing anything Hawaii featured on national television. What can I say, it’s the destination marketing/PR guy in me.

The article mentions the other Oahu restaurant locations are top secret, but those following The Match Cut Crew production company on Twitter during their time here know exactly where they filmed. The crew would tweet the location after wrapping. I won’t spoil the surprise entirely, so go back to their April tweets if your curious. They did manage to get to one of my favorites, Heeia Kea Pier General Store and Deli. I was fortunate enough to be invited by my pal chef/owner Mark “Gooch” Noguchi to be one of the “fake customers” and got to meet Guy. Cool stuff.

Hats off to the Oahu Visitors Bureau and my PR colleagues at Stryker Weiner and Yokota Public Relations for getting Guy back to the islands to explore more of the diverse culinary offerings Hawaii has to offer. It’s great inspiration for travelers heading this way. It’s great for the destination. And it’s really great for the small businesses that reap the benefits of the priceless exposure. I’ve heard from others who have been on the show that business goes through the roof once they are seen on Triple D. The brand is strong!

Okay, and I saw them pull into Fresh Catch in Kaneohe right after they finished up at Heeia Pier. But that’s all I’m telling you.

Check your local listings and enjoy the show!

It’s been quite some time since my last blog post. I blame it on work, quality family time, and the pending arrival of our second child any day now. Exciting stuff! But this being Good Friday and a holiday for me, I thought I’d take some time to give thanks and praise to a few of my favorite things that took place this past month…

(1) University of Hawaii Baseball Games – It’s hard to beat a lazy weekend afternoon at the ballpark and Les Murakami Stadium is no exception. As University of Hawaii alumni, Kelly and I have enjoyed coming to cheer on the UH Rainbows for years, usually sipping on a couple of ice cold beers, chowing down on ballpark food, and the just kicking-back and taking in the atmosphere. And now Ensen loves it too. For $5/person, we sit in the upper deck and soak up the action. Give it a shot if you’re looking for something fun to do the next time the Rainbows are in town.

(2) Golfing – Those who knew me a few years ago know that every chance I got, I was usually on the golf course…though that has changed significantly since Ensen was born. I’ve chosen to cut back on my golf game to spend more time with family, watching Little E grow up, and doing as much family activities on the weekends as possible. It’s the way life should be. But don’t get me wrong, every now and then, I need to be on a golf course, hack it around with friends, and enjoy some friendly competition. In fact, a couple friends – John Garcia and Shawn Nakamoto – and I recently started a new “social media golf club” of sorts – It’s our humble attempt to mix social networking with one of our favorite sports. Here’s a few photos from our first get together at Hawaii Kai Golf Course’s Executive Course on March 6. Hope you’ll come out and join us for our next…stay tuned.

@TherapyGrill @johngarcia @surfchik4jesus @shawnnakamoto

@beradical @annie_lee

@gypsyraven @kaeok


(3) Kuru Kuru Sushi – The Kam family loves sushi and Kuru Kuri Sushi in Pearl Kai Shopping Center is our go-to place when we have a craving. As “conveyor belt sushi joints” go, this place is superior to all the others in my opinion. The quality of the fish and portions are always great, service is consistently awesome, and the prices are right. Plus the diversity of raw and cooked items on the menu means there something to please everyone’s palate. However, be prepared to wait for a seat as this place is extremely popular. We’ve waited for up to 45, but I will tell you it’s worth it. If you get there, let me know what you think.

(4) Chef Ed Kenney and Downtown/Town – One of the great things about working in downtown Honolulu is all of the great places to eat. One of my favorites is Downtown at the Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM). This is one of Chef Ed Kenney’s two great restaurants in Honolulu (the other being Town in Kaimuki on Waialae which we love too!) where his motto is “local first, organic whenever possible, and with aloha always.” And this shines on his beautiful plates of food. Fresh, simple, clean, and ono is the way I like to sum up the menu.  For a true taste of local farm-to-table cooking, this is the place. I recently had lunch there with PR colleagues Melissa Malahoff-Kamei and Robin Carr and enjoyed the Kulana Ribeye with Ho’s Farms Long Beans, Roasted Tomato, Chimichurri. Talk about one tasty steak!

(5) Blarney Burger at Murphy’s Bar and Grill – Just ask my pal and co-worker Dan Zelikman and he’ll echo the same sentiments about the Blarney Burger at Murphy’s Bar and Grill. What exactly is a Blarney Burger you ask? Well it’s a juicy  and delicious burger topped with imported white cheddar and Guinness cheese and served with a good helping of fries. It’s even more heavenly if you add bacon (as shown below). Murphy’s is a favorite lunchtime spot of ours for good food and inspiring conversation. It’s also a great place to run into the “who’s who” of downtown Honolulu.

(6) Student Tours of Anthology Marketing Group – One of the rewarding things about working at Anthology Marketing Group is being able to share our company’s story, expertise, and values with college students.  The latest group to visit us a few days ago was the young men and women of the University of Hawaii’s Business Executive Society of Tomorrow (or B.E.S.T.). One of my best buddies, Brad Araki, was one of the original founders of the club back in the day and this group has kept the momentum going. I’ve always been impressed with the leadership and activities this club organizes for its members. Mahalo to president Cody Momohara and his board for coming by to visit the agency.

So now I ask you. What’s on your list of favorite things to do? I actually should have put photography on the list, but I’ll save that for the next one. Happy Good Friday to all!


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Anthony Bourdain came to Hawaii. He saw. He conquered. And in the end, he loved every minute of his time in the Hawaiian Islands! YES!

So why were all of the locals (including yours truly) holding our collective breath as the Hawaii episode of No Reservations aired on the Travel Channel last night? Well, because it’s Bourdain we’re talking about here. No one could have guessed whether a dash of Spam Musubi and good ‘ol dousing of Aloha Spirit would be enough to win the heart of this “tell it like it is” chef. But it did, as well as many other experiences the bad boy chef had while he was in Hawaii.

A $3,000 aloha shirt from Bailey’s, out of this world Puka Dog in Waikiki, delicious grinds at Ono Hawaiian Food, hanging out with the island’s top chefs at Side Street Inn, a visit to the famous North Shore of Oahu, all the SPAM he could eat at New Uptown Fountain, a typical local backyard BBQ, exploration into tiki drinks at La Mariana, and visit to volcano on Hawaii Island was the perfect recipe to prove to Bourdain that Hawaii is much more than sun, sand, and surf. Surprisingly, he even managed to enjoy himself at the Paradise Cove Luau.

The show was a fantastic showcase and representation of the way Hawaii people live and eat in its truest sense. Bourdain dove right in to the local lifestyle enjoyed here in the islands and opened his mind and heart to everything the encountered. The result was a new appreciation for a place he doubted before, but grew to love in one short week. Funny how Hawaii does that to people sometimes.

To all involved in this endeavor to welcome Bourdain to Hawaii…much mahalo! Mr. Bourdain, we enjoyed your presence here in the 50th state, are totally stoked you enjoyed what you saw/ate, and hope you come back to visit again soon!

For the low down and further insights into the production, be sure to visit my colleague Michael Ni’s blog.


[Photo courtesy of Travel Channel]

UPDATE: The ‘No Reservations’ homepage just posted a Hawaii guide which outlines Bourdain’s travels throughout Hawaii. A couple things missing are New Uptown Fountain where he filmed the SPAM segment with David Choo and the backyard paina (party) in Kalihi with radio personalities Lanai and Kaleo. Bourdain also flew Hawaiian Airlines to get to Hawaii. 



Today is the day I’ve been waiting for (I think) since last December when Anthony Bourdain came to Hawaii to tape an episode of No Reservations. The one-hour Hawaii show airs tonight (8 p.m. HST) on the Travel Channel and the world will find out exactly what Bourdain thinks about the Hawaiian Islands, our culture, people, and cuisine.

Was bringing the show to Hawaii a brilliant idea to share a unique side of paradise with travelers across the mainland? Or was this an initiative for our client – the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau – that we’ll all want to forget about soon?

The moment of truth will be delivered in a few hours.

I’ll be anxiously watching with my team and colleagues at Side Street Inn tonight. For the record, I’m sticking with my positive outlook that Bourdain will love Hawaii. And not like the outcome of the show can change at this point, but just for fun I visited Bourdain’s MySpace page this weekend to request his friendship (which he accepted). I’m taking this as a good sign of things to come.


[Photo courtesy of Bourdain’s MySpace page]

[Photo courtesy of Travel Channel]

With the weekend coming up, I never thought I’d ever say I’m looking forward to Monday. Don’t get me wrong. I love my job, but c’mon lets face it…weekends are a premium…especially when you have an 8 month old to keep you busy.

But I’m going to saying it this time only because Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” Hawaii episode airs on Monday, March 3 at 8 p.m. HST. There’s going to be quite a number of “Bordainians” at Side Street Inn (one of the places Bourdain visited) to watch the show and I’m going to be one of them. Hope to see you there.

Not to mention, there’s been some good coverage about the show in the blogs and news to keep everyone in Hawaii excited. Most recently, local food writer Jo McGarry penned a wonderful Table Talk column in Midweek talking about No Reservations and other foodies shows featuring Hawaii. Cool thing is, my team at McNeil Wilson is involved in all of them.

Here’s a few other blogs and news sites I’ve come across talking about No Reservations Hawaii (starting with the most recent postings):

Are you excited about the show?