When you think of Valentine's Day you typically imagine a romantic dinner, candlelight, sensual dishes like lobster, steak and chocolate... well to my surprise there is a new restaurant in Waikiki that serves all this for Valentine's Day weekend (Friday-Sunday). Buho Cantina opened just over 7 months ago off of Kalakaua Avenue in the heart of Waikiki. Located above Victoria's Secret this restaurant is a beautiful rooftop oasis from the bustling streets below.
A more upscale Mexican cantina-style eatery, this place takes Mexican food to a whole new level. Forget about Tex Mex and other eateries that specialize in chip and salsa... this is a more refined approach to latin cuisine, while highlighting local flavors, local ingredients and pushing the limits of those flavor profiles. The dishes are well seasoned, fresh and simple but also very elegant. I got a chance to try their special 4-course Valentine's Day set-menu and it was such great value for the cost of $98 for two people. They are also offering fresh roses for purchase too $5 for a single long stem rose or $60 for a dozen waiting for you table side and it will add that special touch to your romantic evening. Here's a look at the prix fixe dinner.
Kale Salad - this is a generous portion which comes out on one dish, so the two lovers can share it. Mixed greens, crispy fried kale, jicama, kahuku corn, fresh apples, tossed in a tamarind vinaigrette. I loved this salad. It was refreshing, crunchy, hearty, healthy, well dressed and the texture from the jicama and the sweetness from the apples added a nice touch. I would order this for lunch or dinner!
Lobster Taco - fresh Kona lobster on a homemade squid ink soft tortilla topped with an achiote aiole and fresh Kahuku corn relish. I have never heard of anyone using squid ink to make tortillas. This was delightful, the lobster oh so fresh and I really enjoyed the flavor of the achiote aiole. Great combinations of textures and flavors here, party in my mouth!
Surf & Turf - 16 oz Prime Rib with a traditional herb and Mexican chili spice rub served with giant Kauai tequila garlic shrimp. The sides also included Jalapeño Bacon smashed potatoes and sautéed green beans. You can't tell from the photo but this dish was HUGE. Now the plates are meant to be shared so you don't feel like a candidate for over-eaters anonymous. LOL. The prime rib was called one of the best everyone ever had at the table. The sides were perfectly seasoned and hearty and the shrimp not too overwhelming in flavor. Very impressive!
Lastly, this heart-shaped Mexican Habanero Brownie is served with premium Maui Roselani ice cream and fresh fruit. Surprisingly this brownie was light, moist, sweet and had a little kick to it because of the habanero. It was really nice and a great ending to a fabulous meal. I was impressed by the flavor combinations, freshness of the dishes and the innovative use of ingredients. Overall, I would say this is an excellent deal for the cost, value, and product served. The ambience is also fantastic, I love this venue and my friends love it too.
You know that restaurant in Waikiki , the one at the top? Yeah, the one that spins? Top Of Waikiki -- known for it's amazing views, super awesome happy hour and traditional surf and turf menu items. But the traditional restaurant is boasting not so 'traditional' flavors and with Chef Lance Kosaka now at the helm of it all. Kosaka is a teddy bear at heart but a beast in the kitchen when it comes to incorporating flavors from Vietnam, Japan, France, Hawaii and new twists on the traditional steakhouse favorites utilizing local produce and protein. Kosaka has slowly transitioned the menu to include some of his favorites and his following from the local community would be proud!
My hubby and I went to the restaurant to celebrate Valentine's Day a little early. It was a perfect dinner. The bread is a sweet potato roll served with mango butter. For appetizers we had poached pear salad, corn chowder, crab cakes and Lance sent out Peggy's Chips which is something not featured on the menu. For our entrees we ordered some of the newest and best entree hits - braised short ribs with wasabi mashed potatoes and bubu crusted onaga on a bed of shrimp risotto. The meal was a great combination of bold flavors, Hawaii delicacies cooked to perfection and service with aloha.
You may think this place is for tourists because of it's location. But hey parking is free with validation, and the food is so good it's become one of our favorite special occasion restaurants. Last year we came to celebrate our anniversary and left with huge smiles on our faces.
Here's a look at some of the highlights... We can't wait to go back. I am already hoping someone will ask me to happy hour soon. I gotta try the new drinks and some of the other new menu items.
Yukari & Bubu crusted Onaga - with kombucha and shrimp risotto, pickled Japanese vegetables. This was a bit reminiscent to a combination of flavors Lance would cook up at Alan Wongs. It's like a combination of the salmon ochazuke and the scallop risotto. The crunch from the bubu arare is a great crust on the perfectly cooked onaga and the risotto with the pickled vegetables is delightful and crunchy.
Miso soy braised short ribs served with wasabi mashed potatoes with a shrimp and corn relish. This is my husband's favorite short rib entree on the island. The beef is very tender, the potato is a semi-strong wasabi flavor which compliments the rich decadent sauce from the short rib. The corn adds the perfect crunch to this dish.
Dessert: this was a special and not on the menu like the potato chips, but perhaps you could special order it. House made coconut panna cotta with fresh fruit. This was the perfect combination of fresh tart, sweet, creamy and ice. A delightful end to a delicious meal. The pastry chef, Heather, is a true gem. Her semi-freddo and creme brûlée are also amazing!