So... It probably looks like I eat out every night, which is not entirely true. I do enjoy a good meal and what makes a meal even better is the ambience, the company and the entertainment if they have it. I was invited to visit Stage Restaurant for their monthly Acoustic Soul Fusion dinner last night and it was AMAZING! If you haven't been to Stage before it's one of the best restaurants in Honolulu. You may not hear about it as much as some of the notable names in town, but the cuisine is always a fabulous combination of textures, flavors and freshness. It's an experience for all the senses with the unique art, street views, extensive wine and cocktail selections and live music.
Each month, the restaurant showcases some really unique special events, wine dinners and the like. This dinner was by far the most fun, entertaining, delicious and memorable I've had in a few months. The 4-course dinner prepared by Executive Chef Ron de Guzman (formerly of Alan Wong's, Sam Choy's and the Top of Waikiki) was a nice highlight of local ingredients, surf & turf and a fantastic dessert by Pastry Chef Cainan Sabey (also formerly with Alan Wong's where we worked together and traveled to Japan together in 2005). I will dive into the tasting menu below.
What really made this dinner a slam dunk was the entertainment. With a name like Acoustic Soul Fusion my mouth was watering and my ears were ringing with excitement. Guests this month were 14 year-old ukulele prodigy Aidan James and award-winning soul sister Yoza. Aidan performed first, then Yoza did a couple of songs, then the pair performed together which was fantastic. Aidan's grasp as a looperist and ability to beat box with his ukulele and other technological advancements made it sound like they had a full band in tow. Yoza's deep soulful voice and experience on stage put you right at ease and in complete aw of her passion and talents. For me dinner and a show is the perfect pairing. The music was uplifting, motivating, enticing and the food was delicious, well seasoned and perfectly cooked. I left with a huge smile on my face and a bounce in my step because the night overall was just perfect!
Here's a look at the meal:
Duo of Kamuela Tomato - one au naturel and the other fried, lemongrass marinated tomato with smoked goat cheese, basil, mint and torn croutons. This was wonderful. I love goat cheese and tomatoes so I was in heaven. Natural or fried the flavors were pronounced and complimented by the creamy goat cheese and fried basil.
Tempura Shrimp Fritters with Big Island Heart of Palm, sweet and sour lilikoi sauce and caper remoulade. The shrimp was nice and tempura had a great texture. I loved the lilikoi sauce, I wished it came with a puddle of that sauce for dipping. The remoulade was too heavy and there was a lot of it. I found myself dabbing the shrimp on the plate to remove the excess. But overall good flavor and texture.
Surf & Turf - the grilled beef and pan roasted opah was lovely. The beef was tender, perfectly seasoned. The opah was nicely cooked, with a little moisture in the middle then a nice crust on the outside. The true highlight for me was the accompaniment. The mixture of sauces and vegetables was outstanding. Kahuku sweet corn, Honshimeji mushrooms, Okinawan sweet potato with crispy gobo and crunchy lotus root with the soy reduction and chili butter sauce was phenomenal. You had sweet, creamy, buttery, crunchy, meaty all in one! Loved it!!!
Sweet Ending - Lemon yuzu cake with salted caramel crunch served with creamy honey ice cream and blackberry elderflower foam. As you can imagine the entire table was pretty full by this end. But we all still managed to want to lick the plate on this gem. The cake was dense but light, the ice cream perfectly creamy and slightly sweet, morsels of caramel crunch added texture and the blackberry foam a little acid, delightful!
The dinner was superb and the entertainment amazing! As you can see the entertainers were positioned in the middle of the dinning room fronting the open kitchen. It was intimate, soothing, relaxing yet exciting at the same time and the service was on point!
This dinner is only $60 which includes the entertainment and all 4+ courses, add $35 supplemental charge is you opt to do wine pairings as well. This would be a great treat for a date night, special occasion, night out, or just a place to enjoy a fabulous meal and wonderful entertainment. The next Acoustic Soul Fusion is set for October 15th featuring Starr Kalahiki.
Click here for their website and events calendar: http://stagerestauranthawaii.com/stage-events
Also, if you haven't heard they feature an Amuse Wine Bar outside the restaurant which has amazing wines by the ounce and wonderful pupus. They also showcase live entertainment and on Wednesdays offer a special discount for wine cards and Tuesday - Friday $5 happy hour.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you can't believe what just happened? I did. As a child I used to watch two things on TV and again on VHS tapes... the first, the Miss Hawaii Scholarship Pageant. I can remember as far back as the early 90's watching Hawaii's finest young ladies showcase their talents and beauty on stage and on live TV. The second, figure skating. You'd think growing up on Kauai I wouldn't have any interest in ice skating since there's no skating rink. But, I used to rollerblade in my driveway and fantasize about being a professional figure skater. Truth be told those dreams did not come to fruition. But the memories of watching America's greatest skaters always remained. I had to pinch myself today because I met two of those skaters. America's darling and what a sweetheart she is Krisit Yamaguchi and the stunningly handsome and down to earth Brian Boitano are in town to announce a very special skating concert to be held at the Blaisdell this November. Brian Boitano is a figure skating legend. The San Francisco resident held the titles of Olympic Champion, World Champion and the U.S. National Champion in the mid to late 80's. Kristi Yamaguchi also captured gold during the Olympics and at the World Championships in the early 90's and she also went on the win several professional figure skating championships after her time spent skating as an amateur.
My good friend Melissa Chang asked me if I would be open to taking a skating lesson with Kristi and boy was that amazing. I have not skated on ice in years and arrived a bit early so I could possibly get my bearings, but alas I didn't have the chance to practice. For the video and the experience, stay tuned to FrolicHawaii.com -- it was AMAZING!
Yamaguchi and Boitano have paired up to produce a show stopping ice skating (fundraising) event November 20 and 21. The first professional ice skating show to come to the islands in 2-decades. The who's who of the figure skating world will gather at the Blasidell for this amazing concert.
GOLDEN MOMENT will showcase incredible professional skaters:
Gold Medalists: Kristi Yamaguchi (Albertville), Brian Boitano (Calgary), Meryl Davis and Charlie White (Sochi), Shizuka Arakawa (Turin) and Katia Gordeeva (Calgary)
World Champions: Kurt Browning, Yuka Sato and Miki Ando (I totally remember each of these skaters - OMG)
National Champions: Takeshi Honda and Jeremy Abbott
The proceeds raised from this family-friendly event benefit childhood literacy. Yamaguchi, a mother of two girls, started the Always Dream Foundation aimed at promoting literacy for keiki and she has also partnered with several local organizations. The money raised in Hawaii also stays in Hawaii!
More info on the event and Chang's brief Q&A with Yamaguchi click this link http://www.frolichawaii.com/stories/golden-moment-qa-with-kristi-yamaguchi/
For tickets - visit http://www.ticketmaster.com
For more on the non-profit and what these phenomenal athletes are up to now - visit: https://www.alwaysdream.org
They say you eat with your eyes first and if you didn't realize that until now, you're probably thinking to yourself 'yeah she's right'. Recently the food scene in Hawaii has been elevated to new standards of deliciousness and I feel the caliber of chefs in town make Hawaii a force in the culinary world. This is also true at The Kahala Resort where the food is not only beautiful but the views are as well. I was recently invited to take part in a special media tasting dinner as Hoku's prepared to launch its new menu and welcome new Chef de Cuisine Hiroshi Inoue. I haven't dined at Hoku's in a long time and I think the last time I was there it was for a birthday brunch. Ironically, they are also relaunching their fabulous brunch this weekend. Lucky us! But this blog about Inoue and his experience along with innovation that brings him to Hawaii. Under the helm of Chef Wayne Hirabayashi who has been at The Kahala since 1998, Inoue is a welcome addition to the team as he brings his Michelin Star cuisine, Mediterranean flavors and Asian influences to the table, literally.
While Hoku's signature classics like the Ahi Musubi, Seafood Tower, Whole Fish Hoku's Stye remain there are some new additions including grilled A5 Miyazaki Wagyu Striploin, Black Pepper and Sesame Crusted Ahi Steak and Kurobuta Pork and Mushroom Risotto. Here's a look as some of the new artfully crafted and composed menu items:
Some of the other dishes (not pictured) really showcased Chef Inoue's craft, playfulness and whimsy! Each I found had a colorful, eclectic appearance. The beauty of the plates is like none other on the island right now. To see it you must experience it, in person. No camera or photograph could do it justice.
Hoku's is open Wednesday - Sunday 5:30pm-10pm for dinner
Sunday Brunch 10am-2pm.
Check out The Kahala website: http://www.kahalaresort.com