Ti leaf steamed trout served with green garlic puree, koshihikari short grain rice. I liked the mushrooms and rice on this dish.
So... when people from Hawaii visit other places they tend to migrate and latch-on to other people from Hawaii. Of course a group of us Hawaiians had to try "Modern Hawaiian" food served in the Dogpatch of San Francisco; think of it as our version of Kakaako. Needless to say this former pop-up eatery has hit the dining scene with its own brick and mortar location famous for serving Hawaiian/Asian inspired brunch and now dinner.
Headed to SF? Ask anyone from Hawaii and they will recommend you eat at 'aina and celebrate the culture, history and Hilo essences in the decor, cuisine and cooking.
Our experience was mediocre overall. The plating of the dishes is exquisite but the highlights end there. I would not go as far as saying this is Hawaiian food. There are elements that are uniquely Hawaiian which include Spam, pipikaula, luau and haupia but the cuisine and price-point is elevated-fusion using Hawaiian-inspired ingredients.
The open kitchen allows you to see the chefs (who never come out) the co-owner and GM seemed in a rush to jump on his motorcycle and leave to go meet his band or something. Service is attentive, ambience is simple, modern and a bit on the noisy side. As with everyone else in SF dishes are meant to be shared and artfully presented using farm fresh ingredients. I left full and glad we went, but perhaps next time I would return for brunch and not for dinner.
Some dishes stood out to me in a bad way and a couple stood out to me because they were tasty. In the end, the pork was the only saving grace, oh and the beautiful plates bright with color and vibrant in presentation. Props to the chef for the use of molecular gastronomy and showcasing Hawaiian flavors in a new and creative way.