Honolulu restaurants are the talk of the town


HONOLULU -- The capital city dining scene is rapidly evolving in the high- and midrange categories. Heres a look at new, planned or existing restaurants that are making -- or promise to make -- waves.

" Nobu Waikiki, Waikiki Parc Hotel: A 7,500-square-foot outlet of Japanese-cuisine chain Nobu will open in the lobby of the Waikiki Parc, currently undergoing a transformation into a boutique hotel.

Nobu Waikiki will feature outdoor dining, a sushi bar and private dining areas decorated in Hawaiian style with lots of bamboo, fish nets, foliage and stone surfaces. A December opening is planned.

" Chef Mavro: This longtime top Honolulu venue was named one of the worlds top 10 restaurants by Fodors travel guides (see On the Menu, at right).

" Waikiki Beach Walk: This $460 million resort and retail development by Outrigger Enterprises just added a 5,500-square-foot Ruths Chris Steakhouse and an outlet of southern California chain Yard House to its list of planned restaurant tenants, which already includes Roys Waikiki, Holokai Grill, Mondo Gelato and Japanese fast-food restaurant Kai Waikiki.

" Bali by the Sea, Hilton Hawaiian Village: Chef Adam Hightower injected fresh air into this oceanside eatery that, as far as decor and fare are concerned, is fine dining; however, aloha shirts prevail. Extravagant dishes such as peanut butter and jelly rack of lamb (glazed with peanut butter, guava jam, hoisin and Chinese black bean) are not to be missed.

" Town, Kaimuki: Local chef Ed Kenney and New Yorker David Caldiero opened this minimalist venue in the Kaimuki neighborhood a year ago. Town serves American bistro fare, but we detected an Italian flair in many dishes. Kenney is adamant about using local produce, so Hawaiis on the menu, too.

" Little Village, Chinatown: Youd be hard-pressed to find a Chinese restaurant in Honolulu with good food, excellent service and tasteful decor. Little Village boasts all three. Highlights are pan-fried beef with red chili and garlic; fried rice with char sui pork, shrimp, duck and vegetables; and tiger prawns with a yogurt-honey glaze. Check out the chalkboard above the kitchen window for unique specials.

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Kenneth Kiesnoski contributed to this report.

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