Kahala Hotel and Resort's featured restaurant, Hoku's, has come out of a brief hibernation for renovations with revamped decor and cuisine.
The restaurant officially reopened April 15 after closing in mid-March to accommodate the construction.
"Hoku's has been the signature restaurant at Kahala for decades now and there have been some improvements made, but it was time in its life cycle time to renew it," Kahala general manager Gerald Glennon said. "The new concept goes back to modern Hawaiian cuisine, with an atmosphere that is fine dining, yet approachable and easy to navigate."
Capacity has been reduced from 100 to 75 to create more intimate seating areas, and the establishment's old glass entryway has been replaced with large, artisan wooden double doors. The $2 million project also included new kitchen equipment, new custom light installations, orbs with multiple LED lights conjuring a galaxy, a nod to the Hoku, which means star. The floors, moldings and other architectural features have also been updated.
The menu too has refreshed, led by new chef de cuisine Eric Oto, who arrived in August 2017 as the resort prepared for the changes at Hoku's.
"Eric is a young guy who comes from a family of farmers and fisherman," Glennon said. "He respects food, is very creative and very down to earth. We believe he is part of the next wave of talented chefs in Hawaii."
Many of Hoku's signature items will remain, such as the seafood tower and rack of lamb. In addition they plan to update the menu regularly, changing over roughly a third of the items with the seasons. The property's master sommelier is reformatting the wine list with an eye toward accessibility, with a seperate reserve list for true oenophiles. The restaurant's clientele is roughly 75% local residents, according to Glannon, and they want Hoku's to be seen as fine dining but not so upscale as to be only for special occasions.
"The chefs have been working hard," Glennon said. "The menu has been somewhat streamlined with the centerpiece being a multicourse tasting menu that will feature what's fresh and in season at the local marketplace and change monthly."
Hoku's Sunday brunch is also being upgraded, with new a la carte options and special dessert menu in addition to the traditional buffet.
The Veranda, Kahala's more casual cocktail and jazz lounge, closed as well for a brief period in March so workers could install new furniture and flooring. The restaurant changes are part of an ongoing renewal of the hotel that is being completed in stages, including some work on the spa and retail areas.
Kahala Hotel and Resort is also in the preliminary stages for planning a major propertywide renovation that is a couple of years away, according to Glennon.