Talk about fresh out of the oven. These new restaurants are sizzling haute and so brand spankin’ new. We’re visiting Kauai alongside Oahu to check out dining haunts that are fairly undiscovered yet buzzed about by in the know local foodies. These newbies were hand-selected not only for their ultra fresh factor, but also for their under the radar status’. Check out my picks for the top five new restaurants in Hawaii.
1 Morimoto Waikiki
Infamous Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto brings his culinary magic to the hip and happening Waikiki Edition Hotel. The stylish eatery offers contemporary, cutting-edge Japanese cuisine, infusing traditional dishes with Western and local seasonal ingredients. Morimoto Waikiki serves up the freshest raw fish selections, an array of sushi and lean meat dishes alongside creative cocktails, sakes and beers. Choose from a fantastic pupu selection, a la carte entrees or extensive tasting menus. Highlights include the Toro Tartare with Osetra Caviar with crème fraiche, Tuna Pizza with anchovy aioli and the Morimoto Sashimi, a terraine of seared toro, smoked salmon, barbecued eel, tuna and hamachi served with five different spices. Morimoto is a memorable dining experience for breakfast, lunch or dinner offering innovation at every bite.
Morimoto is located at The Waikiki Edition Hotel, www.morimotowaikiki.com, 808.943.5900.
2 Red Salt
Located at the luxury boutique hotel, Koa Kea at Poipu Beach in Kauai, Red Salt is a beautiful oceanfront eatery enhanced by contemporary design. Showcasing premier ocean, pool and scenic views, Red Salt inspires an experience to remember both in setting and fresh island cuisine. The menu is avant-garde tropicale. Start with Bronzed Diver Scallop with seared frisee, lilikoi buerre blanc atop sweet potato crisp and the Kalua Pork “Luau” which is served aside taro gnocci. The Big Island Vanilla Seared Mahi is married with forbidden black rice and avocado ginger salsa while the Red Salt 7 Spiced Seared Ahi is paired with Serrano ham, edamame, cilantro risotto and brown butter sauce for a more seasonal friendly kick. In a gamier mood? Opt for the seared rack of lamb served with mango chutney, cauliflower couscous, and papaya gelee. Red Salt also has small bites in the lounge along with a slew of creative takes on classic tropical cocktails.
Red Salt is located at The Koa Kea Hotel 2251 Poipu Rd., http://koakea.com, 808.828.4216.
3 The Tavern at Princeville
Roy Yamaguchi has stepped out of the “Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine box” with his latest culinary venture, The Tavern at Princeville. Located on the North Shore of Kauai, Tavern is all about comfort food unlike his upscale, older bro, Roy. It’s simple food with a lot of soul focusing on American classics, some local faves and a hint of French influence. Flatbreads like the Croque Madame, which is topped with griddled ham-n-cheese, friend egg and crab mornay sauce is ideal for sharing. Beginnings such as the crispy calamari, Grilled Portuguese Sausage and Chicken Liver Cassoulet are delicious savory ways to start. For larger appetites, order the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Salt & Pepper Spareribs, Beef Stew or Braised Short Ribs with creamy cheese grits. And, save room for the Warm Olive Chardonnay Cake, Red Velvet Parfait, or The Tavern Sundae. The seasonal farm-friendly menu revolves often so be sure to check the chalkboard for specials.
4 Pablo's Cantina
Reminiscent of an authentic Casita with warm yellow hues, bright greens and blues, Pablo’s Cantina is spicing up Honolulu’s restaurant scene combining spirited décor with wholesome, authentic Mexican cuisine and fresh-bar signature margaritas. The menu here reflects Mexico’s diverse food culture featuring regional specialty dishes. Among its signature items are the Queso Fundido Chorizo, Molcajete, Enchiladas Sonora and the Pescado a la Veracruzana. All of the salsas, sauces, tortilla chips and desserts are prepared fresh daily and corn tortillas are homemade from locally sourced ingredients. Pablo’s also features over 40 premium , top-shelf tequilas and late-night cervesas y sangritas. Guests here can expect to be treated like part of the familia while dining at Pablo’s Cantina.
Pablo’s Cantina is located at Ward Centre, Second Floor, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd,. www.pabloscantina.com, 808.591.8307.
Melt is located at 1438 Kona St. (behind the Fitted Store) or roaming the H1. Keep track of Melt's whereabouts on Twitter @MeltHNL.
Serving up oozy grilled cheese goodness, Melt is Oahu’s latest gourmet food truck hitting the pavement. Though it’s not a traditional restaurant, it is as new as it gets not to mention a prime choice for on-the-go gourmands. Melt’s the latest Oahu portable operation, joining the much a buzzed about Korean Taco truck, Kogi BBQ from LA. Melt uses the freshest in local ingredients paired with high quality cheeses. The Super Melt for instance is a blend of melted cave-aged gruyere, Vermont cheddar, and Dutch gouda served on sourdough. The Bacon Melt is made with gruyere, bacon, and topped with onions and apple sage jam served on fresh wheat bread. You can also order up the classic with a cup of tomato soup (my personal lazy meal of choice). Melt is bound to be a major success with foodie industry vets, Lindsey Ozawa (formerly of Nobu), Honolulu Weekly food editor, Martha Cheng, and V-lounge “pizza-teer”, Alejandro “Aker” Briceno behind the comfort food on wheels concept.