Off the Charts

September 1, 2012 | By Margie Jacinto

For more than 40 years, Waikiki mainstay Chart House has been serving steaks and seafood in a setting that charms.

Like anywhere else, restaurants in Waikiki often come and go like the tides. However, there are a select few that manage to keep their patrons loyal and still have the ability to draw in wave after wave of new diners who come to O‘ahu. Chart House Waikiki is one such establishment, where the atmosphere and Pacific Rim cuisine continually please both first-timers and regulars— those who have made the restaurant a permanent part of their routine when they pay Honolulu a visit.

Located directly across Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, diners are privy to stellar views of the sea and sunset. Stop by the lounge for pupu (appetizers) and drinks. Award-winning libations include the Guy Tai (named after its creator) and the Bloody Mary. You’ll also catch Hawaiian-Contemporary music acts from the likes of Dean & Dean, as well as Tito Berenobis & Billy Beimes. These longtime local performers give Chart House the fun, relaxed vibe it’s come to be known for.

Longevity seems to be a characteristic at Chart House. Surf legend-cum-restaurateur Joey Cabell, opened the restaurant here in Honolulu in 1969 and still owns it today, while Scott Okamoto took over as general manager more than two decades ago. As far as menu items are concerned, many offerings have been there for years such as the Escargot a la Ernest, King crab legs and JJ’s Famous Garlic Steak. In fact, there was a brief moment that Chart House’s signature Baked Stuffed Shrimp—jumbo shrimp stuffed with Dungeness crab meat, then baked and topped with creamy hollandaise sauce—was removed from the regular bill of fare but was then promptly returned to the menu after longtime fans of the dish demanded it be made available once more. However, there are certainly new items being added like the Hawaii Ranchers New York Strip. Natural and pasture-raised right here in Hawai‘i, the fire-grilled strip is fork-tender and flavorful—it can easily be mistaken for a filet mignon.

And despite being known as a dining venue that serves fine steak and seafood, you may be surprised to learn that a multicourse meal may be more budget-friendly than you think. Thanks to its variety of specials—the Sunset Dinner Special (don’t be fooled by the name, you can order this all night) in particular—you can get a soup or salad, an entree selection and dessert for $29.50. Chart House also has a more elaborate set menu comprising a choice of appetizer and a more sumptuous soup, entree and dessert selection. And speaking of desserts, those who come here often know to order the Chocolate Lava Cake—a ganache-filled chocolate cake surrounded by crunchy pieces of buttery toffee served with vanilla ice cream on the side. Decadent, moist and gooey, it’s worth putting your diet on hold for the evening.

By the time your meal ends, you may be tempted to linger just a little while longer, since Chart House has such a warm and energetic atmosphere. Perhaps this has to do with Okamoto’s directive from Cabell when he first joined the Chart House family all those years ago: “I want you to make this job fun for yourself and for the employees, too. If we are asking our [staff] to do their very best each day they come to work, they must be able to look forward to coming to work—it has to be fun.”

Chart House Waikiki
1765 Ala Moana Blvd. [D:2 Waikiki Map]
(808) 941-6669

Photos courtesy of Chart House