For an authentic local dining experience, try these dishes that use ingredients from farms right here in Hawai‘i.
Farm-to-table shouldn’t be a buzzword, nor should it be a trend. Eating fresh, local foods and ingredients is how families and communities fed themselves for generations. Only during the latter part of the 20th century and for the last decade has commercialized, mass-produced and often outsourced farming had such an influence on the foods we eat. What is appealing about produce, meats, fish, herbs and spices that are grown, raised and eaten locally is the quality that comes from their freshness. Hawai‘i has an outstanding climate for farming. They may be subtle, but Hawai‘i does have seasonal climate change that effects farming patterns, but overall, our islands are a haven for crisp, local products, whether it be sweet Maui onions or day-boat caught ‘ahi. Here is a look at a few local dishes centered on locally grown and raised ingredients.
By description Hula Grill‘s Localicious Salad is a fairly simple dish, but what makes it pop is the quality of the island-wide produce included.
“We had on our menu just a traditional mixed salad, but wanted to really showcase local ingredients that many people may not be familiar with,” says Hula Grill sous chef Matt Young. Hitting each coast of O‘ahu, the Localicious Salad consists of Nalo greens from Waimanalo on O‘ahu’s east side, Kahuku sea asparagus from the North Shore, sweet Ewa onions to the west, Ho Farms tomatoes, Hearts of Palm from Big Island and ho‘i‘o ferns. Topping this healthy garden salad is a light miso lime vinaigrette dressing.
Helping to spread the word and educate the next generation about local farming, Hula Grill works with ‘AINA In Schools—a local farm-to-school initiative— donating a portion of Localicious Salad sales to the community cause.
Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach
2335 Kalakaua Ave. [C:8 Waikiki Map]
(808) 923-4852 | www.hulagrillwaikiki.com
New to the repertoire at Nobu is their Heart of Palm dish. If you’re wondering what that may be, heart of palm is the edible inner stem of a cabbage palm tree. With comparable flavor to an artichoke there are many ways to use a heart of palm. Obtaining palm from the Big Island, Nobu’s Heart of Palm Pepperocini is a flavorful vegetarian dish. “Today’s diner’s diet is changing, and Nobu is always evolving to cater to different palettes as the heart of palm dish does,” says Nobu general manager Casper Khamphouy.
Julienning the heart of palm into what resembles shoestring pasta, the palm is then tossed and quickly pan fried with olive oil, sliced garlic and shaved asparagus. Topped with a touch of chili and togarashi spice for a little kick, and you have a flavorful and healthy dish to enjoy with the table.
Waikiki Parc Hotel
2233 Helumoa Road [D:7 Waikiki Map]
(808) 237-6999 | www.noburestaurants.com
Tiki’s Grill & Bar
Now farm-to-table isn’t all green and leafy. The same high quality values that hold true for produce go hand-in-hand with farm-raised island cattle, poultry and pigs.
Regarding farm-to-table foods, Tiki‘s executive chef Ronnie Nasuti says, “Having access to premium quality products that aren’t controlled by conglomerates is a good thing for the consumer, local business owner, restaurateur and chefs. [Local] farmers have a true sense of agriculture and animal husbandry, if you will.”
Tiki’s exemplifies those sentiments with their succulent Kahalu‘u Smoked Meat dish. The meat comes from island-raised pigs and is smoked to precision by former employee Mike Kealoha. A family secret of Kealoha’s, who has been smoking meat since he was a boy, the meat is smoked using avocado wood with added kiawe wood to give the meat a tasty mesquite flavor. The meat is glazed with guava jelly and tossed in poha berries from Sambo Berries on Hawai‘i Island. Before serving, the meat is then mixed with caramelized sweet island onions.
Tiki’s Grill & Bar
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
2570 Kalakaua Ave. [C:10 Waikiki Map]
(808) 923-8454 | www.tikisgrill.com