Wow Factor

January 9, 2014 | By Yu Shing Ting

MAC 24/7’s new menu showcases local ingredients and culinary creativity—it’s Hawai’i’s version of comfort food served 24 hours a day.

MAC 24/7 in the Hilton Waikiki Beach is one of those restaurants you’ll want to visit at the start of your trip. Not just because the food is good, but also because you’ll most likely want to eat there again before you leave.

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the restaurant serves “modern American cuisine” with a local twist, including classic comfort foods and tasty healthy options. The chic, modern-day upscale diner is spacious, family-friendly and offers generous portions.

Executive chef James Aptakin, who joined MAC 24/7 in 2012, also recently introduced a new menu featuring more farm-to-table dishes, better ingredients and creative culinary masterpieces that are truly impressive.

“We took our signature comfort foods and took it to the next level with the wow factor by using the best ingredients and the best technique, and trying to source out locally as much as possible,” he explains. “For example our Roasted Beet & Kale Salad, we use golden red beets and kale from the island, and roast it with truffle oil. We also use Hau’ula tomatoes, local pineapple, macadamia nuts, Naked Cow goat cheese and a balsamic Maui onion dressing that we make from scratch. We make everything from scratch.”

Among the new appetizers receiving rave reviews is the Mini Ahi Poke Tacos ($12.50) with cilantro-wasabi avocado mousse and an island salsa made with papaya, mango and purple Peruvian potato.

For those who just can’t decide on what to order, the Mac-Aloha ($25) is for you. Described as the ultimate Hawaiian combo, it consists of huli-huli style grilled chicken smoked in-house with kiawe wood, thick and tender kalbi short ribs and seared ‘ahi tuna topped with wasabi creme fraiche. It also comes with traditional local-style fried rice with Portuguese sausage, Spam and char-siu; and wakame garnish.

As for comfort foods, the Fried Chicken & Waffles ($18.50) is more than satisfying. The chicken, which surprisingly is boneless, is topped with deep-fried jalapeno peppers, Maui onion and green onion; and served with house-made country white gravy. The buttermilk waffles come with your choice of guava syrup, coconut syrup or traditional maple syrup.

Some also may recognize MAC 24/7 from its famous MAC Daddy pancake challenge as seen on Travel Channel’s popular Man vs. Food show. Since then, many have attempted the challenge: To eat three, 14-inch pancakes topped with either blueberries, walnuts and chocolate chunks; pineapple, coconut and macadamia nuts; or cinnamon streusel with vanilla glaze; in 90 minutes. But participants seemed to be more attracted to the challenge itself than the actual pancakes.

“We were known for our pancakes, but we weren’t getting very good reviews on it,” explains Aptakin, who has won various cooking competitions including the Food Network “Caterers Challenge” in 2008. “It was dry, it wasn’t fluffy and it didn’t have enough flavor. So, the first thing I did was I learned everything I could learn about pancakes.”

Six weeks and 26 recipes later, Aptakin has developed a pancake that he’s proud to serve. “We keep the wet and dry ingredients separate, we use European butter, all premium ingredients and we mix it every 30 minutes because we found out that’s the right consistency, color, texture and flavor to get the perfect pancake,” he shares. “We’ve developed a pancake that has the wow factor. We also have a red velvet pancake that we’re getting huge reviews for.”

There also is a new pupu menu, dessert menu, gluten-free options and heart healthy dishes. And on Saturdays and Sundays, enjoy a breakfast/brunch buffet ($22) from 7 a.m. to noon with traditional breakfast offerings, including a MAC pancake station with nine toppings to choose from.

MAC 24/7
Hilton Waikiki Beach
2500 Kuhio Ave. [B:10 Waikiki Map]
(808) 921-5564