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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

Chai’s Bold Move; Eggs-ceptional Deals

The opening of Chef Chai at Pacifica Honolulu last month was a testament to lofty goals. I can’t think of many chefs who could close one restaurant (Chai’s Island Bistro at Aloha Tower Marketplace closed on New Year’s Eve) and open another within weeks. The built-from-scratch restaurant is gorgeous and will appeal to those looking for an elegant, sophisticated pau hana place to drop by, hang out and eat well. Outside, contemporary tiki torches send glass-encased flames shooting upward, while the restaurant interior boasts a private dining room that disappears into the wall, making sure any surprise party is worthy of its name.

The bar should be a popular spot for pre and post concert dining, and if the brisk business at Doraku Sushi on the same block is anything to go by, Chef Chai and his staff should prepare for some very busy – and fun – evenings.

Open for dinner only from 4-11 p.m. at Pacifica Honolulu Tower; happy hour 9-11 p.m.

More information at chefchai.com.

* Wasn’t it just a week or so ago that we were talking about Thanksgiving and looking forward to the holidays? Inexplicably, Easter (March 31) is nearly upon us and that means Sunday brunch options are plentiful. Easter lends itself more perfectly to brunch than almost any other holiday.

The eggs may have something to do with it. We have a small, but thriving, egg business in Hawaii, kept afloat by local restaurants and savvy shoppers. At Ka Lei Eggs, the business model involves such intense hands-on procedures that it almost doesn’t make sense to someone looking purely for monetary return. Lois Shimabukuro, president of Ka Lei Eggs, says the family isn’t in farming to make a fortune, rather to carry on what their father started.

“Our family philosophy is to have real people involved with the farming,” she says.

There’s much to be said for that. A couple of years ago, when a salmonella outbreak forced the recall of more than 550 million eggs on the Mainland, a USDA representative from Georgia visited the islands. He reported on “the calmness of Ka Lei’s chickens … the (trade )winds blowing through the hen houses … the clean appearance’ of the eggs.” He was apparently dumbfounded when told the eggs were not treated with chemicals, simply collected and washed by hand.

“My dad always said he thought of it from the chick-en’s point of view,” says Lois. “Give them the same clear water that we drink and expose them to natural Hawaii sunlight.”

* Many local restaurants support Hawaii’s egg industry by using locally farmed eggs. Eggs ‘n’ Things proudly serves island eggs in all three locations, including the recently opened restaurant on Piikoi Street.

And at Il Lupino, eggs are now on the menu daily from 7 a.m. The popular Italian restaurant in Royal Hawaiian Center opened for breakfast in March and has been receiving an enthusiastic reception from tourists and locals ever since.

Chef Chai Chaowasaree | Jo McGarry photos

The view outside the new Chai’s on Kapiolani

* Looking for somewhere special to eat your eggs this Easter? Hilton Hawaiian Village offers Easter brunch at the Rainbow Lanai for just $32 (kids under 5 eat-free).

And over at Pier 38, you can spend Easter morning enjoying that only-in-Hawaii specialty, fish and eggs. Nico’s at Pier 38 will be serving up brunch and a view of the harbor from its Grand Harbor View

Ballroom on Easter Sunday. Dishes include Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine and freshly caught onaga – with eggs.

Happy eating!

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