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A Simply Ono Local-style Tahitian Salad

Award-winning Tiki’s Grill & Bar appeals to both residents and visitors alike with its island flavors, and also attracts the late-night crowd with live, contemporary Hawaiian music. The casual, retro South Pacific island-themed d├ęcor features palm wood flooring, torches, and fishnets hanging from the ceiling.

The menu includes fresh island fish and seafood, such as ginger soy grilled salmon, pupus with its popular coconut crunchy shrimp, salads such as ‘Nalo shiso seared tofu salad with locally grown produce, and a good variety of meats and chicken. Save room for the innovative and luscious desserts! The restaurant uses locally grown products whenever possible.

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Tiki's Grill and Bar executive chef Ronnie Nasuti with his Poisson Cru LAWRENCE TABUDLO PHOTOS

At the helm of the kitchen is executive chef Ronnie Nasuti, who has been working in restaurants since the age of 14, when he started as a dishwasher.

The youngest of four siblings, he grew up in an Italian family in Massachusetts and credits his father, who passed away when he was only 8 years old, with instilling his passion for cooking.

Chef Nasuti finished four years of culinary arts at the high school level and apprenticed for Les Dames Escoffier Society at Coply Plaza Hotel. In his extensive career, he has had the opportunity to cook and dine all over the world.

Chef Nasuti worked at Roy’s Park Bistro and at Roy’s Hawaii Kai, training under Roy Yamaguchi, Gordon Hopkins and Jacqueline Lau, and became the opening sous chef at Roy’s Poipu Bar & Grill. He was executive chef at Chez Michel in Honolulu, and then returned to Roy’s Hawaii Kai as executive sous chef. He now hangs his hat at Tiki’s Grill & Bar, and is excited to be a part of the team in this fun and exciting high-volume restaurant.

His advice to aspiring chefs: “Be sure you love it whole heartedly. If you do, it will be a more than gratifying experience and career choice.”

This column is dedicated to Chef Nasuti, who graciously has given me one of his favorite recipes to share with MidWeek readers.

ISLAND ONO POISSON CRU

* 1 pound fresh Hawaiian ono, cubed into poke size

* 1/2 cup roughly cut fresh ogo

* 1/2 cup roughly cut Kahuku sea asparagus

* 1 cup coconut milk (may use low-fat or fat-free)

* 1 cup diced local sweet onion

* 1 cup diced local tomatoes, or grape tomatoes cut in half

* 1/2 cup fresh lime juice

* Hawaiian salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

* 4 teaspoons toasted coconut flakes

Toss ono cubes in lime juice and let rest for two minutes to “tighten” the fish but not “cook” it. Add the rest of ingredients, toss and season with salt and pepper. Distribute evenly to four bowls and sprinkle toasted coconut flakes on top. We fry plantain slices into chips to add a textural layer to the dish.

heartychef@hotmail.com