Now more than ever it is important to support local. With closings, reopenings, limitations and spacial changes... our local chefs and restaurant owners have been struggling. In turn, that also impacts our local farmers, purveyors and the local economy. Together with local restaurants, Hawaii Agricultural Foundation has launched an initiative aimed at helping all of the aforementioned people.
Say hello to Food-A-Go-Go Restaurant Week.- taking place April 5-12 statewide. Some of the restaurants may also opt to continue their specials through April 19, while an online auction aimed at supporting the local restaurant industry and HAF's K-12 agricultural education programs will be held April 5-30.
How does it work? Visit www.foodagogo.org to checkout the participating restaurants and make reservations to dine in or take out. You may also bid online during the auction period to Bid It To Win It.
I had a chance to sample the delicious specialty menu items at Maile's Thai Bistro Ward and they all were outstanding. Here's a taste of what you can expect:
Thai Spicy Clams with basil, onion, bell peppers and savory chili garlic sauce (don't worry it wasn't that spicy). What a great combination of garlic and chili to create a lovely elegant tasty dish.
Lao Poke - A new take on local island ahi tossed with fresh lime, toasted rice, onions, mint and specialty Lao spices. This was a great flavor combination and was very refreshing.
Nam Khao Salad - Lao Crispy Rice with cured pork, grated coconut, mint, peanut, scallions, cilantro, lime and fish sauce. I really enjoy the crunchy fried rice and delicate flavors and textures that followed.
Shoyu Pork - made with pork butt, this is braised pork with egg, soy sauce, fish sauce and jasmine rice. The pork was melt in your mouth delicious!
Lao Sausage - Fresh house made sausage with just enough fat and flavor, this is perfect to pair for an ice cold beer! .
Maile's always has robust flavors with lots of vegetables and savory elements. If you enjoy Thai and Lao cooking she literally has the best menu to enjoy.
It was hard to pick a favorite because each dish was excellent and full of flavor. Some loved the Clams most while I think I loved the Poke best. Long story short, try them all!
I've walked past it dozens of times... rarely noticed the restaurant and sometimes thought to myself -- "What is Soffritto?" Somewhat unassuming and perhaps maybe considered unapproachable, I stepped inside to be whisked away to a place that serves authentic global cuisine, that is artfully and finely prepared with outstanding flavors.
A classic hidden eatery with few tables, a grab 'n go counter and items cooked to order from the kitchen... Soffritto specializes in delicious Italian focused cuisine, but also tests the waters with other global home cooked items too. Don't get me wrong the Putanesca is amongst the best we've ever tasted, the various pastas and homemade focaccia bread is unbelievably divine and other items including Shrimp Etoufee are outstanding.
The portion sizes are generous, the prices are affordable and the quality is that of fine dining. They use premium ingredients to craft each dish and also share a great sense of pride in what they do. Owned by a husband and wife duo, the wife works the counter with grace and ease, which the chef and owner husband is in the kitchen passionately preparing the dishes ala minute.
Venturing into their theme of global home cooking Soffritto has been preparing Birria Tacos, Adobo, Goat, Gumbo, Russian Salad, African dishes, more Mexican dishes and so on. There isn't really a rhyme or reason, but the chef loves to play and create. His sense of taste and flavor is impeccable and you can tune their Instagram for specials and teases of what he will come up with next.
In the end, if you are looking for hearty, flavorful, unique and delicious food for lunch or dinner be sure to stop by Soffritto in downtown (located off of Fort Street Mall along Pauahi Street - just a block Diamond Head from Hawaii Theatre. The menu is diverse, evolving and changing, the food is fantastic and the price points are well worth it when given the quality and ingredients.
Just as the COVID pandemic started to take shape last year... a family prepared to open a new eatery conveniently located in the food court at busy Ala Moana Center. Then as you can remember and imagine the world shutdown. But, all is not lost - as we start to slowly get back to some form of normalcy people started venturing out again and foodies started to head out and eat again. Thus we say hello to the SingMaTei.
A family owned and operated Singaporean and Malaysian eatery, this looks like a chain restaurant with its vibrant signage and impeccably professional and meticulous store front, but it is actually just another type of young mom and pop shop, trying to make it in this world. The family has deep roots in China and has incorporated their experience with these types of cuisines and the need for something like this in Hawaii - to create delightfully delicious SingMaTei.
You may have seen its pretty blue coconut rice and wondered what is this place about? Well they serve homemade noodles, fresh curry and Singapore Style Black Pepper meats too. Famous for their Laksa, which comes with a choice of toppings be it shrimp, seafood, chicken, lemongrass chicken or beef - the flavors are outstanding, the portions generous and the quality is superb
Entrees also include items like Curry Pineapple Shrimp, Lemongrass Pork or Chicken, Curry Beef and crispy Chicken Wings. These plates come with their popular blue coconut rice which is colored using the Butterfly Pea Flower (all natural). My favorite is the Chicken Tikka Masala which also comes with a side of seasoned Naan Bread. I love to dip the bread in the curry and eat the rice too. Overall the flavors are very pronounced yet easy to eat - something can be found for the whole family as the dishes are not super spicy. If you seek to add more spice they make a homemade sambal which you can try and add as you wish.
One of their most popular side dishes is the curry look fun noodles, which is soft, pillowy and the perfect blend of curry with other spices. Look fun and curry lovers will enjoy this immensely.
Lastly, the staff are all very friendly and kind and the owners are so sweet and humble. They have goals to open in other locations, including the mainland, but Hawaii lays claim to the very first SingMaTei and it's delicious cousin and outstanding service. Be sure to visit them next to Jamba at the Ala Moana Food Court open everyday for lunch or early dinner.
Andrea Onetti is as authentic as they come. The chef and pasta maker from Italy has been known around town for over a decade as his simple sauces and fresh pastas really embrace the uniqueness that is Mediterranean cooking.
The creator of Onda Pasta has recently expanded from his usual stints at farmer's markets and pop-ups on Oahu, to produce Piccola (small) Onda. Piccola Onda is new food truck located in Waikiki closer to the Zoo, just on the Diamond Head side of Alohilani Resort.
Positioned off of Kealohilani Avenue, up a ramp and hidden away you'll find his fresh secret sauces, recipes from his grandmother, and local ingredients. Onetti is proud to support local farmers like Ho Farms and local businesses including La Tour Bakehouse, where he gets his delicious ciabatta breads.
Andrea Onetti and business partner William Chen decided to open this new concept to offer locals and visitors the chance to taste something authentic, fresh and fun. They just opened yesterday and plan to be open everyday 10am-6pm. Piccola Onda serves items like Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches, Pastas, Gnocchi and Panna Cotta. The ingredients are simple, yet elegantly delightful. I ordered the Eggplant Parm Sandwich which was made to order, hot from the over and paired well as you had the flaky, crunchy bread, with the buttery and salty cheese, over two slabs of fresh fried eggplant and slathered with grandma's secret tomato sauce. I had a bite of the Bolognese Gnocchi which was fluffy, pillowy, yet hearty and delicious. They also have spaghetti and lasagna too.
Located on the Diamond Head side of Alohilani Resort
2490 Kalakaua Ave, but it is really off of Kealohilani Ave (halfway between Kalakaua and Kuhio)