Nashville Waikiki Reopening at Aloha Tower

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Nashville Waikiki, Hawaii’s only country western and classic rock saloon, opened for business at the Aloha Tower Marketplace on Friday, January 22.

Located on the Diamond Head side of the marketplace, between Gordon Biersch and Hooters, Nashville Waikiki offered special prices, activities, and prizes to kick off the rebirth of this long-time Hawaii favorite, following a 5 p.m. Friday blessing of the new space.

“We’re very excited to be opening at the Aloha Tower Marketplace,” said Sandy Miano, who owns and runs the business with her daughter Karen Huntimer and husband Richard Miano, Sr. “People have been calling and asking for months when we were going to reopen, since the day we closed our doors in Waikiki, actually. Now we’re ready to bring that energy to our new location. We were an instant hit in Waikiki, and we think our old friends and customers will join us here, and bring some new friends as well.”

Originally located in the Ohana West hotel on Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki, the club was a local favorite until it departed that location when the hotel closed in March, 2015.

The traditions that began downstairs in Nashville’s original Kuhio Avenue location continue in its new harbor-view home. Pool tables, dart boards, line dancing, and a staff that Yelp reviewers called “friendly and fun,” “way awesome,” and ”always sweet and attentive.”

Nashville Waikiki is open daily from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m.

REVIEW: CPK’s Hawaii Exclusive Ahi Dishes

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California Pizza Kitchen announced its “Next Chapter” menu in December, which included a number of dishes that were developed especially for Hawaii. Karsha Chang connected Hawaii Grinds with Pearlridge location manager Tricia Coloma and skilled server Deirdre to try them last night.

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We started with the ahi eggrolls. This was my favorite of the three items. They were still warm but not greasy, crisp on the outside and cool and fresh on the inside. We had the starter size, which was the perfect size to share in addition to the other items.

We were told by the server that the eggrolls were originally accompanied by a simple sriracha sauce. The eggrolls now come with an over-sweet sesame-based sauce. I imagine that the new sauce was a compromise for the local palate, but the sriracha sauce, in my opinion, worked much better than the new sauce. There was something in the new sauce that didn’t mesh with the ingredients in the eggroll quite right.

Ryan adds: The sriracha sauce was definitely the way to go. It was an interesting presentation, the ahi having perhaps the most muted contribution to the overall flavor.

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Next we had the Poke Chop Chop salad, opting for the half portion (which was still enough to share). The greens were fresh and had the perfect combination of bitter and fresh flavors. The lion’s share of the greens were made up of arugula, which gave a peppery counterpoint to the sweet dressing.

I always find salads disappointing if they are dominated by one ingredient or have overly large pieces. The salad had neither of these characteristics, but I could complain about the scarcity of the actual poke. Then again, you can never have enough poke.

Ryan adds: Considering I’m not a fan of salads, I surprised myself by how much I liked this dish. The arugula brought a lot of bite.

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Next, the Seared Ahi. It was served on a bed of bok choy and a grain called faro, which our server said was the new quinoa. While all of the ingredients would have worked for me individually — including the faro which I had never tried before — the combination of the ingredients didn’t quite mesh.

The bok choy was perfectly cooked; neither crunchy or mushy. While I will gladly fight to the death for ahi, I don’t necessarily enjoy it dressed up in a coating of sesame seeds, as it was served here. I think ahi is perfect by itself. It doesn’t need a fancy presentation, or dipping sauces, or any hullabaloo.

Ryan says: This was my favorite dish. If I didn’t know I was eating faro, I could’ve convinced myself it was just a flavorful brown rice. The bok choy was delightful. And c’mon… thick seared ahi steaks? More, please!

Sidebar: Dessert & Drink

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For dessert, we had another new menu item, S’mores, which — like the s’mores at any trendy restaurant capitalizing on nostalgia — were a hot mess, and not in a good way.

Who ever heard of pudding in s’mores? Everybody knows that there are three ingredients in a s’more: chocolate bar, marshmallow, and graham cracker. The three things together, in proportion with no interference and no messing around, are magical. Adding nonsense like pudding turns it from a s’more into…something else.

If they insist on messing with a classic, they could class it up by using a homemade marshmallow or dark chocolate squares. What we got was a barely-browned hunk o’ sugar-coated store-bought Jet Puffs.

Ryan says: Whoa. Harsh. I never order dessert, and I liked it, at least after I found the graham cracker at the bottom. I think they were trying to go hot and cold with the marshmallows and pudding, but I think they should just serve the whole thing hot.

cpk-margarita

I tried a Platinum Margarita with a Chambord float. I am a bit of a margarita snob and was hesitant to try it sullied by anything but good ol rock salt, but the raspberry flavor of the chambord mellowed out the harshness of the tequila very nicely.

Mahalo to CPK for hosting us for dinner, and to Pulpconnection for the heads up! See more photos here. Read more about CPK’s new menu here.

Chocolatier Pierre Marcolini to Visit Honolulu

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Shortly after the opening of his only store in the United States at Ala Moana Center in November, accomplished pâtissier Pierre Marcolini will pay a visit to Hawaii from January 26 to 31, 2016.  The Belgian chocolatier will be touring at least one local cacao farm on the island and hosting a series of clientele events, including an in-store meet-and-greet open to the public.

Pierre Marcolini is one of the most accomplished chocolatiers in the world, having been appointed the first pastry glacier in Belgium in 1991.  He took the title of grand winner in his class at numerous competitions, such as the “Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie” (World Champion of Pastry) in Lyon, France (1995), and the European Pâtissier Contest in Rome (2000), before being inducted in to “Le Salon du Chocolat Hall of Fame” in Paris (2014), receiving the highly esteemed “5 Tablets” Award (2015), being recognized as one of the “Incontournables du chocolat français 2015” chocolatiers by Club de Croqueurs de Chocolat (2015), and most recently, becoming a new certified supplier to the Belgian royal family (December 9, 2015).

With over 30 locations in Belgium, France, Japan, U.K., Kuwait, and now the United States, Marcolini’s discerning taste takes him across the globe in search of the best raw cacao.  As a result, he has made Oahu his next stop, where he plans to visit the Waialua Estate cacao farm, possibly among a few others on January 29, with the hopes of sourcing chocolate for yet another single estate creation.  If all works out, this could help further global awareness of Hawaii’s burgeoning chocolate industry.  In addition, Marcolini will be hosting a few private clientele events on January 27 and 28, and making a stop by the Ala Moana store to meet chocolate fans on January 30, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

“People seeking a personalized Valentine’s Day gift should stop by the new Pierre Marcolini store to meet this charismatic personality, while getting him to write a short message on a box of his exquisitely crafted chocolates,” says Yushi Tajima, president of Il Meglio Del Meglio (The Cream of the Crop), the “exclusive distributor” and franchisee of Pierre Marcolini’s Japan and Hawaii stores.

Marcolini, one of the few remaining European chocolatiers who still roast them beans themselves, is involved in every step of the production process.  His avant-garde creations incorporate the finest ingredients from around the world, including pink peppercorns from Morocco, pistachios from Iran, vanilla from Madagascar, and also rosewater, bergamot, and lemons from Sicily.  Inspired by the fantastic nature and climate of Hawaii, Marcolini crafted new chocolates exclusive to the Honolulu store, including chocolates with marine life shapes and flavors such as macadamia nuts.  The 908 square foot Ala Moana store also offers a wide selection of his classic confections, exclusive pastries, chocolate drinks, cacao bowls, and soft serve ice creams.

Pierre Marcolini is located on the 3rd floor of the new Ewa Wing in Ala Moana Center, and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday.

About Pierre Marcolini

Born in 1964, in Charleroi, Belgium, Pierre Marcolini was deeply inspired by his family and his Italian origins.  By the age of 14, he realized his dream to become a chocolatier and pursued his culinary education in Brussels, earning four culinary diplomas.  In 1983, he became a pastry chef and worked alongside many of the top professionals in Belgium.  In 1996, Pierre Marcolini opened his first store on Avenue Louise in Brussels, and has since grown his empire to encompass over 30 in Belgium, France, Japan, U.K., Kuwait, and the United States. For more information, visit the corporate website at https://eu.marcolini.com/, or his Hawaii-based website at www.marcolini-hawaii.com.

Chinese teahouse Yauatcha coming to Waikiki

The new International Market Place will debut Michelin-starred restaurant Yauatcha amongst its lineup of 10 world-class, chef-driven restaurants. The contemporary dim sum teahouse is one of the flagship restaurant brands from the global hospitality company Hakkasan Group.

“This addition of Yauatcha to our lineup underscores our commitment to bringing absolutely unique offerings to both locals and tourists,” said William Taubman, chief operating officer for Taubman. “Our restaurant line-up and the ambiance of the open-air grand lanai – along with our exceptional stores – distinguishes International Market Place from everything in the market.”

The restaurant — to be located on the third-level grand lanai — specializes in modern authentic dim sum, as well as wok dishes and other small eats. Yauatcha’s culinary concept is a modern reinterpretation of the traditional Chinese teahouse featuring an exceptional range of teas. The restaurant is also known for its patisserie, including hand-made petits gateaux, macarons and chocolate.

“Bringing Yauatcha to Honolulu marks a milestone for the Hakkasan Group and further enhances our vision of moving into high growth markets,” said Nick McCabe, president of Hakkasan Group. “By opening in the new International Market Place, we will be part of an excellent portfolio of fine dining and award-winning eateries.”

Taubman recently announced that the following restaurants will be offered at International Market Place: Chef Michael Mina‘s Stripsteak and The Street, Eating House 1849 by Chef Roy Yamaguchi, Flour & Barley, Goma Tei, and Kona Grill. The center’s remaining restaurants and retail tenants will be announced in 2016.

Developed by Taubman and CoastWood Capital Group in conjunction with Queen Emma Land Company, the 360,000 sq. ft. International Market Place will offer approximately 75 retailers and the state’s first Saks Fifth Avenue. For ease of access, International Market Place will offer 700 parking spaces and valet parking. Grand opening will take place August 25, 2016.

For more information on International Market Place, visit www.shopinternationalmarketplace.com.