Honolulu tops nation for Japanese, Korean food

Honolulu ranks as America’s most popular city for Japanese and Korean cuisines in America, according to a report out today from Chef’s Pencil.

The state of Hawaii leads the nation in its love of sushi. And Thai is the most popular cuisine in Hawaii and Alaska.

The report is based on Google Trends data, a reliable source of consumer trends data. What is unique about the data is that it doesn’t only indicate Americans’ dining out habits, but also shows what Americans are eating at home.

Google provides data on a whole range of topics, including national cuisines, and allocates a score that indicates the level of interest in the topic. For example, Japanese cuisine will comprise hundreds or thousands of searches related to the topic such as Japanese restaurantsJapanese ricesushisushi recipes, and even names of well-known local Japanese restaurants.

Google then counts how often they are used in countries, regional areas, towns and cities relative to all local searches and allocates a popularity score. For example, if New Jersey scores 100 for Indian cuisine and New York scores 80, it doesn’t mean more searches were done in New Jersey than in New York; it means a higher percentage of people in New Jersey than in New York are into Indian cuisine.

Top 5 international cuisines according to Google Trends:

  1. Chinese (Google Trends Score: 64)
  2. Mexican (Google Trends Score: 59)
  3. Italian (Google Trends Score: 38)
  4. Thai (Google Trends Score: 24)
  5. Indian (Google Trends Score: 11)
  6. Japanese (Google Trends Score: 10.5)
  7. Korean (Google Trends Score: 10)

See state and city rankings in the report here:

https://chefspencil.com/most-popular-ethnic-cuisines-in-america/

City-level rankings:

The following cities are regarded by Google as the most popular for each of the top 7 ethnic cuisines:

  • Honolulu, HI is America’s capital of Korean and Japanese cuisines; 
  • Fremont, CA is America’s capital of Indian cuisine
  • San Antonio, TX is America’s capital of Mexican cuisine
  • Seattle, WA and Portland, OR are America’s capitals of Thai cuisine 
  • Yonkers, NY is America’s capital of Italian cuisine; 
  • Newark, NJ is America’s capital of Chinese cuisine

Here is a link to the full study (including charts and tables):

https://chefspencil.com/most-popular-ethnic-cuisines-in-america/

Hotel Wailea announces revamped three-tier culinary experience

 Hotel Wailea, Hawaii’s first and only Relais & Châteaux property, has unveiled its new kitchen and experiential tasting menu to further cement its status as an incubator for culinary talent and leadership.

Envisioned by Hotel Wailea owner Jonathan McManus, and led by culinary director Chef Chris Kajioka, the three tiers of dining include a bistro-chic casual menu on the lanai of The Restaurant, a new chef tasting menu in the Secret Garden launching in early February, and the wildly popular seven-course culinary experience in The Treehouse.

Chef Chris Kajioka
Chef Chris Kajioka

Hotel Wailea is Hawaii’s only hotel to feature a Hestan equipped exhibition kitchen. The detailed-oriented space features a new layout with two custom island cooking suites explicitly designed for the team to work efficiently on both sides, an exclusive fish station to descale and clean fish, and multiple specialty stations for chefs to divide courses. One station even includes a coveted guest counter (playfully called “Table 1”) that allows them to interact with the culinary team throughout their dining experience.

Hestan, revered within culinary circles for their top of the line premium equipment has longstanding partnerships with esteemed Relais & Châteaux chefs such as Thomas Keller and with renowned institutions such as The Culinary Institute of America.

“Hotel Wailea defines both culinary innovation and elevated luxury at its core,” said owner Jonathan McManus. “Our new Hestan kitchen and restaurant developments foster my commitment to creating environments for young chefs in which to learn and thrive. In collaboration with Chef Chris Kajioka, who is instrumental to Hotel Wailea’s culinary growth and success, our joint vision is for both guests and culinary professionals to truly grasp the inner workings of a top-of-the-line kitchen and see their dishes come to life in a unique way from prep, to plate, to export.”

From a sunset toast to a counter-side course with chef commentary, the new multi-course tasting menu experience in the Secret Garden includes optional wine pairings from Level 2 Sommelier Sarah Salgado and starts at $145 per person. Premiering mid-February, the chef-driven menu includes highlights such as Venison Tartare, I’A Hou and Crab Toast with local ingredients shaping the flavor profile of the ever-changing menu. The sculpted tropical garden venue is warmly intimate, with just a handful of tables arranged on private candlelit terraces, while at the same time provides a striking behind the scenes view into the kitchen.

“The new Hestan furnished kitchen at Hotel Wailea is a chef’s dream,” says culinary director Chris Kajioka,” “The new layout allows our team to control the dining experience completely and allows our guests to dine at their own pace. With time, I envision the space evolving as a distinctive forum to host guest Chefs from around the world and introduce fresh, global perspectives.”

Hotel Wailea’s continually evolving culinary program is championed by Chef Kajioka, a semifinalist in the 2017 and 2018 James Beard Awards. Known for his internationally celebrated restaurant Senia in Oahu, of which McManus is a principal investor, and his prestigious background working at Per Se in New York, Kajioka works closely with his prodigy, Hotel Wailea’s Chef de Cuisine, Zach Soto. Kajioka, a Hawaii native, joined forces with restauranteur and hotelier, McManus, in 2016. In the past several years, the duo has made a dramatic impact on the culinary scene in Hawaii. Their upcoming Oahu project, Miro Kaimuki, has already earned a place in Robb Report’s list of “Most Anticipated Restaurants of 2020,” and the stunning new Hestan-furnished kitchen at Hotel Wailea serves as a cornerstone of immersive dining experiences in the islands.

Reservations at The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea may be booked at hotelwailea.com/rhw/ with Secret Garden tastings available on Wednesdays-Saturdays. For more information about Hotel Wailea, please visit hotelwailea.com.

About Hotel Wailea

The first and only Relais & Châteaux property in the state of Hawaii, Hotel Wailea offers travelers an ultra-private elegance infused with relaxed island luxury. The independently owned and operated, all-suite hotel finished a $15 million renovation in January 2015, reimagined as an intimate adults-only escape with 72 oversized suites and a pool overlooking three Hawaiian Islands with residential style cabanas and an apothecary style pool bar. The ideal island escape for couples recognized as “Top 21 Most Romantic Hotels in the World” by Condé Nast Traveler in 2019, Hotel Wailea boasts an unprecedented level of intimacy, privacy and exclusivity in Hawaii. Personalized guest programming is tailored to couples and centered on unique island experiences that embody adventure, romance, and laid-back luxury. Hotel Wailea’s continually evolving culinary program boasts a unique take on seasonal dining with Hawaiian staples and Maui-grown ingredients, including from the hotel’s own organic garden. For more information, please visit www.hotelwailea.com.

New Yorkers get a taste of Hawaii with King’s Hawaiian Breakfast Bungalow

King’s Hawaiian is transporting New Yorkers to the warm shores of Hawaii for a limited-time this winter with the opening of its Breakfast Bungalow, an interactive restaurant located at 1701 Broadway in Midtown Manhattan, where irresistibly delicious breakfast grindz will meet immersive experiences fit for a brunch fanatic.

Open to the public by reservation from Feb. 22 through March 1, the Breakfast Bungalow brings together soft and fluffy King’s Hawaiian breads with the culinary talent of Chef Jaime Young, whose celebrated menu at New York hotspot Sunday in Brooklyn includes some of the city’s favorite breakfast and brunch dishes. Visitors can work up an appetite by exploring several uniquely King’s Hawaiian experiences throughout the restaurant, ranging from an ocean-inspired ball pit where visitors can take a quick “swim” to a mountain top swing in the clouds.

 “We are excited to welcome New Yorkers into our Ohana by bringing them our Breakfast Bungalow when they need it most – the heart of winter,” said Chad Donvito, Chief Marketing Officer at King’s Hawaiian. “We hope our interactive restaurant provides them with irresistibly delicious ideas to start their day and inspires new ways to enjoy breakfast in bread all year long thanks to King’s Hawaiian.”

Chef Young’s signature Breakfast Bungalow dishes include:

  • Coconut S’mores French Toast
    • French Toast made with King’s Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Round Bread, served with a Coconut Maple Glaze and topped with Toasted Meringue and Shaved Dark Chocolate
  • Spam-Egg-and-Shoestring-Potatoes Sandwich
    • Spam, Scrambled Eggs, Provolone, Crispy Shoestring Potatoes and Hot Sauce Aioli stacked on a King’s Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Roll
  • Hawaiian Chicken Fried Steak Katsu Sandwich
    • Chicken Fried Steak Katsu with Miso Hollandaise, Scrambled Eggs and Crispy Shallots on King’s Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Sliced Bread

“I’ve been a fan of King’s Hawaiian since the first time I tried their Original Hawaiian Sweet Rolls and I’m excited to partner with them to bring a taste of Hawaii to New Yorkers,” said Chef Young. “The menu I’ve curated fuses melt-in-your-mouth King’s Hawaiian bread with my passion for great food – including next level breakfast – so whether you’re craving something sweet or savory, you won’t be leaving hungry.”

In addition to the exclusive menu items created by Chef Young, guests can enjoy the option to build a custom creation that’s all their own using King’s Hawaiian products, including Original Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, Original Hawaiian Sweet Sliced Bread or Original Hawaiian Sweet Round Bread, and more than 50 toppings and sauces.

Please visit www.BreakfastBungalow.com for additional details on the experience, prices and hours, and to purchase tickets, which include both the experiences and food. For more information about King’s Hawaiian, please visit www.KingsHawaiian.com or find the company on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

About King’s Hawaiian

Founded more than 60 years ago in Hilo, Hawaii, by Robert R. Taira, KING’S HAWAIIAN is a family-owned business that for three generations has been dedicated to providing irresistible, original recipe Hawaiian foods made with Aloha Spirit. A priority for the company is sharing the Hawaiian Way – a uniquely Hawaiian approach to hospitality based on graciousness, generosity, and a commitment to making everyone feel a part of the KING’S HAWAIIAN ‘ohana’ (extended family). KING’S HAWAIIAN makes the #1 branded dinner roll in the United States, along with other great Hawaiian foods including hamburger buns, hot dog buns, sandwich bread and more. The company operates baking facilities in Torrance, California, and Oakwood, Georgia. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.KingsHawaiian.com, or find KING’S HAWAIIAN on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

About Chef Jaime Young

Jaime Young grew up in Long Island, New York. He started his culinary career at Johnson & Wales University where he received a Bachelor’s degree in culinary nutrition. After graduation, Jaime pushed into fine dining where he worked at celebrated restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park and Atera in New York City. Today, Jaime is the Executive Chef and Partner of Sunday Hospitality, which includes Sunday In Brooklyn in Williamsburg and Rule Of Thirds in Greenpoint (opening in 2020), as well as Sibling Rival and Pilot at The Hoxton in Downtown Los Angeles.

Valentine’s Day dinner for two special offered at Romano’s Macaroni Grill

Chicken Scaloppine

Italian has become the language of love. Romano’s Macaroni Grill, the national restaurant chain with award winning Italian food, has made it easy for couples to enjoy a special Valentine’s Dinner, for only $55, February 7-16.

After a stroll on the beach, couples can unwind with a three-course prix fixe menu for two, at either Honolulu or  Waikoloa Macaroni Grill locations, with a choice of one antipasti, two entrees, and one dolce (dessert) to share only for $55.

Antipasti selections include Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Stuffed Mushrooms, Calamari Fritti, Signature Mac + Cheese Bites, Bruschetta and Goat Cheese Peppadew Peppers. Entrees include Chicken Scaloppine, Grilled Salmon, Chicken Parmesan, and Shrimp Scampi or (at additional cost) Fettuccine Alfredo (with Chicken or Shrimp), Porterhouse Steak or Braised Lamb Shank. Enjoy one of these desserts to share: Romano’s Cannoli, New York Style Cheesecake, Decadent Chocolate Cake or Tiramisu.

Shrimp Scampi

Romano’s Macaroni Grill is conveniently located at Ala Moana Center in Honolulu and Queens’ MarketPlace, Waikoloa on the Big Island of Hawaii.

For those who are busy, Macaroni Grill Hawaii also offers online ordering, with family-friendly bundling options, including a special Feast for Five. Gift cards are also available. For a limited time, Macaroni Grill is offering a 25% off sale on digital gift cards for guests who apply the promo code VALENTINE at checkout. See macaronigrill.com.

Decadent Chocolate Cake

About Romano’s Macaroni Grill

Romano’s Macaroni Grill is an Italian restaurant brand founded in 1988. Inspired by Italian country cuisine, Macaroni Grill believes in an open kitchen that allows guests to see its ingredients and preparation techniques that blend Italian traditions with progressive culinary inspiration in a polished casual atmosphere. Named the No. 1 Italian Restaurant Chain in America by a Nation’s Restaurant News consumer survey, Macaroni Grill has 83 company-owned locations in 22 states, plus 21 franchise locations in the U.S. and 7 other countries.

New Waikiki Sunset Dinner Cruise Launching on Valentine’s Day

While catamaran party boats or multi-story yachts in Waikiki are numerous, there are very few options available for an intimate, upscale sunset cruise. A new tour in Oahu aims to fill that void.

Oahu tour operator And You Creations invested just under $1 million in its new powerboat, the Ariya II, which arrived in Honolulu last month. The Ariya II will seat up to 50 guests, making it a smaller option than dinner cruises with similar offerings, such as the Star of Honolulu or The Majestic.

“We have firmed up an awesome meal and currently are have finalized the install of state-of-the-art lights, sounds and interior, ” And You Creations President Kaina Neuman said. ” We’re not holding back on costs in order to accommodate the best customer experience possible. ”

The new tour, named “Ocean and You,” launches on February 14. The boat will feature a titanic-style front deck, and LED lighting to illuminate the vessel after sunset.

One of the main attractions of Ocean and You will be the dinner served on board, prepared by local chef Elmer Guzman. Guzman owns Poke Stop, an island seafood restaurant, as well as a gourmet catering business. He has worked under prestigious names in the culinary industry, such as Emeril Lagasse, Samuel Choy and Alan Wong.

“One of our goals, when we created this menu, was to make something that people can’t find anywhere else in Waikiki,” Guzman said.

Along with island cuisine, Ocean and You attendees will enjoy live hula and Hawaiian entertainment as they cruise past Diamond Head state monument and the Waikiki coastline.

Ocean and You will operate out of Kewalo Basin Harbor in Honolulu every day of the week, with fireworks included on Fridays. To celebrate the new tour, the company is offering $30 off per person until the end of June 2020.

“Our new ARIYA, she will have all the bells and whistles and truly will be the jewel of the harbor,” And You Creations CEO Richard Holland said.

To book an Ocean and You sunset dinner cruise with And You Creations, please call (808) 696-4414. To learn more about And You Creations Tours, visit www.andyoucreations.com.

Olive Garden coming to Hawaii. Really!

Olive Garden confirms plans for first Hawaii location at Ala Moana Center

“We are so excited to bring Olive Garden to Ala Moana Center,” a company spokesperson said. “We’re opening this location through a franchise agreement with Union MAK – a successful, Hawaii-based franchise operator of casual dining restaurants. We look forward to sharing more details soon.”

Hawaii News Now

Union MAK is also the Hawaii franchisee for IHOP and Applebee’s restaurants.

Olive Garden to open at Ala Moana Center

After years of its TV commercials running in Hawaii, the Italian-American restaurant chain filed a $50,000 building permit for suite 3247, which is currently occupied by the Mai Tai Bar… An employee for Bubba Gump’s said the restaurant is closing on Jan. 26 to make way for Or

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Olive Garden files where they plan to do business in Hawaii

Olive Garden spokesperson told KHON on January 8 that they’re excited to bring the restaurant to Hawaii, but they weren’t able to share any details.

KHON

Lahaina Grill, Mama’s Fish House make Open Table top restaurants list

OpenTable, a leading provider of online restaurant reservations, revealed the Top 100 Restaurants in America for 2019, according to OpenTable diners. Two restaurants in Hawaii made the list: Lahaina Grill and Mama’s Fish House, both on Maui.

Mama's Fish House

From one-of-a-kind dining experiences to local favorites, the list highlights top restaurants across the country based on verified reviews submitted by diners. The annual list comes off the heels of OpenTable’s recent year end dining report, a retrospective look back at this year’s most popular dining trends.

The list illustrates the best restaurants in the U.S., as voted by OpenTable diners, and showcases the platform’s extensive network of dining options for every occasion.

“Whether a restaurant has received national accolades or is built on local fanfare, our Top 100 reflects diners’ favorite culinary experiences across the country,” said Andrea Johnston, COO at OpenTable. “What ultimately ties these restaurants together is their excellent hospitality paired with incredible dishes, which is why diners are applauding them with rave reviews.”

California took second place last year, but in 2019, the Golden State rose to number one with 22 restaurants featured. Florida, New York and Pennsylvania tied for second place with seven restaurants each, and Illinois followed closely behind with six winners. Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, D.C. boasted four honorees each.

Additional states include Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Similar to last year, American and Italian cuisine dominated the list; however, this year French cuisine proved to be a new favorite. Other global cuisines were represented on the list, such as Japanese, Latin American, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, showcasing a growing appetite for more diverse and globally-inspired flavors.

OpenTable’s list of the Top 100 Restaurants for 2019 in the U.S. is generated from diner reviews collected between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019. All restaurants that have been part of the OpenTable network for at least the last 12 consecutive months with a minimum overall rating and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then sorted according to an overall score generated by unique data points, such as overall diner rating, user klout, total number of reviews and regional overall rating.

Based on this methodology, the Top 100 Restaurants in America for 2019 list, according to OpenTable diners, are in alphabetical order as follows:

Top 100 Restaurants in America for 2019

Acquerello – San Francisco, California
Addison Restaurant – San Diego, California
Ambra – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Anjelica’s Restaurant – Sea Bright, New Jersey
Antebellum – Flowery Branch, Georgia
The Artichoke Restaurant & Bar – Vinita, Oklahoma
Artisan – Elkhart, Indiana
Arturo Boada Cuisine – Houston, Texas
Atera – New York, New York
Bar Mingo – Portland, Oregon
Barrique Venice – Venice, California
Benu – San Francisco, California
Bibou – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Birdsong – San Francisco, California
Bistro 31 – Dallas, Texas
Bistro Barbes – Denver, Colorado
Bistro Daisy – New Orleans, Louisiana
Bites at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples – Naples, Florida
BOCA – Cincinnati, Ohio
Brassica Kitchen – Boston, Massachusetts
Brewery Bhavana – Raleigh, North Carolina
Buccan – Palm Beach, Florida
Bull & Bear Steakhouse – Orlando, Florida
Cafe Monarch – Scottsdale, Arizona
Cafe Provence – Prairie Village, Kansas
Carlos’ Bistro – Colorado Springs, Colorado
Chimney Park – Windsor, Colorado
Clark’s Oyster Bar – Austin, Texas
Collage Restaurant – St. Augustine, Florida
Crawford & Son – Raleigh, North Carolina
The Crossing – Clayton, Missouri
CRUST – Miami, Florida
The Dock – Newport Beach, California
Double Knot – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Eatt – Las Vegas, Nevada
Elizabeth’s Gone Raw – Washington, D.C.
The Family Jones Spirit House – Denver, Colorado
Fishing With Dynamite – Manhattan Beach, California
Geronimo – Santa Fe, New Mexico
Girl & the Goat – Chicago, Illinois
Guiso Latin Fusion – Healdsburg, California
Hachi – Carson, California
Hannas Prime Steak – Rancho Santa Margarita, California
Holdfast Dining – Portland, Oregon
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab – Multiple Locations*        
Joel Robuchon – MGM Grand – Las Vegas, Nevada
Kai | Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass – Phoenix, Arizona
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens – Fulton, California
Kenzo Napa – Napa, California
The Kitchen Restaurant – Sacramento, California
Krave Restaurant – Tequesta, Florida
KUSAKABE – San Francisco, California
L’Auberge Chez Francois – Great Falls, Virginia
L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon – New York, New York
Lahaina Grill – Lahaina, Hawaii
Le Diplomate – Washington, D.C.
Le Yaca – Virginia Beach, Virginia
The Little Owl – New York, New York
Mabel Gray – Hazel Park, Michigan
Mama’s Fish House – Paia, Hawaii
Maple & Ash – Chicago, Illinois
Mercato Stellina Pizzeria – Bellevue, Washington
NANCY – St. Simons Island, Georgia
NoJa – Mobile, Alabama
Noord – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ocean 44 – Scottsdale, Arizona
Olce Pizza Grille – Cedars, Pennsylvania
Oriole – Chicago, Illinois
Partage – Las Vegas, Nevada
Petrossian Restaurant & Boutique – West Hollywood, California
Phoenicia – Birmingham, Michigan
Quince – San Francisco, California
Rainbow Palace – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The Restaurant at Convict Lake – Mammoth Lakes, California
The Restaurant at Gideon Ridge – Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Restaurant Guy Savoy – Caesars Palace – Las Vegas, Nevada
Riccardo Trattoria – Chicago, Illinois
Rosmarino Osteria Italiana – Newberg, Oregon
RPM Steak – Chicago, Illinois
Scalini Fedeli – New York, New York
Seven Hills – San Francisco, California
Sotto – Cincinnati, Ohio
St. Anselm – Washington, D.C.
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards – Santa Rosa, California
Steak 44 – Phoenix, Arizona
Steve & Cookie’s By the Bay – Margate, New Jersey
Sushi House – Leawood, Kansas
Sushi Kaito – New York, New York
Table 128 Bistro + Bar – Clive, Iowa
The Table at Season To Taste – Cambridge, Massachusetts
Tallulah Wine Bar and Bistro – Birmingham, Michigan
Tempura Matsui – New York, New York
Terrapin Creek Cafe & Restaurant – Bodega Bay, California
Terzo – San Francisco, California
The WineSellar & Brasserie – San Diego, California
Tomo Sushi & Ramen – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Two Fish – Haddonfield, New Jersey
Vernick Coffee Bar – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Willow Restaurant – Portland, Oregon
Yopparai – New York, New York

You can find the complete Top 100 Restaurants in America for 2019 here.

* Restaurants with multiple winning locations were counted one time.

About OpenTable

OpenTable, OpenTable, part of Booking Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG), is the world’s leading provider of online restaurant reservations, with more than 54,000 restaurants globally using its software to seat over 131 million diners monthly. OpenTable helps diners discover and book the perfect table and helps restaurants deliver personalized hospitality to grow their business.

PokeFest celebrates iconic dish of Hawaii

Poke fans and the island’s best poke shops will converge on Ala Moana Center for the second annual Honolulu PokeFest on Saturday, September 29, 2018 from 4–8 p.m.

The Hibachi Poke

The event will take over the shaded parking section between Morton’s Steakhouse and Park Lane luxury condominium on the makai side of the mall. Poke lovers will feast on multiple poke selections from 15 poke shops including Alicia’s Market from Kalihi, Moiliili’s Ahi Assassins, The Hibachi from Kailua, Tanioka’s of Waipahu, downtown’s Aloha Poke Shop and Aloha Cones, Poke on Da Run from Pearl City, Kapahulu’s Hawaii Sushi and more.

Tanioka’s

Guests will vote on their favorite creation to determine the island’s best poke. The first-ever Poke Pound eating contest presented by nomnom, Hawaii’s newest convenience stores, will award a pair of round-trip tickets to Las Vegas to the fastest poke eater around.

Ahi Assassins

A portion of event proceeds will benefit Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, a local nonprofit organization that educates and insipires communities to care for our coastlines through fun, hands-on beach cleanups. They will be onsite to offer information and education and provide waste management.

Honolulu PokeFest is presented by Frolic Hawaii. It is organized by Events International with support from Anela, AT Marketing and Luna Hawaii.

Ono Loco Tacos opening in Wahiawa

Ono Loco Tacos is opening a second taco shop location in Wahiawa, adding their authentic Mexican recipes and flavors to the booming culinary scene of Honolulu.

To celebrate the second grand opening, Ono Locos Tacos is hosting a three-day grand opening on April 12, building up to the final day on April 14.

Ono Loco Tacos is Oahu’s only eatery serving Certified Angus Beef and they proudly source authentic tortillas from Los Angeles. The taco shop’s Oaxacan Mole is a rare find on the island.

Weekly specials available at Ono Loco Tacos:

  • Taco Tuesday: $2 Street Tacos, your choice of meat (excludes fish & shrimp)
  • Military Wednesday: special discount with valid military ID
  • 5-Star Promotions: Specials for Thursday-Saturday are texted out on Wednesday

Located at 167 South Kamehameha Highway, the family-owned taqueria is open Monday-Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the menu includes customer favorites like Street Tacos, Burritos, Sopes, Chile Relleno, Lengua, Nachos, Flan, Mexican Fried Ice Cream and more.

About Ono Loco Tacos:

Ono Loco Tacos is an authentic Oaxacan taqueria determined to provide flavorful, fresh food made with quality ingredients. A family-owned business, the team at Ono Loco Tacos prides themselves on supporting the local community through community church donations, locally sourcing produce and investing time to train young employees for career advancement. Ono Loco Tacos is proud to be Blue Zone certified, giving customers more options to make healthier choices. http://onolocotacos.com

Plate lunch to represent Hawaii at ‘Flavored Nation’

Kai Cowell of Kaiulani Spices has been chosen to represent Hawaii at Flavored Nation’s inaugural event, serving the state’s iconic plate lunch (with kalua pig and pineapple rice) to thousands of food enthusiasts – alongside chefs and restaurateurs from 49 other states.

Flavored Nation is a new national food experience, kicking off in the Midwest and bringing with it a nationwide selection tastes and talent.

Through extensive research conducted by a team of culinary experts and food entertainment veterans, Flavored Nation has identified the most iconic food from each of the 50 states. Those 50 dishes – as well as the restaurateurs or chefs who prepare them best – will travel to the St. Louis’ Dome at America’s Center, October 27-29, giving up to 12,000 attendees the chance to feast on “a taste of every state.”

Plate lunch comes from Hawaii’s immigrant culture of the 1880s, when plantation workers would make carb heavy lunches from leftovers to sustain them through the long days in the sugar and pineapple fields, Flavored Nation explains.

Cowell is originally from the Philippines and has lived in Hawaii since 1976. She was born into a family of cooks, attended culinary school and began creating her own spice blends ten years ago at her home on the side of a hill above Honolulu. Today, Cowell’s spice blends – which she uses in her plate lunch recipe – can be purchased online and in stores throughout Hawaii, as well as tasted in dishes at some of Waikiki’s most popular restaurants. Her first cookbook will come out this fall.

Flavored Nation is spearheaded by its executive producer Richard Gore, who has been developing live culinary entertainment since the mid-1990s (back when food events weren’t a thing). He served as president of live events at Food Network and led the development of “Food Network Live” and “Food University™ at Caesars Palace,” in addition to creating “eat-ertainment” marketing campaigns for brands like Heinz, P&G, Unilever, Ikea and Family Circle.

At Gore’s side are fellow food entertainment veterans, David Rosengarten, Jared Bobkin and Bobby Parrish. Rosengarten is a two-time James Beard award winning food writer and was one of the first on-air talents at Food Network. He hosted “Food News & Views” then created and hosted the program “Taste,” which ran for eight years. He’s now Flavored Nation’s head of content. Bobkin is a Detroit-area executive chef who made it to the final rounds of FOX’s “Hell’s Kitchen” season 15. He’s also Flavored Nation’s culinary director, conducting nationwide research with Rosengarten to determine the United States’ iconic foods and top eateries. Parrish, a Chicago native, is a home cook whose online brand FlavCity has a social following of more than 400K. He appeared on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” in 2006 and is now the friendly face of Flavored Nation’s online video series.

“America is incredibly passionate about food, which has moved from our plates to our screens and become a core part of today’s pop culture” said Gore. “For cooks and non-cooks alike, how we speak about food today is not how we talked about it 15 years ago. Food is reviewed, read about and watched on TV; and our social lives often revolve around eating. However, in a nation of documented culinary diversity, most people’s personal food experience is still limited to local geography and some occasional travel. It’s why a Chicagoan can argue extensively about the city’s best deep dish but has never tried chislic or huddish… the iconic foods of South Dakota and Minnesota, respectively. This is the perfect time for Flavored Nation. We want to fuel debate about local favorites and at the same time spur discovery people crave, providing access to 49 other state dishes that, for most, will be brand new.”

The vendors who will be in attendance include chefs and restaurateurs almost as iconic as the state dishes they’ll represent.

“No one wrote a guidebook on how to authentically identify the United States’ most iconic foods,” said Rosengarten. “It’s been an amazing adventure and challenge. Some states, like Louisiana, California and New York, are well known for multiple dishes. For other states, like South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska, I personally drew a blank. Through exhaustive research, consumer input via social media and conversations with state tourism boards, we’ve mapped it out. Now, we’re stacking our roster. Restaurants and chefs can’t buy their way in. This is invite only, and we’ll be bringing the best of the best for an unrivaled culinary experience this fall at Flavored Nation.”

For more information on Flavored Nation, and to purchase tickets, visit www.flavorednation.com. Also follow Flavored Nation on Facebook (facebook.com/flavorednation), Twitter and Instagram (@flavorednation), and share your iconic food passions by using the hashtag #flavorednation.