Arancino at the Kahala's bagna cauda comprised orange and purple carrots, potato, okra, tomato and other greens beautifully "potted" and served with a warm anchovy and oil dip. I've seen children enjoy their vegetables when presented this way. A non-fish eating companion was offered a melted cheese dip instead.
I was wondering what Arancino's owners would do to differentiate the new Kahala Hotel & Resort branch of the restaurant from its popular Waikiki restaurants.
The answer was to go more upscale in keeping with the resort ambience. I see a bit of the Vintage Cave here in terms of plating and the focus on every detail of the ingredients that comprise each dish. The presentation is beautiful.
They've also gone with a prix fixe concept, following the Italian progression of five-course dinners, for $100, or four-course dinners for $85. Only lunch will be available a la carte.
During a media preview that took place June 17, the Inamura family, CEO Ichiro, wife Fumie and daughter Aya Inamura, vice president of Arancino Restaurants, introduced chef Daisuke Hamamoto and grand master sommelier Shinya Tasaki of Tokyo—named the World's Best Sommelier 1995 by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale—who created the wine list for the restaurant, comprising 100 selections from Italian and Pacific Rim countries, at a cost of $7 to $12 per glass.
The Arancino restaurants started with Ichiro's love of food, and upon moving to Hawaii, he opened a beer bar on Beachwalk Avenue, a few steps from the original Arancino at 255 Beachwalk. Arancino di Mare opened at the other end of Waikiki, in the Waikiki Beach Marriott, in the fall of 2010.
The Kahala venue, Aya said, presents the perfect opportunity to bring the cuisine up a notch and "serve the perfect upscale Italian."
The setting is the site of the former Tokyo Tokyo, and Arancino at the Kahala now features al fresco dining for about 60, outdoor bar, and a private dining area for up to 12 guests.
It'll be open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and 5 to 10:30 p.m. daily. The dress code for lunch is casual resort with shoes or dressy sandals. For dinner, it's evening resort wear and aloha wear with shoes of dressy sandals. Swimwear, sleeveless T-shirts, athletic apparel and hats will not be permitted.
Reservations: Call 808.380.4400
A ginger cooler garnished with lime slices is a thirst quencher on hot summer days.
Another light summer selection, lovely jamon Iberico atop a slice of papaya.
Tartare di Mare comprises layers of avocado, Kona kampachi, ahi tossed in a light tomato sauce and squid ink-dyed tobiko, served with toast.
Spaghetti tossed with sea urchin in a sweet garlic wine cream sauce. Very strong uni flavor.
For dessert, we opted for the dark chocolate torte with smooth glassy finish, topped with gold leaf and accompanied by a kumquat compote.