Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Koko Head Cafe hosts Secret Menu dinner
Lee Anne Wong spoons sauce over Volcano Meatballs on focaccia during a Secret Menu dinner. No, it wasn’t spicy, just red as lava.
Koko Head Cafe was the site of the second in food writer Sean Morris’ Secret Menu dining series. As a culinary insider, he’s privvy to dishes chefs are able to pull together with ingredients in their kitchen, that are not on their formal menus. These dishes are generally available by request, staff time permitting.
The dishes they build are often the things they like to eat themselves, and at Koko Head Cafe represent, that meant a no-holds barred feeding frenzy far more decadent than anything you could create for yourself at home, considering what they’re starting with. Imagine: A whole deep-fried Jidori chicken karaage burger topped with cheddar cheese, sugar-coated billionaire’s bacon and rich mushroom gravy, on sweetbread bun, arriving halfway through the meal.
Then there was Donburi Chen, named after fellow chef William Chen, who helped Koko Head Cafe chef Lee Anne Wong in preparations for her book, “Dumplings All Day Wong.” After preparing a meal for all who helped her, Chen insisted he put this particular dish on her menu, a sweet chili glazed pork and egg combo over greens with black garlic “soil.”
With chefs trying to outdo each other with each dinner presented, there was a generous amount of food, and with nine similarly weighted courses, there was plenty of to-go boxes being handed out at the end of the meal.
If you are intrigued by any of these dishes, it doesn’t hurt to inquire about availability. I was particularly enamored of another over-the-top course of a kim chee hash brown Reuben, which I would love to have again … next time starting with an empty stomach!
During the evening, chef Lee Anne Wong took the opportunity to give shoutouts to her kitchen staff, including Clark Neugold and chef de cuisine Nicole Anderson, who will take over duties at Koko Head to allow Wong to focus on her newest endeavor, a ramen bar slated to open before summer.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.