Thursday, June 11, 2015

Flowers, foie gras on Arancino at Kahala anniversary summer menu

Nadine Kam photos
Foie gras marinated in cognac and brandy is strewn with a summer’s garden of edible flowers and greenery.


Flowers are everywhere this summer, and on my Fashion Tribe blog I recently wrote of the season’s best accessory, a living flower crown. Well, Arancino at The Kahala’s executive chef Daisuke Hamamoto takes the same inspiration from nature and applies it to his new plates, draping his insalata Misticanza ($13) with micro greens, herbs and edible flowers, while a new dish of terrina di fegato ($20), foie gras marinated in cognac and brandy, also wears a colorful, eye-catching bouquet of edible greens.

Both are new a la carte offerings introduced this month in celebration of Arancino at The Kahala’s second anniversary. Both dishes are available for lunch and dinner, along with other new dishes of pesce al cartoccio ($32), an elegant mix of seafood, shimeji mushrooms and broccolini steamed in parchment paper with white wine, and Sangiovese wine risotto layered with grilled Muscovy duck, fried leeks and gold leaf ($26).

The restaurant is also offering two new summer tasting menues, one with four courses for $65, and the other comprising five courses for $89.

The new risotto dish is offered as a Primi option on the $65 tasting menu, and the foie gras is one of two antipasti options listed on the $89 tasting menu.

What I like about their tasting menus is that for each course they provide two or three options, knowing that not everybody shares the same food preferences. I certainly have my share of finicky friends.

So on the $65 tasting menu you’ll find antipasti offerings of seafood carpaccio or prosciutto and fruit. For your Primi selection, you’ll have a choice of seafood tagliatelle; tagliolini with white wine, garlic, tomato cream sauce and uni; or the grilled Muscovy duck risotto. All in addition to a choice of lobster bisque or caprese salad, plus dessert of tiramisu or gelato affogato.

On the $89 menu you’ll start with a choice of bagna cauda or lobster bisque, followed by local seafood antipasti or the foie gras dish. Secondi options are grilled seafood, sous vide Colorado lamb or braised short rib with Sangiovese wine reduction. Then choose a Primi plate of Ho Farm cherry tomato tagliatelle, tagliolini with tobiko and calamari in garlic-olive oil sauce, or mixed mushroom risotto, before ending with your choice of the day’s desserts.

Here’s a look at a recent sampling:

Delicate amuse bouche of English pea mousse topped with prosciutto and pea shoot.

One view of the edible garden of seafood and greens that comprise the Misticanza, beautiful bite-size nibbles of grilled scallop and abalone, with calamari, amaebi, uni, tomato, dill, basil, nasturtium leaves, cucumber, and more.

The view from the opposite end of the Misticanza arrangement. It was funny but out of all the ingredients, both my dinner guest and I saved the two pieces of sweet uni for last.

The foie gras at the top of the page was plated with fresh fruit and brioche.

Sangiovese risotto was topped with grilled Muscovy duck, a tangle of lightly fried leeks and crowned with gold leaf.

A new dish of pesce al cartoccio proved simple and delicious, with catch of the day, Manila clams, shimeji mushrooms, broccolini and tomatoes steamed with white wine in parchment.

Light bianco mangiare, a roasted almond panna cotta topped with housemade coconut gelato and coconut granita brought the meal to a close.

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 and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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