Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Going off menu at Forty Carrots

Nadine Kam photos
Maui Nui Venison tartare with quail egg, pickled wasabi and chicharron was one of the off-menu dishes presented by chef Jon Matsubara at Bloomingdale's Forty Carrots May 5.

Foodies are always on the prowl for what's new, but to think every diner is thrilled by change is a mistake. There are many more people who seek the tried and true, people I don't understand, who can eat teriyaki beef (or whatever their favorite food is) every day.

Trying to satisfy both kinds of diners is a balancing act for chefs, creatives who for the most part must commit to a menu—whether for three months to decades—but who otherwise get to play and wow us through daily specials and special occasion menus.

Over at Bloomingdale's third-floor Forty Carrots restaurant, chef Jon Matsubara bridges the gap between the two kinds of diners by introducing specials that riff on classic, familiar local fare. He can also go off-menu to create unique dinner menus for organizations or individuals who want to book the space for evening events or special occasions.

One such recent menu was highlighted by a local, literal and luxurious take on the French beef stew, pot-au-feu, or "pot on fire."

In it, the chopped watercress, salt meat and chili pepper water of a Hawaiian diner was upgraded. The greens and beef were layered with a generous helping of foie gras, followed by a pour of chili pepper bouillon. Served with rice.

And we all had second helpings of crispy chicharrons that accompanied the opening dish of Maui Nui Venison tartare.
Forty Carrots is on the third floor of Bloomingdale's Ala Moana Center. For special menu inquiries, email

A juicy Hokkaido scallop was paired with Kona abalone in Italian black truffle sauce. Hidden on the other side of the dish was an elegant slice of pork "shumai" freed of its wrapper.

A generous piece of foie gras was layered over three slices of salt beef and presented with chopped watercress for a local-style pot-au-feu. Below, the pour of chili pepper bouillon.

Dessert of vanilla bean sticky rice topped with toasted almonds and spearmint, served with ruby grapefruit and lemon-ginger syrup.

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage is in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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