Best Plates of 2017

Each year I reflect back on the meals I’ve had and the hundreds of photos I’ve taken. As I reflect on the year’s meals I also begin to compile a listing of the best bites. 2017 was my first full year back in Hawaii and I’m very pleased that half of my list came from local restaurants. For this list the rules are simple: 1. The list cannot include dishes I’ve had from a particular restaurant/chef in previous years (otherwise a certain caviar brioche dish would most certainly be on here), and 2. While these are my 10 favorite from this year, they are listed in no particular order or rank.

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Dinner @ Pai Honolulu

My wife and I seated at the bar for the soft opening of Pai Honolulu

I might be a broken record by now but I can’t but express how much the Honolulu dining scene has grown over the past few years. New and exciting restaurants, exploring new avenues of cuisine, seem to be opening at a rapid pace! Newest on the scene is the long awaited Pai Honolulu, which will grand open tonight.

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Super Secret Supper Club @ MW Restaurant

For those in the know, Frolic’s “Super Secret Supper Club” series was initially started by my friend and fellow food writer, Grant “Chuggy Bear” Shindo. The events start off as invitation only, with any leftover seats made available to the public through Frolic’s website. Grant and Frolic hope to host one or two of these events a month, which will make for a fun series of dining throughout the year. These dinners are designed to give the opportunity for local dining enthusiasts to experience unique menus at some of the hottest restaurants in town. Tonight’s dinner was hosted at MW Restaurant, one of Honolulu’s top fine dining restaurants.

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New Eats: Vintage Cave Cafe

The unique entrance is just a preview to the design aesthetic of this new restaurant

Occupying the space of the high-end tasting menu restaurant, costing $300+ per person, the original Vintage Cave Honolulu in the former basement area of Shirokiya was inaccessible to many. The high price point and club membership format meant that most Hawaii diners would never get the opportunity to experience the unique design of the restaurant. That was until Vintage Cave Cafe, the originals sister-restaurant, opened its doors this week.

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New Eats: Gen Korean BBQ House

The long awaited all-you-can-eat yakiniku restaurant opened to big crowds this weekend

One of the culinary downsides to living in Minnesota was the utter lack of yakiniku restaurants. Right at the tail end of our five years there one place did open up, but for 5 years we went without being able to satisfy our craving to go to a restaurant and cook Korean-style bbq over a hot grill. Since we’ve moved back I’ve been to a fair number of yakiniku places around town, but I’m not really one for the “all you can eat” scene. I made an exception this past weekend to visit Gen Korean BBQ House, which opened its first Hawaii location in Ala Moana.

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New Eats: Tonkatsu Tamafuji

Tonkatsu Tamafuji features an open kitchen with the copper frying pots right up front

Seems like Hawaii has been getting a recent influx of restaurant “chains” from Japan – Yakitori Hachibei, Katsumidori Sushi, and of course all the vendors at both the Shirokiya Village Walk and Waikiki Yokocho. Now you can add Tonkatsu Tamafuji, a chain of restaurants from Sapporo, to the list. The restaurant had only been open for 6 days during our visit, but word has seemingly spread quickly as it was a full house even for an early lunch.

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