Shogunai Tacos's oversized kitchen-on-wheels cruises around Honolulu to quell hunger pains with its eclectic array of globally-inspired tacos. Chef Kamal Jemmari whisks his customers around the world with his panoply of dishes, all served in the form of tacos. Melted cheddar cheese with pastrami and Japanese-inspired ginger- and shoyu-marinated pork create unique taco hybrids, and tender lamb, kalamata olives, and feta cheese soak in tzatziki sauce on the Greek taco. The chef's internationally infused take on the Mexican staple has attracted media attention, with favorable reviews from KTV4 and articles on the owners' love of Japanese cuisine. Jemmari ramps up his production with the catering menu, eschewing tortillas altogether in favor of expansive, multi-course Moroccan dinners.
A glimmering frozen yogurt sign beams down from the front window of Island Yogurt, alerting passerby of the creamy treats that await them therein. Inside the brightly lit shop, self-serve yogurt machines churn out more than a dozen different flavors of yogurt, from creamy chocolate to tangy fresh mint to sweet cheesecake. A lengthy counter of self-serve toppings sweeps across the opposite side of the room, lined with containers of crunchy cereal, fresh fruit, and colorful candies.
By day, Manifest Hawaii—situated on Chinatown’s historical main drag, Hotel Street—is a coffee shop, with baristas blending fragrant espresso shots and Torani syrups into custom drinks. By night, though, the baristas swap out suffixes to become bartenders as the venue morphs into a lively cocktail bar. Bartenders—including head bartender Justin Park, Honolulu qualifier for Bombay Sapphire and GQ's Most Inspired Bartender competition in Las Vegas—mix and muddle liquors such as Campari and bourbon with guava nectar, chocolate bitters, and other exotic mixers. An ornate black-and-white wall mural spells out the café-cum-bar’s name, decorating the space alongside eclectic pieces from local artists.
The one constant in Honolulu Burger Co.?s burgers is the beef?it comes from free-range cows that feed on the grasses of Hawaii. From this base sprouts more than a dozen specialty burgers that pair everything from blue cheese and bacon to kim chee and teriyaki sauce. If you?re feeling creative, you can create your own burger by mixing and matching from the eatery?s selection of toppings and spreads, which includes homemade sauces and dressings and local produce whenever possible. Hefty burgers and sandwiches piled high with pastrami share menu space with rice dishes, house-made fries, milk shakes, and veggie burgers made from whole portobello mushrooms.
Before he came to Hawaii, chef Chai Chaowasaree learned how to shop for cooking ingredients in Bangkok, where his parents owned a restaurant. Over time, he honed his instinct to reach for the freshest fruits and vegetables?and today, that skill comes in handy when he's wandering markets in Oahu or Chinatown in Honolulu. It's this attention to detail that help Chef Chai win a 2011 Chef's Choice Award at the Hale Aina Awards.
He brings his finds to his eponymous restaurant, using them to create colorful examples of Hawaiian and Asian fusion cuisine. At dinner, spicy grilled pineapples sit beside New Zealand king salmon; a lobster reduction flavors a deconstructed scallop pot pie; and Thai-style oxtail soup can be had with coconut milk ginger brown rice. His roots shine through in the braised pork osso bucco, especially, as the recipe was taken straight from his parent's Bangkok restaurant.
Chef Chai's creations have even criss-crossed oceans. He's the executive chef for Hawaiian Airlines, which means that passengers can be treated to his entrees as well as the menu's many teas. The Emerald Sun flowering green tea, for example, is the specialty tea of choice for first-class passengers and geese that stop by the plane's drive-through window.
At Hiking Hawaii Cafe, good friends and avid hikers Crystal Evans and Fabio Vilela prepare globally inspired food packed with nutrition. They bake their own granola in-house and infuse bowls of açaí, berries, honey, and banana with guarana, giving diners enough energy to recharge batteries with their fingertips. Artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes accent a couscous salad, and the flavors of prosciutto, fig, arugula, and brie meld in the spanish panini. Patrons also can sip coffee and smoothies while surfing the Internet. When Crystal and Fabio aren't in the café, they lead groups on hiking excursions to find cliffside views of the ocean or stories-high waterfalls.