The flavors of the island abound inside Tilia Exquisite Aloha. Chefs infuse their waffle batter with a hefty dose of taro root and macademia nut, and they transform standard smoothie bowls of yogurt and granola with fresh, seasonal island fruits and macadamia-nut honey. Even the coffee?Kona and Waialua blends?reflect the caf?'s island spirit. A retail section is stocked with handmade crafts and gourmet foods, enabling customers to take some of these local treasures home with them.
Hula Swirl’s self-serve, pay-by-weight style allows culinary artisans to craft their own delectable fusions of gelato, yogurt, and breakfast treats. Employ thick belgian Hula waffles as foundations for palatable towers of toppings, such as sorbetto with coconut insulation and vibrant fruits to attract low-flying silverware ($4+). Freshly churned Hawai-Italian gelato showcases local tropical flavors and ingredients ($5+), and lattes and cappuccinos inject body branches with warm shots of energy ($2). To celebrate the novelty of skewered food without relying on the standard party game of stringing bagels on a shower-curtain rod, opt for a savory waffle dog or sausage ($4–$6).
Inside Yogur Story's airy two-level dining area, patrons feast on American favorites such as omelets and sandwiches or creative Asian-Pacific fusion fare. Hurricane Bowls combine Korean-style rice bowls with prime rib beef, vegetables, and a poached egg, and the K-town combo places 8-ounce steak aside spicy Asian shrimp.
Chef JJ built himself an empire out of sugar, complete with chocolate pyramids covered in cocoa powder. He wanted to bring all things European to Hawaii, so he founded JJ Bistro & French Pastry, where he crafts delectable desserts and a menu of entrees fusing French influence with local ingredients. His baked lamb wellington features crisp bell pepper within a shelf of flaky pastry, and his seafood brioche combines the daily catch with shiitake mushrooms and black-pepper sauce. In addition to the aforementioned chocolate pyramids, he crafts key-lime tarts, chocolate-banana confit, and black-currant cassis in individual servings. He just uses bigger mixing bowls to create the same mouthwatering cakes for birthdays or weddings.
Despite the general European flair, the chef can't resist showing off local cuisine in all its glory with his daily specials of fresh-caught seafood. The mini seafood menu features shrimp, mussels, crab, and lobster, cooked to order and bedecked in one of four sauces, such as garlic butter or J'Jun sauce, Chef JJ's blend of Cajun spices with seldom-used contractions.
Aloha Crepes serves dessert all day. Of course, it's in the form of a crepe, so the light treat seems somehow appropriate for breakfast, even if you order the Aloha crepe?loaded with Nutella, a sauce of sour cream and brown sugar, strawberries, whipped cream, and powdered sugar. For something more savory, crepes can be stuffed with portobello mushrooms or grilled chicken or made into pizza-like envelopes that, with the correct postage, the US Postal Service will deliver. For a lighter dessert option, Aloha Snowflakes promise a treat that's part ice cream, part shaved ice with the consistency of frozen cotton candy. Snow ice comes in a variety of flavors made from fresh fruits, juices, and extracts with added milk.
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.