For more than 35 years, Kobe Steak House's skilled master chefs have fired seafood, meat, and vegetarian fare on tableside griddles—or teppans—right in front of captivated patrons. Pulling from a pantry stocked with tender aged beef, Nova Scotia scallops, cold water lobsters, and garden-fresh vegetables, these teppanyaki artists dazzlingly toss their ingredients and cookery tools into the air as they sear dishes such as teriyaki chicken or Emperor steak. Diners can also dig their chopsticks into sushi selections, including fresh cuts of daily-caught Hawaiian maguro sashimi.
When they're not watching the chefs helm a thrilling knife show, guests can cast their gaze upon the antique décor of a 300-year-old fisherman kimono, emperor dolls, fine porcelain hibachis, and steak-sauce bottles from the Edo period.
Headed by the much-lauded Chef Philippe Padovani, an originator of the Hawaiian regional cuisine movement, Padovani Grill features sautéed steaks and seafood worthy of mentions in the New York Times and Honolulu magazine. With its leather chairs and recessed ceiling lighting, the posh dining room seats diners in unintimidating luxury, ideal for savoring the decadent menu that's packed with French-style grill fare adapted with signature Hawaiian fruits and flavors. Forks dig into a pan-sautéed weke ($38) sizzled with snow peas and bacon and topped with a rich cilantro-curry sauce. Like the finest meat in the land and Popsicles, the moi fillet ($35) was historically served to royalty, but now the white fish democratically fills any belly with sautéed meat and a summery sauce of sun-dried tomatoes. Gourmet Black Angus steaks and milk-fed veal come enlivened with freshly prepared sauces, such as the green-peppercorn-and-sweet-corn sauce. Local ingredients star in appetizers such as the hearty manila clam chowder ($12), simmering with kahuku sweet corn and Hawaiian seaweed. A decadent dessert menu reveals the chef's gourmet-chocolatier experience.
Menus and pricing may vary slightly between Chuck's Restaurants's three locations—Ko 'Olina, Waikiki, and Waikiki Beach—but all three meld upscale cuts and catches with a casual atmosphere, obviating the awkward sight of a tuxedo jacket thrown over a Garfield-print aloha shirt. Open lava-rock grills send meaty aromas to gallantly guide diners to the all-you-can-eat salad bar offered with every entree. On any given night, an array of veggies might be escorted by soupy sidekicks such as seafood chowder, french onion, or tomato vegetable. A herd of aged USDA Prime–grade steaks graze with the teriyaki sirloin, which soaks for 48 hours in a house-made marinade before reaching your plate. Chuck's fish-finaglers hook the catch of the day from local waters, presenting a line of island fish such as hebi, opah, or ahi, served grilled or sautéed (market value). Several variations on surf 'n' turf unite feuding sectors of the culinary kingdom by wedding prime rib (starting at $28.75) to lobster tail (market value), and sirloin (starting at $24.50) to scallops ($28.50). Most meals range $20–$40.
A little corner of Mississippi stands in southeast Inglewood. An unassuming space on Crenshaw hosts M&M Soul Food, which recreates a huge menu of southern favorites from 8 a.m. through dinnertime seven days a week. Chefs load up plates with meatloaf, smothered pork chops, barbecue ribs, and fried seafood, among other soul-food staples. Then, of course, there are the sides—three of them per dinner plate, not counting the plump corn muffins. The menu also incorporates many dishes that can be hard to find outside a southern grandma's kitchen, such as liver and onions, chitterlings, ox tail, turkey wings, and oyster loaf. Cakes, cobblers, banana pudding, and potato pie obliterate the danger that someone might accidentally walk out with a little belly space left empty. In addition to standard combinations of grits, pancakes, and omelettes, breakfast hours hold out less-common dishes such as eggs with catfish or smoked beef links.
Apartment 3 flaunts the chic side of belly-warming comfort cuisine with its menu of appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, and more constructed from as many locally and sustainably sourced ingredients as possible. Share fantasy bocce-ball-team picks while sharing The Yard Sale, a seasonally handpicked myriad of pickled veggies, on-location cured meats, and goat cheese lightly sprinkled with olive oil ($13), or dunk thirsty french fries in a tank of Sriracha ketchup ($7). Meat, vegetable, and white pizzas ($11–$12) sate circular cravings, and the Italian Dog, a mozzarella-dressed meat tube with tomatoes, basil, and balsamic, lubricates the stomach's elaborate system of levers and pulleys ($11).
It begins with a private elevator ride. An uninterrupted, 36-floor ascent that ends at the top of the Ala Moana Hotel, also known as The Signature Prime Steak and Seafood. Upon stepping off the car, eyes are drawn to nearly every detail of the expansive restaurant. In one corner, a wooden installation mushrooms over an art-deco bar that gleams with crystal and marble. In another corner, an ornate butterfly chandelier is reflected in the lid of a white grand piano.
During happy hour, guests can gather in the area around the piano, or they can cozy up in one of the room's many dining areas. Some include leather-wrapped booths, the curved seats of which open toward floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the Waikiki skyline. These views are perhaps what the restaurant is best known for. Depending on which area you sit in, you'll take in panoramic views of the ocean, the city, the mountains, sunset, and on Friday nights, a fireworks show.
Those more interested in oenology than topography might consider reserving the private wine room, a 10-person space enclosed by wine displays. The elegant wine list includes both Old World and New World varietals available by the glass, bottle, or half bottle. The food is equally elegant with a classic steakhouse selection that includes everything from prime porterhouse and rack of lamb to Maine lobster. There's a light Asian influence as well, evidenced by beautifully plated appetizers of ahi sashimi and ahi katsu.