From the bustling streets of Times Square to the equally vivacious streets of Hong Kong, people walk around with smiles after enjoying the japanese barbecue cuisine at Gyu-Kaku. The restaurant has more than 700 locations worldwide, each rooted in the belief that some of the strongest bonds between friends are forged at the dinner table. Groups dine on a huge variety of Japanese dishes, from popular meat and veggie dishes such as Harami Skirt Steak, Kalbi Short Rib, and Bacon-wrapped Asparagus - to unique Japanese-American appetizers such as the Spicy Tuna Volcano, Wasabi Crunchy Shrimp, and Ahi Tuna Poke. The real excitement takes place around individual grills, however, where diners can barbecue their own slabs of filet mignon, ahi tuna, or chicken with chili mayo until they are ideally tender or encircled by on-duty firemen.
Ben & Jerry's came from humble beginnings—in 1978, its eponymous founders served ice cream out of a renovated Burlington gas station, and delivered pints of their now-classic flavors to grocery stores out of the back of Ben's VW Squareback wagon. Today, its myriad shops dispense cups, cones, shakes, and smoothies brimming with a variety of quirky flavors, including Phish Food and Cherry Garcia, named for famous revolutionary Jerry Garcia. The duo is also famous for their social responsibility, which is evident in their community activism and in their use of fair-trade products, such as cage-free eggs and sustainable, growth-hormone-free dairy.
At first glance, The Grove is a paradox. It's family owned and operated, but helmed by the same world-class chef—Fred DeAngelo—who has run award-winning establishments such as the beachfront Ola restaurant at Turtle Bay Resort, and hosted a dinner at the James Beard House in New York City. Chef DeAngelo draws products from local farmers whenever possible, but also uses internationally gleaned ingredients such as cedar-plank New Zealand king salmon and Maine lobster. And although the twinkling party lights and live music on the laid-back patio give the restaurant a low-key, family-friendly vibe, the regular training, menu quizzing, and table hurdling of the attentive wait staff are reminiscent of a fine-dining experience.
The answer to the puzzle may be found in the diverse background of Chef DeAngelo's 'ohana, which is Hawaiian for family. As reported by the Honolulu Weekly, DeAngelo and his sister are Italian, Hawaiian, Korean, German, and Polish; his wife is Hawaiian, Chinese, Spanish, and Filipino; and his brother-in-law is Greek. So guests can order ahi poke, Greek-marinated roast chicken, or risotto all from the same menu, whose eclectic nature may also stem from Chef DeAngelo's world travels as a representative for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.
According to another Honolulu Weekly article, the blend of cultures is a success. "The food and well-trained service is white tablecloth … But the mood is palaka-covered picnic table. A rare and sweet balance." Whatever the reason behind the culinary choices, they seem to be working: the hot spot was named a Best New Restaurant silver medalist in Honolulu magazine's 2013 Hale Aina Awards.
First-time guests to Baci Bistro might think that co-owner Bill Duval is psychic. On any given night, he greets visitors at the door, addressing most by name. His friendliness is hardly supernatural, though—it's a shared habit between himself and his wait staff: remembering the names of returning guests. Some of the servers have even been stocking their mental rolodexes since the bistro first opened in 1997, when designers first planted the red, puckering-lips logo around the foliage-flanked interior.
Along with the warmth of its employees, Baci Bistro's signature element is freshness. Executive chef and co-owner Reza Azeri stands by the appetizing simplicity of made-to-order meals, prepping sauces that harmonize with pastas instead of masking their flavor. Ravioli remains the house specialty, whether it's stuffed with lobster or the surprise ingredient of the day, and meat entrees decorate veal, pork, chicken, and fish with vegetables and wine sauces. The menu also allows children to mix and match their choices of sauces and noodles rather than forcing them to eat like adults, who enjoy wine sauces and wipe their mouths with business cards.
Behind Tokoname's dark-wood storefront and rustic carved sign, chefs craft of authentic Japanese fare by the light of hanging lanterns. Sushi standards such as ahi tuna nigiri and shrimp tempura share table space with more exotic seasonal items, including abalone and monkfish liver. Patrons can also opt to wash down meals with a round of sake cocktails or a beer tower for the table. During lunches at the Manoa location, chefs also drizzle chicken in homemade teriyaki sauce.
A Cup of Tea Victorian Team Room Restaurant and Boutique immerses guests in a Victorian tearoom experience. Doily-clad tables and patterned wallpaper complement lamps fashioned like teapots. Teacups and saucers adorned with colorful flowers hold earl grey, darjeeling, and chai varieties, along with special mixes from around the world. Guests can enjoy their tea with freshly baked scones, soups, sandwiches, and sweet treats.