SALT at Our Kakaako
660 Ala Moana Blvd. Honolulu, HI
Phone number (808) 591-6658
For a few years now, I’ve revered Peter Merriman as a culinary genius. A belief, I should add, founded entirely on firsthand experience.
It began some time ago with a meal at Monkeypod Kitchen, strengthened after lunch at Merriman’s in Waimea, and then solidified completely during brunch at Merriman’s in Kapalua. So it came as no surprise when, during a recent media preview of Moku Kitchen — the latest joint venture between Merriman and Handcrafted Restaurants (the same duo that brought Monkeypod to Ko Olina) — I found myself once again enamored.
Fans of Monkeypod will find familiar flavors and dishes at Moku, which opened Wednesday at Our Kakaako and showcases a farm-to-table concept Merriman has become synonymous with. Think upcountry flavors with a downtown twist (and then use #upcountrydowntown).
The Organic Kale salad and Roasted Squash Ravioli were among my favorite dishes. Kale is one of those super-greens I know I should eat more of but can never bring myself to truly enjoy — except here. At Moku, kale is tossed with a light, miso sesame vinaigrette and topped with slivers of Maui onions, chunks of mandarin oranges, butter macadamia nuts and sweet golden raisins. The dish really takes something so simple and often unappetizing (for me, at least) and transforms it into a meal I already am craving again.
Then there’s the Roasted Squash Ravioli. Soft and subtly sweet, with warmed spinach and crumbles of goat cheese that add bites of savory richness, it’s an appetizer worth not sharing.
Another memorable dish: the Kalua Pork wood-fired pizza, which featured chunks of kalua pork over macadamia nut pesto, topped with roasted pineapple and slices of jalapeno. (With some help from my new best friend Lactaid, this was the first real slice of pizza I had in more than a year, and it was amazing.)
Even something as basic as Wood-Roasted Wings were fun to eat, with a tzatziki sauce that helped to soften the heat. House Cut Fries at Moku were crispy, and topped with Parmesan cheese and truffle oil, along with two dipping options: whole grain mustard aioli and house-made ketchup. Oh, and absolutely order the Pork Pot Stickers, and then finish it all off with a slice of Banana Cream Pie or Chocolate Mac Nut Cream Pie.
Basically, arrive hungry and order everything.
BOTTOMS UP Indulge in a glass of Pink Cashmere for something tart and sweet
AL FRESCO Ample seating outside available
NA NA NA NA NA NA Check out Moku’s website for a live music lineup