THE KAHALA HOTEL & RESORT
5000 Kahala Ave. Honolulu, HI
Phone number (808) 739-8888
Fun fact: Metro editor Christina O’Connor and social media manager Nicole Kato were born on the very same day. Since I am always cooking up excuses to indulge in afternoon tea, I found this a rather perfect cause for celebration. So off to The Kahala Hotel & Resort we went, along with staff writer Paige Takeya. (The afternoon was made even more special, thanks to The Kahala’s Dara Lum, who treated us all.)
The Kahala is among my favorites for afternoon tea because of the ambiance. Located right off the main entrance in The Veranda, lounge-style tables and chairs inside and on a lanai (where we were lucky to sit) make for a relaxed, upscale atmosphere.
Then, of course, there’s the food. For such a momentous occasion — I was in full #treatyoself mode — we opted for the Royal Tea Service. This one came with all the trappings: Each person got to choose a tea and received two scones, four finger sandwiches and desserts, as well as a glass of champagne.
It certainly was the right decision here, as everything was satisfying, delicate and appropriately decadent. Among my favorites that afternoon was the Pickled Egg Salad Crostini. Relishing its combination of seemingly every texture and the right balance of salty (from bits of ham) tanginess, I took one small bite and made sure to save the rest for my last bite.
Also something to consider saving for the end: the Tuna Nicoise & Celery, which features an island ahi confit, boiled eggs, capers, tomatoes and basil — a light and refreshing sandwich.
The desserts, too, were showstoppers almost too pretty to eat. By far, the Macadamia Nut Caramel Tart was the most indulgent, with caramel that flowed right out with one cut to the tart.
As fancy as it all was, though, each possessed flavors that were nostalgic and reminiscent of something familiar. None exemplified this better than the Brown Sugar Shortbread with Guava Preserves. It was, for me at least, completely unexpected because of its nondescript appearance.
A cookie? I thought before biting in and realizing how wrong I was to underestimate it. The shortbread cookie was buttery and crunchy but not crumbly. The guava jam center was sweet and fruity, and for whatever reason, it reminded me of my grandma.
It was just the right touch. Because honestly, as much as it thrills me to alternate between sipping champagne out of a flute and tea out of fine china, I do still appreciate the comforts of home.
One important thing to keep in mind: The afternoon tea menu at The Kahala will be changing in a few weeks, so be sure to stop in soon.
MEET THE CHEFS
When it comes to afternoon tea at The Kahala Hotel & Resort, executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi and executive pastry chef Michael Moorhouse agree that the atmosphere in The Veranda is something special.
“I kind of think it sets the tone that you have at the hotel,” says Moorhouse. “It’s very gracious and open and inviting.”
Still, let’s be real, food is pretty important, too — something Hirabayashi and Moorhouse excel at. For both, inspiration behind the savory and sweet offerings available during afternoon tea came from simple desires.
“Seasonal, tastes good, local flavors,” lists Hirabayashi of things he kept in mind when creating the menu.
“I just got back from a couple of years on the Mainland, and I wanted to do something that I felt comfortable doing and kind of incorporated local ingredients,” says Moorhouse.
See what I mean about the menu being fancy and comfortable?
Hirabayashi recommends: Great minds think alike because Hirabayashi’s favorite also happens to be the Pickled Egg Salad Crostini. He describes it as “comfort food,” which I completely agree with.
Moorhouse recommends: His personal favorite is the Yuzu Meringue Bar — a soft and tangy yuzu custard that comes topped with a dollop of toasted meringue.
PARKING Valet only
FANCY PANTS Think resort casual
DOLPHINS Watch these sea creatures from a seat on the lanai
PACE YOURSELF As small as everything looks, it can be quite filling