1009 Kapiolani Blvd.
Phone number (808) 585-0011
In the past several years, I have had the opportunity to speak with chef Chai Chaowasaree more than a few times. Let me tell you something: He is one of the nicest people you will ever meet — the kind of person who immediately offers a beverage, and then sits down for a conversation all the while ignoring an incessantly ringing cell phone.
It’s this warmth that I think is reflective in his food. For all the glitz and glamour that can be found at Chef Chai, the Asian-fusion menu is incredibly familiar and, as a result, comforting.
It all begins with the appetizers, which I often order as my meal. My favorite is the Kataifi and Macadamia Nut Crusted Jumbo Black Tiger Prawns. It’s a crispy concoction, with shrimp wrapped in shredded filo dough. Similar to shrimp tempura, every bite of this version is lighter and crunchier. Served with pineapple and baby greens, it’s the right combination of salty, sweet and every texture imaginable.
Also on my list of items to order is the Fresh Ahi Tartar in Mini Waffle Cones. It’s a fun and deliciously fresh dish. Plus, much like a Drumstick, a dollop of avocado mousse at the bottom of every cone serves as a subtly sweet last bite.
Deciding on an entrée will be difficult. There is a lot to choose from, with items like Grilled Fresh Kabayaki New Zealand King Salmon and Grilled Spicy Pineapple or Miso Chilean Sea Bass with Pickled Vegetables especially calling out. Both are memorable, but consider the Vegetable Terrine with Green Curry Sauce.
It’s a visually stimulating dish with layers of purple Okinawan potato, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, sweet onions and mashed pumpkin on display. You can eat it layer by layer, but I recommend mixing things up a bit to experience a combination of flavors and a nice balance.
If you somehow manage to have space for more after all that, go for the White Chocolate Amore Gelato Truffle. You’ll want to take a picture before taking a bite of this white chocolate gelato, filled with raspberry sorbetto. Surrounding it is a raspberry guava puree, and while it may seem rather indulgent, cold and fruity flavors prevent it from getting too rich.
Though, there’s never anything wrong with that, right?
SUMMER BREEZE Request a seat outdoors for an al fresco experience
ARRIVE EARLY An early-bird dinner between 4 and 5 p.m. gets you a four-course meal for only $40
RESERVATION? I’d recommend it