Savor the Is­lands at Hula Grill

En­joy Hawai‘i Re­gional Cui­sine in an in­door-out­door set­ting with an ocean back­drop.

Waikiki Magazine - - IDINE - By Maria K. Re­gan

Hula Grill serves up the fresh fla­vors of Hawai‘i Re­gional Cui­sine in a set­ting that evokes the com­fort­able el­e­gance of a 1920s Hawai­ian plan­ta­tion home. A mix of rich woods and rat­tan, grace­ful up­hol­stered chairs, en­gag­ing pieces of Hawai­ian tra­di­tional art and heart­felt friendly ser­vice make Hula Grill a place to re­lax and savor the is­lands.

Set on the sec­ond floor of Out­rig­ger Waikiki, di­rectly above Duke’s, Hula Grill is a great choice when you want wa­ter views in a more in­ti­mate set­ting. Whether you’re din­ing at an out­door ta­ble that over­looks the beach and the ocean be­yond or en­joy­ing Aloha Hour in the hand­some bar, you’ll feast on trop­i­cal breezes along with fresh is­land fla­vors in food, cock­tails and beer.

“We want guests to get a taste of what Hawai‘i’s all about,” says ex­ec­u­tive chef Paul Rivera. “We want to give them choices they can’t get at home. And for Hawai‘i res­i­dents, our fo­cus on fresh, lo­cal foods means the menu is al­ways chang­ing so there are new things to try ev­ery time you visit.”

Each night, the menu fea­tures six species of fresh fish—al­ways sus­tain­able—choices. Also on the bill of fare: rib-eye steak from the Big Is­land and pork from O‘ahu’s wind­ward side. Lo­cally grown veg­eta­bles, in­clud­ing fresh let­tuces, kale and Ok­i­nawan sweet pota­toes, are the per­fect com­ple­ments.

“We’ve formed re­la­tion­ships with our lo­cal farm­ers and pro­duc­ers,” says Chef Rivera. “We work with our pur­vey­ors and try to uti­lize what they have avail­able. For ex­am­ple, if they have a lot of toma­toes, we’ll cre­ate dishes that take ad­van­tage of that avail­abil­ity. In the same way, if I have a dish in mind and need a par­tic­u­lar item, they’ll try to find a way to pro­vide it. So it works both ways.”

Desserts are all house-made and in­clude Hula Grill’s sig­na­ture ice-cream sand­wich; macadamia-nut tiramisu; Hula Pie (a Hawai­ian take on mud pie with macadamia-nut ice cream and choco­late sauce), and pineap­ple co­conut crème brûlée served in a fresh pineap­ple bowl.

Hula Grill’s break­fast menu also is stocked with lo­cal fa­vorites, from pa­paya and pineap­ple to star fruit and dragon fruit. Waf­fles and pan­cakes come with a house-made mas­car­pone whipped top­ping, and sausage is lo­cally sourced. Other menu high­lights in­clude seared pep­pered ‘Ahi bene­dict, and Loco Moco fea­tur­ing a burger from Maui Cat­tle Com­pany.

The Hawai‘i Re­gional Cui­sine phi­los­o­phy ex­tends to the Plan­ta­tion Bar, where you’ll find spe­cialty mixed drinks that high­light lo­cal prod­ucts, in­clud­ing Hawai­ian rum, fresh-squeezed juices, fresh mint (from Chef Rivera’s back-yard gar­den) and O‘ahu-made Paci­fikool ginger syrup. On tap: selec­tions from Maui Brew­ing, Kona Brew­ing and Me­hana Brew­ing Com­pany. Bot­tled, you can en­joy Aloha Lager from Honolulu’s Aloha Beer Com­pany and sev­eral main­land fa­vorites.

The Plan­ta­tion Bar serves pu­pus, sal­ads and sand­wiches, and of­fers daily Aloha Hour spe­cials. Its dé­cor con­tin­ues the restau­rant’s theme. Low lava-rock walls form a rus­tic perime­ter around the bar area. Though in­doors, the bar it­self is cov­ered by a palapa thatch roof. Next to it, a koa out­rig­ger ca­noe—one tested in the de­mand­ing Waikiki to Moloka‘i race— is sus­pended from the ceil­ing, which is dec­o­rated with wo­ven lauhala and dot­ted with plan­ta­tion-style fans.

Mu­si­cians play nightly from 7 to 9 p.m. Thurs­day through Sun­day, a hula dancer also en­ter­tains and is happy to teach keiki and other guests a grace­ful hula move­ment or two.

Whether you visit for break­fast, brunch, Aloha Hour or din­ner, Hula Grill serves up ex­pertly pre­pared fresh and fla­vor­ful foods in a wel­com­ing Hawai­ian at­mos­phere with ocean views. In short, a din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to be sa­vored like a sun-kissed af­ter­noon on the beach be­low.

PHO­TOS: COURTESY HULA GRILL

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