Chef Alan Wong, a one-time André Soltner protégé, is the master of Hawaii Regional Cuisine (a culinary movement that Wong and 11 other chefs started in 1991 to blend the area’s ethnic flavors with local ingredients). His 14-year-old restaurant in a nondescript office building is still one of Honolulu’s best. Wong is known for championing local farms and for his expert touch with Hawaiian fish like onaga and opakapaka.
We loved: Pancetta-wrapped opah (moonfish) with roasted breadfruit in a port-and-red-wine sauce.
Since opening Chef Mavro in 1998, Marseille native George Mavrothalassitis has been considered Honolulu’s biggest innovator for his marriage of haute French skills and local ingredients, such as hapu’upu’u (Hawaiian grouper). His approach to wine is just as untraditional. There’s no wine list; instead, he pairs each dish with a different glass of wine selected in a blind tasting by his cooks and waitstaff and the local press.
We loved: Roasted squab, root vegetables and little cylinders of pan-crisped mochi (sticky rice taffy) in a mushroom broth.
European transplants Donato Loperfido and Philippe Padovani shuttered their eponymous local restaurants before teaming up in 2008 to open ‘Elua, whose name means “two” in Hawaiian. The concept: two distinct, seasonal French and Italian menus for mixing and matching.
We loved: Terrine of foie gras and duck confit on a bed of aromatic lentil ragù.