BEST NEW RESTAURANTS
Cabanas (Oahu) The Kahala Mandarin Oriental's new restaurant offers seductive food and oceanfront tents that can be closed for privacy. Chef Wayne Hirabayashi, who also oversees the formal Hoku's, prepares bouillabaisse with lilikoi (passion fruit) aioli and grilled local fish in lobster broth, served family-style on a lazy Susan (5000 Kahala Ave., Honolulu; 808-739-8888).
Formaggio (Oahu) Lyle Fujioka has opened Honolulu's first enoteca next to his wine shop. It's in a strip mall, but you won't notice that as you enjoy portobello panini (with house-made mozzarella) and one of 35 wines sold by the glass (2919 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu; 808-739-7719).
Kaikodo (Hawaii) Manhattan art-gallery owners Mary Ann and Howard Rogers have transformed a former bank building into a soaring space filled with Chinese antiques. Mike Fennelly, an F&W Best New Chef 1993, turns out seemingly effortless dishes like ono (a local fish also known as wahoo) steamed in sake and lemongrass with a five-spice sauce (60 Keawe St., Hilo; 808-961-2558).
21 Degrees North (Oahu) Oahu's North Shore is known for surfing, not for dining, but this new restaurant at Turtle Bay Resort is changing the area's reputation with dishes like chef Andrew Manion-Copley's seared scallops in a pool of faux polentacreamed local corn that's addictively sweet (57-091 Kamehameha Hwy., Kahuku; 808-293-8811).
Vino (Maui) It's on a golf course, but the food is not clubhouse style. Chef Tom Selman makes his own superlative seafood sausage to serve in a caper sauce and his own sweet sausage for a hearty Bolognese. And the wine list is excellent (2000 Village Rd., Kapalua; 808-661-8466).
Brown's Beach House (Hawaii) This al fresco restaurant at the Fairmont Orchid resort reopened last month after a renovation, and chef Etsuji Umezu created a new menu inspired by the farmers he visited during his hiatus. Umezu highlights pure flavorstopping hamachi with tomato and shiso vinaigrette, say, or contrasting the sweetness of moi, a local fish, with that of crab (1 N. Kaniku Dr., Kohala Coast; 808-885-2000).
CELEBRITY CHEF UPDATE
Alan Wong has returned to the Big Island, where he made his name, to revamp the Hualalai Resort. He recently unveiled a new menu at the Hualalai Grille; he's also developing a restaurant for the new clubhouse, which is slated to open in 2005 (100 Kaupulehu Dr., Kona; 808-325-8525). His eponymous Honolulu restaurant remains as brilliant as ever after nine years.
Roy Yamaguchi, who already owns 33 restaurants worldwide, is due to open his second Oahu location early this year at the Ko Olina resort, on the western shore. Chef Jackie Lau will oversee the kitchen at Roy's Ko Olinahalf the dishes will be Yamaguchi's, half will be hers (92-1220 Aliinui Dr., Kapolei; 808-676-7697).
James McDonald has a farm. The Maui chef's eight- acre property is just starting to produce everything he needs for the three kitchens he runs, including his flagship Pacific'O. McDonald grows 25 different greens, from arugula to Tahitian spinach"It holds dressing really well," he says (505 Front St., Lahaina; 808-667-4341).
CHEF TO WATCH
Antony Scholtmeyer at the Banyan Tree (Maui) One of Australia's best fusion chefs, Scholtmeyer recently arrived in Maui with dishes like salmon confit with orange-miso reduction and foie gras ice cream (poached, seasoned with "savory secret ingredients," frozen and processed in a Pacojet). Now he's fascinated by island ingredients. His opakapaka (pink snapper) crusted in bonito flakes and nori and served in a saffron sauce reflects his love of umami, or the fifth taste (after sweet, salty, bitter and sour); Scholtmeyer interprets the Japanese word as "everything coming together" (Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, 1 Ritz-Carlton Dr., Kapalua; 808-669-6200).