Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Town Kaimuki @ 3435 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu

This is where the real fun begins: that pivotal moment when you become accustomed to a city after multiple trips; you have a general lay of the land, you've been suckered to all the tourist traps and now you get to really explore the hidden gems and local favorites.

So I'll start my review with my final verdict:
I LOVE Town!!! It's a quintessential local restaurant; the ambience, location and food creates an inviting experience highlighting Hawaiian hospitality with locally grown organic ingredients and innovative combinations that can only be conceived here on this heavenly island of dreams.

Alright, so I'm a little rusty after the Holidays, so bear with me...  Located on the corner of of a mixed-use, res/comm neighborhood, Town is housed in charm and quaintness of a modern island cottage; adorned in holiday festivity, the truth warmth of this dining venue shone brightly through its large windows with the liveliness of happy diners being entertained and I was psyched!

Inside was definitely indicative of the exterior and more; a modern take on interiors that managed to retain a warm cosy feeling (albeit a little loud- hard finishes has its drawback, designers...).  Having done some reconnaissance about Town, I quickly learned of Chef/Owner Ed Kenney, who's mantra: 'local first, whenever possible with aloha always' clearly indicated by the care and deliciousness of the dishes coming out of his kitchen, enlightened me to the endless possibility of  high quality Hawaiian cuisine.  And judging by the holiday party that we were privy to that night, he clearly had a close relationship with the local growers and farms; he's in fact, on the board of directors for MA'O Organic Farms, which the entire company seemed to congregate en masse in full holiday cheer.

As you peruse through the menu, the explanations are deceptively simple; the description looks like any other menu in any restaurant in any city.  And although it's seem to be a problem of luxury, it does set my mind spinning.  But the knowledge of their care in local organics, this island can boast some of the best fruits and vegetables I've ever had-so that narrowed down the choices.

We started with The Grilled Flatbread + Yakon, (root vegetable resembling Yams) + Radishes + Gorgonzola Dolce Latte + Parsley. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I was ostensibly surprised when the dish arrived to the table;  large, thinly sliced Yakon with colorful discs of radishes covered the  glistening, crusty flatbread.  But what a great dish - the crispy vegetables contrasted the sharp Gorgonzola bite and the creamy Olive oil with soft yet crunchy, chewy carbs.  I LOVE THIS TO DEATH!  Definitely would come back to Town just to eat this again..

Accompanied with the Flatbread, we ordered a Salad chock full of local organics: Arugula + Beets + Fennel, Orange + Toasted Chickpeas + Mint + Riccotta Salata.  If only I grew up with this leafy abundance, I would have been an herbivore...not really but you get the sentiment. Apart from my obsession with Arugula and Beets, What really impressed me was the Fennel and Oranges which set this Salad apart from the rest.  Another great touch, the Chickpeas were toasted to a nutty crunch which balanced the Ricotta.  I rarely rave, even mention Salads, but this one is for the books.

Now for the absolute highlight of the evening, maybe even the entire trip - we ordered the Gnocchi + Imu Pork + Napa Cabbage + Scallions.  Given that there's only a number of dishes served each night, it made it all the more exclusive to order (sucker).  But what I didn't expect was it to be so friggin good! Soft and  pillowy like mochi, it was the best gnocchi I've had in a very very long time (the last was at Bouchon).  The difference with Town's version was the Imu Pork and Napa Cabbage had a distinct Asian flair in it's ingredients, while preserving it European origins of simplicity.  Another reason to-come-back kinda dish!!

As for the Main Dish, we ordered the Shinsato Pork Belly + Polenta + Bitter Greens + Salsa Verde.  I really enjoyed the uniqueness of how the Pork Belly was prepared, pan fried like a really decadent, thick cuts of Bacon, I relished this oldie but goodie cut of Pig Poultry in an entirely new way!  And the Salsa Verde really made it stand out, I even ate the fatty parts (normally I have precision of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon with OCD as I release the little bit of meat that's left after I've banished the cholesterol laden, but sweet heavenly god oh-so-good blubber).

Seriously, as nights go, Town could do no wrong!  I think I'm in love..with their food...marry me...

As the evening drew slowly to a close,  I couldn't have asked for the dessert to be as lovely as the rest of the meal, so with relative ease we chose: "Milk + Honey" Buttermilk Panna Cotta + Nalo Meli Honey + Starfruit.  Nom Nom!  Best Panna Cotta ever, with awesome local sourced Honey that put it over the top!  And the Starfruit, the Starfruit!!! I used have them at the Bar all the time, they made really great decorations to all the cocktails I made (I floated them on top, much to the chagrin of the hoighty toighty French patrons)
Needles to say, Starfruit tastes great with Honey!

If you haven't figured it out by now, I am so impressed with Town, it's a definite must go to place in Honolulu, and the next time, I promise to get there for Brunch so I can stay and eat ther the enitre day until dinner!

Ratings (Out of Five Stars)
Food:           5
Ambience:   5
Service:       5

Perfect Score!!!

Town on Urbanspoon