Oahu’s foodies won’t tell you about Kaimuku. But this small community has Hawaiians sojourning from across the archipelago to the nondescript Waialae Avenue to experience some of the state’s best farm-to-table cuisine.
At the helm is Ed Kenney’s spectacular Town Restaurant. Besides being the choice Oahu chef for the Obamas (not a bad resume builder), Kenney is a guiding light in Hawaii for serving fresh off the farm food. Town cheerfully offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in a spare, yet artsy dining room. Breakfasts show off some of the finest pastries I found on the whole island, as well local faves like banana pancakes and fried rice with eggs. Lunches and dinners favor dishes like risotto cakes topped with ahi tartare, or a limited selection of gnocchi with kulana beef ragu.
Nearby is 12th Ave Grill. At once neighborhoody, sophisticated and casual, this eatery sources its produce from local farms to craft New American Cuisine with a Hawaiian twist. I often order a bunch of appetizers like baked mac and cheese and beer battered avocado, and then share an organic Jidori marinated chicken breast lathered in honey, mustard in spinach. No one does chocolate like these guys, so save room for dessert.
2012 brought Salt Bar + Kitchen into the spotlight. Like its neighboring restaurants, this venture uses local ingredients, but they take it one step further, with artisan cocktails like smoking goat to pair with meaty pupus (yeah, that’s chiccharones on the menu) and house made charcuterie. You can’t go wrong with the house made duck ramen, nor the brick pressed Jidori chicken with Mexican spices and sweet corn. Open late, this is the kind of place locals populate until well after the sun sets.
Anyone have other farm to table favorites in Hawaii? Tune in here for more of mine.