Best Barman in the World at the Halekulani

IMG_5085The world’s best barman starts the night with a story. He has a distinguished English accent and shares the details of his travels. Colin Field, head barman at the Ritz Hotel Paris and creator of the famous Hemingway Bar, brings his expertise to L’Aperitif at the Halekulani hotel.

Field is consulting with house bartenders to create a fine-tuned cocktail program. He will be serving up his signature drinks at L’Aperitif and the Lewers Lounge until Monday Sept. 29.

The World's Best Barman, Colin Field

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Colin Field, named the best barman in the world by Forbes magazine, will be holding an event called "the Art of Style" Friday, Sept. 26 from 6-8 p.m. For reservations call 808-923-2311.

Something new: Izakaya Mai

IMG_4837A new restaurant, Izakaya Mai, has opened on Kapiolani in the former Ojiya Restaurant space across from the Hawaii Convention Center.

Originally from Tokyo, Izakaya Mai owner Yoichi Ito worked in the airline industry as a dispatcher, but loved to cook and pursued traditional sushi training. He then moved to Northern California and opened a breakfast place, before working for Benihana restaurants as a sushi sensei. A decade ago, he opened Izakaya Mai in San Mateo, Calif., which became a hit among locals. But after deciding to retire in Honolulu, he sold the eatery to new owners and moved his family to the islands.

Ito’s son, Hide, a computer programmer, convinced his dad to open a second Izakaya Mai location in Honolulu. After four months of renovation and permitting, the eatery quietly opened its doors on Aug. 20 and is celebrating the grand opening today, Sept. 17.

The interior is divided into three parts — a sushi bar, an area for table dining and a tatami room. Overall, it’s more of an American-style izakaya than an izakaya straight from Japan, both in terms of its vibe and menu. The extensive menu features favorites, such as sushi, noodles, donburi, teishoku and okonomiyaki. While the menu has distinctive Japanese items — grilled squid, champon and sara udon — there are also sushi rolls and combo meals, that would appeal to more Americanized diners.

Open for lunch and dinner, Izakaya Mai has a changing daily lunch special for $12.95 and happy hour from 9:30 until 11:30 p.m. featuring $2 Kirin drafts and $8 organic sake along with rotating food specials.

Here’s a closer look:

Izakaya Mai

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Owners Hide and Yoichi Ito are the father and son team behind Izakaya Mai, which is named after Yoichi's granddaughter.

Izakaya Mai
1718 Kapiolani Blvd.
Open Monday-Saturday
Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner: 5:30 p.m.-midnight


Our Top 5: Bento

With bento being one of Hawaii’s most beloved foods, I’m sure everyone has a favorite. The variety of meat, veggies, egg and rice make it perfect for field trips, picnics and lunch on the go. If you’re like me, I was always excited when mom would get me a bento in elementary school when we had a class trip.

When deciding on the quality of a bento, I look for well-seasoned ingredients, overall value and how tasty the meal is when eaten cold.

Here are my favorites:

No. 5: Kabuki Restaurant

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Kabuki is one of those old-school Japanese restaurants that has been around for decades. They offer takeout-only bentos that you can phone in and pick up. The offerings range from chicken katsu to saba to salmon and cost from $7-$10. I like the salmon bento with shrimp tempura ($9.40). It comes with teriyaki chicken, gobo and rice. The salmon is flaky and flavorful and is the star of this bento. The teriyaki chicken is a generous portion and the charcoal grilling adds a nice smoky flavor.

Kabuki Restaurant
600 Kapiolani Blvd.


More Our Top 5

See our full roundup with more Our Top 5 picks


HFWF 2014: Halekulani Master Chefs Gala

Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival held its Master Chefs Gala at the Halekulani hotel Friday, allowing attendees who paid $1,000 per tickets to mingle with and feast on dishes by chefs Jose Garces, Johnny Iuzzini, Richard Rosendale, Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai and Halekulani’s own Vikram Garg.

The night kicked off with a cocktail hour with wine, cheese from Kent Torrey and the Cheese Shop and signature drinks handcrafted by mixologists Tony Abou-Ganim and Francesco Lafranconi. Next, guests headed into the dining room for a lavish, six-course meal with wine pairings for each course.

Here are the courses:

Chefs Who Compete Gala - Food

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Gala guests were treated to a beautiful six-course dinner. — Photo by Ed Morita


Fourth Annual Halekulani Master Chefs Gala Series: Chefs Who Cook to Compete

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(L->R) Vikram Garg, Roy Yamaguchi, Richard Rosedale, Hiroyuki Sakai, Michelle Bernstein, Jose Garces, Johnny Iuzzini, Kent Torrey and Alan Wong.

Beyond shrimp: North Shore’s new food truck scene

We’ve been hearing a lot about North Shore’s current food truck scene and how it’s evolved way beyond garlic shrimp plates. Although the guidebooks and tours may still lead visitors to the likes of Giovanni, Fumi, Mackey and Romy, hidden among these longstanding shrimp specialists are some newer vendors bringing both variety and excitement to the mix.

Here’s a look at some of the trucks we visited during our recent trek up North.

Sandy's Sandwiches

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Located next to Shark's Cove along Kamehameha Highway in Pupukea, Sandy's Sandwiches serves up organic sandwiches and salads in a tiny makeshift shop that's towed in a pickup truck. Owner Ryan Dack launched the business last February with the hopes of serving up healthy lunches to the North Shore crowd.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 6.56.09 AMThe original “beyond shrimp” adventureSome of our longtime readers may remember when Mari Taketa and Melissa Chang ventured to the North Shore in 2011 to sample the food truck scene. We thought you’d enjoy revisiting that post, appropriately called M&M Eats: A North Shore adventure