Coming soon: Chris Kajioka’s Kaimuki restaurant

It’s been nearly a year since Chris Kajioka’s departure from Vintage Cave, the $10 million restaurant where tasting menus started at $195. He did a little traveling courtesy of a James Beard scholarship and helped his Michelin-starred friend and mentor Mourad Lahlou open his new restaurant, Mourad, in San Francisco. And then Kajioka came home and is looking to open his own restaurant in Kaimuki.

Kajioka announced the plans for his new Honolulu restaurant on Instagram (@ckcuisine21) back in March.

Kajioka announced the plans for his new Honolulu restaurant on Instagram (@ckcuisine21) back in March.

His partner in the new venture is Anthony Rush, the Devon-born chef at Fera in London’s famed Claridge’s Hotel. The two met at Per Se, Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin star restaurant in New York City, back in 2007 and have kept in touch since. “Anthony is easily one of the best cooks I’ve ever worked with,” Kajioka says.

Both have impressive resumes. Kajioka’s includes Roy’s and San Francisco’s Aziza, Parallel 37 and the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton as well as Per Se. Rush has cooked at French Laundry and Per Se, Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck (the second best restaurant in the world according to World’s 50 Best list 2004) and Fera.

We had lunch at Koko Head Cafe the other day. When I asked how they would categorize the style of cooking for their restaurant, they said only that diners could expect fresh, local, seasonal ingredients prepared in ways foreign to the Hawaii palate. What they want, they said, is to make people happy through food.

Anthony Rush (@chefantrush), Katherine Nomura Rush and Chris Kajioka (@ckcuisine21) outside Koko Head Cafe, site of their Friday pop-up.

Anthony Rush (@chefantrush), Katherine Nomura Rush and Chris Kajioka (@ckcuisine21) outside Koko Head Cafe, site of their Friday pop-up.

“We will have a casual dining room,” Kajioka says, “but also serve an eight-seat chef’s counter where we are going to have a lot of fun.”

“One of the features we wanted was a true chef’s counter,” Rush agrees. Hawaii doesn’t really have any where diners get a one-of-a-kind meal based on the ingredients available that day and the expression of the chef. The closest we have are omakase meals at one or two higher-end sushi bars.

Our meal wound down and Kajioka, Rush and his wife, Katherine Nomura Rush (who’s from Los Angeles) prepared for their next stop, a local microgreens farmer. I asked the Rushes if their date to move to Hawaii had been pinned down yet. “We’re about to figure that out,” Rush says.

Their as-yet unnamed restaurant is slated to open this fall.

# # #

This Friday evening, Kajioka and Rush will cook a $100-a-head preview dinner for 36. The pop-up quickly sold out over the weekend. Follow Frolic’s Melissa Chang (@melissa808) and check this site to see the creations Kajioka and Rush prepare.

A sneak peek at Friday’s menu shows a solidly English lineup including Yorkshire pudding and Eton mess, a dessert usually of strawberries, cream and meringue.

Something new: Breadbox Hawaii

There’s a new from-scratch bakery in Manoa Marketplace celebrating their grand opening this week. Breadbox Hawaii is a Japanese-style bakery selling full and half loaves, cookies, chocolate truffles, doughnuts and more.

House shokupan (Japanese soft white bread) and wheat loaves ($4 half/$7 full) line the shelves. There were only a couple left when we arrived at 10 a.m.

House shokupan (Japanese soft white bread) and wheat loaves ($4 half/$7 full) line the shelves. There were only a couple left when we arrived at 10 a.m.

Owners Mike Price and Alan Martin come from families with ties to a former pizza shop on Kapahulu and Duc’s Bistro in Chinatown. Price also owns Baby Awearness & Island Tea Party upstairs from Breadbox. When he saw that the old Manoa Bakery space was vacant, he got the lease and started planning the bakery with the help of Martin, his head baker. Martin is a Kapiolani Community College culinary graduate who’s worked at the Whole Ox Deli, the Pig and the Lady and Nobu Waikiki.

The Breadbox Hawaii team.

The Breadbox Hawaii team.

Browsing the small shop, we decided to try one of everything Breadbox had left.

Our box included old fashioned doughnuts, a yeast doughnut, two macaroons, shiro pan, pizza pan and chocolate orange mousse.

Our box included old fashioned doughnuts, a yeast doughnut, two macaroons, shiro pan, pizza pan and chocolate orange mousse.

Doughnuts are shaped by hand and topped with housemade flavored glazes. “Adult flavors” like amaretto and kahlua are in the works, where the liqueur will give each bite a spiked kick.

They gave us a bacon biscuit ($2) straight out of the oven. The smoky, peppery bacon bits inside the buttery layers were a nice savory touch.

They gave us a bacon biscuit ($2) straight out of the oven. The smoky, peppery bacon bits inside the buttery layers were a nice savory touch.

The team is still ramping up to full production, so selections and quantities are limited and they sell out quick. Price says they plan to expand their menu to include breakfast items till 10 a.m. Dishes they are working on include toad in the hole, eggs benedict, stuffed Portuguese sweet bread French toast and biscuits and gravy. Check their Facebook page to see when they’ll start serving these.

Breadbox also hand-makes dark chocolate truffles ($1-$1.50), each with a ganache filling.

Breadbox also hand-makes dark chocolate truffles ($1-$1.50), each with a ganache filling.

Using baguette dough, Breadbox makes an "epi" ($5), a classic made to resemble stalks of wheat. Filled with bacon and cheese (pictured), spinach and garlic, or pizza flavors, these are big enough to share with a friend.

Using baguette dough, Breadbox makes an “epi” ($5), a classic made to resemble stalks of wheat. Filled with bacon and cheese (pictured), spinach and garlic, or pizza flavors, these are big enough to share with a friend.

An assortment of cookies ($1.25 each). We didn't get to try their favorite, bacon chocolate, because they sold out earlier in the morning.

An assortment of cookies ($1.25 each). We didn’t get to try their favorite, bacon chocolate, because they sold out earlier in the morning.

Find Breadbox at Manoa Marketplace next to Manoa Sushi on the ground level.

Find Breadbox at Manoa Marketplace next to Manoa Sushi on the ground level.

Breadbox Hawaii
Manoa Marketplace
2752 Woodlawn Dr.
988-8822
Breadbox Hawaii on Facebook

Hidden gem: Surfin’ Salsa

Longtime reader @Russkar shared his secret spot for his favorite enchiladas and chimichangas — all the way on the edge of Mililani. His descriptions convinced me to make the trek from downtown for a Mexican lunch — twice in one week.

Right across the street from Mililani Golf Course, the Surfin' Salsa truck opens for lunch and dinner five days a week behind Mililani Shopping Center.

Right across the street from Mililani Golf Course, the Surfin’ Salsa truck opens for lunch and dinner five days a week behind Mililani Shopping Center.

This family-run truck prides itself on made-from-scratch recipes for all of their food, including handmade corn tortillas. Owner Jhon Acuna and his mother Olga cook up a menu with Mexican and Colombian influences that includes enchiladas, sopes, chimichangas, burritos, tacos and tortas.

Your Surfin' Salsa meal starts with complimentary chips and salsa. They serve it to you while you wait, even if you're doing takeout!

Your Surfin’ Salsa meal starts with complimentary chips and salsa. They serve it to you while you wait, even if you’re doing takeout!

The steak torta ($9) is definitely a two-hander. Filled with lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream, the sandwich is perfectly toasted.

The steak torta ($9) is definitely a two-hander. Filled with lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream, the sandwich is perfectly toasted.

The enchilada plate (3 for $12.25) is my favorite item on the menu. The red enchilada sauce is perfectly seasoned and is a must for first-timers. Although I've tried the enchiladas with all the fillings, the cheese is my favorite. Perfectly gooey and flavorful, the rich cheeses make for a filling meal.

The enchilada plate (3 for $12.25) is my favorite item on the menu. The red enchilada sauce is perfectly seasoned and is a must for first-timers. Although I’ve tried the enchiladas with all the fillings, the cheese is my favorite. Perfectly gooey and flavorful, the rich cheeses make for a filling meal.

The first meal I had at Surfin' Salsa was so good, I had to go back the same week. This time, I got the chimichanga plate ($11) with two golden brown, deep-fried corn tortillas.

The first meal I had at Surfin’ Salsa was so good, I had to go back the same week. This time, I got the chimichanga plate ($11) with two golden brown, deep-fried corn tortillas.

Last Friday they were serving up al pastor tacos ($2) all night long so be sure to follow their Facebook page.

Last Friday they were serving up al pastor tacos ($1.75) all night long so be sure to follow their Facebook page.

The succulent meat is cut right off the spit and onto your taco. Pick your sauce and get everything on it.

The succulent meat is cut right off the spit and onto your taco. Pick your sauce and get everything on it.

One of my new favorite dishes is the asada fries ($12). Loaded with grilled steak, sour cream, cheese and guacamole, this is perfect for a table of three or four to share.

One of my new favorite dishes is the asada fries ($12). Loaded with grilled steak, sour cream, cheese and guacamole, this is perfect for a table of three or four to share.

Surfin’ Salsa
95-130 Kamehameha Hwy.
692-2471
Tuesday-Saturday 12 p.m.-8 p.m.

Something new: Up Roll Cafe

A sign promising sushi and coffee caught my eye one day in Kakaako.

I don't usually think of sushi and coffee together. I was curious so I walked in.

I don’t usually think of sushi and coffee together. I was curious, so I walked in.

Up Roll Cafe, which celebrated its grand opening earlier this month, is owned and run by Anna and Manny Maniwa, formerly of ilandsoda, a truck that used to serve sodas and sandwiches in the Yajima lot at Sheridan and South King. The new cafe, along Halekauwila near Keawe, is a hip, clean and bright space, with seating both inside and outside. There’s no designated parking, however; just metered street parking.

The featured menu items are made-to-order sushi rolls.

Use the clipboard ordering system to pick out your sushi roll, type of rice, sauce and toppings and hand it off to Anna or Manny and they will prepare it fresh for you.

Use the clipboard ordering system to pick a sushi roll, type of rice, sauce and toppings, then hand it to Anna or Manny and they will prepare it fresh.

Fill your roll with a variety of fresh toppings including sweet onions, cilantro, mint, green onions, shiso, shibazuke (pickled cucumber and shiso), avocado and much more.

You can fill your roll with sweet onions, cilantro, mint, green onions, shiso, shibazuke (pickled cucumber and shiso), avocado and much more.

Manny makes your roll fresh to order.

The rolls are made fresh and available throughout the day, including for breakfast.

There’s also a full coffee menu, with espresso, lattes and more. We tried the iced coffee, which was okay. Next time, we’ll try the espresso.

The matcha latte ($3.75) is light and foamy with a bright green tea flavor.

But we did enjoy the matcha latte ($3.75), which was light and foamy with a bright green tea flavor.

We ordered the pork miso roll ($8.25) with cucumber, sweet corn, takuan, ginger dressing, lettuce and fried onions. The ingredients are wrapped neatly in nori and make for an easy handheld meal for those on the go. Think Chipotle for sushi rolls.

We ordered the pork miso roll ($8.25) with cucumber, sweet corn, takuan, ginger dressing, lettuce and fried onions. The ingredients are wrapped neatly in nori and make for an easy, handheld meal for those on the go. Think Chipotle for sushi rolls.

They also serve breakfast sandwiches ($3.75) that are buttery popovers stuffed with either corned beef or bacon & egg. The corned beef is more like a corned beef salad much like a tuna salad.

They also serve breakfast sandwiches ($3.75) that are buttery popovers stuffed with either corned beef or bacon and egg. The corned beef is more like a corned beef salad, similar to tuna salad.

Although the custard puff ($4.25) looks really sweet, it's balanced and airy. This was my favorite sweet of the meal and I can't wait to enjoy the pillowy custard again.

For dessert, we tried the house-made custard puff ($4.25). It looks really sweet, but it was balanced and airy. I can’t wait to enjoy the pillowy custard again. There also was a chocolate cake and coffee jelly.

The Up Roll Ultra ($15) is the burrito sized roll where you pick your protein and fill it to your hearts content with any of their free toppings and up to seven of their additional toppings all for one price. We let Manny choose for us omakase style. The resulting ahi roll was delicious, filling and gargantuan.

The Up Roll Ultra ($15) is a burrito-sized roll. You pick a protein, then fill it with any of the free toppings and up to seven additional toppings for one price. We went the omakase route and let Manny choose for us. The resulting ahi roll was delicious, filling and gargantuan.

Our Up Roll Ultra roll.

Our Up Roll Ultra roll.

Overall, we found the concept fun and promising. We’ll definitely return to try more rolls and beverages.

Team Up Roll: Manny Maniwa, Ryan Plaza and Anna Maniwa.  Follow them on Instagram @UpRollCafe

Team Up Roll: Manny Maniwa, Ryan Plaza and Anna Maniwa. Follow them on Instagram @UpRollCafe

Up Roll Cafe
665 Halekauwila St.
909-475-0099
Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Facebook.com/UpRollCafe

Something new: Taps and Apps

With 36 craft beers on tap and a food menu by Du Vin’s former executive chef, Hawaii’s newest brewpub opened over the weekend in Mililani Mauka. You’ll find a rotating selection of solid brews like Goose Island Matilda, Ballast Pt. Sculpin and Belching Beaver milk stout. And yes, we said brewpub: Taps and Apps will also have homebrews made on premises.

Beer flights are four 4-ounce pours for $12 to $16.

Beer flights are four 4-ounce pours for $12 to $16.

Why Mililani? The story starts with general manager Chris Overton, a food and beverage veteran. He left Hawaii to attend the University of Nevada Las Vegas and stayed in Sin City to work at big name venues like Brooklyn Bowl.

Then he got a call from his parents. Come home, they said. They had found the perfect spot for a bar. Located between Navy Federal Credit Union and Wing Stop, Taps and Apps would be a watering hole for the central Oahu crowd.

150 seats and a nice outdoor patio fronting Meheula Parkway.

150 seats and a nice outdoor patio fronting Meheula Parkway.

Overton, his fiancee and parents built out the site from scratch. From the hand-stained furniture to the decor along the walls, touches throughout are the result of their labor.

The bar is double-sided with tap handles running back to back. Beer prices range from $5 to $10.

The bar is double-sided with tap handles running back to back. Beer prices range from $5 to $10.

Daniel Kawamoto, the executive chef at now-shuttered Brasserie Du Vin, created the food menu. We weren’t able to sample anything during our sneak peek last week, but choices include pizza, burgers, escargots, oysters and wings. It’s a range of American pub grub classics with a smattering of French dishes.

Beer cocktails caught my eye. There’s a take on the Moscow mule called the Taps & Apps mule and a Vegas spin on a bloody mary using Jose Cuervo, a house tomatillo mix, a hit of lime and Sierra Nevada pale ale.

Here's all the beers on draft. Overton is adding his two homebrews, a honey citrus wheat and an IPA.

Here’s all the beers on draft. Overton is adding his two homebrews, a honey citrus wheat and an IPA.

For non-beer drinkers, there are a number of handcrafted cocktails, wines, spirits, juices, coffee and soft drinks. I’m looking forward to going back and trying Overton’s two homebrews as well as Kawamoto’s dishes.

Chris Overton and Daniel Kawamoto.

Chris Overton and Daniel Kawamoto.

Taps and Apps
95-1830 Meheula Pkwy Suite C6
626-8277
Daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Taps and Apps on Facebook
TapsandAppsBrewpub.com