Downtown dining just got better: MW’s coming

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Downtown foodies, take heart: Come Dec. 1st, James Beard-nominated MW Restaurant is opening a casual eatery called Artizen at the Hawaii State Art Museum.

You know the space. The HiSAM museum cafe in the former Richards Street YMCA thrived under Ed Kenney’s Downtown incarnation, and later housed Grand Cafe & Bakery.

Photo courtesy of Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts

Photo courtesy of Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts

MW chef-owners Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka haven’t decided on hours yet, but they know they’ll serve lunch from Monday to Friday, supplemented by private events and bigger ones like First Friday. “We want to apply our same philosophy as we do at MW,” says Ueoka. “Serve quality food and do it quicker. Since we know the lunch break in downtown is short, it will be a fast lunch.”

Karr-Ueoka's breads and desserts are headed downtown.

Karr-Ueoka’s breads and desserts are headed downtown.

Expect to order your lunch at the counter and pick up your food when called. There’ll be tables for dining in, but no table service. And the question of coffee and pastries in the mornings is still a maybe.

Artizen will feature breads made in-house.

Artizen will feature breads made in-house.

The new spot, the Ueokas say, will let them experiment with dishes that are more casual than MW. Ueoka is working on an ahi pesto sandwich, for example. It’s been months in the making, inspired by a cacao bread they made where the cacao takes on an olive flavor. Another idea they’re playing with is using powdered moringa oleifera (marungay) leaves, shiso and pineapple juice to create a natural energy drink.

A little-known secret: MW makes lunch bentos to order. Expect bentos at Artizen for grab-and-go. Photo by Thomas Obungen

A little-known secret: MW Restaurant makes lunch bentos to order. Expect bentos at Artizen for grab-and-go. Photo by Thomas Obungen

Artizen at HiSAM
250 S. Hotel St. at Richards Street
From Dec. 1