I’ve been kind of surprised to see chef Hiro Mimura of Taormina Sicilian Cuisine being so proactive lately, with events like Mangoes at the Moana, and now various seasonal menus. I have always liked Taormina’s food, but it’s nice to see chef Hiro keeping his creative edge sharp and reaching out to new audiences to showcase his talent. (Disclosure: Waikiki Beach Walk is my social media client.)
One thing that people probably don’t know about him: although chef Hiro started his career in Japan, he honed his craft by working for a few years in Florence, Italy. When he came to Taormina in 2007, his goal was to provide authentic Italian flavors to his customers. This is the real deal.
I got to taste his latest creative endeavor with some foodies recently, a new summer menu (available now through September 14). While you can order any of the regular items they offer, these additional items are lighter and celebrate the flavors of the season. Here’s a quick look:
There are a few different ways to try these items: You can get a bite of four different appetizers like this for $22. You can also get these as part of the “Trinacria Collection” tasting menu, which is a total of $75. From left, seared ahi with watermelon radish, hearts of palm and edible flowers; creamy pea soup; chicken liver pate with truffle oil; and mini puff pastry sandwich with prosciutto, buffala mozzarella, Ho Farms cherry tomatoes and arugula. All were good, but our hands down favorite was the pate, with its gorgeous truffle essence.
This is what a normal serving of the ahi would look like if you ordered it.
Perfect for summer: chilled spaghetti ($19) with avocado, Big Island tomatoes, arugula and greens, all served with a light balsamic dressing. (For lunch you can get this as a full course, but it’s capellini with shrimp.) This one is big on flavor, very bright and rich, and surprisingly quite filling.
A few years ago, I did a blog post about Taormina Sicilian Cuisine and their uni pasta — better known as ricci di mare in Italy, where it originated — and named this one of my favorites in Hawaii. It still is, although the dish looks a little different. If you have never had sea urchin, this is a good introduction as it’s mild but very briny, with flecks of the uni throughout. If you are a fan, as I am, this one is for you! Ala carte, it is $33; on the Trinacria Collection tasting menu, it’s an extra $10.
Talk about decadence! The tartuffo fresco is a creamy pasta dish comprised of fresh fettuccine carbonara with seasonal fresh truffle, pancetta, Hamakua mixed mushroom and a poached egg. Chef Hiro comes to your table to shave fresh truffles over it and surround you with the aroma. It’s eggy even if you don’t bust the egg, so try a couple of experimental bites so you can appreciate the additional richness. This is an additional $20 on the Trinacria Collection tasting menu, and market price if you order it on its own.
I usually don’t order chicken when I go out to eat, since it is often a plain, overdone dish put there to satisfy people who don’t like surprises. But I’ll order this one. The grilled chicken is part of the regular menu, but chef Hiro brought it out so we could try one of his most popular dishes. It’s moist and flavorful, with the lemon butter and garlic sauce providing the perfect contrast to the tart capers. Even though we were full, we couldn’t stop eating this one. It’s huge, though, so you may want to share it with someone as you each eat your own pasta.
Save room for dessert! The peach compote was one of our favorite things of the day, as it was as refreshing as it was delicious. You get a whole white peach (be careful of the pit) poached in white wine and served with vanilla creme anglaise, orange granita, and lemon zest. It sort of tastes like a peachy creamsicle, and is very light — a good way to end the meal. Before I wrote today’s blog I almost went back just to have another one. You know, just to be sure it was still delicious.
I’ll definitely go back for some of these dishes on my own before summer is done. If I’m off the clock, I’ll probably get their special peach bellini, which features fresh peach puree and a high-end champagne. Cheers!
Taormina Sicilian Cuisine
227 Lewers St., Waikiki Beach Walk