Hawaii: In Real Life ~ Honolulu Festival 2012 Gala Preview

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The 18th annual Honolulu Festival returns to Waikiki this weekend, March 2 to 4. The weekend is filled with free Japanese cultural activities, from music and dance to food sampling to hands-on craft demonstrations, culminating with a huge parade down Kalakaua Avenue.

One of the paid events is the Friendship Gala on March 3 from 7 to 9 p.m., where 10 of Honolulu’s outstanding chefs will have samples of their cuisine at the Hawaii Convention Center. There will also be live entertainment from Hawaii and Japan to promote cultural exchange. If you would like to attend the gala, click here for tickets, which are $90 each for ages 21 and over and $70 for under 21 (children under the age of 6 are free). The cost includes food and two beverages (beer, wine). Proceeds raised support the Honolulu Festival Foundation’s cultural and educational programs for schools and children in Hawaii. Plus, guests will enjoy lively entertainment from Honolulu Festival participants.

We visited chef Leighton Miyakawa, one of the featured chefs at the Friendship Gala, who showed me the secret of his beef tenderloin. You’ll get to try a special version of it at the gala, one that’s not served in his restaurant.

We also sat with Lenny Yajima Andrew of the Honolulu Festival to talk about what else is happening this year (while we ate the tenderloin). If you want to see the full interview, click here.

Here are five more items that we got to preview before the big event, from Nobu Waikiki, Chef Mavro, Nanzan Girogiro, 3660 on the Rise, and Honolulu Coffee Co. If you want to see what Le Bistro, Wolfgang Steakhouse, and Hawaii Prince Hotel’s Prince Court are serving, you’ll have to come to the gala. See you there!

Honolulu Festival 2012 Preview

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Run, don't walk, to get Nobu's Chilean sea bass with jalapeño miso. Don't be fooled by the jalapeño in the miso—it's not a crazy spicy. Instead you get a slight sweetness from the pepper and a delicate saltiness from the miso and fish. The chili comes in at the very end, just a very sneaky and delightful tickle on the tongue. Bring a pen so you can compose a haiku immediately upon consumption.