There’s nothing like Grandma’s cooking. Whether it was Christmas feasts or a simple bowl of chicken soup, we all have memories of the family dishes we grew up eating. That's the idea behind Tutu's Kitchen at Highway Inn Kakaako, a Tuesday-and-Thursday pop-up series featuring one dish a month from someone's family. They're simple dishes that preserve Hawai’i’s home-cooked traditions, and every time you order one, $1 goes to Les Dames d’Escoffier, an organization that supports women in the culinary world.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays in February you can get Popo’s Slumgallion ($8.95), is a tomato-based stew of ground beef, Portuguese sausage, beans and cabbage cooked by Kuuipo Lorenzo, a hostess at the restaurant and a former Kamehameha Day Parade Pa‘u Queen. Lorenzo's popo called her hamburger stew Slumgallion because it was made with ingredients she and her grandkids found slumming around the markets. It’s tasty, hearty and perfect for the cold weather we’ve been having. You can get it until next Thursday, Feb. 28.
Tuesdays and Thursdays in March will feature private chef Kathy Saks' mother's stuffed cabbage filled with ground beef and pork in a sweet and tangy sauce of tomatoes, raisins, honey and spices. The dish is improvised from an old Russian Jewish recipe. Served over egg noodles, this is a nice spin on the classic. I had an extra helping of this one. The sauce and egg noodles alone were so good.
April's Tutu's Kitchen is by Lori Wong, who was literally born into the restaurant business. Remember Byron’s Drive In? Chowder House? Wong's Okazuya? Orson’s? Those were all her family's. Wong created her tempura deep-fried Twinkie drizzled with chocolate sauce and dusted with powdered sugar as a Valentine's Day special for Chowder House and later adapted it into tempura deep-fried Oreos at Byron's. Out of the fryer, crispy batter contrasts nicely with the spongy, creamy interior.
Tutu's Kitchen will continue with new grandma-style dishes for the rest of the year. Once every quarter the restaurant plans a Sunday supper with all three tutus (or cooks, anyway, since not all will be actual grandmothers or even women) and their family dishes; these feature communal seating and are served family-style, of course, with everyone passing bowls and platters across the table.
So head down to Highway Inn in Kakaako any Tuesday or Thursday to check out the special of the month. And if you know any tutus whose simple dishes should be featured, contact the folks at Highway Inn and your own grandma’s pastele stew or konbu maki could show up on the menu.
680 Ala Moana Blvd.