In Honolulu, it’s hard to imagine a chef with more Aloha ʻĀina (love of the land) than Ed Kenney. The Hawaii native now has three restaurants within one Kaimuki block, including Kaimuki Superette, which specializes in breakfast and lunch, Town, which has now served me three great meals, and Mud Hen Water, his latest endeavor. This modern Hawaiian restaurant features an inviting patio with colorful mural, airy dining room, marble bar and open kitchen with an impressive wood grill that feasts on kiawe from Wai’anae. It’s this magical wood grill that rewarded me with one of the best dishes all trip: I’a Lawalu.
I’a Lawalu ($26) features a peppery slab of opah (moonfish), in this case the flaky belly, served in a banana leaf that’s been buried in coals by the grill. The blistered leaf also houses an ice cream banana tamale bound with masa, market-driven mushrooms, carrots, turnips, and radishes, all graced with coconut cream. Squeeze on juice from a wood-grilled lemon to let the flavors shine even brighter.
One other very cool opportunity that Mud Hen Water provided was the ability to connect with the person who caught this I’a Lawalu. Lift your menu and find a QR code. Scan the code to discover who catches the restaurant’s seafood, along with where, when and how. Why is kind of obvious. You can also message the fisherman/woman to thank them. THIS FISH technology is powered by Local I’a, and hopefully it catches on around the country.