“All my rowdy friends are coming over tonight.” Hank Williams, Jr. intended those lyrics for music fans and Monday Night Football viewers, but they easily could have applied to the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival “Streets of Asia” event at The Modern Honolulu on September 29. That’s when Masaharu Morimoto, who operates Morimoto Waikiki on The Modern’s second floor, hosted his Asian (and Asian-inspired) friends from around the world on the hotel’s tiered pool decks. It wasn’t possible (or even a goal) to try every dish, but here are some of the highlights.
Seoul based chef Edward Kwon, who’s rapidly gained market share, delivered soy braised Wagyu short rib with chile’d apple salad, microherbs and crispy puffed rice.
Aziza chef Mourad Lahlou presented a butter poached Kauai prawn with sea asparagus, a thatch of seaweed, bursting ikura (salmon roe), corn pudding, zhug (Middle Eastern hot sauce) and bonito emulsion. My pairing for the shrimp was 2009 Palmina Malvesia Bianca from winemaker Steve Clifton.
The Slanted Door chef-owner Charles Phan prepared a version of cha ca, made famous at Hanoi’s Cha Ca La Vong and immortalized in a frenzied story from Gail Simmons. Phan subbed Alaskan halibut for bellfish, since that particular species, favored by Cha Ca La Vong, is unavailable Stateside. However, traditional crushed peanuts, rice vermicelli, dill and pineapple appeared in his eco-friendly bowl.
Bao-loving Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto operates a Waikiki branch inside The Modern.
He filled Kakuni steamed buns with 10-hour braised pork belly and local pickled vegetables.
Renowned Au Bon Climat winemaker Jim Clendenen appeared with his back to Honolulu Bay.
Clendenen brought several bottles from Santa Barbara County, including 2007 Estate Bottled Pinot Noir.
Chris Garnier of Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion restaurant prepared a clever take on banh mi, with sous vide lamb and pate on half of a curry pepper macaron.
Hiroshi Fukui from Honolulu’s Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas delivered two seafood dishes: Big Island Abalone “Casino” served with roasted garlic aioli, bacon, shiso & tobiko; and poached Kona kampachi, Ho farm tomato-garlic ragout, Hamakua mushrooms & hijiki-chile pepper water broth.
Christian Self, previously the hotel’s head bartender, prepared two Asian inspired cocktails at the “beach” bar, including Chao Phraya, with 1 ½ oz. Kai lemongrass ginger shochu, ½ oz. lime juice, 1 oz. coconut milk and ½ oz. simple syrup, shaken and strained and garnished with a Thai basil leaf. Yes, those are the exact measurements, in case you’re looking to recreate the drink at home.
Toronto based chef Guy Rubino, who owns Ame, embraced Hawaiian ingredients, preparing local kampachi sashimi with miso, microgreens and oshinko, pickled cabbage.
Note: Oahu Visitors Bureau organized a six-day island tour, and my complimentary admission to Hawaii Food & Wine was part of the experience.