Several new restaurants are participating at the 2016 Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range: Waipi‘o Cookhouse, Waikoloa’s Daylight Mind Coffee Company, Monstera, The Fish Hopper, Ippy’s Hawaiian Barbeque and Noodle Club. They join the 30-some culinarians who will be preparing pasture-raised meats a variety of different ways for attendees.
Located one mile before the famed Waipi‘o Valley Lookout, this restaurant has a unique distinction of being built right on a working farm. Owner Larry Vidlak says in order to build a restaurant on the 17 acre Kanahonua Farms, he had to agree to source all local available food from the state first—before importing anything.
With some background working with cattle, Vidlak bought the farm acreage in 2010 and put in some fencing. A barn came next and then he decided to build the restaurant. “I got into the food service business by accident,” he laughs. The farm produces grass-fed beef, lamb, bananas, avocados, mangos, coconut, cherries, papaya, lilikoi and herbs.
With a menu big on locally produced food, Waipi‘o Cookhouse serves fresh, smoked meats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “The brisket and ribs are prepared here in a seven-food barbecue pit with two double doors and three racks. I get up at 3 a.m. to light the fire and oversee the barbecuing. We smoke the breakfast sausage, which is seasoned with our herbs.”
At the culinary helm is Chef Charven Rodrigues, who has acreage down in Waip‘o Valley that provides the hoio (edible fern), lu‘au leaf and watercress used in menu items. Vidlak adds, “We serve fresh Hawai‘i eggs and all our burgers, lamb and beef are from our ranch. We have a certified imu in the ground to prepare kalua pork.”
Waipi‘o Cookhouse is preparing beef brisket for Taste; follow the restaurant on facebook, www.facebook.com/Waipio-Cookhouse.
Daylight Mind Coffee Company Waikoloa
While Daylight Mind Chef Ash Danao has already participated in Taste three times with the former Keauhou Beach Hotel, the new Waikoloa location of Daylight Mind at Queens’ MarketPlace is making its debut.
A native of Honaunau in south Kona, Danao boasts culinary stints at Keauhou’s Akule Supply Company and his own former restaurant, Rolls With It. He is also a winner at a past Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest.
The menus are the same at both the Kona and Waikoloa Daylight Mind restaurants and chef describes them as having a “local, farm-to-table atmosphere.” Daylight Mind serves pasture-raised beef and chef says his favorite cut is the boneless short rib.
“Once you try our loco moco breakfast/lunch or braised short ribs with demi for dinner, you’ll understand why,” he confides. Chef is preparing beef cross rib for Taste.
For info on both locations, visit http://daylightmind.com.
The Fish Hopper
Executive Chef Pedro Almazan of Mexico City brings his American-style cuisine to Taste for The Fish Hopper. A seafood and steakhouse restaurant located on Ali‘i Drive in Kailua-Kona, The Fish Hopper is popular for macadamia-crusted mahimahi, fresh ahi, bone-in ribeye and New York Steak. The restaurant is renown for award-winning, “Monterey Style” clam chowder. You can get it for takeout—up to 10 gallons at a time!
The restaurant uses local beef for its specials and chef says flavorful and tender rib steak is his favorite local beef cut. Chef is assigned ground beef for Taste.
Chef Almazan got into the food service business while living in Monterey, Calif., working as a line cook with the local Fish Hopper. Before coming to Kona, he also worked at Bubba Gump’s in Monterey and Honolulu.
Find menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner at www.fishhopper.com.
Located upstairs at The Shops at Mauna Lani, Monstera is popular for sushi and has menu items typical of noodle houses and izakayas (Japanese pubs). Open for dinner nightly, Monstera offers a wide selection of sushi, specialty rolls, sizzling platters, small plates and hot and chilled noodle selections prepared under the supervision of Chef Norio Yamamoto.
Trained in Tokyo, Chef Yamamoto is a master sushi chef who has more than two decades of experience working in the culinary industry. Debuting at this year’s Taste, Monstera is assigned beef chuckroll. For details, www.monsterasushi.com.
Ippy’s Hawaiian Barbeque
Food Network star Ippy Aiona is not new to Taste, but his Hawaiian Barbeque restaurant is. Chef Aiona previously represented his Three Fat Pigs gastropub at Taste, but this year he’s preparing feral pork with his BBQ plate lunch restaurant in mind.
Offering counter service in the Queens’ MarketPlace food court, Ippy’s Hawaiian Barbeque serves BBQ ribs and more served with Ippy’s specialty sauces. Favorites include The Gravy Burger, Roasted Pork with Crispy Onions and the Grilled Mahi Burger with passionfruit tartar sauce. For info, visit www.facebook.com/IppysHawaiianBarbeque.
With the same sustainability focus at Village Burger, Noodle Club “supports local farmers and ranchers…one bowl at a time.” Local pasture-raised beef is on the Noodle Club menu: rib-eye is marinated in teriyaki, skewered and grilled; the Bowl of Seoul soup features braised beef brisket and the Big Pho King Bone stars beef bone marrow. Find Noodle Club at www.facebook.com/noodleclubwaimea.