Hawaii Edition Pt. 2: Orchids at the Halekulani

Since we were so busy in May – with my sister taking finals and gearing up for graduation and some family affairs, I asked my mom if she would be okay with postponing our annual Mother’s Day dinner until our week on Oahu. I had found the perfect restaurant for me to treat her to – Orchids at the Halekulani Hotel. She was, of course, okay with it and I quickly made reservations on OpenTable.

Fast forward to our first night at the Hilton Hawaiian Village – after a day spent at the beach and pool, we showered and dressed for our nighttime stroll over to Halekulani Hotel. We used the Beachwalk, which stretches from the HHV to the Outrigger Reef, right next to the Halekulani. We were actually early for our reservation at Orchids but they were able to seat us anyways. My request on OpenTable for a patio table was fulfilled and we were seated just in time to catch the sunset.IMG_7867

Our waiter was super nice and helped us take loads of pictures against the backdrop of Diamond Head. It was such an amazing view – Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach on one end and the sunset on the other. There was a light breeze from being so close to the ocean – everything just seemed perfect.


We started with a lovely amuse bouche of potato chowder, followed by a breadbasket with three spread options: pomegranate with olive oil, butter with Hawaiian pink salt and butter with Hawaiian black salt. All were quite tasty – I particularly liked the butter with Hawaiian pink salt.


We decided on appetizers to share so we ordered three. They arrived all at the same time but I’ll talk about them separately. First is the Shrimp and Avocado ($18.00) with spiced macadamia nuts and orange dressing. This was, by far, the best appetizer of the night. The avocado was fresh and the shrimp was super sweet. The orange added a sweet and tart element to the dish. I highly recommend this appetizer!


Next is the Tuna and Foie Gras Croquette ($20.00) served with a tomatillo salsa and green apple-frisee salad. The tomatillo salsa was a bit odd but I loved the croquettes. It tasted like smooth tuna salad!


Our last appetizer was their Orchids Salad ($14.00), which features Hirabara greens with seasonal fruit and pomegranate vinaigrette. The pomegranate vinaigrette was sweet and tart – matching the flavor of our first appetizer. The watermelon was also very sweet – you could tell it was in season there. This was a very light and refreshing appetizer to begin our meal.


Both my sister and I went with their Steamed Onaga Orchids Style ($38.00). Onaga, or Long Tail Red Snapper, is steamed with shitake mushrooms. The sauce is made with green onions sizzled in sesame oil and soy sauce. The result was a soft, buttery snapper that practically melted in your mouth. The green onions, sesame oil and soy sauce combination really appealed to my Asian palate. I loved this dish! I can definitely see why it’s considered their signature dish.


My mom went with their Lobster & Beef Cheeks ($54.00) with butter poached lobster and braised beef cheeks. The dish is served with a side of potato-wasabi puree, which I thought was divine. There was a hint of heat in the potato puree but not so much that it was overwhelming. I could eat a bowl of the puree!


For dessert, we all split the Halekulani’s Signature Coconut Cake ($11.00). You can’t go to any of the Halekulani’s restaurants and not order this cake! The chiffon cake was as light as a cloud! The coconut-amaretto cream and whipped cream was not too sweet – just enough to be considered dessert. I’m a huge fan of coconut so this was a special treat for me.


Service was impeccable and I really loved the way our waiter interacted with our table. Both our waiter and busboy were very attentive and we felt like we were treated with the utmost service. I highly recommend Orchids – whether it’s for a celebratory meal or just a night out. The ambiance and view cannot be beat.

Hawaii Edition Pt. 1: Monkeypod

When it came time to decide where to go for our annual vacation, I immediately knew I wanted to go to Hawaii again. I loved our first two times there and couldn’t wait to go back to tackle my To-Do list. My cousin also had just brought a house so we wanted to visit her as well. It seemed like the perfect decision! Although I had planned dinner for the days we’d be staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, I left the days we’d be spending with my cousin and her husband to her. She’s been there for about five years now so she definitely knew best on all the good places to eat.

The day we landed in Honolulu, she had made Happy Hour reservations for Monkeypod, located in Ko Olina. Monkeypod, which specializes in serving dishes made from local, organic and sustainable ingredients, runs their Happy Hour every day from 3:00-5:00 and then again at 9:00 – 11:00. All appetizers are 50% off, all pizzas are $9 and draft beers are discounted. Definitely make reservations if you’re interested in dining during Happy Hour because it was packed when we arrived.

We decided on appetizers to share and then entrees. We sampled the Lobster Deviled Eggs ($14.95 regular price), which feature Big Island lobster and Mikilua Farms organic, free-range eggs. The deviled eggs are okay – I didn’t think they were quite vinegary enough! It also came in an awkward amount for the table – we had five people but the dish only came with four.


The Pumpkin Patch Ravioli ($13.95, regular price) was the highlight of the night, in my opinion. The ravioli is made with a Kiawe-roasted squash and goat cheese filling and topped with organic spinach, toasted, walnut sage, and pesto. The filling was so smooth and flavorful – I think next time I’ll order this appetizer as my entrée. We also split the Hamakua Wild Mushroom & Truffle Pizza ($18.95, regular price), which is a white sauce pizza topped with wild mushroom, truffle, parmesan and fresh thyme. The pizza was a really good size to share – we all ended up with one slice to try. It’s also a very good size for an individual pizza if a pizza is all you want. The truffle was super fragrant and meshed well with the wild mushroom and white sauce.


Our last appetizer was the Garlic Truffle Fries ($9.95, regular price), which feature fresh French fries topped with parmesan cheese and served with whole grain mustard aioli and homemade ketchup. The fries were very tasty and piping hot. I really liked the mustard aioli because it had a bit of a kick without being spicy.


For my entrée, I had the Kale and Wild Mushroom Gnocchi ($21.95). The dish features homemade gnocchi topped with Ma’o Farm organic kale, Hamakua Wild Mushrooms, tomato coulis and goat cheese. This was one of the best gnocchi dishes I have ever had – the gnocchi was light and pillowy. It practically melted in my mouth and tasted so good with the kale and goat cheese mixture. I highly recommend this dish.


We were all so full after all the appetizers and entrees and that we couldn’t fit dessert. Next time, I’ll save a little room to try out their dessert menu. Service was quick and efficient – definitely on point considering it was Happy Hour. I must return for those pumpkin raviolis!